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Semaphore to Timothy Garton Ash - Welcome to the Titanic

 
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David Bracewell



Joined: 14 Jan 2004
Posts: 41

Post Post subject: Semaphore to Timothy Garton Ash - Welcome to the Titanic Reply with quote

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1171704,00.html

Ahoy Timothy, I've a long one for you, but you'll love it because I've given it a nautical flavour - like your article Wink

"How can we make Muslims feel more at home in Europe, thus draining the swamp in which terrorist mosquitoes breed?" you ask.

You give the answer, but fail to recognise it. Zapatero's "vehement... criticism of Anglo-American policy in Iraq, talking of a war based on 'lies' and calling for 'self-criticism' by Blair and Bush" is a good start. His following up with "You can't just go and bomb people [in Iraq]" also helps.

You cannot square the circle of being 'statesmanlike' - that is, of not pointing out the ethical degeneracy of what the US and UK have done - and of getting Muslim trust. Muslims in the West need to see their Western leaders emphatically reject militarism and horrendous western violence. Rejection of the Western invasion and occupation is a good starting point. Zapatero has been very courageous. If you can put yourself in the position of Muslims, you will see that 'statesmanlike' behaviour toward two rogue nations who led illegitimate invasions is only likely to engender greater mistrust. He has started to build the right bridges - at least if we take the notion of democracy seriously.

The idea that the West is falling apart is hysteria. It is the sort of thinking that got

- NATO into setting off the ethnic purges in Kosovo (the HMS Hood of NATO credibility),
- Blair into Iraq (the Marie Celeste of Saddam's WMDs against the West)
- America into Vietnam (the USS Maddox of dominoes falling to communism)
- the Contras into Nicaragua (the HMS Repulse of communist attack from the south - 2 days from Texas after all).
- the French, Israelis and British into Suez (the Bismarck of Pan-Arabism)

All these things seemed at the time overwhelming motives which encouraged violent attack upon third world nations. Thus we have this body of experience which tells us that much of the history of Western violence and colonialism has been launched from the slips of hysteria. And by leaders whose real motives are founded in greed or power or expediency.

In effect, "statesmanship", based on our "fear" of Western failure, means we must all hang together in a strategic block and effectively ignore our populations, including the Muslims whom you so desperately want to be able to feel welcome . Right now, we cannot have both - statesmanship and democracy - because Bush and his sidekick Blair have given us a Manichean choice. In such an environment, it is imperative that Europe break ranks with them and set out to find its own solutions, because the US demands nothing less than full subservience in an environment of its own lying, deceit and yes greed. Because Iraq was not, from the Administration's point of view, an exercise in defeating terrorism. It was about using terrorism to pursue its broader strategic interests. You don't pander to this, this generator of terrorism and terror, any more than you pander to terrorism itself. And if you do, forget the Muslim population here - it will never trust you.

Three tiny words tinkling like a ship's bell in the ears of journalists may have prevented much of the cataclysm that Blair and Bush have brought upon us.

"Get a grip".

If we had taken the hysteria out of the "War on Horror" at the front end, we would now not be engaged in Iraq, saddled with thousands of more extremists and perhaps hundreds of thousands (millions?) of terrorist-sympathetic Muslims. We could have had a real debate about the causes of terror and taken concrete steps to remove the grievances that Muslims, indeed the people of the sorely-used third world, rightly have with us. All of this has already been shipwrecked in a wave of hysteria which was ably supported by mainstream journalists.

There was a duty to flash the aldis of discontent and disbelief at the time, to stand out with a vigorous, independent mind, since the pretext for war was so obviously concocted, the reasons so venal. And this, unfortunately, 95% of mainstream journalists failed to do. The biggest opportunity of a lifetime to get it right, and now the tipping point is past. Too late for you, too late for our societies and too late for unity against terrorism. But that doesn't mean the West is headed for the rocks. It just means that journalists, by amplifying the fear concocted by their governments to engender public support instead of doing their job by critiquing them, have largely helped to bring about the Western disunity. Don't perpetuate it by calling on our 'fear' again. Try for something higher.

Well, it be near 2 bells, I'm off to splice the mainbrace.

David Bracewell
Nelson BC
Canada
Thu Mar 18, 2004 7:33 am
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