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.