Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

You may say I'm a dreamer.

CAN you imagine a politician trying to get elected on the basis he's a killer?

What a bizarre campaign poster that would be. 'Vote for me. I execute people as and when I feel like it without care for the law. This makes me an international statesman. I am better than the lunatic fringe, reds, blues, yellows or greens, because I KILL.'

Daft isn't it? Dishface's inner PR man would laugh in your face if you suggested doing that. Sarkozy would balk and Robert Mugabe would tell you that he might be a terrible man but he at least tries to pretend he's not. Even Tony Blair would think twice, tainted as he is by war-mongering and spin. But Barack Obama is doing precisely that in the US.

Nice, cuddly, mixed race, liberal Barack is genuinely saying that because he ordered the execution of Osama bin Laden a year ago he is the best contender for the White House. See his anniversary video for yourselves:

Let's get this straight. The leader of the Free World - the man in charge of the biggest weapons and the largest democracy - reckons that because he ordered someone to be killed he's a shoe-in for the job.

Is it just me, or does that smell wrong?

Osama bin Laden was a rotten piece of work. The chances are he ordered the terror attacks on the USS Cole, on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and orchestrated 9/11. There's also a tiny chance he accepted responsibility for them because it made him look fearsome, like a crazy confessing to a murder, and he wasn't really that involved at all.

But he probably did it. He probably caused the deaths of 2,996 people on 9/11, an event which is said to be one of the deadliest terror attacks of all time.

He should have been held to account for that. And he never, ever will be.

Obama's wheeled out Shagger Clinton for his ad to say "he took the harder and the more honourable path" in making a tough decision to kill bin Laden. What's not explained is that the decision he took wasn't whether to kill or not - it was whether to do so with guns or with drones. The choice was to risk the lives of US servicemen and be sure they'd got the right bad guy, or to do it remotely and obliterate all traces.

As a result of that decision Obama has made and is continuing to make a lot of political capital, something he could not have done had they just dropped a bomb on him.

He's questioning whether his main challenger would have had the guts to do the same, and I suspect the answer is any career politician with an eye to re-election would jump at the chance to be the guy who got Osama. I don't expect the thought of whether or not it was the right thing to do even crossed his mind.

But the entire point of the war on terror - the keystone upon which the Free World relies - is that our way is fundamentally better than theirs. That we don't kill, we question our own beliefs, and we think our social rules are capable of raising us above our tribal instincts.

Killing bin Laden kicks that crutch away from us. Unless we are better than them, they win. If we treat them the way they treat us, they win. If we cannot set an example, they win.

And if they win, the Free World loses.

The long-term effect of 9/11 wasn't the war on terror but the belief that the reason it happened was because 'we' were weak. That being democratic and having liberties made us an easy target, and that the only way to defend ourselves and be strong was to trample over each other.

Many people had seen the attacks coming, but bureaucracy and rules stopped the intelligence being used to pre-empt what happened. That guilt led, particularly in the US but also in Britain and Europe, to new laws, more surveillance, greater censorship and fewer freedoms.

You want to take tweezers on a plane? You can't. Leave a bag on a train? You'll be questioned. Take a picture in a public place? A policeman will pop up and tell you not to. Complain you don't want missiles parked on your roof? You're one of them. And try being a journalist - I know dozens who've been stopped and searched under anti-terrorism laws just for doing their job, and that never happened before 9/11.

That's the kind of regime the fundamentalists want, isn't it?

On paper the war on terror it should be easy to win because we've got stealth bombers and they've got a chemistry book and an old car battery, but they haven't lost yet.

We've tried killing them, bribing them, collaborating with them and ignoring them, and none of it has worked. The one thing we always used to do - the one and only thing which has ever worked in a war of ideology with those who want to restrict what people can do and think - is to educate them that our way really is better.

That means being better. It means putting bad men on trial, however difficult and complicated. It means giving Anders Behring Breivik a chance to say his piece, and hope that more people who hear him think he's crazy rather than think he's right. It means putting Saddam Hussein on trial for months even though it's a foregone conclusion he'll be sentenced to death at the end of it. It's being annoyed by the fact Hitler, Milosevic, and Pol Pot all died before they felt the long arm of the law.

If I could go back in time and do it, I'd stand between Osama bin Laden and the Navy SEAL who slotted him and say the same. I'd shout it down the radio to the situation room, and I'd point out the reason Hillary looked so shocked was because the Free World was about to shoot itself in the foot and the effects of killing bin Laden would make us exactly what the terrorists wanted us to be.

Would Barack make the "hard and honourable" decision to put a bullet in me for getting in his way?

I think he probably would.

 Happy anniversary, kids.


Andrew King said...

I can’t say I’m, uniquely disturbed by Obama bigging this one up. It wouldn’t be the first time a politician’s sought – and gained – popular approval for defeating an external threat with deadly force. Our own Margaret Thatcher was heading for electoral oblivion before being saved by the Falklands. At least Obama’s administration, unlike Thatcher’s, wasn’t complicit in allowing the external threat to arise in the first place (before the war, the Tories didn’t firmly didn’t firmly counter the junta’s belligerent rhetoric about the sovereignty of the islands and they withdrew HMS Endurance, giving the impression that the Brits wouldn’t defend the islands).

Likewise, Obama would have to be some kind of political saint not to highlight how much more effective his “speak softly but carry a big stick” approach has been than the cretinous bluster of George W, who talked tough, but entirely failed to get America’s most wanted man, dead or alive.

What does disturb me about Obama, and the entire American political class, was a remark somebody dropped the other week that, such is the triumph of neoconservative ideology, the “liberal” Obama is actually somewhere to the right of Richard Nixon. Now that is a scary thought.

Matt said...

Never sink to their level.

Even Batman knows killing is the easy way and once you start, where do you stop?

Therefore Batman > Obama.

The Bayes said...

Hardly a new position for a US politician running for office to take. As recently as 2004, ol' Bushy Boy was running around telling every halfwit hick with a shotgun to vote for him because he'd daisy-bombed Iraq into dust.

Does that make it acceptable to us mild-mannered Europeans? Hardly. But it's a golden ticket into the White House over there, and considering Obama's track record so far, it's a toss up between running around the US with Bin Laden's head on a pike, or impressing the locals with his slam dunk technique.

Sukh Pabial said...

The thing is it, as much as your 'education is the best policy' argument is the winner, USonians just won't see it that way. Barack Obama did the right thing by ordering Bin Laden's death, and that's enough to swing the vote his way. Joe US Public won't care about any of the moral factor, they just care about revenge and being the best.

Vivien said...

It's a hard thought and most can't get it, but I do - you are brave for saying this.
PS I'd buy any newspaper that takes you on as a columnist. Keep doing what you do. It will come right.

Anonymous said...

and guess his daughter seems to have learned diplomacy at such a young age. she is talking humanity on the social networking websites.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for so eloquently expressing everything I've been thinking for years! On a side note, I hope killing Osama does clinch Obama a second term because everyone's even more screwed if he doesn't. Lesser of two evils.

Darryl said...

I imagine he's making himself a choice for the gun-toting right.

What's the only thing a first term president wants? A second term.

Robert Cragg said...

I think what you say about keeping the moral high ground and educating those who oppose us is an ideal, but one which can't always be achieved. Taking Bin Laden out was the least worst of the options available to Obama. Even if he could have been arrested and put on trial without a fire-fight resulting in more deaths, and that is far from certain, the USA would have created a long-running focus for protest, possibly leading to more terrorist attacks.I think he made the right call.

Ian Cox said...

The war on terror was devised and orchestrated by Bush to justify a huge increase in Federal spending on defence, homeland security and ultimately on subjugating the American people to whatever shit he could think up. It worked, and Obama is happy with its legacy.

Anonymous said...

Mitt Romney would not invade a neutral sovereign state to get one man. That is surely a good thing isn't it? Because invading a country normally has a tendency to lead to a war. Bit of an own goal by Obama really.

Desi Kehoe said...

For the first time I am gonna have to disagree with you.Bin Laden being killed was a good thing.The man was pure evil and though we all suspect there will be more attacks in Europe and the USA Obama had no choice

Anonymous said...

"But he probably did it. He probably caused the deaths of 2,996 people on 9/11, an event which is said to be one of the deadliest terror attacks of all time."

A Dresden civilian may have looked at the UK and said I can think of a far deadlier terror attack on civilians.

A Hiroshima / Hagasaki civilian may have looked at the US and said I can think of a far deadlier terror attack on civilians.

Sept 11, hardly any dead compared to many real target civilian terror attacks

Karen said...

Sheltering bin Laden is not the action of a neutral state, Anonymous. Pakistan really can't say boo about the incursion because its military was implicated in the refuge, and Obama knew it. That invasion was part of the statement -- it put the sometime ally on notice that they were being called out on shenanigans.

Karen said...

I liked this column, but I do want to provide some perspective from the US. "The choice was to risk the lives of US servicemen and be sure they'd got the right bad guy, or to do it remotely and obliterate all traces." That is exactly the choice, and Obama did make the right choice. The assumption you make in this column is that Americans are equivalent to Britons, and we really aren't. We're similar, but we *love* killing people who have done us wrong. And bin Laden sure did us wrong, and would love to have done us more wrong for longer. I for one prefer that this president went in and murdered the guy we actually wanted dead, rather than mindlessly and remotely murder civilians who happened to live near where some jerk was rumored to be. This is doubled because the US would never have had the moxie to order drone strikes on Pakistan, which is where that fuckface was sheltered for years. I'm not saying you're wrong that it was pretty much murder. But in the US it's justifiable homicide.

About the election: I'm going to vote for the murderer over the guy who would take away my niece's health care, and my conscience is clear about it.

Anonymous said...

He wants the NRA vote.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the fact you're actively calling him a murderer and are genuinely happy about murdering a guy, even if he did attack America, proves the US has no place in civilised society. By saying this you justify the killing of any US/British servicemen out in the Middle East (by policemen, for example), because plenty of Afghani/Iraqi civilians have been murdered by soldiers out there, so therefore it is 'justifiable homicide' as they all represent the same organisation. Much the same as the other people who were killed in the raid on Bin-Ladens compound were viable targets because they happened to be mates with him, even if they hadn't actually attacked anything or killed anyone.

Anonymous said...

You know, the founding fathers of the US were classed as Terrorists. So you're saying China has the green light to invade the US because they are now sheltering a guy that China doesn't like? The west thinks that Chen is right, maybe Pakistan believe that Bin-Ladens actions were the right thing to do. It's called fascism if you think your views are better than the next countries.

Anonymous said...

The 9/11 terrorist attacks were done in the morning, when the towers had hardly anyone in. He could have planned them for about 2pm or so, when up to 30000 people may have been in them. If he was that evil why didn't he do it then? I don't agree with the attacks, but then America knowingly dropped two nuclear bombs on civilian populations. The first one can be argued as necessary, Japan propbably would have carried on fighting if not, but the second was simply done to test a different design of bomb. So tell me, which is the more evil act, a group using terror as the only weapon available to them, or a country built upon human rights irradiating huge swathes of countryside and murdering hundreds of thousands of civilians simply to test a new weapon?

Anonymous said...

It's called fascism if you think your views are better than the next countries.

No, it's called a disagreement. Fascism is when you hurl personal attacks at people you disagree with, simply for disagreeing with you. It's when an autocrat takes absolute control, and dissenting opinions simply won't be tolerated and are will be shouted down and shut out by any means necessary.

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