Friday, 11 September 2009

Voodoo History: 9/11.

"The Towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for peace in our time, in the United States or any other country." - Hunter S Thompson

Today is Friday, it is also September 11th 2009, 8 years since the attacks on the World Trade Centre shocked the world and changed America forever. It was one of those moments in history, like the assassination of John F Kennedy on November 22nd 1963, many of those alive to have witnessed it will never forget where they were on that day. Much like the assassination of JFK, the attacks on the Twin Towers have become the subject of conspiracy theorists. Though, it should be noted that the main reason we fixate on atrocities like the attacks that brought down the Twin Towers is mostly down to the fact that Westerners were the victims. No public official dedicates a moment of silence to those who died in Chile on September 11th 1973, or during the following 17 years in Chile. That's why I'd like to dedicate this article to not only the hundreds of people who were murdered on September 11th 2001, but also to the thousands of people who were tortured and murdered on September 11th 1973 and in the months following. Though, it is not the latter I am focusing on in this article.

On the way to the London-based Westfield Centre today, I passed a crowd of men and women, mostly young, some sported dreadlocks and some wore headscarves. They were waving around placards that carried slogans like "Investigate 9/11" and "Obama is a puppet for the New World Order." One of the protesters had a megaphone and was shouting out slogans like "Investigate the criminal activities of the New World Order!"
The protesters were handing out various DVDs that supported their cause or provided some greater insight into their theory. The demonstration was small. Though, it was certainly "lively" it was not the subject of intense policing - unlike the protests in Harrow on the same day. One of the documentaries was Endgame: Blue Print for Global Enslavement, which concludes that the Bilderberg group is attempting to establish a world government by exploiting fear of terrorism and climate change.

The attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on September 11th 2001, was an event of shocking and bizarre magnitude. As the planes struck, President Bush was in an elementary school, reading My Pet Goat with the full knowledge that his country was under attack. A conspiracy theory was sort of inevitable, particularly with the events that followed 9/11 such as the invasion of Iraq. However, there is a deeply flawed and immoral logic at the heart of most of these theories. The theory that the Bush administration were in some way involved in the 9/11 attacks, as part of an overall plot to invade Iraq of which 9/11 provided justification. A common accusation of the Bush administration, in relation to this theory, is that 9/11 was actually a controlled demolition - assuming that such destruction would legitimise the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.

What's wrong with this theory? A lot, actually. The facts are that the men involved in the plot were not Iraqi Arabs, most of them were from Egypt and Saudi Arabia. If the Bush administration is capable of orchestrating such a horrific act of state-sponsored terrorism against US citizens, it doesn't make sense that they would implicate Saudis and Egyptians. Saudi Arabia is the oldest ally of the US government in the Middle East, the US government effectively helps keep the dictatorial Saudi Royals in power, sitting on the "Black Gold" and heavily armed. Egypt is another close ally of the Americans, since it is almost totally dependent on the US for weaponry and support in the oppression of the Egyptian people. It would more sense to implicate Afghans or Iraqis in the attacks. But they weren't implicated in the attacks, Afghanistan and Iraq were targeted for supposedly harbouring terrorists. Though, we now know that those two states were most likely invaded to achieve strategic goals: gaining control of large oil and gas reserves in the Middle East being the most obvious.

It is true that the Bush administration knew that Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri were planning a terrorist attack in the United States in the months prior to 9/11. They had been informed by numerous intelligence agencies and political leaders such as Vladimir Putin. It is true that the Bush administration benefited from the attacks, in terms of power, but so did all governments around the world. It is true that the Bush administration used 9/11 to gather jingoistic support for the invasion of Iraq. It is also true, and a matter of public knowledge, that the US government has a history of invading countries with the intention of seizing their resources and exploiting the natives. But an attack on the World Trade Centre by a group of Arabs does not justify an invasion of any Arab country. The assumption that 9/11 would provide some kind of justification for invadiing Iraq is fundamentally racist. The implication of the assumption is that the deaths of 3,000 Americans, at the hands of any Arabs, justifies killing nearly 2 million Arabs, that is nearly 700 Arab deaths for every 1 American death.

The way in which the Twin Towers fell was unusual and did resembled a demolition, to a layman. But that is irrelevant really, since there has never been a controlled experiment in which two of the world's tallest sky-scrapers are attacked to see what happens. Therefore, we do not know what "normally" happens when a plane collides with a tall building. There hasn't been a single scientific article submitted in favour of the theory that the World Trade Centre was demolished. But if we assume that an Arab life is worth a lot less than an American life, even then it was not in the interest of the Bush administration to demolish the Towers. The way in which the Twin Towers collapse ensured a lower body count, than if the towers had toppled over which may have killed tens or even hundreds of thousands. The Bush administration was probably the most extreme administration seen in decades, not even in terms of what they did but in how they did it. Despite that, it seems unlikely that the Bushites would have been crazy enough to orchestrate such attacks. If they had been exposed, which would have been quite likely due to the amount of people involved, that would have meant the end of the Republican Party.

But there remains the shadow of a looming question: What purpose do conspiracy theories serve in society? The truth is that people are disillusioned and cynical, nothing ever changes no matter who we elect and seemingly unexplained atrocities continue to occur. Human beings are pattern seekers, we yearn to understand our reality and we strive towards knowledge. This is the reason for philosophy, science and religion. But this tendency, which has arguably enriched our lives, makes us vulnerable to easy answers and junk theories. Conspiracy theories about Freemasons, Jews or even shapeshifting aliens are easy answers. People are not taught about the real causes of terrorism and assassinations, let alone the details of the democratic deficit and economic exploitation that is innate to the structure of our societies.

"Government is not the solution. Government is the problem." - Ronald Reagan

I later found out Endgame was produced by Alex Jones, among many other documentaries. His political views have been described in the past as libertarian. The brand of libertarianism Jones subscribes to is the same kind as Ron Paul or Milton Friedman, which emphasises the importance of individual freedom and laissez-faire capitalism. Conservatism, and most right-wing political philosophies, can be characterised by a distrust of human nature, and government intervention in the market, combined with a paradoxical trust of corporations. Many right-wing libertarians like Ron Paul, Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman etc. would like to see a separation between the state and the market. Although, libertarians tend to have a more positive view of human nature and a much more negative view of the government than conservatives. To some, Jones provides answers to serious questions.

Many of the survivalist private armies in America have declared themselves "constitutional militias" and are dedicated to the defence of individual liberty and the Constitution. These militias are heavily trained, well equipped with weaponry and have a large quantity of stockpiled food. They reject the legitimacy of the Federal Reserve and the IRS, as violators of the Constitution. Timothy McVeigh had links to such groups. These private armies are suspicious of the North American Union, as they believe it may be part of an attempt to establish a "world government". Alex Jones is a big supporter of militias, as part of American culture and as in accordance with his interpretation of the Constitution. The common tendency to view the government as the enemy is perfectly natural, after decades of switching between a small selection of parties who always fail to live up to their promises. This tendency is as natural as it is to view taxation as theft in our society, since we have no real democratic control over what our money ends up funding. Otherwise, we would look upon tax as a way of donating our hard-earned cash to the various programs and services we had agreed would receive funding.

Generally, there is a lot to be angry about today. But clearly people don't know what, or who, they're angry at. The anger is directed at the government and not at "Big Business". The anger is always focused away from corporations and towards the government. You have only to look at the recent controversy over MPs expenses to see this demonstrated clearly. As the scandals related to the bonuses bankers were receiving, despite their incompetence and recklessness, heated up the media began paying more attention to the expenses of politicians. The anger is directed at the government, because the state is a potentially democratic institution, corporations and businesses are not potentially democratic. Therefore, it's necessary to keep "Big Business" invisible and this is done so by guiding all hatred against the government. Most of the hatred and suspicion against the European Union derives from fears that immigration will spiral out of control and we will be governed by a distant clique in Brussels. Interestingly, the documentaries produced by Alex Jones portray unions, like the EU, as part of the move towards establishing a "world government" by elite groups.

In the words of John Dewey "Government is the shadow cast by business over society." The anger aimed at the government - the shadow and not the substance. Significant political change will still fail if the substance remains the same. Conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones are ignorant to this fact and continue to guide the anger at the government, in order to disseminate his own libertarian ideas. In theory, further integration into unions like the EU could be used to "change" the substance behind the shadow. Through such unions, the possibilities of strict regulation and increased taxation of corporations become a real possibility. Ordinarily, a multinational corporation could easily leave a country that imposes strict regulation and increased taxes, which is why politicians fear enforcing such policies. But with a union such as the EU politicians could easily enforce such policies across the whole of Europe, without fear of corporations leaving the country. The entire region of Europe is worth trillions, to corporations, it wouldn't be in their favour to ostracise an entire region.

It looks as though conspiracy theories are being used to disseminate certain ideas and views of the world. Not only are these views of a laissez-faire capitalist point of view. These views have a racist logic built into them. A theory which merely shifts the "blame" from one individual to some abstract group, like the Freemasons, is not the friend of the victims of exploitation and violence world wide. These theories do not even refute the assumptions they rely, assumptions that are widely accepted by politicians and energy corporations alike. It is not Freemasonry, Judaism, Scientology or the Government which needs to be eliminated to prevent these kinds of atrocities. It is exploitation and racist violence which is the cause of these atrocities. It is true that no one should accept the right of an oppressed people to retaliate with mass-murder. But it is also true that no one should accept the oppression of such people in the first place, let alone the aggressive reaction launched against such people by their oppressors.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The New Rogue State?

The Lockerbie Furore

On August 20th 2009, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, better known as the "Lockerbie Bomber", was released from a Scottish prison and returned to Libya on compassionate grounds. The controversial release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was only matched by the "Welcome Home" party he seemed to receive upon returning to his homeland. In Libya he received, what was perceived as, a hero's welcome from a crowd of Libyans, some waving the Scottish flag, and government officials, most notably Gaddafi's son. In the week after al-Megrahi's release, there was widespread speculation that would be a "guest of honour" at the celebrations of Gaddafi's 40th year in power. The release of such a man convicted of killing 270 people, 189 of them were American, was greeted with outrage and disgust, particularly from the American government.

The British government, specifically Gordon Brown, was criticised for not speaking out against the decision of the devolved Scottish Parliament. In the days since the release of al-Megrahi, rumours surfaced of convenient lucrative deals, involving oil and arms, with the Libyan government. There has been talk of a boycott of Scotland by the Americans. Politicians were soon squirming as the attention turned to them and what role they might have played in al-Megrahi's release. Speculation swirled inevitably, when word of Peter Mandelson's meetings with Saif Gaddafi, "got out". Prime Minister Brown eventually commented that he found the release of al-Megrahi "repulsive" and later denied rumours of doubledealing. But it was later confirmed that an oil deal was signed, at the same time that the decision to release al-Megrahi on "compassionate grounds" was made.

Innocence and Guilt

The obvious question that no one is asking and everyone should be, remains largely in the background of the outrage surrounding his return to Libya. The question: is Abdelbaset al-Megrahi innocent or guilty? The questions asked by British journalists didn't stray far from "What if Megrahi lives longer than three months? What will you say to your constituents, then?" The facts remain that al-Megrahi was convicted because of the testimony of Tony Gauci who claimed that al-Megrahi bought clothing from him, the same clothes that were later discovered in the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103. Gauci's testimony is questionable on the grounds that he gave a false description of him in nearly 20 separate statements and didn't even recognise al-Megrahi in the courtroom. And then there was the key witness, who remains annonymous even to this day, who testified that he saw Khalifa Fahimah, al-Megrahi's acquitted co-accused, loading the bomb onto the plane in Frankfurt. This secret witness was exposed by the defence as an informer for the CIA, who would receive $4 million upon the conviction of the accused. It later became apparent in 2007, that Gauci had received $2 million for his "damning" testimony.

At the time of the bombing, December 21st of 1988, Reagan was in the White House and had been for nearly two full terms with George HW Bush as Vice President
. In August of that same year the USS Vincennes shot down an Iran Air Flight 665 over the Persian Gulf. This act killed 290 civilians including 66 children. It was deemed an accident by the American government and Bush Snr later rewarded the ship's captain with the Legion of Merit in 1990. But the Iranian government still maintain that the accident was a deliberate attack by the United States. So when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie there was speculation that it was revenge. American officials, most of which were working at the US Embassy in Moscow, had reserved seats aboard Pan Am Flight 103 from Frankfurt, but cancelled their bookings at the last minute. According to Paul Foot, the American officials had been warned of the plot by UK intelligence. Foot later added that, Margerat Thatcher killed the inquiry into the terrorist attack before it got up and going.

Thatcher later made a call to the White House in January of 1990, the British Prime Minister promised to keep the disaster low key after an intelligence report came out. The report claimed that the attack had been orchestrated by the Iranian government and carried out by a "free-lance" Palestinian group. The motivation: revenge for the 290 people killed by the USS Vincennes. It's likely that the Bush Administration were aiming to distance themselves from a potential scandal. Bush Snr had previously dodged the Iran-Contra affair - in which the US sold guns to Iran in exchange for hostages - that could've cost him the election. It would make sense that he was looking to avoid opening up old wounds and evoking memories which might turn this "accident" into a terrorist atrocity. The White House later looked to Iran for partial support, as President Bush Snr marched onwards to prevent Saddam Hussein from annexing Kuwait. Interestingly, Libya was the only country that did not back the US in the Gulf War - Gaddafi actually backed Iraq - which ended in February of 1991. The British and American press quickly resorted to a campaign of vilification and jingoistic warmongering against Gaddafi's regime. Then in November 1991, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and Khalifa Fahimah were indicted for the Lockerbie Bombing.

The Lockerbie Hypocrisy

Despite this Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted in January of 2001, of participating in the terrorist attack which killed 270 people in 1988. But for the sake of argument, let's assume that the trial was fair and that al-Megrahi is guilty. Would incarcerating the Lockerbie Bomber mean anything if we did not apply the same standards to individuals like Orlando Bosch? Bosch is wanted for committing numerous terrorist attacks across South and Central America, mostly on the watch of the CIA. Bosch was the leader of CORU - which the FBI described as an "anti-Castro terrorist umbrella organisation". CORU was part of Operation Condor which was orchestrated by several right-wing politicians, in South America, who intended to purge the continent of socialist influences and ideas. He was almost convicted of blowing up Cubana Flight 455, killing 73 people, in 1976. Bosch was held in Venezuela for a decade, before being freed in the US after the charges were dropped. For the US government to at least maintain some degree of consistency on the issue of terrorism, they would have extradited Bosch years ago. But no, Orlando Bosch and his friends remain free.

Would an act of compassion, toward a possibly innocent man, really harm the standing of British justice in the world? The people who claim this, so naively assume that the standing of British justice is paramount in today's world and may be a testament to their own ignorance. This is an especially rash assumption after nearly a decade of lies, renditions, detention camp fiascos and revelations about torture. Just as the British media's running commentary on the "special relationship" is based on the naive assumption that Britain still has an important role to play in the world - as Uncle Sam's sidekick. It is as if this assumption acts "compensatory" for the imperial power Britain lost in the last century. What this "debacle" has done is to clearly demonstrate that no authority in the West cares of the opinions coming from the East. If this were not true all the noise about a stained "special relationship" and a desecrated judicial system would have been coming from very different places indeed. Instead we have white westerners complaining that their reputation and values have been trampled on, while the rest of the world is smart enough to see that this reputation is a figment of our narcissistic imagination.