Friday, July 08, 2005

Londoners recount horrors: Tell us your story pt2


To describe this last week as being an eventful one for London would be a bit of an understatement.

Live 8, the result of Olympic bid and then, yesterday, the bombings.

And I’m sadly ‘off message’ for all three events.

Yes, all three.

In fact, there are some striking similarities between all of them. In their way, each was very much an event of our times and, personally, I treat each of them with equal levels of concern and scepticism.

If you have bumped into this page and choose to read further, please bear in mind that nothing I have written is intended in any way to minimise the horror of what happened yesterday. Far from it. As well as the people who were killed, dozens of others were horribly injured; many were burned, others have endured amputations. The thought of it sickens me. The thought that this happened in places that are familiar to me, places that I, and many other Londoners, pass through every day makes the horror of yesterday very real and very immediate.

And I am nauseated by the thought that there are people out there who I believe are already making capital out of this horror.


Even though I’m one of those people who have been intensely sceptical about the War on Terror I never bought into the notion that it couldn’t happen here. ‘It’ happened in New York. ‘It’ happened in Madrid. There was no reason to believe that we were immune.

I do, however, have strong doubts about the true motivations of the people who have carried out these atrocities. Hundreds of terrorist suspects have been arrested in this country, countless billions have been spent on security and military action and all we have to show for it is the conviction of a handful of ineffective, solitary losers on nonsense charges. No secret underground bases in Afghanistan, no weapons caches, no super-trained secret agents, no evidence worthy of the name to support the global terrorist conspiracy theory that our governments have been peddling so actively.

Yesterday’s horror changes none of that. Careful not to appear distasteful or insensitive, the Government Spin Machine was set to work yesterday but in a relatively subtle way. A previously unheard of organisation called the "Secret Group of al Qaeda's Jihad in Europe" claimed responsibility for the London attack via the Internet. Some news organisations accepted this uncritically. A handful pointed out that this group of supposedly fanatical Muslim fundamentalists had mistranslated the Qur’an. Pretty much every news channel described the synchronised nature of the attacks on London, and the apparently meticulous planning, as being uniquely characteristic of Al Qaeda and prime evidence of its responsibility.

So, we’re all to believe that Al Qaeda is the only organisation in the world that executes well planned, synchronised operations but can't read the Qur'an properly. Sorry, I don’t buy that, I can think of one or two others.

And besides, a glance at a London tube map shows that just a couple of people could have pulled off yesterday’s attack. All three trains and the bus that was attacked passed through the same point, Kings Cross Station. Based at Kings Cross, they could have planted devices on each of the three trains and still have had enough time to board a number 30 bus and blow themselves up, or be blown up, in Tavistock Square.

It has already been hinted that the bus was blown up by a suicide bomber. That's a bit strange. Firstly, because the bus was a 'soft' target and didn't require a suicide to be attacked and, secondly, Tavistock Square is hardly a high profile location. Why press the button there of all places? No restrictions were in place at the time of the explosion and the supposed suicide bomber had his pick of London landmarkets from which he could meet his maker. Sounds like a balls up to me.

The only thing that was 'characteristic' about yesterday's atrocity was a desire to cause maximum disruption and fear with total disregard for human life. And there are plenty of groups who stand to benefit a lot more from that than Al Qaeda, assuming that you believe such an organisation even exists anyway.

But, for argument's sake, I’ll pretend that Al Qaeda does exist in exactly the form described by Blair and Bush.

Think for a moment about what Blair and Bush claim Al Qaeda’s motives to be. Listen to their rhetoric. Yesterday Blair kept sliming out lines like

"They are trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cow us, to frighten us out of doing the things that we want to do, of trying to stop us going about our business as normal as we are entitled to do."

The terrorists will not destroy "our values and our way of life"

"We will not allow violence to change our society and values"

No reference to Palestine or Iraq or the wicked regimes we support and were supporting long before 9/11. Nothing. What we are supposed to believe is that we are dealing with insane people with no real agenda other than to fuck us up and who don’t mind dying in the process.

And, sadly, the majority of people seem to have swallowed that horse manure.

No need to concern ourselves about the culpability of our own governments' actions or the desperation of people oppressed by the most powerful military powers on Earth. People who have no aircraft carriers, cruise missiles or stealth bombers. People so hateful and desperate and poorly equipped they will give up their own lives to strike back. And if you’ve been driven to a point where you’ll sacrifice your own life, why would you give a damn about anyone else’s?

As I said, I personally believe Al Qaeda to be a lie but if you are willing to believe a group of such people exists how can you possibly swallow the nursery grade ‘they hate us for our freedoms’ argument? Doesn’t ‘they hate us because we’re killing their families, stealing their resources, corrupting their societies and desecrating their sacred places’ make a just little more sense?

Of course, we’re not ever going to hear our politicians be quite so candid are we?

Personally, I have no doubt that there are evil forces in this World who hate freedoms and would dominate us all, but forgive me for not trusting the words of our Prime Minister, a proven liar with blood on his hands.

One of the other themes of yesterday’s commentary was the notion that the terrorists' actions will rebound on them. 'Our society won’t be cowed by terror and will strike back at the terrorists'. I heard variations of that one a lot yesterday. The flaw with that particular argument, of course, is the fact that we don’t actually know what the terrorists' intentions are. Strangely, the people responsible for this attack, and the one’s that came before, have been quite reluctant to own up or explain their motives. Obligingly, our governments have filled in the blanks for us…

‘Some insane (but well organised) towel heads did it because they hate us for our freedoms’

But maybe the terrorists, whoever they made be, want our governments to erode civil liberties, even more than they have already. Maybe the terrorists want us to get stuck into another war or two? I’m willing to give roughly even odds that an Iranian connection will be found to yesterday’s events. Anyone out there fancy a bet?

The War on Terror has impacted on our way of life. It has been used as an excuse to deprive us of long-cherished rights and freedoms. Government and big business are certainly more powerful than they were pre 9/11 but we’re clearly not any safer. But why should we expect to be? Look at the Nazi regime during the last World War. They had total control of the population of Europe. They had ID cards. They used torture. They imprisoned without trial. They made war on ‘criminal’ regimes. Did that stop terrorism, sorry, resistance?

The parallels between our times and those of the Nazis are extensive and not superficial. Just substitute Muslims for Jews and you’re there. And there were a couple of things the Nazis were particularly good at; staging terrorist attacks and border incidents and selling their people the most colossal lies on the long-established principle that if the lie is large enough and if you repeat it often enough people will swallow it. In fact, people will want to swallow it.

I can see very clearly where Tony Blair, George Bush and their backers are going to try and take us after yesterday’s events. It’s evil. It’s ugly and it ain’t going to work. Well, it isn’t going to work for us but it might work for them. It all depends on what you choose to believe is really going on out there doesn’t it?


zenyenta said...

Pretty well figured, stef. and very calm and rational considering what you're going through over there. And we do know what you're going through. Of course, maybe you have the benefit of seeing what happened over here when we trusted our administration to lead us through our bad time. Or maybe you would have seen through that, too.

Osama bin Laden was supposed to have made some predictions about what would happen in the US as a result of 911. So far, he's been pretty much right and it didn't have to be that way. It wasn't inevitable. It was a failure of leadership and a failure on the part of the people's bullshit detection system.

I don't know that I don't believe Al Qaida exists. OTOH, I never considered the possibility before. But even if it exists, it doesn't make your analysis less correct.

I only hope that this horrible event serves to put your country on the right track instead of the road we're on here in the good old US of A.

Stef said...

@z: Thanks, though you do me more credit than I deserve. I honestly don't know if my view is correct but it fits events and and peoples' actions better than the dung Bush and Blair have been shovelling.

One thing I did learn from 9/11 was to sit on the news as it came in and look out for any changes that are made as the day plays out. When something as major as this happens, controlling the media output to fit the message sometimes has to be retrospective.

The BBC recently introduced a time delay to its news coverage. That will have helped. Plus, there was a shortage of imagery of the incident scenes in London on the web yesterday. Bizarre when you think that everyone carries a cameraphone these days.

A good example of news editing from yesterday was an AP story that Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli Embassy were warned of the bombs minutes *before* the first one exploded. As the day wore on, articles covering that story were changed one by one to say that the warning came a few minutes *after*. The only article I can find still in the first form is on Yahoo, though for how much longer I really don't know

Even after editing, the story still stinks as it took an hour or two after the first blast for our police to be sure a bomb was involved

I expect the same thing will happen about the bogus 'Al Qaeda' website claim so many people, including our Foreign Secretary Jack Straw made so much play of today. It has got serious errors in it that no fundamentalist would make. Sooner or later, people will start asking who would benefit from putting something like that up. So, my money's on it being officially forgotten over the next couple of days. It served its initial purpose, helped sow a seed in peoples' minds and will be carefully dumped before it is subject to closer scrutiny ...

again, all very similar to some of those nonsense stories that came out immediately after 9/11. They served Bush's purposes and were subsequently thrown into the memory hole


We live in dark times and there are no leaders or icons we can look to for salvation. Not good


Back to bed now to see if I can grab some sleep this time ...

Northun Munki in Oxford Circus said...

I agree with pretty much everything you wrote, I'm definately in the Al-Quida fiction camp too.

If they exist they only do so in a very loose sense - i.e. a philosophy and lots of splinter groups.

That's not to place the responsibility for screwing up London's transport system yesterday at their doorstep. It could have been anyone and hell, Transport For London manage that pretty much every day.

It was awful to hear Bush reitterating his "We will find those responsible and bring them to justice." statement. Does he plan a long session with glue and tweazers, re-assembling the suicide bombers, reanimating their corpses and then taking them to trial?

The best you can say about the whole awful incident is this:

Given how easy it would be to perpitrate such an act in London (OK once you'd managed to collect the equipment/explosives) we are not "swarmed" with fanatics trying to do this day in, day out - unlike the poor citizens of Bagdad and other Iraqi cities.

The thing that annoys me though is that afterwards and today there has been a highly visible Police deterent/presence at all rain and tube station. Bit late. This is obviously designed to calm the populous, maybe if they'd been there on Thursday morning things would have been different.

UKWarrior said...

The circle has been closing on us for 4 years now, an all too predictable series of slaughters decreasing in scale but getting closer and closer to home. I agree with you completely on this one, although I cannot think of an alternative perpetrator other than Isalmists. Call them Al Qaeda or whatever, they act with a spectacular cruelty that only religious fanatics can summon. The worst thing is, as you rightly point out, how our illustrious leaders play so predictably into their hands: lining up like the usual suspects spouting off the same short-sighted bullshit. It seems that war is what now defines our political class. I could quite easily justify going up to Scotland now to fight some coppers - I'm that f**in angry. Anyway, good stuff my man. Lets hope this is the beginning of the end.

Anonymous said...

Don't agree mate, but it's your Blog and thank god we can still voice our opinions. Yeah I know it's not perfect...Blair=Twat Bush twat, CCTV, etc etc blah bah.

It's all about politics...religion is just the cover that these mad men tack onto their insane thoughts (spelling mistakes and all).

Anyway I'm off to London on monday. Look after yourself mate


Stef said...

@ukwarrior/northernmunki: There are alternative groups of fanaticists capable of doing something like this and who benefit very directly from the consequences. Just think about it for a minute or two.

And if you're still stuck ask a Muslim/ Arab if they can think of a group willing to spill innocent blood so that the armies of America and Britain will attack and occupy their homes.

Whenever anything like this happens the question to ask always is 'who benefits?'. There are many, many 'false flag' operations from history. From the Reichstag Fire to Bologna Station bombing. Don't trust the media to ever raise the possibility. They are owned.

@andy: absolutely, it is about politics, not religion

Ok, you heard me out and disagree. Fair enough. If events unfold as I expect them to you might remember a couple of things that I said down the line. If they don't, it's possible that I might see the light - but judging by all the crap that's being said and printed today I'll put money on my line of thinking being vindicated

Stef said...

btw andy: don't you think it's peculiar how so few news outlets have picked up on the fact that the trains and bus all passed through the same place within a narrow time frame?

They will eventually, but at the moment the message being rammed down our throat is one of a well-manned, well synchronised 'Al Qaeda' style operation. So, if the news don't fit, don't print it ...

Geek's Girl said...

Hi Stef

Glad to hear that you and yours are okay.

Thanks for a very interesting post. What is really scary is that it seems you have more to fear from your own government then you do from the terrorists.

Just where does it end though? What does it take for the government to realise that they are here to serve the citizens of their country and not make themselves all powerful?

I suppose I should be glad, for the time being at least. Here our MPs and Ministers are far to busy gratifying their own personal whims and wishes to give any thought to how much fun they could have if they totally controlled us.

Then again we've had ID books (like ID cards) forever and most dealings with the Department of Home Affairs requires that they take your finger prints.

I guess once the lure of 4x4s and luxury jets wear off we're in for a treat

Stef said...

@gg: Yes, a lot of us do mistrust our government, even fear it. I'm not saying everyone, just a lot. The same applies to America but many people there are more constitionally aware and the battle lines are clearer.

Re. your lot joining in on the party - what do you reckon G8 is all about? Or can anyone really believe that George Bush and his buddies really give a damn about the poor of the world?

Stef said...

gg: btw what's happening to your blog? - I'm getting wordpress errors and no elightenment