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By Their Fruit – Eye In The Storm - Sunday-23-September-2001
by Gladstone Holder
Me and me wife; Me son and he wife We four and no more.

We three little boys heard those words from our mother, time and again, about a man who thus thanked God for the blessings bestowed upon his family. No explanation was needed.

Our mother could convey meaning so dramatically by voice and body language that we were able to visualise the fellow in all his selfishness and self-satisfaction, his pathetic stupidity and his unawareness of his Biblical neighbour.

The catastrophe visited upon the United States on September 11, and the various responses to it reminded me of that man’s words for in them it was impossible not to see the real world up close, stripped of all its pretensions to what we like to call civilisation.

Government’s ill-manners

Three weeks ago, I quoted French philosopher Montesquieu’s reference to certain ‘mining operations’ which sometimes pass unnoticed and eventually wreck the societies in which they were carried out. One such mining operation was “a government’s ill-manners”.

Can you think of a worse example of ill-manners than the United States’ prompt accusation of Osama bin Laden without offering one teeny-weeny bit of evidence to support the change? And how about the lapdog behaviour of a large body of the international media which failed to mention that the production of such evidence is a sine qua non in international relations. It would help and leave no room for disinformation. No security is involved.

Furthermore, the media have continued to refer to bin Laden as ‘the prime suspect’ or ‘the chief suspect’ but have not cared to note for the benefit of less sophisticated readers or listeners that no other ‘suspect’ has been named. Such ill manners suggest tainted news and prompts this kind of question: Were bin Laden still living in London rather than Afghanistan, would he have been handed over to the United States with no evidence produced? The world is in enough confusion already without adding unnecessary problems.

Accordingly, without the legal and moral authority of the evidence, the ruler of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, visited Afghanistan to persuade the ruling Taliban to hand over to the United States its prime/only suspect. Mention was made that the General may have been moved to do this by the promise of removal of sanctions against his country and the renewal of United States aid. If so, it means the Pakistan leader, unable to withstand the pressure brought upon him by the United States, was forced to forego legal, human and spiritual principles to save himself and his people by handing over a man who may indeed be innocent, a victim of United States corruption.

As I wrote last week, the United States is spoiling for a war in that region. Its approach is no different from that of the Chicago gangsters in the 1920’s who would go up to a man and, speaking through the side of his mouth, ask: How’d you like to buy some protection, bud? News from the BBC (19/9/2001) was that the Taliban would not hand over bin Laden without convincing evidence. Today 20/9/2001 the news is that bin Laden has been asked to leave Afghanistan. Such is the way of international politics.

Television pictures of Afghans fleeing their homes in fear of United States bombing are further confirmation of the barbaric world we live in today. Professor Noam Chomsky was right about the United States as a rogue state. Will it ever understand why so many voices from all parts of the world have condemned its ruthless methods and though regretting its tragic loss of life on September 11, nevertheless feel it has reaped the Karmic whirlwind?

In Britain there was a church service to express condolence – with similar services in the Caribbean. In that I saw our moral poverty, our lack of principle. I try always to see the whole picture. Challenged on my repeated references to the 1989 bombing of Panama, my answer is that it marked a barbaric turning point in international relations offensive to law and humanity.

It would make the world unsafe for weak nations for a long time.

In that aggressive action some 4 000 to 5 000 were killed and their homes incinerated. That illegal bloodletting was carried out during the administration of President George Bush I. There were no services of sorrow for the criminal deaths of those citizens of Panama.

It was clear to any student of history that this was the first step in a worsening series of assaults on weak states. Incidentally, Noriega had been an employee of the CIA.

Similarly, there have been no services of sorrow for the Iraqi people, especially the children, whose death rate has risen horribly under Anglo-American and French bombings and sanctions authorised by the UN Security Council. It has been going on for more than ten years. If the Panama assault was totally illegal, that against Iraq wears the dubious fig leaf of international law, the latter being genocidal in its effect.

My point is this. When we visibly express sorrow for the plight of America in its time of trouble in such contrasts to our total silence about Iraq and a number of other countries crushed by the might of the United States, the message we are sending is unmistakable: we do not see ourselves as counting for anything. September 11 is a shock to the conscience of mankind; the maiming or killing of 2 000 human beings yearly by land mines is not.

We have been conditioned that way. It not only encourages the powerful in their assaults; it breeds in our people cowardice, lack of self-respect and blind acceptance of our given status. Winston Churchill scorned those European nations which showed abject subservience to the Hitlerite regime: Each hopes the tiger will eat him last, he said.

The New World Order has not been concealing its visions. George Bush is a firm President even if the legitimacy of his accession is disputable. In a world disinclined to ask questions, he is using the bombing to America’s great advantage. The United States is not bound like others by international law. After all, they were caught by surprise.

Readers may recall that on March 4 in ... Or What Is History For, I drew attention to a striking disclosure, by Grant Jeffrey in The Surveillance Society (2000). He said: “Project Echelon, a spy system capable of monitoring any form of telecommunications, is being done by the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand”. Since the alleged bin Laden is worldwide, how is it that this eavesdropping quintet were taken by surprise? bin Laden must be better than Houdini?

The plot thickens, as used to be said in detective stories but some of the observations made by the new administration may provide clues to the future. According to Reuters, Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that a 1976 executive order by President Gerald Ford banning United States personnel engaging in or conspiring to engage in assassinations is under review.

Horror-filled days

Asked if current United States or international law would prevent the United States from assassinating bin Laden, vice-president Dick Cheney said: Not in my estimation. And there you have it – not in his estimation. A wonderfully appropriate noun. And of course in these times there is no higher law than those the questioner mentioned.

Not even in the horror-filled days of the Soviet Union or of Mussolini’s fascist Italy did officials talk so publicly and so casually about murdering fellow human beings. In the past, murder for the CIA was all in the day’s work until President Gerald Food rescinded it in 1976. Now the right to murder will be one of the silver linings of the black clouds of September 11.

Dick Cheney again: “We have to root out terrorists wherever they are. This war on terrorism will take years because the focus has to be not only on any one individual. The problem is terrorism”. And the war will last as long as it takes to pull America out of recession. And the knight in shining armour to slay it will be the United States. What America does is not terrorism, it is policing and reconstruction.

And what about the general welfare of human beings who are all created equal? United States policy is to blow away victim countries, forcing their frightened inhabitants to flee their homes to seek asylum in new lands – as is already happening in Afghanistan. America, smarting from the exposure of its vulnerability, is determined to wreak vengeance on the world of lesser people who, fearful of opposing this madness, “peep about to find themselves dishonourable graves”.

The Roman historian, Publius Tacitus (55-120 AD) knew the mindset of overweening self-righteousness married to shame. “They make a wilderness and call it peace”. It will be a long time before any man with a luscious lady in his bed will exclaim exultantly as the 16th century priest John Donne did in a famous poem:

O my America! O my Newfoundland!

I ask once again: Why is America trying so hard to destroy itself? Can it be that it does not control its own foreign policy?

Gladstone Holder is a former teacher and former Chief Information Officer.

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