Tonight I’m speaking at the Putney Debates in London on the topic September 11th 2001, one year on.
A few thoughts I shall be raising are:
1) The terrorists failed the Machiavelli test of initiating a surprise attack: either kill your enemy or win him over. Al-Qaeda, it can be safely assumed, failed badly with regards to the global capitalist system, and hasn’t won over anyone who didn’t support them or hate capitalism already.
2) The ‘war on terrorism’ fails the test on the same grounds: it frightens people who aren’t enemies, is likely to miss the most dangerous targets, and creates the vehicle for new resentments, desire for revenge etc.
3) I think Bush’s speech was terrible: it would make a great recruitment spiel for any anti-Western gang of killers. Was I the only person who spotted Condoleeza Rice grimacing at a couple of passages? As for UNESCO, the less said…
4) The ‘war on terrorism’ is basically a just cause. That is precisely why it is so dangerous. It contains in its name all the inanity of the ‘war on drugs’ or ‘war against poverty’. It is also perfect for exploitation by government. ‘Ingsoc’ could justify anything in Orwell’s 1984 under the banner ‘the war against terror’. Do we suddenly trust Mr Blair and the man who sprung steel tariffs on the world earlier this year? I notice that on “fairness” grounds we’re all being sized up for a national DNA database in the UK. (It’s unfair on criminals that they get fingerprinted and not the rest of us!!!)
5) President Bush has to leave office by 2008 at the latest. Imagine that Al Gore succeeds him and the ‘war on terrorism’ is still going strong: does the Vietnam war sound familiar?
6) I should make it clear that I would happily fire a missile at Saddam Hussein, regardless of his involvement in last year’s attack, or whether he is building weapons of mass destruction.