There are many reasons to condemn the vicious non-state terrorists who conduct murderous operations like the ones that took place in London this morning. …
One reason that is not commonly mentioned in our Permanent War and Entertainment Media is the way these killers provide imperial high state authoritarians like George W. Bush with opportunities to identify themselves with “freedom” and “democracy” while using terror attacks as a pretext to advance empire, concentrate wealth and power, and deepen repression — all in the name of “freedom” and “democracy.”
The non-state terrorists’ actions are always a gift to the jingoistic and regressive hard-state right and its police state agents. This is what I meant when I gave the following title to Part I of my book Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11: “Our Tears, Their Opportunity.”
The gift is used in ways that are certain to enhance the likelihood of more and deadlier attacks on innocent civilians in the leading imperial states. It’s a vicious circle.
Even after his own 9/11 Commission Report disproved any connection between Saddam’s Iraq, al Qaeda, and 9/11/2001, to cite one example, the US president tried to link Iraq with the jetliner attacks on five occasions in his recent prime time address to the nation from a leading US military outpost in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The speech was intended, of course, to get more Americans behind his illegal, immoral, unpopular, and monumentally murderous (some estimates place Iraqi civilian deaths at more than 100,000) invasion of Iraq, a fundamentally terrorist and imperialist operation that many key White House insiders hoped to undertake well before 9/11. It sought to merge the bloody, imperialist seizure of Iraq with the supposed American-led post-9/11 “global war on terror.” Insofar as post-invasion Iraq has now become a terrorist stronghold, Bush neglected to mention, this is thanks to the American occupation, which destroyed existing civil authority in Iraq and enflamed Arab and Muslim opinion within and beyond that formerly sovereign nation.
Nine-eleven was the Bushcons’ welcome (for them) pretext for the previously planned invasion of Iraq and for much else, of course, including the curtailment of American civil liberties and popular opposition to the White House’s corporate-plutocratic policy agenda.
Earlier today, Smiling turned Somber George Bush pretended not to welcome today’s all-too predictable attacks, which were certainly expected at some point by planners in the National Insecurity State. He seized the opportunity to say that “the contrast between what we’ve seen on the TV screens here, what’s taken place in London and what’s taking place here is incredibly vivid to me. On the one hand, we have people here who are working to alleviate poverty, to help rid the world of the pandemic of AIDS, working on ways to have a clean environment. And on the other hand, you’ve got people killing innocent people. And the contrast couldn’t be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty, and those who kill — those who have got such evil in their heart that they will take the lives of innocent folks.”
Insofar as anything is happening at the G8 summit to reduce poverty, save global ecology, or overcome AIDS, we can be sure it is in spite of the White House’s best efforts. The Bush administration is a zealous, dedicated proponent of militantly regressive, so-called “free-market” economics at home and abroad. The essence of Bush’s corporate-financed domestic and global policy agenda is massive state protection and subsidy for the already super-opulent combined with savage market discipline and coercive state punishment and regulation of the poor. The essence of this agenda is the externalization of corporate costs on to the broader society and the gravely endangered (in terms of human inhabitability) ecosphere. It is all about the distribution of wealth yet further upward in a world where:
* “The world’s richest 1% of people receive as much income as the poorest 57%”
* “The richest 10% of the U.S. population has an income equal to that of the poorest 43% of the world. Put differently, the income of the richest 25 million Americans is equal to that of almost 2 billion people.”
* “The income of the world’s richest 5% is 114 times that of the poorest 5%.”
(See Box 1.1., titled “Global Inequality – Grotesque Levels, Ambiguous Trends,” on p.19 in the first chapter of United Nations, Human Development Report 2002 at http://stone.undp.org/hdr/reports/global/2002/en/)
Bush has steadfastly opposed the sorts of common-sense policies — including massive provision of low-cost drugs and condom distribution — that would do the most to rollback the HIV scourge.
And as for directing “people to kill innocent people,” boy-King George is the planet’s top homicidal gang-banger by far. Nobody comes close when it comes to “taking the lives of innocent folks” in foreign lands and the name of God. Whether you go with the British medical journal The Lancet’s estimate (including people killed indirectly through disease and other ailments resulting from the broad attack on Iraqi public infrastructure and economy) of a six-figure Iraqi civilian death count (see http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/10/29/iraq.deaths/) or with Iraqi Body Count’s more conservative total of 25,814 Iraqi civilians killed (through direct military attacks) by American and British intervention (see http://www.iraqbodycount.net/), Bush’s credentials as a world class butcher of innocents is truly unmatched.
My first contact with today’s terrible events came through the mouth of Chicago’s not-so erudite global-corporate Democratic Mayor Richard M. Daley. The authoritarian Daley (who recently chewed out Illinois Senator Dick Durbin for daring to notice that US military authorities were torturing permanently incarcerated terror suspects in the prisons of Guantanamo) seized the London terror moment to hold a special morning press conference at the city’s ever-expanding high-tech 911 Center.
Daley praised his friend Bush for understanding that the permanent “war on terror” is (1) “all about global intelligence” and (2) about going to “the source” of terrorism, “whether it be in Afghanistan or Iraq.” Consistent with that analysis, the Mayor (who may well be privately Republican) recently enlisted his son in the imperial armed forces — an unusual action among the nation’s leading public office-holders.
There were much talk about the city’s ongoing and apparently virtuous (as far as all the Chicago reporters and officials that gathered with Daley this morning are concerned) effort to become a world leader in Big Brother technology by linking 2,250 surveillance cameras to the 911 center. These cameras are meant to help city officials detect “susicious behavior” that might lead to terror attacks. Last fall, Daley said that “cameras are the equivalent of hundreds of sets of eyes…They’re the next best thing to having police officers stationed at every potential trouble spot. The city,” Daley added, “owns the sidewalk. We own the street and we own the alley.”
Before deciding on the new surveillance network-in-progress, it’s seems worth remembering today, Chicago officials “went to London to check out its 200,000-camera surveillance system. Great Britain,” the conservative corporate Chicago Sun Times noted, “has more than 4 million such cameras, one for every 14 people” (“City Plans Surveillance Camera Web,” Chicago Sun Times, 10 September, 2004, p.1). “In London,” the Sun Times added, “cameras have spotted about 10,000 incidents and footage has been used in about 1,000 court cases in the last two years…About two-thirds of Britons approve of the cameras, according to a European Commission study.”
If London’s 200,000 cameras couldn’t prevent today’s terrible attacks, it’s unlikely that 2,500 cameras are going to do much to protect citizens in Chicago, which has recently joined London as one of the world’s top 15 “global cities.”
Since I share former leading CIA Middle East analyst Michael Scheurer’s opinion that Western states are targeted by Muslim terrorists because of “what we do” — imperially subjugate the Arab world, among other things — and not because of “what we are” (the supposed homeland of modern “freedom” and “democracy,” falsley conflated with so-called “free market” capitalism), I’d like to suggest that changing our brazenly imperial, hegemony-seeking foreign policy is the best guarantee of our security from terrorist attack in this age of modern, high-density explosives and transportable nuclear war material.
As the Agence France Presse (AFP) reports today, “the bomb attacks which have struck at the heart of London came as no surprise to the authorities. For more than a year, police and politicians have been warning that a terrorist strike against the British capital, like the one which occurred Thursday, was highly probable, largely due to Britain’s support of the US-led invasion of Iraq. As far back as March 2004,” the AFP adds, “in the aftermath of the bombings in Madrid which left 191 dead, the then commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, Sir John Stevens, and the city’s mayor, Ken Livingstone, both went on record to say it was ‘inevitable’ that one day London would be the target of terrorist attacks” (see AFP, “London Attacks Were Predicted As Inevitable” at http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20050707/wl_uk_afp/britainattackswarnings).
Beneath all their wringing of hands and their stern visages, it’s a price that imperial war masters like Bush and Blair are more than willing for us to pay.