"The price of petrol has been increased by one penny." Official.
Philip Zec, Daily Mirror (5th March, 1942)
I’m not one for topical rants, but there’s always a first time. Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of a certain event. “It’s an event that changed the world forever”, said commentators at the time, but in truth, did it?
The world has an uncanny ability to absorb any great triumph or catastrophe and continue like normal. Heinous murders, wars, the death of princesses all come and go. We cry, we wring our hands and tear out our hair, just long enough for us to forget, or until the next series of Big Brother begins at the very least. You watch Big Brother. Big Brother watches you. He's the one taking notes.
The world has snapped back on its elastic band of normality, but it stretched far enough this time for a few changes to stick. Those towers and those aircraft are now world icons. Like the crash of the Hindenburg, the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima or the napalm-burned Vietnamese girl. I don’t need to show you the pictures, because they’re there, now, inside your mind.
September 11th 2001 killed off the New World Order. Created out of the ashes of the liberation of Kuwait by the current president’s father in 1991, it gave America a cause as the Cold War finally ended and America was left without an enemy to fight. America would lead as “first among equals”, the strong-arm of the United Nations, stepping in as it was needed to restore democracy and ensure peace. If not “Globocop”, something pretty darn close to it.
It all started very well. There were even interventions in countries where American involvement was totally humanitarian. Somalia. There was nothing in it for America except the wresting of the rule of law from bandits and warlords. Foreign policy under Bush Snr and Clinton was based on consensus rather than coercion. Even so, "mission creep" from humanitarian aid to outright combat turned the Somali adventure into a fisaco. Still, it made a great movie.
So what happened? George Walker Bush is a very different person than his father. He doesn’t see America as “first among equals”. He just sees “America first”. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but since September 2001 this has boiled down to it’s simplest form: “You’re either with us or against us”. You’re either an ally or an enemy. There is no middle ground, no space for neutrality, just Bush’s strong arm backed up by military strength and the might of the American economy. This is the politics of coercion. You have no choice.
The conspiracy theorist sees hawks everywhere. And it’s quite easy to see why. Al-Qaeda were a convenient reason to go into Afghanistan, a country America desired to drive an oil pipeline through. Afghan President Karzai previously worked for an American oil company. Iraq is oil-rich, yet ruled by someone who has consistantly failed George’s “With us or against us” test. You’re either a good, patriotic American, our subservient lap-dog or a goddam pinko commie. Senator McCarthy returns from the dead. Now that the commies have gone, America has thrashed around for a new devil and found it in the Middle East.
If all Bush and Blair are interested is preventing “rogue states” obtaining weapons of mass destruction, why has nothing been done about Israel, South Africa, India, Pakistan, North Korea? Why does the US still count oil-rich Saudi Arabia as an ally despite its tacit approval of Al-Qaeda? These are uncertain times. All the cards are not on the table, and Bush is ramming home America’s inalienable right to fuck up the planet.
Not in my name. Nor in the name of the 9/11 victims. Why not just be honest about it?
The reckoning approaches.
What the world needs is pie. New pie.