Thursday, 17 January 2008

Crooked cobwebs of mental moonshine

Here is a newly anointed World Blogger's view [first posted about a year ago] on the twisted global politics of this wretched first decade of the 21st century:

My friend Jose says, “It's hard for me to understand how it is possible that man having been able to land on the moon isn't able to seek the terrorist heads out and do away with the problem?”

This mystifies me, too. With all the stupendous surveillance technology at our disposal, why are we – the West – unable to pinpoint and eliminate our ideological enemies?

It is now 5½ years since the Twin Towers outrage of 9/11. Yet Osama bin Laden and his leading henchmen have still not been apprehended, and their whereabouts are apparently unknown to US and British intelligence.

Frankly, I find this quite incomprehensible, and indeed unbelievable. I vividly remember the somewhat ludicrous spectacle of President Bush – when he had regained his speech after being struck dumb while reading ‘My Pet Goat’ – donning his metaphorical Stetson, cocking his best six-shooter wild west rhetoric, and histrionically proclaiming that “They can run, but they can’t hide. We’ll smoke ‘em out, track ‘em down, cut off their financial bases” – or words to that effect.

And has any of this happened? Not a smidgeon. Despite all the space satellite technology, the lavish international on-the-ground intelligence resources, the boasted “pinpoint weaponry” – which in action on the ground in Iraq seems as scatter-prone as an 18th century blunderbuss – bin Laden and Co. remain unearthed from their presumably quite comfortable, if not luxurious, hideaways “somewhere on the Pakistan/Afghan border” [why is this assumed? Aren’t they more likely to be hiding out in Riyadh, Cairo or Brick Lane?] and reputed to be richer than ever.

I find this extremely odd. And not only odd – positively sinister. For what have we – the US and UK citizenry – been landed with as a consequence? The absurdly mis-named ‘war on terror’, with all its paraphernalia of illegal, mismanaged and futile foreign wars; repulsive obscenities such as what Naomi Wolf accurately dubs “Bush’s gulag” at Guantanamo Bay; constantly drummed-up fears of domestic acts of terrorism – which on the few occasions when they do occur appear to be the work of a handful of deranged and inadequate misfits – and the wholesale binning of our centuries-old civil liberties so cherished and hard-fought for by previous generations [including mine who grew up through World War Two] but seemingly meaningless to the young people of the Bush/Blair years, obsessed as they are with cosy consumerism and unnecessarily elaborate fancy gadgets such as i-pods.

Those of us who are appalled by the unconscionable and incompetent behaviour of our rulers in defence of what they choose to term our “free” way of life can grumble away as much as we like on the internet – for now, anyway: I wonder whether we shall be allowed that old-fashioned luxury for very much longer, the way things are going? [See Naomi Wolf again.] But in political terms, our complaints fall on deaf ears. In Britain, mainstream politics has been in the doldrums since our Dear Leader turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to over a million people - maybe two million - marching against the illegal invasion of Iraq and his rentamob of spineless “New Labour” MPs failed to call him to account for his contempt of the people’s loudly articulated will. From then on a sense of electoral impotence has grown, first as a feeling of resigned helplessness, then sullen acquiescence, and now dangerously verging on futile despair. This feeling of impotence is a big component, in my view, of the pervasive depression that is nowadays so widespread.

When will the tide turn? A new politics of mass protest and active democracy is overdue in both Britain and the United States, if we in the West are to regain our political health and spiritual integrity as the standard bearers of true freedom and moral front-runners for humanity in this so far nightmarish century.

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