jbpeebles

Economic and political analysis-Window on culture-Media criticism

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Not If But When: Terror Strikes UK, US Next?

The other side in the terror war has launched some terror of its own. Several apparently low tech car bombs have been discovered as part of coordinated terrorist attacks on soft targets in England and Scotland.

Late last week terror attacks began in England and Scotland, with 2 of the 3 car-borne bombings so far being prevented by chance or prompt police intervention. The third struck the Glasgow Airport and ended up crashing and burning to limited effect; two suspects are in custody.

England has gone on its highest threat level: critical, a state of emergency which disrupts lives and the economy. The state of siege in which the country finds itself is psychologically hard to bear, and the costs to the economy do mount up. It does bear repeating that Osama Bin Laden stated that the jihad launched against America was meant to be economic in nature; by extending the military occupation to Arab lands, he sought to bleed us.

Terror warning fatigue is nothing new in the US. Unlike England and its long experience dealing with the Troubles and Irish Republican Army, the US hasn't had to deal with regular attacks. Without repeat acts of terrorism, it's hard to make real the otherwise vague and far-off threat posed by terrorists. The US public hasn't established a routine in managing terror threats, which requires public sensitivity to the threat, and a mix of strength and fortitude or, as the English would say, a stiff upper lip.

Judging from our sensationalized reaction to 9/11, the US public will have a hard time dealing with terror events, particularly larger events as they can impose a high level of emotional trauma in the population and result in an episode of mass mania generated through our reaction to what we see on our televison sets. The terrorists, knowning this, turn to the most graphic and dramatic attacks, knowing that this will concoct precisely the reaction they seek.

Still, judging from the reaction to 9/11, I think we do see a unifying of the popular will in response to a terror strike. Many will go out and shop, work, and go on as before, doing what would we have done in our routines, not in stubborn defiance of the threat but not in ignorance of it either. But what if we must face a sequence of little acts of terror, like the British faced?

The Politics of Security

The turbulent years since 9/11 have allowed all sorts of political skullduggery to work their way into the national security and intelligence/threat management nexus. So many terror alerts have been jacked up to brew sufficient fear of terror just in time to seize on some political opportunity, or counter upswings in popularity for the opposition like that which followed the end of the Democratic Convention in 2004, or the selection of Kerry's running mate John Edwards.

A few posts back, I referred to Olbermann's well done countdown called the "Nexus of Politics and Terror" where he describes the suspicious timing of the terror alerts. The coordination of terror threat manipulation and political timing is just too likely to be considered the product of coincidence.

The most noxious of these was the July '04 arrest of an Pakistani computer programmer named Khan (not the proliferating nuclear weapons scientist) who'd been under surveillance as part of an ongoing terror threat. According to USA Today, some al Qaeda agents had been allowed to escape in the ensuing media showcase that exposed the undercover operation.

The Administration has done its part to undermine the non-partisan foundation of our national security services. They've demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice non-partisanship when the continuity of their political control was put at stake--in the periods predening elections. The arm-twisting and cherry-picking of intelligence showed the Administration's desire to subvert the traditional intelligence-gathering process. The outing of Valerie Plame came through criticism of White House methods: the message was sent that other public servants in vulnerable places might face retaliation for exposing the truth like Joe Wilson did.

Corporate media has also projected an image of stability and strength, in a trade-off of openess for access, perception for reality. The image of a gentle grandfather called the American State protecting us from the evils of the outside world will be shattered by any terror attack on the US. In this regard, the TVs through which so many Americans define their world will serve the interest of terrorism, and project images of the triumph of evil over the ineffectiveness of our anti-terror effort.

The idea that Bush and Republicans like him are better on national security issues will be shattered by a terror strike, so there is a political incentive for incumbents to prevent terror, or at least those incumbents who must face reelection. Future terror will make it clear that the US is vulnerable, but that all our efforts to get the terrorists over there before they get us here will have been in vain.

The ranks of skeptics grow. Some suffer from terror alert fatigue while others attribute any warning about terror to political motive. The boy has cried wolf, yet it never comes. To be real, to be viable, credible the threat must be real, or made real.

Bush and crew whined endlessly about the potential devastation caused by a terrror strike in building support for the invasion of Iraq, saying that WMD created a new imperative, one in which the US must prevent the spread of WMD from state "sponsors of terror" to terrorists. In fighting terror under the new paradigm, international laws were suspended. International cooperation was scorned. Military action was to be taken immediately, preemptively, unliaterally if need be.

Lofty in its goals, the means by which Bush has tried to stop terror may have had the opposite effect: encouraging it.

The real effect of the war on terror has been an unprecedent expansion of State power and control over the individual. Every American concerned with their civil liberties should be extremely concerned with the government's response to the next terror event. What predatory opportunities will emerge by which the power of the State can be further projected? Can we trust politicians not to try to seize on the response, overextending our reaction to invading yet another country?

So beneficial to the advancement of the interests of a larger State are acts of terror that they seem to be launched on behalf of the State, to achieve its aims in making itself larger, and the need for security more pressing, and the primacy of civil rights far less important.

Events which should demonstrate the inability of the government to protect us instead end up forcing the American people--terrorism's real victims--to cede more and more control to their government.

Our response to the threat of terror is managed, massaged, and prodded for political gain as the vital non-partisanship of our nation's intelligence branches is adandoned, opening a path towards the politicization of law enforcement.

Where opposition parties triumph, changes in government would bring broad purges not only of political appointees but also of anyone suspected of having sympathies to the previous government. In short, we'd be playing politics with our national security. No matter who the political victor, our intelligence agencies would end up the loser.

Terror, Tool Of Political Expediency

Under the secrecy deemed necessary by the White House, the war has been pervaded with a culture of corruption. War contractors, many of whom are connected to the architects and supporters of ongoing military action, profit mightily. Big Oil has seen profits surge as destabilization in the Middle East brings a security premium borne as as higher costs at the pump.

The way our war on terror is being fought drains federal coffers while providing vague results. Our approach compounds the fiscal abuse which must be borne by the American people, who must fund the war which contributes to the ongoing chaos and higher oil prices.

The War on Terror is thus the perfect method for accumulating power and wealth in the hands of the State. As long as it continues, the State will take more lives and more money, and redistribute it to those who profit from war. Americans will be in the long-term poorer as a result, facing huge unpaid debts on account of the wars, while beign forced to contend with the obvious conseuqences of a terror cycle gone awry: unabated acts of terror directed at the US and retaliatory actions that only encourage more terror in response.

The War on Terror was launched as a war to make us safer, under the premise that future Americans will be victimized by terrorism unless we act now (presumably in military action against a random Muslim state with no ties to terror.) To borrow from the pre-Iraq War rhetoric of the Bushies, are we any safer off? 9/11 proved we are vulnerable; --insert date of future terror attack here-- will prove we aren't any safer at all.

These are the first of hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of terror attacks the West will face in response to its Middle East policy. Many, like the attacks we've seen in the UK, might be haphazard and ineffective. Yet for highly qualified medical doctors to throw their careers and possibly their lives away says a great deal about the resentment Muslims carry and their willingness to launch jihad to defend their ancestral homes.

The on-going occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is at the heart of anti-Western radicalism; bin Laden knew it would--the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia during Gulf I gave him his first popular boost.

If there's one way to prevent terror, it's to prevent its origins. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict props up much of the resentment that fuels terror.

The West holds sympathies towards Israel because the country is much closer to them in ideology and cultural identity. To advocates of Zionism and the more ardent defenders of the Israeli's security, the country is an island of secularism in a sea of fundamentalism. Apartheid-like walls and checkpoints holds a would-be Muslim majority in check as the country expands its control over the West Bank, much to the delight of Zionist expansionists who see territorial aggression as a right granted Jews by God.

Palestinian grievances has not been addressed in any meaningful way-each problem that lays festering represents a justification of violent reprisals. In-fighting between Fatah and the legitimately elected Hamas government keeps the Palestinians divided. In the absence of a strong central leadership, meaningful dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis denies the fruits of legitmate negotiations (agreements with Fatah's Abbas simply aren't credible without Hamas participation.)

The Israelis are likely eager for any terror attack from Islamic fundamentalists on Western cities as it would align non-Jews with Jews in a shared struggle against radical Islamists. Enlisting American support has long been a Zionist objective in what some Israelis believe to be an battle of survival between the Jewish state and Arabs bent on its destruction.

The Terror Nexus

Before 9/11 we can't prove that Bush wanted a terror strike. There is however suspicion that if the Bush Administration had learned of an upcoming terror strike--as the evidence given to it would seem to indicate--they'd perhaps be unwilling to stop it. This is of course a far more palatable belief than the idea that the Bush Administration was "in on it."

Whatever conspiracists believe about 9/11, the Bush Administration now has a vested interested in preventing a terror attack as it would show the inability of our government to protect us. If the terror war is a political method, meant to serve the interest of an incumbent and militarist Right-wing, it is equally a threat to the chief source of their credibility: the masculine image of an America made safer by the strength of the military and the toughness of our leaders.

9/11 Truths Revealed

Israeli agents were found cheering on top of a moving van on September 11th, in a state park across the harbor in New Jersey. Arrested, these five were found to have links to Israeli intelligence. Other Israeli were caught up in the post-9/11 dragnet, including an infamous "art student" ring which had accessed sensitive government facilites in the months leading up to the attack.

The reason for their cheering is obvious: once America had been struck, the full wrath of its military would come down on the alleged perpetrators. The reviews of the incident I've read said the five were filming the strikes, which meant they'd been in position in advance of the first plane hitting the towers.

Advance knowledge is vital in assessing the intelligence environment surrounding 9/11. I find it remarkable that the government feels no need to make a public inquiry into the anomalies concerning the event. It's as if nothing has been discovered since the release of the 9/11 Commission report, as if information that's come out since minting of the original story hasn't been worthy of any further examination or public inquiry. The storyline remains rigid, acceptable to infinity, contemplating nary even the possibility of any other sequence occuring, no matter how probable. 19 hijakers drove airplanes into the buildings, which subsequently caught fire, burning off fireproofing that in turn sufficiently weakened the trussles holding up the exterior of the building to start a pancake style collapse...that's it.

Ignored are the shocking photos of steel cut at a sharp angle, seared as if by explosive, or the huge volume of reports on explosions in the buildings (video, see bottom for more sources.)

And where we have debunking, like in a Popular Mechanics article, the debunkers are forced to address theories the government won't. A multitude of possibilities would need to be explored in any ordinary investigative procedure, and the world's most egregious crime of 9/11 warranted full and open disclosure as well as unbiased and exhaustive inquiry.

Odd it was that the 9/11 investigation started with the conclusion--that the planes took down the two towers and secondary fires brought down WTC 7. Government bodies like the NIST have parroted down the initial findings over time, deviating in no way from their initial determination.

We in the public have become all to accustomed to hearing from public officials in criminal cases that every meaningful "ongoing" investigation warranted that the government "explore all possible leads." People are always advised to "avoid jumping to conclusions." Apparently 9/11 has opened a new precedent investigatory procedure. Rather than prove its finding, an Official Explanation was produced, and any evidence that could contradict its conclusions excluded or ignored.

WTC 7 has been singled out as an example of an exception to the laws of physics, in a thorough explanation made in the documentary "Loose Change." The building fell at free fall speed, an event possible only through demolition.

Larry Silverstein, owner of the entire WTC complex (and signatory of a 99-year lease just six weeks prior to the event), was caught saying that he thought "pulling" the building was the best thing to do at one point. "Pulling" is jargon in the demolitions industry for controlled demolition.

WTC 7 housed the safes of the Securities and Exchange Commission which reputedly contained evidence from an ongoing investigations into major securities fraud connected to the 2000 stock market blow-up, which saw brokerages talking up tech companies even as a collapse in their stock prices became certain. A laundry list of corporate misconduct had been assembled; we don't know how much evidence was lost or prosecutions dismantled because of the demolition of WTC 7.

Evidence of advance knowledge among employees of the Israeli company Odigo also raises eyebrows. Odigo employees had reportedly received e-mails warning them not to go into work. Apparently the only Israeli national to die in the blast--odd considering how hundreds customarily worked in the towers--was one who hadn't checked his e-mail.

Israeli Prime Minister Sharon had cancelled a planned visit to New York on September 11th.

I was shocked to read that Mossad had been watching Atta in Florida, and had gone to the extraordinary step of informing the FBI about the threat of an impending strike by Atta and those he'd been working with. Apparently even a direct warning couldn't elicit any meaningful response: our own intelligence service briefed President Bush in August 2001 that bin Laden "was determined to strike," and could use airplanes.

With a culture of woeful (or was it willful) ignorance as to the scope of the terror threat before 9/11, it's positively laughable that President Bush considers himself our great protector-in-chief. An attack would provide evidence that being tough on terror has nothing to with preventing terror attacks. The notion we can strike out at terror, as we could have at communism or fascism, is undoubtedly a popular misconception lodged deeply in the American pathology so anemic to meaningful comprehension of foreign policy and national security issues.

Unfortunately, lashing out is bringing nasty consequences. Not only is the military effort failing to stop al Qaeda, it's encouraged recruitment and the pursuit of politics by other means for the growing ranks of disaffected Islamists, who see no way but violence to force the US out of its sphere of influence.

Geopolitical Issues

I've explained in the past the perils of linking Iraq to the War on Terror, a rhetorical move which may have strengthened initial domestic political support for the war but is now proving to be highly problematic in the realm of geopolitics. The world is not so easily swayed by the easy solutions and flowery rhetoric of Bush/Blair. Nor are non-Americans so ignorant of the motives behind our Iraqi adventure.

It's clear to most of the world that the US is in Iraq in an effort to colonize its oil. The war on terror is seen by those sympathetic to its victims as state terror directed against a Muslim population who had the most unfortunate luck of being in Israel's neighborhood, and sitting on the world's last remaining large source of easily extracted oil.

Whatever the PR dance and media complicity in spinning the truth, other governments are already responding to the disturbance in the international political order that US military aggression--generated in response to the 9/11 event--has caused.

Russian President Putin, now isolated with Bush in the family's Maine house, may have been willing to ignore US overtures to the republics of Central Asia just after 9/11 when the cause of ousting the Taliban seemed a natural response to their hosting al Qaeda. It's also important to note that it was Afghanistan, not Iraq, that had been a legitmate target for US military intervention under international law. The timing of the geopolitcal fallout after Iraq is no coincidence--as we've abandoned the rule of the Geneva Convention, so too has our global leadership been imperiled, soft power undermined, and international sympathy, so great after 9/11, lost.

Yet as the occupation of Afghanistan drags on, the Russians and the rest of the world have begun to realize there's more to the ongoing occupation that regime change. While the superficial justification of the ongoing occupation has been nation-building and preventing the return of Taliban rule, the US' desire to exploit energy resources is becoming clear. Our unconditional acceptance of Israeli military action in the Lebanon War didn't help our international popularity any. And if you think the US doesn't need to run a popularity contest, think again: global leadership stature requires servant leadership and cooperation, not domination.

Abandoning international law and statecraft in lieu of military power has left many in the world community distrusting of the US. Our image in the world has sunk as we've slid towards the despotism of military force and abandoned our traditional role as diplomatic interloper in the Middle East. It took more than two weeks for Condi Rice to begin any effort to mediate last summer's attack on Lebanon by the Israelis.

I doubt people like George Bush worry about how the US is perceived abroad. Bush, like so many Americans, had virtually no experience in the international world. While he must have seen admiration of the Untied States among the many Mexicans he'd dealt with, it remains to be seen if Bush had ever questioned the righteousness of our country, or ever viewed our country as but one nation among many. Instead, the concept of American exceptionalism must have led him to conclude that whatever the United States wanted was good, and the way we do things the right way, no matter what ugliness ensued.

The very ugly beating that our international credibility has taken does have a direct impact. In one sense, the interests of the Right are strengthened by an abandonment of soft power in favor of military force. If we are unable to resolve our problems with other nations peacefully, we must solve (or try to solve) them militarily, thus feeeding the vampiric block that thrives off sales of death machines and services the American military.

To lead, the US must be able to draw on alternatives to military force like a prizefighter would alter his stance, or mix up his punches. Brute force isn't a solution. If we can only force submission to our superior military force, we are a bully.

Using the excess capacity of our military-industrial complex, the world's largest, we can dispense military aid, propping up various regimes. Yet dictatorships and the like are unable to build popularity and consensus--they rule simply through the exercise of their might.

Like the Palestinian problem, Iraq begs out for a regional solution. We can't influence other nations strategically without the use of positive (read non-military) reinforcement.

Without any outside help, the US War on Terror is certainly doomed. At this point a win for the terrorists must be defined as forcing the continuation of the occupations, thereby bleeding the US militarily and crippling our credibility, and undermining our economy.

Any terror strike upon UK/US homeland also demonstrates the persistence of the threat and spotlights the inadequacy of our preventative efforts.

Sources

"9/11 and the Greenberg Familia", Larry Mazza, 1/04/07

"Lucky Larry" Silverstein , Anonymous, 9/06/06

"Explosions Heard in the Twin Towers BEFORE They Collapsed
" George Washington Blog, 6/03/06

"Two More WTC Workers Claim Explosion In Lower Levels Of North Tower" Greg Szymanski, 7/13/05

whatreallyhappened.com has legions of information on 9/11:
"Evidence of
Demolition Charges In WTC 2
"
"The 9/11 WTC Fires:
Where's the Inferno?
"
"Silverstein Makes a Huge Profit off of the 9/11 Attacks"

///

1 Comments:

  • At 11:30 AM, Anonymous imsmall said…

    THE HOME TEAM'S VULGARITY

    After the towers fell, who was
    More sympathetic than
    Of populations global, both
    French and Iranian?

    To squander such a sympathy
    Was sure a foolish thing--
    As even victims of a crime
    Reacting to may bring

    Yet enmity of passers-by
    And witnesses upon them
    Because reaction uglified,
    So none cares what was done them.

    It is in times of crisis, stress
    True nature is revealed:
    Alas we showed ourselves a mess,
    Most vulgar on the field.

     

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