Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:24 pm 
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A new plot detected

Last year London became a new site for international terror. Now two dozen persons have been arrested in London and close to ten in Pakistan in connection with what purportedly was a coordinated plan, like one detected in 1995, to use liquid fuel disguised in drink bottles to explode planes across the ocean on their way to the US. Perhaps eleven aircraft were to go down during a short period of time, which would have paralyzed international travel. Two factors lie behind the latest scheme: the strong Arab, Indian, and Pakistani populations in England; and British support of US foreign policies in the Mideast. Since France is cosigner of the highly dubious UN Security draft resolution on the Israel-Lebanon war, Paris, with its impoverished, disenfranchised masses in the banlieu, is another hot location for Europe-based terrorist plans.

Cops. not soldiers, stop bombs

John Tirman, director of the Center for International Studies at MIT, points out in a commentary that this new English bomb plot was stopped through law enforcement, not invasion of a country. He asserts that the plot was locally initiated; that it was not religions or ideological in basis; that no American jihad organization was involved; and that here again the US is revealed to be ill-prepared and its Iraq involvement "not working." "Reversing America’s colossally destructive series of interventions in the Middle East—a cause, a trigger, a recruitment fountain, and a charity for jihad—will require an entirely different mindset, not just an adjustment or a measured retreat," Tirman concludes. The US has responded to terrorism, an activity rather than a movement, with bombing and warfare, while its intelligence sources have increasingly been called into question, as has its ability to anticipate environmental danger and minimize it (Katrina), and its willingness to coordinate law enforcement and intelligence-gathering agencies. Whether the plotters are merely rough boys or jihadis, a question not yet answered -- the line is more and more blurred -- the fact remains evident that it's cops (and international intelligence) that can stop bombs planned for urban terror use, not armies or more bombs. Relatedly, it's negotiation, diplomacy, and restructuring to accomodate the whole population of the region, that can stop rockets from being fired by an indigenous resistence group at Israeli cities -- not cluster bombs, further occupations and partitioning, or troops massed on the ground.

A failing spin-fest in America

We may contrast this argument with the American right's assertion, spearheaded by President Bush, that the alleged English plane bombing plot is another sign "Islamic fascists" are engaged in a "war on terror" throughout the world -- i.e., Al Qaeda or its cousins at work. Robert Parry comments that Bush and Bin Laden are helping each other in a symbiotic relationship (an idea close to Jean Baudriallard's 2001 essay The Spirit of Terrorism), and that this is another instance. Tirman asserts that terrorist methods are increasingly being wielded by what are essentially street gangs of young men such as we saw in the 7/7 public transport bombings in London, angry about a lot of things, for whom ideology is just a "veneer." But obviously the US right will use the announced liquid explosives plot in London as an ideological weapon to renew claims that we should stay behind Bush and "stay the course" in Iraq; in fact Joe Lieberman has already wielded the plot story as a weapon against his victorious opponent in the Connecticut primary, Ned Lamont; and Cheney has said (in a press conference statement so repetitive it arouses doubts about the VP's mental acuity) that "Al Qaeda types" are happy Lieberman lost. This underlines what a boon to the right the London news can be, if well and thoroughly spun, coming as it does at a time when US public support and world opinion, sickened by the destruction of Lebanon by Israel supplied and spurred on by the US, is in turn also more and more repulsed by the Iraq war. As Arianna Huffington says, the Republicans know how ludicrous it is to tie the war in Iraq to the war on terror, but they know how effective it has been nonetheless to do so. Yes, but in a new poll the President's approval rating is down to 33 percent, and an astonishing 57 percent of Americans who voted for Bush last time now no longer back him. The spin is getting harder and harder to sell.

Israel's war of "self-defense" and its "most moral army"

Meanwhile Prime Minister Olmert claims Israel's genocidal warfare against Palestinians and poor Lebanese is being carried out by the "most moral army in the world." If so, that says a lot about warfare and armies. This "most moral army" uses Uranium-headed bombs rushed in by the US and targets "marked Red Cross ambulances, refugee convoys, a bomb shelter in Qana, hospitals and the entire civilian infrastructure," as a Workers World editorial summary notes. Here too spin is essential, if unconvincing. Israel's attacks are always "provoked" by the Palestinians, or the Lebanese. Every time. Look at the very name of the army, the IDF, Israeli Defense Forces. They do not attack; they defend. But according to an article in Haaretz, Israel has asked the US to rush shipment of more bombs armed with the cluster munitions that are so horrible when used in civilian areas. The same paper notes a turn in Israeli public opinion following the Knesset decision to expand its ground offensive in Lebanon; support is less unanimous. More mainstream leftist groups are demonstrating against the war in Tel Aviv, the paper says; while a hawklish editorialist on the paper's online edition says if Olmert "runs away" from the war by accepting a cease fire, he can't remain prime minister. For many Israelis the country's only war crime is that it has failed to defeat Hezbollah decisively, and Olmert's crime is not to have set the country up on a total war footing as Golda Meir did in '73. The U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday condemned Israel for "massive bombardment of Lebanese civilian populations" and other "systematic" human rights violations, and decided to send a commission to investigate, according to an AP story.

Across this wide range of interpretations of events in Lebanon, Israel, Gaza, one thing remains clear: that these events directly fire hatred for the US's global nexus of power and the countries most closely intermeshed in it; and that in a globalized world, the powerless have devised dramatic ways of striking back.

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

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