Monday, September 11, 2006

the irony of september 11th

Tonight I've read some articles by Christopher Hitchens (Sydney Morning Herald) and Pamela Bone (The Australian) marking the fifth anniversary of September 11.

Hitchens (Never Again) understands the issues. America is a declining power. Bush is a bad leader. But the pre-emptive battle against religious fundamentalist jihadists must continue:
In its grand form, this takes the shape of a doctrine called "pre-emption". The firmest way I ever heard this doctrine expressed was by a senior official of the Administration, who had grown tired of the argument about whether Saddam Hussein had been nurturing Islamists. "The invasion of Afghanistan was for the last attack," he brusquely said. "The invasion of Iraq was for the next one."

If you want to understand why so many normally risk-averse people in Washington, elected and unelected, swallowed their doubts about intervention, you have to appreciate the force of that remark. Like America itself, it is extremely conservative and extremely revolutionary.
I found an old article by Hitchens, Against Rationalization, from September 20, 2001, where he rebuts Chomsky and spells out the reality of the new world we live in:
... the bombers of Manhattan represent fascism with an Islamic face, and there's no point in any euphemism about it. What they abominate about "the West," to put it in a phrase, is not what Western liberals don't like and can't defend about their own system, but what they do like about it and must defend: its emancipated women, its scientific inquiry, its separation of religion from the state. Loose talk about chickens coming home to roost is the moral equivalent of the hateful garbage emitted by Falwell and Robertson, and exhibits about the same intellectual content. Indiscriminate murder is not a judgment, even obliquely, on the victims or their way of life, or ours.
I also found another great statement by Hitchens where he explains why he left The Nation, because of its readers responses to his stance:
It may now seem trite to say that September 11 and other confrontations "changed everything." For me, it didn't so much change everything as reinforce something. I am against aggressive totalitarian states and I am resolutely opposed to religious fanaticism. I am also sickened by any attempt to call these hideous things by other names
Pamela Bone (former Age editor who is now ill with cancer but still writing) understands the issues too.(The Folly of Blaming Ourselves) She has long been writing against cultural relativism, the idea that we should somehow turn a blind eye to human rights abuses which are part of some "other" culture.
This is what moral relativism fails to see: in democratic, rule-of-law countries, human-rights abuses will be exposed, investigated and punished, and bad governments will be thrown out. The US is not a perfect society by any means, and neither is Australia, but they are both infinitely better than anything the Islamists would impose.
I revisited the on line statement I made about the London bombing. Here it is:
I belong to the generation of Vietnam War activists who learnt to despise the many crimes of US Imperialism.

Following 9/11 my long sleep is over. New York, Bali , Madrid ... London was not a surprise for those paying attention.

I think it's worthwhile conducting a horrible thought experiment. A meeting of advanced technology (nuclear weapons, internet communication) with religious fundamentalism (nihilistic jihad). Bin Laden and others desire this and are planning it. The most backward ideology wants to use modern technology to defeat modernity itself and take us back to the dark ages.

There is a tremendous irony in the US now being compelled to actively support democracy in the Middle East, to clean up the mess created by itself, and in Bush II being the first US President to support the formation of a Palestinian State.

Accidental heroes are still heroes, warts and all. Without forgetting the warts, we need to focus on the big picture: the global battle between Democracy and Jihad. Reflexive anti-Americanism in today's world is very dangerous. It's both distressing and disgusting that some people who call themselves Left support the jihad and Saddam fascism as anti-imperialist. This is not Left, it is pseudo-Left. Blind faith in an old idea is always useless.

The Left has always been able to recognise and has always opposed fascism, religious fundamentalism and terror as a method.
For a recent statement which clearly explains the real motives of the Bushies, go to LastSuperpower (Spelling out the "Draining the Swamps Theory"). Here is an extract:
There are clear, self-interested and essentially historical reasons for why the most farsighted members of the US ruling elite are now pushing for a democratic Middle East. Bush and the neo-cons realized (way ahead of a large section of the US ruling elite) that they had no option but to jettison their old policy of maintaining stability in the ME by propping up the worst dictatorships (and even gong so far as to allow CIA funding of several jihadist groups). However their interests as a relatively declining power (the last superpower) are now firmly connected to globalization and the standards of modernity required of this era. It has thus become historically necessary for them to "drain the swamps" by kick-starting a process of real and progressive change in the ME.
I'm still wondering why so many people who see themselves as progressive don't seem to get it. Why is the irony of the reversal of US policy following 9/11 so hard to understand?


Wolfie said...

Would it not have been a better idea simply to just not have "done Globalisation"? Because I don't see this story ending happily for anyone.

Bill Kerr said...

I'm not really sure what you mean wolfie. I read your reflection on 9/11 though. Globalisation enabled us to do that.