Thoughts On The Decade

There’s little to inspire about the first decade of the 21st century. Those worldwide celebrations to mark the beginning of a new millennium filled everyone with hope and optimism, but just as every New Year’s party provides the impetus for short-lived resolutions, the decade was only a little over a year old before those hopes and dreams were shattered by a group of brain-dead, religious idiots, and a US president easily manipulated by the warmongers of two continents.

I wrote at the time, that 9/11/2001 was a great opportunity for world peace, jettisoned in favor of blood-letting and the advance of empire. It continues to this day. As we enter the second decade of the century, the very idea of peace among men has become decidedly old-fashioned; the only heroes are military. Given the relentless march of Capitalism, coupled with the climate change hardships being forced on many sectors of this planet’s populace, the cold tide of war and conflict shows no indication of turning. Indeed, its escalation would appear inevitable.

While the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon didn’t occur until twenty-one months into the century, they were such an appalling crime against humanity that they tend to be remembered as the first and most significant events of the decade. Prior to that date, America regarded terrorism as something nasty that happened elsewhere in the world; Americans were only involved if they served overseas in the military, or were unfortunate enough to be vacationing in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Osama bin Laden, if indeed it were he behind the 9/11 attacks, certainly could not have expected the Western world to heap on his head rewards that he could never have dreamed of, even in his wildest imagining. Surely, he must have foreseen America’s Afghanistan response: the swift invasion of that country intended to result in his capture, and bringing to justice? That his escape from Tora Bora was so effectual is evidence it was well planned.

Bin Laden had fought ten years in Afghanistan against the Russians. He knew the terrain, and that it was possible to keep a great army bogged down indefinitely, utilizing only a few hundred well trained guerrilla troops to do so. The Americans played right into his hands.

Not only was America outclassed and outmaneuvered by al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, the US government threw bin Laden an additional Ace. For years, al Qaeda had been attempting to gain a foothold in Iraq. Saddam Hussein very effectively kept them out. With the exception of a tiny enclave in the north of the country, beyond Saddam’s reach, al Qaeda didn’t exist in Iraq pre 9/11. Reports to the contrary, fed to the Western media before the US invasion, were carefully designed to swing more public support behind the attack on Iraq.

The ousting of Saddam Hussein by the US military and its so-called ‘allies’ opened up Iraq to infiltration by al Qaeda. They joined forces with the minority Sunni against the Shi’a, who, aided by the Americans, were taking control of the government. The resultant bloody killing and maiming of Iraqi civilians has lasted six years, and continues to this day, though little is heard about it in the US media.

Americans, like most of the world’s people, rely on their government for guidance during periods of high stress and potential national danger. The US government, both under the presidency of George W Bush and his successor, Barack Obama, has been singularly lacking in its ability to display any form of measured response to even the most fundamental menace. When the homeland is threatened, the US government fails to respond; it merely reacts. Usually, it over-reacts. Iraq was, perhaps, the greatest over-reaction in history.

When Richard Reid walked onto an American Airlines flight in December 2001 with ten ounces of the explosive PETN in his shoes, he triggered a reaction from the American government that caused disruption to airlines throughout the world. The shoes of every passenger were ordered to be removed and screened. It was a total waste of time. The type of screening used in the process will not detect PETN explosive. A second potential Richard Reid could have packed his shoes with PETN, gone through the screening process and walked onto a plane with both explosive and shoes intact. Nevertheless, so far as the writer is aware, this practice still continues at US airports.

The US government is bogged down in its own arrogance. Responding to any crisis involves thinking through the problem, determining the threat, and utilizing the experiences of all possible experts to ascertain the most effective countermeasures. The US has consistently refused to draw on the expertize of others around the globe who’ve had experience of terrorism and learned the best methods to deal with it. The US is top of the class at shouting orders to the rest of the world, but a dunce when it comes to taking advice.

The ‘noughties’ decade finally expired like a damp squib in the underpants of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national who tried to go one better than the shoe bomber, Richard Reid. No exploding feet for him; Abdulmutallab decided the prize of a downed US airliner was worth blowing his genitals off for.

Fortunately, he fared no better than Reid and, like the shoe bomber before him, will likely spend the rest of his pathetic life behind bars, ruminating on his failure as a Muslim martyr.

Yet, are they really failures? Had either Reid or Abdulmutallab succeeded in blowing up an airliner the loss of life would have been catastrophic, but the disruption would have been no different. Within hours of flight 253 from Amsterdam touching down in Detroit on December 25th, air travel was in chaos yet again:

  • No ‘in-flight’ entertainment; we can’t let the terrorists know where they are.
  • Passengers will not leave their seats for an hour before landing.
  • No cushions or blankets to be used for an hour before landing.
  • No toilet facilities for an hour before landing.
  • Even more stringent searches of passengers at airports.

Once more the US government displayed to the world its inability to respond in a crisis. Yet again, we see a useless, knee-jerk, reaction to one stupid religious nutter with a grudge.

And that’s the irony of it all. If there’s one thing the ‘noughties’ should have taught us, it’s that religious fanatics are generally very stupid people. The 9/11 terrorists didn’t succeed because they were clever. Their success was due solely to American complacency. When no-one from outside has ever attacked you, it’s a mistake to assume they never will.

Richard Reid and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab failed, not because the US Department of Homeland Security did its job well, but because, as terrorists, they were rubbish. It’s just as well they were. Shortly after the incident on the Delta Air Lines Airbus A330 on December 25th we learned that Abdulmutallab was already on an American watch-list.

Was it, yet again, good old US arrogance that caused the DHS not to pass this information to their Dutch counterparts in Amsterdam?

We’ll probably never know.

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2 Replies to “Thoughts On The Decade”

  1. I too sense a vein of pure inefficiency running through successive American governments – or maybe much more than a vein! You could be right that it’s arrogance, or complacency – or it could just be inexperience. This is a very young country compared to Britain and other European lands who have many centuries behind them and their politicians….could that have something to do with it I wonder?

    Happy New Year, RJ! 🙂

  2. Twilight – is not inexperience the very reason the US should seek advice elsewhere? Sheer arrogance, I believe, is the reason they don’t.

    Happy New Year, Twilight! 🙂

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