Surprise-Surprise By William Bowles

17 November 2003

Not surprisingly, this week the Blair government has announced the second highest ‘terrorism alert’ since 9/11 as a prelude to the visit by Bush the smaller. And like all the ‘terrorist alerts’ its vagueness verging on the mystical, allows the security state to cast its net very wide indeed. So much so that visitors to the Global Social Forum that just took place in Paris, finds the spooks waiting for their return at the various ports of entry into this ‘haven of democracy’, video cameras whirring, interviewing aka intimidating the visitors as to their reasons for coming here.

And unlike some critics of Bush’s visit, I welcome the little shit with open arms as an ideal opportunity for people to let him know exactly what they think of him. That the state will do its damnest to hide him from public view speaks reams about the visit and this morning (17/11/03), the government informed us that they now had ‘intelligence’ that “North Africans, connected to Al Qu’eda” plan to do something nasty but unspecified this week.

Do people believe these announcements that appear with boring regularity? Judging by media reports, it’s unlikely that they have the intended effect, if anything they just increase the public’s scepticism in the government. No doubt the main objective is to deter people from attending the protest this coming Thursday but it’s more likely that the state will try and make it as difficult as possible for visitors, especially from out of town, to actually get into the city centre.

And indeed, if the reports are true, the US had actually called for the Tube to be closed down during the emperor’s visit because of the incredible assertion that a Tube train could blown up underneath the emperor as he travelled above! That most of the Tube trains actually run hundreds of feet below ground, obviously escaped the attention of the ‘intelligence’ agents. And how they expected terrorists to coordinate the explosion with the position of the emperor’s case-hardened limo is, to put it mildly, fantastic and is indicative of just how removed the imperium’s henchmen are from the real world.

One has to imagine the ‘terrorists’ planning this Hollywood-inspired enterprise, hidden in some forgotten tunnel far below ground, equipped with GPS equipment covertly fitted to every Tube train likely to coincide with the limo above, linked to remote-controlled toy helicopters whirring above the convoy as it wends its way through central London. How they would manage the coordination of which train to detonate and direct the blast upward at exactly the right time belongs in the realm of science fiction.

It remains to be seen whether or not the Stop the War campaign will be allowed to march by the House of Commons and down Whitehall. If the government wants a confrontation, then it will do all it can to pen in the demo to the smallest possible space, thus incurring the wrath of the more ‘enthusiastic’ protestors to vent their spleen. If it has any sense, it will allow the march the fullest possible means. Let’s hope that good sense prevails, if not, we know who is the cause. Obviously, I intend be on it somewhere and report on events.

Which way to the insane asylum?
And in a related vein, the Independent today (17/11/03) has an op-ed piece by a certain Mr Bruce Anderson (pedigree unknown) headed “Blair is right to make common cause with this brave and visionary president.” I kid you not. Mr Anderson’s article has this to say about the Stop the War campaign:

“…[I]t is possible to make intelligent criticisms of the Bush presidency. But this does not apply to the Stop the War campaign, or to most of its supporters. There, we are dealing with unreason, towards the president and his country…. To the Stop the War people, it is an article of faith that Mr Bush is a dunce surrounded by neo-fascist psychopaths and that many of his fellow Americans are mere land-based pirates bent on plundering the rest of mankind.”

Well at least he got the last part almost right although it’s not many of his fellow Americans who are land-based pirates just a small coterie but it’s close enough. This balmy fellow goes on to tell us:

“There is little point in arguing with the Bush-haters. But evidence might help to treat some of those who are not too far gone”

Okay Mr Anderson, I continued to read your asinine piece of garbage looking for the “evidence” you promised me that would convince those of us who are “not too far gone” that Bush the smaller is indeed a “brave and visionary President”. After a lot of waffle including “Those of us who have seen Mr Bush at work are at least as respectful” amd how you don’t acquire an MBA in business from Yale wearing a “dunce’s cap” and other, utterly irrelevant nonsense, we get to the rancid meat (such as it is) of Anderson’s argument. Following 9/11,

“The administration, though with some backsliding from the State Department, became converted to the neo-conservative diagnosis…. There had to be an onslaught on the root causes: moral and political squalor in the Middle East. Much of the region was like a crumbling fever hospital, without medicines, doctors, or any means of quarantining its inmates. So it would be a constant source of dangerous infections, unless and until the the US went in and treated the patients with the two super-drugs; democracy and human rights.” (My emph.)

And Mr Anderson has the nerve to call me nuts? Yet again, we see the echo of Blair’s comparison of those out there in the “jungle” as in need of a good dose of disinfection aka 1000lb bombs. Okay, Anderson tells us that “this strategy [of Bush’s] is questionable” but then blows his argument back into the dark ages where the rest it came from by saying:

“but not on the grounds of oppression, imperialism or indifference to suffering. The dangers arise from idealism and from excessively generous assessment of human nature. It is assumed that material improvements will bring moral progress, and thus diminish the threat from terrorism.”

So Anderson’s argument is I suppose, that those of us not too nuts to know the difference, suffer from an excessively generous dose of idealism. Anderson, not content to let us sleeping mad people continue to doze, goes on to incite that:

“In practical terms, what else can it [the West] do except encourage – and in some cases coerce – Islamic states so that they stop maltreating their peoples?

“Apropos of maltreatrment, there is, of course, Palestine. The Palestinians must have a state. But President Bush has made this point far more often than any of his predecessors did. This, indeed, is yet another reason for cheering on his re-election.”

But that’s all Anderson has to say on the maltreatment of the Palestinians. Aside from the blanket condemnation of “Islamic states” as maltreating their people and the need to ‘coerce them’ (Anderson’s newsspeak for a liberal ‘disinfection’ with cluster bombs) when encouragement fails, we still wait with baited breath for the “evidence” he promised would ‘cure’ us of our delusional state. But wait – if the Stop the War campaign:

“had its way, Saddam’s torture chambers would still be in business.”

This slanderous lie notwithstanding (don’t worry Mr Anderson, you won’t be hearing either from my lawyer or even my analyst, although I can recommend an excellent analyst for you, should you feel the need), there’s still the issue of the evidence you promised me but failed to deliver.

Almost finally, I read that I still have the right to protest, although, without any evidence to back up his claim, he tells me that:

“tens of thousands will exercise their right [but] millions of others, who wish their country had the right to entertain Mr Bush in dignified and friendly manner, will go unheard. It also to be hoped that the President is also made aware of the silent voices.”

Well first off, nobody’s stopping you Mr Anderson from waving the stars and stripes (if the massive, 19.000-strong force of police will let you get close enough) and whose fault is it if the silent (majority?) remain so? Surely not the Stop the War campaign? Perhaps they’re silent because their support is not as rabidly racist and as gung-ho as yours is. Whatever one feels about the invasion, to cloak the justification in the kind of reactionary rubbish Anderson does, is enough to frighten off all but the insane.

And in a final irrelevancy no doubt to make up his word count, Anderson wanders off where normally only deranged people do to tell us a little story about General Vernon Walters and why so many Europeans hated the Americans, although after reading the saga of General Walters, I fail to see why Anderson assumes we ‘hate’ them so but you be the judge.

“In 1919, [says Walters], we Americans cleared straight out of Europe, and you had a wonderful couple of decades, a marvellouse period in your history. After 1945, we stayed and it’s all been so miserable for you. I can see why you are so nostalgic for the Twenties and Thirties.”

So the period that saw the Crash of ’29, mass unemployment, Franco’s Falangist Spain and the rise of Fascism was a marvelous period and since then it’s all been just too miserable for us? How dare we be so ungrateful! And just to rub salt in the wound, this Anderson fellow (who let him out?) has this to say:

“It is sad to realise that these days, far too many British people are also guilty of gross ingratitude towards our greatest ally…. It is only unfortunate that the ceremonies will be disrupted by hysteria and hate-filled ignorance.”

What is Anderson telling us I wonder? No prizes for anyone who can send me the answer.

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