10 September 2006

We've spent the last five years in an international soap opera, replete with evil villains and valiant heroes. We've shared mass spectacle and sought out pundits to make order out of the inchoate formlessness of events. I wonder what's going to happen next.

And while we've mostly been passive and powerless onlookers of necessity, it's a little surprising how quiet people were about officially authorised American torture methods, about US support for Israeli state violence against (civilian) women and children, about US rejection of due process and the relevance of human rights in Guantánamo and in black sites across the world, the increased use of presidential signing statements making the legislative branch much less significant in US democracy, the unchecked surveillance of voice, data and physical activity throughout much of the free world; and the most successful con-trick of the century so far - convincing us all in 2003 that Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq had something to do with al-Qaeda. Or that it was an imminent threat. Or something...

And I suppose that's how power works. It projects its own truths and creates silences. Self-fulfilling prophecies, too. And it hath come to pass that Iraq really did become a training ground, a recruitment pitch and a safe haven for terrorists. Ho hum. So few people died on 11th September 2001. So many more have died needlessly since.

And lest anyone think I'm unfairly beating up on the Americans, the mainstream followers of Islam have really got to make their radical brothers and sisters get on with the business of living. Too silent. Muttering conspiracy theories isn't helping anyone.

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