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Roots of War

Posted by Simon Stewart, Friday, October 26, 2001

Keep on taking the tabloids, Heather; don’t actually stop to think what is behind an event, treat it as some inexplicable act of god.

Actually an examination of the Saudi regime - the only country in the world that calls itself by the name of its ruling family (hint in itself) – and Bin Laden’s history will actually show up the considerable disenfranchisement within Saudi politics and society. We are not dealing with a democracy but a ruling family concerned to keep hold of its wealth and privilege at the expense of free expression, human and women’s rights. And thoroughly supported by US oil and geopolitical interests. It was precisely the US deployment of troops to Saudi Arabia, during the Gulf War, that pushed Bin Laden with his perception of this as a sacrilege, to the land of the holy sites of Islam, over the edge towards terrorism (he adheres to Wahabism – an early and puritan revolutionary Islam response to modernity and the West). Combining, of course, with an Arab perception of the US as the defender at all costs, of Israel, its illegal occupation of the West Bank and its suppression of Palestinian self-determination. Etc, etc, etc.

I note, also, the other strand of discourse (if one can call it that) that happens in such times as these, that of ‘the rally round the flag’ argument. Which I really must congratulate Martyn Howorth for presenting in these pages in its full incoherence. The argument presented is so awful as to almost defy (yes, I know it’s a split infinitive) rational response, or any attempt at deconstruction. We are invited to respond to terrorism by inflicting a smart swipe across the backside and to not criticise those giving the swipe. Well, we have seen the full expression of the swipe in the Occupied Territories during the last year. I don’t think it’s going to stop terrorism, in fact state terrorism by Israel is part of the problem. Also, I refuse to give up my critical faculties and rally to the British state because I am a democrat and patriot not a subject as some blatantly are. I have a too long constructed knowledge of the British State (Bloody Sunday, Peterloo, Amritsar) to surrender myself to it, or to the likes of Blair.