Sunday, September 10, 2006

Living in the Shadow of Bin Laden

Its been five years since the day the towers came down. Since the day Bin Laden set the global agenda and our politicians, for their own twisted reasons, went along. If this was a film script it would go to flash back for five. Flashback to five years ago...

I heard about the first plane from a work colleague who was sat on the desk next to me. It seemed pretty unreal. I checked the net to see what was going down. Breaking news was a plane had hit the world trade centre...

In 2001 incidents of terrorism are running at about 1700 per year, globally.

Camera cuts forward in time to now. It's five years later and we are living in the shadow of Bin Laden. He wanted a war. Bu$h and Bliar gave him three. In Bristol two brave and principled people are awaiting trial for trying to stop war crimes. In Iraq a US armored car pulls the gate from a building and marines pour in searching for terrorists. There is shouting and screaming, children huddle as men are bagged and cuffed and lead off to uncertainty. Those they leave behind choose to join the insurgency.

Flashback to then. As the second plane hits, the net goes down. I can not remember a time then or since that this had happened. At first the BBC site went to a text only version, then that too would go.

Soon after this Bu$h would declare that either you are with him or with the terrorists. Rumsfeld would take the Iraq war plans off the backburner and once more put them into motion. In Afghanistan, Bin Laden would argue with Al-Zarqawi about how the US would respond to his attacks. Al-Zarqawi says they will attack Iraq and set off there to prepare for their coming.

Then; the only news was from the older-school technology of radio and TV. The work colleague who was sat on the desk next to me had Radio 5 Live going on his desk. A US senator suggested that this might be the work of the anti-capitalists. They were blaming a movement I consider myself part of. The lack of hard facts meant that the media began to blur news with speculation into fantasy.

Now – there is a vigil in Bristol each day to protest the wars. This has been going on since they started bombing Afghanistan. In Bristol there are also companies who make missiles that they use in the war on terror. Dick Cheney said that this war would not end in our lifetimes. A forever war. As if to prove this, the war in Afghanistan that we have supposedly won, still rumbles on there with no end in sight. The main casualties are civilians But Bliar and Bu$h don't count them.

Back them – at work we are all watching the TV – stunned by the horror and spectacle of the event. Our boss tells us to get back to work.

Now – the forever war takes in Iraq to sit alongside Afghanistan, Colombia and Palestine in their crusade for enduring freedom. During this war on terror they would use torture, cluster bombs, detention without trial, phosphorus shells, depleted uranium and bomblets. The forces of righteous would deploy the darkness to fight evil.

"The United States military uses another type of bomb, this one 'a terrific weapon' with 'tremendous destructive power,' according to U.S. General Wesley Clark. It is the BLU-82, also known as the 'Daisy Cutter.' This fifteen-thousand-pound bomb, filled with an aqueous mixture of ammonium nitrate, aluminum powder, and polystyrene soap, is so large it can only be launched by rolling it out the rear door of a cargo aircraft, the MC-130 Hercules. The slowness of the cargo plane means Daisy Cutters can only be dropped when there are no defenses, in other words, only on those who are defenseless...A parachute opens, then the Daisy Cutter floats toward the Earth. The parachute slows the descent enough to give the transport plane time to get away before the bomb explodes. The bomb detonates just above ground, producing what are called overpressures of one thousand pounds per square inch (overpressure is air pressure over and above normal air pressure: overpressures of just a few pounds are enough to kill people) disintegrating everything and everyone within hundreds of yards, and killing people (and nonhumans) at a range of up to three miles. General Peter Pace, vice-chair of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, put the purpose clearly: 'As you would expect, they make a heck of a bang when they go off and the intent is to kill people.' Marine Corps General Trainor was even more specific about the effect of Daisy Cutters on people in Afghanistan: 'Besides the physical degradation, these— along with the regular ordinance dropped from B-52s—provide great psychological punishment, as victims begin to bleed from the eyes, nose, and ears, if they aren’t killed outright, of course. It’s a frightening, awesome assault they’re suffering, and there’s no doubt they’re feeling our wrath.'"

Bu$h says god is not neutral. As we have Daisy Cutters - he must be on our side.

In 2005 incidents of terrorism are running at around 5100 per year. Since that day when Bin Laden killed 2,973 people to set his agenda, the west's fury and blundering would add another 62,006 dead to the tally.

And counting.

Cost of war so far: $313,693,687,636 and counting.

Now – Bliar is mired in a regicide plot for control of the Neo-Labour throne. How else could it have ended? Neo-Labour were built on spin and deception and lies. They lied about Iraq, Afghanistan and terrorism There were no cheering crowds in Iraq – just Al-Zarqawi's network and an insurgency There are no cheering crowds at number 10, just knives hidden in smiles.

Before – A couple of years after 911, I would hold my nose and vote Lib Dem to oust Neo-Labour in the national election. They won in Bristol West. The media, taking their cue from Neo-Labour focus group research said people don't care about the war. I did. In the run up to the largest ever demo sends coach after coach from here to London to say No War. Bliar ignored us. He ignored all of us who said it was a decent into terror. He said history would be his judge. Instead the dead of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine are his judge. They say, on one count of war crimes; guilty. He does not count them. He only counts the rich and powerful.

Now; I don't want to live in the shadow of Bin Laden. I want to see the sun again. I want us out of Iraq and Afghanistan I want the billions spent on war to go on making poverty history. I want Neo-Labour to consume itself in an orgy of destruction and leave only ashes (epitaph; 'Here lies the Labour Party 1900-2006, an opportunity lost. May future generation learn from our failure.')

I want the court to issue an arrest warrant for Bliar on charges of war crimes. I want Bin Laden caught and put on trial in the Hague. I want the Fairford disarmers to be acquitted and offered the Freedom of the City of Bristol.

I want us to break the cycle of war and destruction that costs so much and offers so little.

I want to be able to spend more time blogging about music and less time writing of death and terror.

I want Bu$h to read Derrek Jensen and weep:

"Even if the primary target of these bombs [daisy cutters] were members of the Afghan military (or terrorists, whatever or whomever they may be) those who were killed were mainly just people trying to survive. 'We were farmers,' said Kamal Hud-din, after American planes made four passes over Kama Ado, his home village, killing more than half of the three hundred people who lived there. 'We were poor people. And we didn’t have any contact with any organizations.' It’s no surprise that people like these—people living in mud huts with straw roofs, using wooden plows to till the soil exactly as their ancestors did—were killed. Colonel John Warden, who planned the air campaign in Iraq, said that dropping any of these bombs I’ve mentioned 'is like shooting skeet. Four hundred and ninety-nine out of five hundred pellets may miss the target, but that’s irrelevant.'

So, who dies? I have seen pictures of the dead, dark-haired children laid out on mattresses, hands folded neatly above the last clothes they will ever wear by parents now standing looking downward, eyes red, in the background. The children's faces are bloated, and red, too, though not from tears but instead from blood which never seems to finally wash away. The parents' hands, too, are red where faint traces of their children’s blood remains."

I want Bill Hicks's second coming to happen now so he can set us on the path to enlightenment.

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