04 July 2005

Another viewpoint


This is interesting — a BBC series called The Power of Nightmares, which seems to argue that the description of al-Qaeda as a global terrorist network which poses an existential threat to the US and Europe is a fantasy promulgated so that the populace will, from fear, accept whatever their political masters do. Since Cambodia Cable TV has dropped BBC, I have not been able to watch it for myself.

I've heard things like this before — see What Really Happened for much more on it. And in truth, there's little evidence beyond the assertions of our government that al-Qaeda carried out the 9/11 attacks. Yes, Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility, but that was well after it was clear that the blame was going to fall on him anyway, and he may just have been taking advantage of the situation.

So I'm not sure where I think truth lies on this. I do, however, agree wholeheartedly with Lord Hoffman, quoted in the article on the BBC series, who said (of Britain, but I think the conclusion applies to the US as well):
This is a nation which has been tested in adversity, which has survived physical destruction and catastrophic loss of life.

I do not underestimate the ability of fanatical groups of terrorists to kill and destroy, but they do not threaten the life of the nation.

Whether we would survive Hitler hung in the balance, but there is no doubt that we shall survive al-Qaeda.

The Spanish people have not said that what happened in Madrid, hideous crime as it was, threatened the life of their nation. Their legendary pride would not allow it.

Terrorist violence, serious as it is, does not threaten our institutions of government or our existence as a civil community.
Above all, I do not see what threat Saddam Hussein posed to the US to justify our going to war there. The war and its attendant atrocities, the erosion of America's standing in the world, the alienation of the US public from their government, and the steady erosion of democratic principles in the US, are a far greater danger to the US than al-Qaeda, even if they did carry out the 9/11 attacks.