The Conference Part Two: Burning Bush

16 February 2009

On the evening of July 5th 1979 the Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism (JCIT) held its closing session, titled 'The Challenge to Free Men'. One of the most significant speakers was George HW Bush, who would months later become Vice-President under Ronald Reagan. Obviously, he is also the father of the president who launched the war on terror in the aftermath of 9/11. Bush Snr. was a Yale Graduate and member of The Order of Skull and Bones and has worked for both the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations. He is to date the only man to serve as both President of the United States and Director of Central Intelligence. The Queen also awarded him an honorary knighthood, as she did to Shimon Peres more recently. Until 2003 he was an adviser to the Carlyle Group, a private equity investment firm managing almost $100 billion, who have profited enormously from 9/11. Put simply, he's an extremely influential and well connected man.

We see in his speech at the JCIT much of the same philosophy that would 'suddenly' become his son's main agenda following 9/11. It is well established that prior to the attacks, terrorism was not a major concern for the Bush Jnr. White House. National Security Adviser Condi Rice was due to give a speech on the morning of 9/11 which discussed the old anti-Soviet issue of missile defence and made no mention of terrorists or Bin Laden. Likewise there was no apparent reaction to the numerous warnings of an impending attack, most notoriously to the August 6th Presidential Daily Briefing titled 'Bin Laden determined to strike in United States'. That Bush Jnr. would slip so seamlessly into the ideology espoused by his father and others over 20 years previously illustrates that there was no change in policy, and that the reaction to 9/11 was, like the attack, planned long in advance. After initially 'paying his respects' to Professor Netanyahu Bush Snr. also paid homage to the established ideology of the JCIT, that terrorism and totalitarianism are essentially synonymous, and that freedom and democracy are somehow the opposite.

"This cancer of civilisation that we call international terrorism... ...All terrorism retains as a common denominator its totalitarian and anti-human character." - Bush Snr. International Terrorism

In encouraging people to view terrorists as 'anti-human', Bush Snr. is here adopting a strategy as old as empire itself. If your aim is to use your own people to subjugate another then you have to motivate your own population to doing despicable things such as murder and torture. Most people don't tend to want to do these things unless they feel it is necessary, unless they feel they have no other choice. As Zbigniew Brzezinski explained:

"In the absence of a comparable external challenge [to that posed in WW2], American society may find it much more difficult to reach agreement regarding foreign policies...

...Cultural change in America may also be uncongenial to the sustained exercise abroad of genuinely imperial power. That exercise requires a high degree of doctrinal motivations, intellectual commitment, and patriotic gratification. Yet the dominant culture of the country has become increasingly fixated on mass entertainment that has been heavily dominated by personally hedonistic and socially escapist themes. The cumulative effect has made it increasingly difficult to mobilise the needed political consensus on behalf of sustained, and also occasionally costly, American leadership abroad." - Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard

The 'doctrinal motivations' he mentions are precisely theses - pride in domestic freedom (whether real or merely perceived), fear of its potential loss, and hatred for those who might take it away. In claiming that the terrorists are a 'cancer' and 'anti-human' the aim is to alienate them from the domestic/allied public, so that they only feel fear and hatred towards such people, whoever they are and whether or not they exist. This attitude, it seems, is also endorsed by the Royal Family. In the aftermath of a video being leaked showing Prince Harry using the terms 'Paki' and 'Raghead', St James' Palace issued an official statement. While an apology was offered for any offence caused by Harry calling another member of his unit 'Paki', the statement flatly said:

"Prince Harry used the term 'raghead' to mean Taleban or Iraqi insurgent." - BBC

Given the history of Prince Phillip's bigotry I sincerely doubt that the term was intended in anything other than its conventional sense, as a derogatory term for anyone from the greater Middle East. That the Palace offered no apology, or even further explanation, suggests that this sort of racist philosophy, which dehumanises by using a single aspect of clothing to define a person, is acceptable when applied to the officially endorsed enemy. Bush Snr. continued:

"It seeks to destroy the fabric of society, to disrupt the equilibrium of peaceful commerce. It strikes down the innocent bystander. It denies the individual. It has murderous contempt for the very basis of human freedom." - Bush Snr. International Terrorism

Buried in amongst the didactic fearmongering Bush here implies the real reason for the appearance of the threat against terrorism, the 'equilibrium of peaceful commerce'. This is an incredible euphemism, because American-led international corporate-state empire is far from peaceful and has never been an equilibrium. This isn't simply about oil and gas in former Soviet Central Asia, or water and oil in Iraq, it's about motivating a population to fight for the privileges of the elite, whether by signing up to the armed forces or just giving tacit consent to what's happening. Continuing the cancer metaphor, Bush Snr. went on to say:

"In the absence of any known cure or prevention, I must urge drastic surgery as the only reasonable course - and by that I mean determined action, firmness under the duress of blackmail, and swift and effective retribution." - Bush Snr. International Terrorism

In his son's speeches immediately following 9/11 we see the same deceptive rhetoric, and the same imperial philosophy.

The opening line of the speech, far from seeking to immediately reassure the public, was one designed to not only encourage fear but also to repeat the established idea that terrorism targets the free.

Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. - BBC

This statement only really offers two possibilities - either Bush knows the motives of the terrorists before the investigation had even formally begun, or he's lying for political purposes. Bush then elaborated, seeking to define the public reaction under the guise of reporting on it, not at all unlike Daniel's Pipes strategy concerning European attitudes towards Muslims discussed in the previous article on this blog.

The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger. - BBC

Just as his father did at the JCIT, some days later Bush Jnr. went on to identify terrorism with totalitarianism:

"We have seen their kind before. They're the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism."- CNN

It would not be until halfway through his original speech on the evening of 9/11 that Bush would offer any reassurance to the public, and even then it was bizarre in the extreme:

"Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it's prepared. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington DC, to help with local rescue efforts." - BBC

This is bizarre for several reasons. For one, even according to the vastly incomplete and thoroughly inadequate 9/11 Commission the first hijacking took place at about 8:15 that morning, and the first plane hit the Northern WTC tower at 8:46, yet when Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville an hour and twenty minutes later the military weren't even tracking it. Of course, none of the stories so far told about what actually happened in the skies on 9/11 are even remotely plausible. Furthermore, Bush put no such emergency response plan into action, he went ahead with his visit to Booker Elementary School in Florida.

Even when White House Chief of Staff Andy Card informed the President that a second plane had hit the Southern WTC tower shortly after 9:03, the President did nothing. But the most bizarre aspect of this statement is that Bush would later claim to have seen the first plane strike on the WTC either live or shortly after it had happened.

Bush would later repeat this claim about seeing the first attack on the morning it happened. Again, this only really offers two possibilities, that he either had access to inside information about the attacks, in this case CCTV from the WTC, or he's lying.

Like his father, Bush would go on to reveal the imperial motive behind the 'war on terror' in this same speech on the evening of 9/11.

We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbour them. - BBC

Several days later this policy would be stated more clearly:

"These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion.

The Taliban must act and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists or they will share in their fate...

...Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there.

It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated." - CNN

In truth, the 'war on terror' had begun at least 22 years previously with the organisation of the JCIT, and the Gladio strategy went back at least a decade earlier than that. If the US were truly concerned with defeating all terrorist groups of 'global reach' then they'd do well to start with the covert apparatus of the CIA and NATO. But clearly that is not the real aim, just as Richard Myers (acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on 9/11) said the goal has never been to get Bin Laden.

The real aim is to enhance the American-led empire which has no concern for human rights, international justice, economic equality or self-determination, and is itself as totalitarian as the Bushes claim the terrorist enemy to be. This is demonstrated most cogently by the attitudes of the Bushes towards the UN. Much as I'm suspicious of any organisation whose HQ is built on land donated by John D. Rockefeller, it is one of the few organisations to stand up against this imperialism. When it does so, however, it is treated with contempt by the figureheads of that empire.

"You are also well familiar with the scant amount of progress so far achieved in the United Nations organisation on the question of terrorism. To put it bluntly... that organisation has shown neither the ability nor the willingness to come close to an acceptable definition of international terrorism... or to give shape to more than minimal cooperative measure designed to prevent or combat this brutal activity. This was brought home most clearly to me in 1972 after the murder of the Munich athletes. The UN wanted to censure Israel's retaliatory raid into Lebanon but would permit no mention of the terrorism that caused the retaliation. I vetoed that one-sided resolution." - Bush Snr. International Terrorism

To call the resolution one-sided is deceptive and partial. It is one-sided to permit no mention of the massacre at the Munich Olympics but it's also one-sided to ignore the long history of Zionist occupation and war in the region that in part motivated the Black September group who carried out the massacre. If we look at UN Security Council resolution 1368, condemning the September 11th attacks it makes no mention of what preceded them. Curiously, no one in the international community dared veto that resolution for its one-sided nature. The same hypocritical contempt was shown in the run up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. At a high-level meeting in July 2002, revealed by the now-infamous Downing Street Memo, the American attitude was reported by C, the codename for the head of MI6 who at that time was Sir Richard Dearlove.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action. - Downing Street Memo, timesonline

Though a new resolution was proposed, it was never ratified after France, Germany and Russia opposed any ratification of the use of force. Despite the Attourney General advising British PM Tony Blair that the occupation would be illegal, and the resignation from the cabinet of Robin Cook, among many other such resignations, the war went ahead. Ultimately, even the CIA would conclude there were no WMDs in Iraq, and no connection between Saddam and 9/11 has ever been found. Even the Secretary-General of the UN at the time, Kofi Annan, would say in a 2004 BBC interview that according to the UN Charter the war was illegal.

Bush Snr. would conclude his JCIT speech with yet another statement that would find echoes in the post-9/11 war philosophy.

"Lest we blunt our own devotion to individual freedom, we must not close our eyes to the existence of terror in any form anywhere in the world, for such tolerance makes us vulnerable to the cancer of international terrorism by weakening our confidence and our resolve...

...Above all, as free men, we must assiduously cultivate the habit of fierce and merciless resentment towards all those who disrupt public tranquility; this habit will make us safe and keep us free." - Bush Snr. International Terrorism

As with other contributors to the JCIT we see that the opposition between terrorists and free society becomes a call to fear and hatred, and that no compromise or tolerance is possible. As Bush Jnr. would later comment:

Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. - Bush Jnr, 20th September 2001

Not only is there no room for dialogue and compromise in this fundamentalist, totalitarian ideology, but there's no room for neutrality either. This philosophy continues to play out today, in the early of days President Obama for Change. Recently the CIA warned the new President that the greatest threat to the US is British terrorists of Pakistani origin. Tim Shipman noted that:

The dramatic escalation in CIA activity in the UK followed the exposure in August 2006 of Operation Overt, the alleged airline bomb plot. - The Telegraph

The airline bomb plot was implausible to begin with and the trial has thus far produced no convictions so this is clearly the top story (i.e. false) reason for increased CIA activity. Playing his part, in his January press conference the head of MI5 Jonathan Evans largely devoted his time to paying lip service to the meagre prosecutions achieved recently but did issue one warning shot:

There could easily be activities we're not aware of," he said. "We don't have anything approaching comprehensive coverage." - International Herald-Tribune

While a US invasion of the UK is obviously ridiculous, Pakistan is a plausible target. Evans also said that press conference that 75 percent of their investigations involved Pakistan. India has consistently maintained that Pakistan was the origin of the recent Mumbai attacks, largely backed up by the US, and just this weekend a US drone launched a missile attack in South Waziristan.

More apparent, however, is the UK government's 'new' anti-terrorism strategy. As covered by last night's Panorama programme they are no longer just targeting extremists, i.e. people motivated to political or religious violence, but also 'Conservative Muslims' who, for example, don't believe in equal rights for homosexuals or preach that Muslims shouldn't vote. Chief Constable Norman Bettison was interviewed on the show and made a statement very similar to Bush Snr's of some 30 years ago.

"Al-Qaeda is a brand. AQ is a virus and what we're trying to do in policing terms is identifying those who would be susceptible to that virus, we can't do it ourselves, we've got to do it with the community." - BBC

While any policing strategy should involve work within the community to try to prevent young people falling prey to zealots, what is being proposed goes beyond that.

There will be much more emphasis on shared British values and those who preach intolerance will be shunned even if their views do not break the law.

And so the Preventing Violent Extremism policy will effectively change to Preventing Extremism. - BBC

We will no longer tolerate the intolerant, presumably in case that tolerance makes us vulnerable. We see a supposedly progressive, liberal Labour government adopting the JCIT philosophy of neoconservatives and zionists. Under the guise of 'shared British values' the government is now planning to isolate and publically reject anyone who disagrees with officially endorsed opinions. Anyone who questions or rejects the authority of the state could be targeted, according the 'senior Whitehall source' in the Panorama programme:

We want to move away from just challenging violent extremism. We now believe that we should challenge people who are against democracy and state institutions. - BBC

Either you're with us or you're with the terrorists indeed. In adopting what I'm sure the government will term as a 'tougher' and 'more aggressive' anti-terrorism policy the government is once again seeking to quash dissenting views in the name of security. It is the same method adopted by totalitarian governments throughout history. Bush Snr quoted historian and former MI6 and CIA operative Brian Crozier:

"The problem for the open society is how to have, build up and preserve this essential tool of defence - which in the long run is indispensable for the protection of ordinary people - and not so outrage the liberal conscience that the legitimate exercise of state power is frustrated." - Bush Snr, quoting Crozier, International Terrorism

However, we don't live in an open society, and despite numerous statements about how we won't let the terrorists change our way of life, our governments have repeatedly changed our way of life, employing a long-established philosophy and agenda, in the name of fighting this enemy. The binary opposition between terrorism and democracy, or between Islam and freedom, undoes itself as soon as it is constructed. In adopting a totalitarian view, the state makes a terrorist of itself. It also involves a further use of doublethink, that while we're given elaborate and detailed fictions about the threat from terrorists our leaders also encourage an alienating racist, dehumanising attitude. They want us to know just enough that we're afraid, but not so much that we realise when we're being told lies, entailing a dual and ultimately contradictory logic. As Derrida phrased it so beautifully:

"Monsters cannot be announced. One cannot say: 'here are our monsters', without immediately turning the monsters into pets." - Derrida