Sadly, the plan to wean myself off Orwell was sunk as soon as I read John Reid demonstrating an outstanding ability to engage in doublethink. Drat.
We'll start here:
We do all of this today against an enemy unrecognisable from the past, indeed unprecedented. It is the completely unconstrained terrorist.Nonsense, as Walter Wolfgang would rightly say. This is one of the big lies in the "war" on terror. I've yet to decide whether Reid, Blair and co actually believe this crap or whether they simply use this claim for their own ends. The reality is that even hardcore al Qaeda types are not "completely unconstrained". I'm working up to writing a serious post on this.
In the meantime consider that the September 11th terrorists flew an aircraft into the Pentagon. There are literally thousands of places in the US where they could have caused far more damage and killed far more people. They chose the Pentagon, and New York for that matter, primarily as symbolic targets. The idea was to create the impression that they were "completely unconstrained" and that no-one in the US was safe from potential terrorist attack. It is, in some ways (but significantly different in others), comparable to the "shock and awe" campaign. It was designed primarily to be a psychological blow to the target country, and specifically to the target audience. Yes, the attacks on New York were designed to kill many innocent people, but as a means, not an end.
Don't misunderstand me though, these fundamentalist terrorists are an extremely dangerous bunch and we need take action to prevent future attacks. Their tactics are indeed abhorent and I condemn them absolutely. That is not in question. But we must understand that these attacks were a deliberate attempt to portray al Qaeda as unconstrained in the eyes of the Western world. Terrorists seek to provoke an over-reaction built on a fear which is out of proportion to the actual threat they pose. This over-reaction, if successfully provoked, and particularly when it appears to operate arbitrarily, can then be used to create a new wave of support for the extremists. Be in no doubt that this is a deliberate strategy; it is a classic asymmetric warfare technique.
Reid, apparently not understanding this, talks them up in an effort to justify his government's over-reacting policies and the occasional "isolated blemish" by our troops. What an arse.
He then goes further by attempting to portray the fight against these goons as similar to the fight against the Nazi war machine. Let's see. In 1939, Hitler had assembled what was probably the most powerful military force the world had ever seen. As the Battle of Britain hung in the balance, that enormous military power very nearly became the first to launch a successful invasion of England since 1066.
Thanks to MatGB for reminding me that the last successful invasion of England was actually in 1688. It's a fair cop. William did have rather a large army with him when he arrived. (And I read this just last week too) So - 1066 saw the last successful militarily contested invasion of England. That should sort of sort it out.
[End of Update]
Reid says "if Lord Haw-haw was still around today, someone would be telling us that human rights demand that he be given a weekly column in our newspapers." Because having Hitler's war machine stationed in occupied France, approximately 25 miles from Dover, is almost exactly the situation we currently face? I'm really trying to cut down on blog swearing but piss off John. I think you'd find we'd all be taking a slightly different view of things if there was a huge fundamentalist extremist army in France which was threatening to invade Britain. But there isn't. We, the British public, are aware of that, even if you, for reasons which surely escape me, are not. Your attempts to scare us just show you up as the shallow, spineless, cowardly gargoyle that you so clearly are.
Then, after bigging up the terrorist threat for all he's worth, really going for it, and obviously including the now obligatory Communism reference (because the terrorists are just like the Soviets, with their ability to completely destroy Britain in around four minutes, almost literally at the touch of a button... oh, wait a minute) he says:
The strategic goal of the act of terrorism is fear, directed at breaking the will of their opponent. To a terrorist, the news reporting of an incident is nothing more than a method of amplifying and transmitting that fear.Hang on, what's this? He does understand that the terrorists use fear as a strategic weapon. He does understand that they try to amplify and transmit that fear for maximum effect. He even understands how the media have become unwitting accomplices in this activity. He goes on to generously explain that he understands why the free media reports these acts, even though that effectively spreads the fear and aids the terrorists.
I fully accept that this is a difficult bind for a free media in a democratic country whose news values are driven by commercial competition in an international market. But, be in no doubt, terrorists want to use our democratic freedom of speech to destroy our will to fight for our democratic values.The implication is that the media should perhaps care less about money and more about restraining their reporting. They should, Reid suggests, take care not to play on the fear factor. He does get it after all - when faced with terrorism, you do not play on the fear factor.
All of which leaves you wondering if he's actually read his own speech? The stuff about the unconstrained enemy? Did he hear himself pretending that these terrorists pose a threat equivalent to an extremely large, well trained, efficient, fully equipped military force, occupying France and threatening our nation's very existence? Did his suggestion that the danger posed by terrorists is equal to that of an enormous nuclear arsenal pointing our way simply pass straight from autocue to mouth without any involvment of the brain?
Did it occur to him that perhaps, just perhaps, the terrorists might be looking to exploit our society by using morally bankrupt, power hungry, and just plain stupid politicians as a "method of amplifying and transmitting that fear"? Somehow, I doubt it's even crossed his tiny little mind.
Tags: News, Politics, John Reid, Terrorism