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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Monday, September 11, 2006

It's hard to believe, that it's been five years since the toppling of the World Trade Centers.
Five years since 'the War On Terror''s been declared Presidentially.
Five years, and the site is cleared, and plans accepted for the construction of a replacement.
Five years, for the American man-on-the-street to recover from the inial shock and it's concomitant fear..
And five years for that same American man-on-the-street to become accumstomed to the workings of the Homeland Security Agency, and to develop, to some extent, the assuredness that 'it won't happen again, not here'..
Thousands will gather in New York today, but perhaps less to recall the terrorist attack, but to mourn those who lost their lives in the attack. And those who died deserve to be remembered, equally as much as those we recall on Remeberance or Memorial Day, for they were the first Western innocents to fall victim, to this ongoing war.
Here in Britain, we had our own day of rememberance fr those killed in the London Underground, and on the busses, just last month..
But what was a clearly defined 'War on Terror' that George announced just 5 years ago, has been a muddled, divisive, and unclear issue today..
In France, Le Monde declared the day after 9/11: "We are all Americans now", a placard at a demonstration in London recently read: "We are all Hezbollah now".
Al-Qaeda has lost much of its leadership. It has not toppled governments as it had hoped. Western forces have not left the Middle East, and in particular the government of Saudi Arabia, guardian of Mecca, which is probably Osama Bin Laden's ultimate target, stands.
Yet Western and other publics are left in fear, and rightly so. Al-Qaeda is no invention.

Its impact - or that of its sympathisers - was seen not only in New York and Washington but in Bali, Madrid, London, Morocco, Istanbul and elsewhere..
Fear is a powerful motivating factor. Fear after 9/11 led to the Bush doctrine of the pre-emptive strike.
But this doctrine has not been endorsed by all.
Doubts, divisions and defections have developed among American allies. For many around the world, sympathy for the United States has changed into suspicion and, for some, even into hatred. The prisons at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, the treatment of prisoners, secret prisons and rendition flights all added to this feeling.

Professor Michael Clarke of King's College, London, is gloomy in the short term at least.
"If I was Osama Bin Laden sitting in my cave, I would think I was winning," he said.
"I would consider that I am still at large, I have a global movement, I strike a chord with young Muslims everywhere, I am an inspiration not a planner and I have lured the US into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq of my choosing and of my way of fighting."
He added: "Nor is the West countering the easy narrative offered by the jihadis. They are, and I agree with the Bush language on this, Islamic fascists, but we are not engaging enough in the war of ideas and are instead dwelling on their actions. They can counter that by dwelling on ours, in a game of moral equivalence."

The extent to which Iraq has influenced events can be seen by looking at the language used by George before and after the invasion.
On 31 August this year he told the American Legion in Salt Lake City: "This war will be long... but it's a war we must wage, and a war we will win...The war we fight today is more than a military conflict; it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st Century."

His use of the future tense in "We will win" contrasts with what he said before the invasion. On 26 February 2003, he declared in a speech in Washington: "We have arrested, or otherwise dealt with, many key commanders of al-Qaeda. Across the world, we are hunting down the killers one by one. We are winning."
The change of tense shows how far any expectation of victory has been put off.

And nor has Washington been effective in solving another motivating factor for the jihadis - the Israel-Palestine conflict. Its portrayal of Israel as a victim in the war on terror sits uneasily with, say, the Europeans, who generally see the dispute as territorial not ideological and therefore amenable to a compromise.
Thus, there is therefore no agreed and clear narrative for the "war on terror".

Professor Clarke is more optimistic in the long term.
"It will get worse before it gets better but I expect western policy to win eventually because it offers a superior political, moral and economic model. However we have not made things easy for ourselves by mistakes, first in Afghanistan by allowing Taleban and al-Qaeda leaders to escape and then on a grand scale in making a strategic mistake by invading Iraq.
"This is probably going to take a generation to resolve, until the angry young jihadis turn into tired old men, as the Marxist-Leninists did."

But what a legacy we have created for our children..
One can only hope that those who follow, especially in political posts, are up to dealing with a Middle Easetrn Plan which has been fermenting in that area since 1949, and the formation, by the West, of the State of Israel..
If we seemed confused, imagine another 30 or 40 years of conflict.

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