Sunday, September 11, 2011

Yet another September 11th post

Yeah I know, there's nothing original in writing about September 11th. But as the defining event of the last decade, much the way the fall of the Berlin Wall defined the 90s, it would be a bit churlish to ignore the 10 year anniversary. There have been reams of articles written about the appropriateness of the Bush regime's response. The initial Afghan campaign was probably justified. The follow on shenanigans in Iraq definitely not.

To most people, the biggest impact of 9/11 has been the increase in the security farce surrounding air travel. In 2001 I happened to be in at a conference in Edinburgh where I watched events unfold. The chance in airport security from the flight over on the Saturday and the return home on the Wednesday evening were stark. This "increase" in security, not only in airports, but throughout our daily lives, has come at a cost.

Obviously in the immediate aftermath of such an event there is going to be an over-reaction. But the fact that the security industry has been able to keep the fear levels high and use it to remove hard earned civil liberties, especially in the US and UK, is depressing. Increased powers of stop and search, massive rollouts of CCTV and the use of financial and online profiling have all been introduced in order to "protect" us. Add to that the use of torture and rendition, especially the use of Shannon Airport, and you have to start asking yourself has it all been worthwhile.

The short answer from the hawks is to point out that, despite London, Madrid and Bali, by and large there hasn't been another 9/11 and so the measures are justified. The response from the doves is that between 100,000 and 1,000,000 people have been killed directly as a result of the 9/11 fallout in Iraq and Afghanistan and so the response has failed. Personally I'm more in the latter camp.

I have nothing new to say on this issue. The events of 9/11 were awful, a tragedy. But the response has been just as bad. We have moved from a peaceful, positive world in 2001 to a more violent, negative one in 2011. Does that mean the terrorists have won? Probably not. But they've advanced their agenda a whole lot with some unexpected allies in the governments of the West. You can't declare war on an abstract noun and expect to win.

Finally, in true lefty form, September 11th is the anniversary of a whole load of other world events which also deserve recognition. Here are some of them.

  • 1649 - Cromwell loots Drogheda and massacres the inhabitants
  • 1919 - The US invades Honduras to prop up the original banana republic
  • 1973 - Pinochet takes over in Chile following a CIA backed coup
  • 1977 - Stephen Biko arrested and killed in South Africa

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