26th September 2001
SINCE the attack on the Twin Towers 15 days ago some 360,000 people have died of hunger. Over 800 million people are hungry on a day to day basis.
The reason I mention this is that the US, the EU, Nato and just about everyone else has declared that terrorism is the foremost problem facing humanity. All international efforts have been channelled to combat the problem.
And note that it is ‘terrorism’ that is the problem, not political violence. Because if it was political violence then the leaders of the ‘free world’ would have a problem. The problem is that most political violence, human rights abuse and murder of civilians is sponsored by the nation states of the world.
So that talk about Western concern for democracy and the rule of law ring very hollow indeed.
Take, for example, where the US is to begin this crusade. Its first partner in the war against terrorism is Pakistan.
Pakistan is a military dictatorship whose army decided things weren’t going the way they wanted and they suspended the civilian constitution. They might hold elections next year. Or maybe the year after. Or whenever it suits them. All of which doesn’t seem to trouble the US.
The US wants to attack Afghanistan if the Taliban don’t hand over Bin Ladin. It’s something to do with a regime harbouring a wanted criminal.
Now the last (and continuing) military foray by the US in this part of the world was against Iraq in the Gulf War, based from Saudi Arabia. This feudal kingdom still receives enormous military assistance from the US and is the number one US ally in the region.
If I’m not mistaken, this is the same Saudi Arabia which has as its guest one Idi Amin, former ruler of Uganda, whose regime murdered between 300,000 and 500,000 civilians during its very nasty existence.
All of this should tell us about the way the world works. Not for a second would I want to downgrade the appalling atrocity carried out against civilians in America. What I would like to see is all other atrocities ‘upgraded’ so that each human matters equally.
By any measure the murder of 5,000 civilians is a huge atrocity. But by the measure of human suffering that exists across the world, the coverage of the Twin Towers attack was way over the top.
For days in Ireland we had no other news at all. Newspapers published supplements, the radio had wall to wall reports from New York and we had a national day of mourning.
It all reinforces the idea that some people matter more than others. Because the US is the fulcrum of power in the world and because we experience so much of US culture through its domination of the visual media, it is natural that the attacks there will have a greater impact here.
So power counts. In his great speech after the Second World War, Eamonn De Valera pointed out that Britain wanted to elevate its own interest to a moral imperative and that Ireland could not accept that premise. We should all listen to that speech again.
|As well as that…|
WITH smoke still over Manhatten, the euro nation-builders proposed a single judicial system for Europe where a decision in one state will be accepted in all others.
I wouldn’t want to suggest that Ireland’s system is better than any other in Europe but it is, at least, democratically accountable to us. And, of course, the proposed minimum sentances won’t apply to state terror.
That’s the euro-heads for you. They are cute enough to recognise that hysteria is a great way of getting laws passed.