[Reader-list] Bush's Titanic War On Terror

Anjali Sagar starchild at anjalika.demon.co.uk
Sun Jun 16 22:22:50 IST 2002

Bush's Titanic War On Terror
by Robert Fisk
The Independent 
June 13, 2002 
First it was to be a crusade. Then it became the "War for Civilization".
the "War without End". Then the "War against Terror". And now-
believe it or 
not--President Bush is promising us a "Titanic War on Terror". This
weirder and weirder. What can come next? Given the latest Bush
last week--"we know that thousands of trained killers are plotting to
us"--he must surely have an even more gargantuan cliche up his
Well, he must have known about the would-be Chicago "dirty"
little secret he didn't tell the American people about for a month.
Until, of 
course, it served a purpose. We shall hear more about this strange
episode--and I'll hazard a guess the story will change in the next few
and weeks. But what could be more titanic than the new and
ominously named 
"Department for Homeland Security", with its 170,000 future
employees and its 
$37.5bn (lbs26.6bn) budget? It will not, mark you, incorporate the
rival CIA 
and FBI--already at each other's throats over the failure to prevent
crimes against humanity of 11 September--and will thus ensure that
intelligence battle will be triangular: between the CIA, the FBI and
the boys 
from "Homeland Security". This, I suspect, will be the real titanic war.

Because the intelligence men of the United States are not going to
beat their 
real enemies like this. Theirs is a mission impossible, because they will
be allowed to do what any crime-fighting organization does to
success--to search for a motive for the crime. They are not going to
allowed to ask the "why" question. Only the "who" and "how".
Because if this is a war against evil, against "people who hate
then any attempt to discover the real reasons for this hatred of
deaths of tens of thousands of children in Iraq, perhaps, or the
Israeli-Palestinian bloodbath, or the presence of thousands of US
troops in 
Saudi Arabia--will touch far too sensitively upon US foreign policy,
upon the very relationships that bind America to the Israeli Prime
Ariel Sharon, and to a raft of Arab dictators.
Here's just one example of what I mean. New American "security"
rules will 
force hundreds of thousands of Arabs and Muslims from certain
countries to be 
fingerprinted, photographed and interrogated when they enter the
US. This 
will apply, according to the US Attorney General, John Ashcroft, to
all visitors from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan, most of whom will not
visas at all. The list is not surprising. Iran and Iraq are part of Mr
infantile "axis of evil". Syria is on the list, presumably because it
supports Hamas' war against Israel.
It is a political list, constructed around the Bush policy of
good-versus-evil. But not a single citizen from Iran, Iraq, Syria or
has been accused of plotting the atrocities of 11 September. The
suicide-hijackers came principally from Saudi Arabia, with one from
Egypt and 
another from Lebanon. The men whom the Moroccans have arrested-
supposedly linked to al-Qa'ida--are all Saudis.
Yet Saudis--who comprised the vast majority of the September killers-
going to have no problems entering the US under the new security
rules. In 
other words, men and women from the one country whose citizens
the Americans 
have every reason to fear will be exempt from any fingerprinting, or
photographing, or interrogation, when they arrive at JFK. Because, of
Saudi Arabia is one of the good guys, a "friend of America", the land
the greatest oil reserves on earth. Egypt, too, will be exempt, since
President Hosni Mubarak is a supporter of the "peace process".
Thus America's new security rules are already being framed around
Mr Bush's 
political fantasies rather than the reality of international crime. If
is a war between "the innocent and the guilty"--another Bush bon
mot last 
week--then the land that bred the guilty will have no problems with
the lads 
from the Department of Homeland Security or the US Department of
But why, for that matter, should any Arabs take Mr Bush seriously
right now? 
The man who vowed to fight a "war without end" against "terror"
told Israel 
to halt its West Bank operations in April--and then sat back while Mr
continued those same operations for another month. On 4 April, Mr
demanded that Mr Sharon take "immediate action" to ease the Israeli
siege of 
Palestinian towns; but, two months later, Mr Sharon--a "man of
according to Mr Bush--is still tightening those sieges.
If Mr Sharon is not frightened of Mr Bush, why should Osama bin
Laden be 
concerned? Last week's appeal by President Mubarak for a calendar
for a 
Palestinian state produced, even by Mr Bush's absurd standards, an
extraordinary illogicality. No doubt aware that he would be meeting
Mr Sharon 
two days later, he replied: "We are not ready to lay down a specific
except for the fact that we've got to get started quickly, soon, so we
seize the moment." 
The Bush line therefore goes like this: this matter is so important that
we've got to act urgently and with all haste--but not so important
that we 
need bother about when to act. Mr Sharon, of course, doesn't want
any such 
"calendar". Mr Sharon doesn't want a Palestinian state. So Mr Bush-
at the 
one moment that he should have been showing resolve to his friends
as well as 
his enemies--flunked again. After Mr Sharon turned up at the White
House, Mr 
Bush derided the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, went along with Mr

Sharon's refusal to talk to him and virtually dismissed the Middle East

summit that the Palestinians and the world wants this summer but
which Mr 
Sharon, of course, does not.
In the meantime, as well as Mr Sharon, all of the men who claim to
fighting terror are using this lunatic "war" for their own purposes.
Egyptians, who allegedly warned the CIA about an attack in America
before 11 
September, have been busy passing a new law that will so restrict the
work of 
non-governmental organizations that it will be almost impossible for
rights groups to work in Egypt. So no more reports of police torture.
Algerian military, widely believed to have had a hand in the dirty war
killings of the past 10 years, have just been exercising with NATO
ships in 
the Mediterranean. We'll be seeing more of this.
It was almost inevitable, of course, that someone in America would
be found 
to explain the difference between "good terrorists"--the ones we
don't bomb, 
like the IRA, ETA or the old African National Congress--and those we
bomb. Sure enough, Michael Elliott turned up in Time magazine last
week to 
tell us that "not all terrorists are alike". There are, he claimed,
"political terrorists" who have "an identifiable goal" and "millenarian

terrorists" who have no "political agenda", who "owe their allegiance
to a 
higher authority in heaven". So there you have it. If they'll talk to
Americans, terrorists are OK. If they won't, well then it's everlasting
So with this twisted morality, who really believes that "Homeland
is going to catch the bad guys before they strike again? My guess is
that the 
"Titanic War on Terror" will follow its unsinkable namesake. And we
all know 
what happened to that.

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