Dangerous Cocktail: Oil, Religion And Fascism - Shaken Not Stirred
By Gerry Patterson
Now that the first anniversary of the attack on New York draws near,
this will no doubt be a time for people to reminisce on the dreadful
events that took place on 11-Sep-2001. Perhaps it is time to think
critically about the future direction of the American and (ipso
facto) the global economy.
Memories And Flashbulbs.
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...
-- John Lennon, Imagine
Human memory is a remarkable chemical database of past experiences stored as a collection of visual, olfactory and auditory impressions, wrapped in a complex tapestry of language. It is often erroneously compared to machine memory. I say erroneous because human memory is flexible and in a constant state of flux. It is continuously re-edited by its' owner. This process of memory alteration is also imperceptible because memory cannot remember itself just as the eye cannot see itself.
The subtle editing process occurs whenever we discuss, write about or even think about a stored memory. In part this is due to the complex cross-links of vocabulary by which it is is retrieved from its' electro-chemical data-bank and compiled into sentences. This final construction must occur if there is to be any output. And it can alter the original memories reshaping them for the situation and the audience.
Anyone who pits their memory against the precise unyielding impressions stored by machines quickly comes to the realisation that memory is fluid, dynamic and not very accurate. That's why people who are serious about remembering, keep notes.
One type of memory that seems to be more effective at accurately recording details is the so-called flashbulb memory. This is the memory that is associated with dramatic events. The assassination of JFK is usually cited as the classic flashbulb memory event. Recently the existence of this type of memory has been disputed. It seems the impressions etched by a flashbulb event may not be as enduring or as reliable as some flashbulb enthusiasts would have us believe. Even these memories it seems are re-examined in our waking thoughts, dreams and musings and, subtly, edited and replaced.
Small chunks of pop music usually become entangled with my own stored memories. Perhaps that is why my definitive flashbulb event is the day the world lost the man who co-wrote many of those song fragments. The assassination of John Lennon leaves me with a lasting impression of a noisy air-conditioner struggling to combat bright Canberra sunlight leaking into a small office, a half eaten Lebanese take-away beside me on the desk, melding with an imaginary piano ... I heard the news today - oh boy!
The Fall Of The Towers.
I saw a film today - Oh Boy!
The English army had just won the war.
A crowd of people turned away.
But I just had to look
Having read the book.
-- Lennon and McCartney, A Day In The Life.
Although it may be contentious, it is true that certain memories become mileposts along the winding course of memory lane. And another event has been added to our vault of flashbulbs. On Tuesday, 11-Sep-2001 about an hour before midnight, my wife came into my office to tell me that a banner had started scrolling across the bottom of the movie that she was watching on a cable channel. The banner announced that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Centre.
I switched my radio to ABC News Radio. I didn't realise at the time that that my radio would stay on that station for most of the next month. The precise cadences of the BBC world service filled my office. The announcer confirmed that an airplane had crashed into the North Tower of the WTC. About ten minutes later his normally calm and measured voice betrayed a trace of emotion as he announced that a second plane had crashed into The South Tower.
Both buildings were on fire.
By this time I had commandeered the TV set. ABC TV had suspended normal telecasts and was by then transmitting a feed from CNN while they hastily assembled an emergency news desk.
If there was any doubt as to the pattern behind the attacks, the third strike on the Pentagon would have dispelled them. Then at about midnight local time the first tower fell. Well I say fell and most commentators describe it as a fall, but it appeared to dissolve into a huge boiling Godzilla-like cloud of dust that raged down Broadway and coalesced into a hard rain of debris and rubble, striking down terrified victims with random precision.
A quarter of an hour later the second tower fell, unzipping like a peeled banana. It too exploded into vast cloud of dust and detritus. A CNN camera panned back to reveal a sight I never thought I would see. New York under attack! The newly altered skyline was dwarfed by a huge pall of dust and smoke.
I'm watching Horror Movies!
Right there on my TV...
Shocking me right out of my brain!
-- Skyhooks, Living In The Seventies.
Almost exactly ten years previous to this, I had watched an equally dramatic occurrence on television. It was the fall of communism in the Soviet Union. Although it was not a live broadcast, the terrible moment when Yeltsin faced the tanks was breath-taking turning point in the world's history, and the hard-liners blinked, there followed a swift destruction of the old icons of communism. Groups of iconoclasts attacked the massive statues with ropes and chains and toppled them. I was shocked to discover that these impressive monuments were hollow inside!
Since childhood, I had been taught to fear monolithic communism. And I had seen it with a child's eye, those evil people called "communists" who lived behind a fearsome sounding partition called an "iron curtain", who indulged in the satanic rites of "brain-washing" - My fertile five year old mind flashed to pictures of people having their heads opened and the bloody contents placed in waiting washing machines, and washed thoroughly with hot water and detergent. Occasionally a newsreel or a photo from behind the iron curtain would show huge monuments that seemed solid to the core.
In fact they always seemed solid. Then in 1991 the communist boogey man was exposed. And he was hollow inside!
In the same way, those towering monuments to capitalism had seemed as durable. King Kong had climbed them in the re-make of the legendary horror movie. Spielburg's movie AI would depict them as lasting for thousands of years. Which was not to be so! They had been swept away in less than two hours, and now a huge mushroom cloud hung over New York. A sick knot of dread gathered in my stomach. And I was struck by two remarkable facts
- The skyline of New York was very familiar. More familiar in fact than Perth, the city where I was born.
- I was viewing this dreadful occurrence live on an American Cable Network.
Both of which are tributes to the extraordinary depth and ubiquity of American mass-marketing, media and propaganda.
I stayed in front of the TV all night. Next morning I emerged bleary eyed and blinking at a slate grey Melbourne sky. Tubes of newsprint had been scattered on every lawn along the street, whether the owners subscribed or not. And when unrolled, the papers declared America At War! in 6 inch high headlines. Over the following week, I watched the towers fall again and again, as the event was replayed on television.
Commentators assured us that the world had changed forever.
Certainly it seemed that things had changed. President Bush was acting presidential! He spoke clearly, firmly and with restraint. Which was something I thought I'd never see. America was going to find who was responsible. America was going to consult with her allies and work with the International community. NATO invoked article 5, the mutual defence clause.
Keeping The Wheels Of Commerce Well-Oiled.
At this moment the King, who had been for some time busily writing in
his note-book, cackled out "Silence!" and read out from his book,
"Rule Forty-two. All persons more than a mile high to leave the court!"
Everybody looked at Alice.
"I'm not a mile high," said Alice.
"You are!" said the King.
-- Lewis Carrol, The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland
It came as no surprise that the attack was connected with the middle east. Since the end of the second world war the USA has encountered many troubles in this region, and although not all of them have been as well publicised, all of them can be summarised with a word.
And that word is: Oil.
America has a prodigious thirst for oil. With only one twentieth of the world's population she still manages to guzzle a quarter of the global production. The world's proven reserves are currently estimated at one trillion bbl. And at current rates of consumption this will be depleted in less than four decades. If developing countries (e.g. China and India) should develop a similar thirst for oil, these reserves would not last a single decade.
The maths are very simple. There is not enough oil for everyone to live like Americans. I have only mentioned oil. Other resources such as rubber, various non-ferrous metals and most important of all, clean water and clean air might also be worth considering. If the prospect of climate instability is included in these considerations it is obvious that the remaining ninety-five per cent of the world's population cannot and (some would say) should not consider an American lifestyle.
However I mention oil in particular because it is the vital lubricant that keeps the wheels of American capitalism spinning. The strategic importance of this resource has dominated the military and economic history of the twentieth century. Although it has been mentioned in most informed analysis of the attack on New York, the word oil has not figured prominently in the mainstream media or by the US administration.
Although the theoretical lifetime of the remaining oil reserves is four decades, the practical lifetime is considerably less. The question of the proven reserves is contentious. There are many advocates on either side of the fossil-fuel and global warming debate. The arguments range from dizzyingly complex to alarmingly simplistic. Nevertheless each contribution to the debate should be viewed with due regard to vested interests.
Most professionals in the field agree that it will be crunch time for the petroleum industry somewhere between 2005 and 2020. The reasons for this are a complex mix of thermodynamics, statistics, geophysics, engineering and economics that are beyond the scope of this article. Interested readers should follow some of the links in the bibliography. In general it can be stated that when a field is more than "half-empty", the remaining oil becomes increasingly difficult to extract.
Note that the word increasing was high-lighted, because this is the crucial item that is over-looked by optimistic estimates of the future of the Petroleum Industry. The fact is, Petroleum does not have a future, and money spent on attempting to exploit diminishing reserves is wasted. This is because, once a reserve approaches depletion, the more money that is (literally) sunk into the enterprise the more the cost increases.
This should be contrasted with alternative energy sources. These are not quite ready for full-scale commercial use and deployment will initially be expensive. However the more money that is spent on viable alternative energy sources, the more the cost decreases. Furthermore any country which invests in such technology gets a crucial strategic advantage on other countries and will be able to trade such technology with huge developing markets (such as China).
Hydrogen is the most abundant element on earth (in fact in the whole Universe). We have oceans of it. It has more bang per kilogram than any other portable fuel and when it burns it produces only water. Furthermore hydrogen fuel cells are very close to being a viable energy source. It only takes the political will to support such alternatives.
Solar power would benefit similarly from investment. Solar cells are silicon devices, and the costs associated with the manufacture of all silicon devices is still decreasing and should continue to decrease while it remains a new technology.
There are numerous other less high tech alternative energy sources that could be used to replace petroleum products.
If a nation such as China should attempt to give every citizen an American-style six-cylinder gas-guzzler, Petroleum would vanish overnight (and the planet would be considerably less livable).
It should be obvious that the strategic interests of the United States and other high-energy consumers like Australia would best be served by an immediate shifting of investment away from Oil.
Nevertheless in the wake of the September attacks, President Bush seems set to encourage an increase in spending on domestic oil production. For a more comprehensive analysis of why this will not work see the bibliography. The many benefits of a reduction in oil consumption do not seem to have been given serious consideration by the administration. In this regard the president seems to be reflecting the narrow sectional interests of his constituency and campaign contributors rather than the genuine strategic interests of his nation.
For the global market the time when costs start to increase will coincide with the crucial time when demand outstrips supply. The market response cannot be predicted. Yes, you read that correctly, despite what politicians and (unfortunately) some economists would have you believe, market behaviour is, and always has been unpredictable. However I think we can be quite confident about the prediction that when the shit hits the fan many voters and consumers will not be happy.
In fact some may be so unhappy that they start looking for someone to blame. And the chances are they may blame the people who knew about the crisis in advance and kept the juggernaut rolling for short-term profit. Politicians have always been nimble at changing partners in mid-step while pointing the finger of blame. And that would leave some American oil companies in the frame. Which surprisingly has not sunk in to the thick skulls of Oil Moguls.
They would do well to consider all this as they embark on a foolhardy course of steady as she goes. In the short term this may keep share prices high and maximise the use of the resource most quickly at the highest price. However by continuing to deny that there is a problem they may be creating bigger problems for themselves later on. If it turns out that they have known about the extent of the problem and concealed it, they may face litigation as do the American tobacco companies. Their politician friends will turn out to be fair-weather friends, and most trends indicate that the weather is not going to be fair.
Re-engineering the automobile sector to be non-oil consuming would be the most significant major project since the second world war and possibly the largest ever. It is a task that should be commenced sooner rather than later, not only because of the lead times involved, but to conserve the dwindling oil resources, and to provide a massive boost to the economy, by creating new jobs in a vigorous and growing alternative energy sector rather than flushing capital down the bottomless pit of a depleted oil economy. Even with the most whole-hearted commitment it would take at least ten years, and a more realistic estimate would consider a twenty year rollout. So the time to start re-configuring the economy is right now! (Probably should have been started five years ago).
Australia has unwisely followed the USA's lead. However the current Australian government may soon acknowledge mounting domestic and international pressure and ratify the Kyoto protocol. Even so, they may try to fiddle the books by claiming that they have met their targets by foregoing land-clearing. This overlooks the benefits of reducing oil consumption whilst boosting spending on alternative sources. The benefits are:
- Extending the lifetime of existing oil reserves. This is far more practical than finding more oil.
- Oil is still cheap, so that we can easily afford to re-direct investment to developing alternative sources.
- Because of the lead time involved in developing infrastructure and new reticulation systems, we should start re-engineering now.
- Investment in new technology will boost the economy, create jobs and improve public confidence.
- Burning less petroleum will probably improve air quality in major cities.
Even as this is being written it looks as though events are rapidly overtaking the Australian government. The USA may find itself standing alone. The world's largest consumer of petroleum contemplating an increasing dependence on oil from the middle east.
This analysis does not even consider climate change. Which could turn out to be severe. The Australian author Tim Flannery, describes the ecological history of Northern America in his book The Eternal Frontier. He proposes that the geography of the continent is such that it forms a natural amplifier of climate changes, and he concludes that the US has more to fear from climate change than any nation on earth. If he is correct then the problem of climate change may become a priority for American voters within the next two decades. However by then it may be too late. Meteorological and ecological systems exhibit complex behaviour and tend to undergo transitions which is more like a switch than a steady change. However sometimes the switches do not switch back.
Climate like that sacred cow of capitalism, the market, is also a complex system which is unpredictable. Although we have weather forecasts, these are just predictions based on the probability that observed trends will continue as they are. In the long term weather and climate cannot be predicted. And much of what we learn about complex systems and pre-history is now leading to the conclusion that significant climate change can occur abruptly. This may take the form of global warming -- or it may take the form of an apparent warming followed by a sudden ice age.
In any case, a large body of evidence is building which suggest that human activity may be causing climate change. And the nature of the change is unpredictable! Put that in with what has already been discussed and the prognosis for the Oil Economy (and the world) is very bleak, if current trends in Oil consumption continue.
Now there's a final note that I just want to touch on briefly here, it's a rather sobering note and I want to recite to you some numbers of the dead in World War II by country.
The United Kingdom, one of our partner countries in the Grand Alliance, 350,000 dead in the war, of whom 100,000 were civilians.
China, a country that at least in the United States we sometimes forget was a major belligerent in the war, and had been depending on how you date it, since 1937 or maybe even 1930 or '31. We think that 10-million people died in China during World War II, of whom 6-million were civilians.
Yugoslavia, a relatively small country by American standards, 2-million dead in World War II, of whom one and a half million were civilians.
Japan, one of our principal adversaries, 3-million dead in the war, 1-million of those civilians, and most of the civilian Japanese dead incidentally killed not by the two atomic attacks of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but by so-called conventional fire-bombing, beginning in January of 1945 and continuing right through the atomic attacks down to the day of the final Japanese surrender.
Poland, again a relatively small country by American standards, 8-million dead in World War II of whom 6-million were civilians and somewhere in the range of 3-million to 4-million of those civilians were Jews.
Germany, six and one-half million dead in World War II of whom 1-million were civilians, almost all of those civilians in Germany killed by the combined Anglo-American bombing attacks.
Soviet Union, 24-million dead in World War II, of whom 16-million were civilians.
And finally the United States, 405,399 military dead in all branches of service, army, navy, marine corps, US Army Air Corps, coastguard and merchant marine, 405,399 dead and on the civilian side, a number that I think speaks volumes about the uniquely American relationship to this conflict. The number of civilian dead in the United States whose deaths were directly attributable to enemy action in the 48 contiguous States of that era, was exactly 6. There were 6 people who died altogether at the same moment in the same place in the highly improbable place of South Central Oregon, a long way from any battlefront, and near a little logging town called Bly. The dead were a woman by the name of Elsie Mitchell, she was the wife of the pastor of the local church, she and her husband the Reverend Mitchell had taken some children from their church on a Sunday School outing. The Reverend Mitchell was parking the vehicle that had brought them to the picnic site and Elsie Mitchell and five of the children were going down the path to the place where they were going to have the picnic and they saw a strange object in the brush and they pulled at it to tug it out of the brush to have a look to see what it was. It blew up in their faces and killed them all on the spot. What they'd discovered, it turned out, was a Japanese firebomb. The Japanese launched about 9,000 of these devices, from a place called 99 League Beach near Tokyo, they were very, very crude weapons, they were essentially consisted of a ricepaper balloon, the panels of which were pasted together in Japanese school auditoria because you needed a big open space in which to put together these large balloons, they were pasted together by schoolchildren using potato flour or paste, to attach the panels to one another, and they were brought to 99 League Beach and inflated. Under them was slung a very crude, small gondola with a very, very primitive incendiary device in it, and it had no propulsion, no means of propulsion of their own, Japanese meteorologists had discovered the jetstream before others had, the balloons were lofted into the jet stream. The idea was the jet stream would bear them across the Pacific in an easterly direction and they would drop their firebomb loads at a small timing device in the gondola. They would drop these small 3-pound firebombs into the forests of North America and ignite gigantic forest fires on such a scale that the Americans would be compelled to redirect effort from waging a war in the Pacific to extinguishing these fires.
Most of these were duds. Most of them fell harmlessly into the Pacific. A few of them did touch the ground all the way from Northern Canada, the Yukon territory into Baja California and Mexico and some fell in the United States itself, but most of them were duds with the notable exception of the one that killed Elsie Mitchell and those five children in April of 1945.
Now I just want to end by reading you the picture that I often conjure in my own mind's eye of this scenario of these Japanese fire bombs, this crude, almost you might say pathetic, military pathetic attempt by Japan to wage strategic aerial warfare against the United States, to reach into its adversary's civilian heartland and inflict the kind of damage that would terrorise civilians and cripple the economic functioning of the country. And I often conjure in my mind's eye (I'm going to take a little bit of poetic licence here) but I think it's permissible. The picture of those balloons drifting silently across the Pacific, easterly towards North America, with no means of propulsion of their own, some 9,000 of them containing these primitive bombs, designed to inflict strategic aerial warfare damage on the United States. Well at the exact same time in the early months of 1945, exact same time, night after night after night, gigantic fleets of B29 bombers were lifting off their bases in the Mariana Islands and inflicting awesome destruction on Japanese cities. The United States Army Air Corps in those B29 firebomb raids destroyed more than 50% of some 68 different Japanese cities in the first eight months of 1945. And here's where the poetic licence comes in. I think it's permissible for us to imagine, I don't have hard evidence of this but it's at least imaginable, that those pilots of the B29 aircraft headed north-westerly towards Japan from their Marianas bases, might just occasionally have glimpsed some of those fire balloons headed towards North America. This was Admiral Yamamoto's nightmare, that a protracted conflict, a war of attrition in which the United States had the time fully to mobilise its industrial establishment, it would be able to develop means of weapons delivery and weapons of a destructive power that would doom Japan or any other adversary the United States faced, which is precisely how the war ended, with those great fleets of B29s raining that kind of destruction on Japan, the Japanese absolutely unable to inflict anything even remotely symmetric kind of damage on the United States, and that I think is how the United States in Winston Churchill's phrase again ended at the summit of the world in 1945. Thank you.
-- Professor David Kennedy on American History: "Rise to Power"
The preceding quote was taken from a radio broadcast by David Kennedy. I have quoted at length from this broadcast because it summarises America's remarkable rise to power on the wings of Air Supremacy. A link to the full transcript is given in the bibliography. David Kennedy explains how, during the second world war, terror became not only an accepted tactic of warfare, but in the case of the allies a strategy. This was the purpose of the so-called "strategic bombing" employed by the allied aircraft against German cities in the latter stage of the war, and to an even greater extent against Japan.
Had they had the airpower, there is no doubt that the fascist alliance would have employed similar tactics. Since the end of the second world war America has maintained airborne delivery systems. The advent of a new generation of smart weapons means that the USA can eschew terrorism as a strategy. This has been a recent development however. For most of the latter half of the twentieth century the express purpose of America's airborne delivery systems was to terrorise opponents.
The allied strategy during the second world war did not rely only on terror. Later however the cold war rationale of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction), was based mostly on terror. In this regard the recent development of smart weapons would seem to be opportune. Since 1990 the USA has found a use for them, in the Gulf War and against Yugoslavia and the latest conflict in Afghanistan. However modern terrorist organisations rely only on terror because they lack the ability to wage a sustained military campaign. In any case there is probably only one major military power in the world today.
When President Bush mentioned the word crusade, a collective gasp was heard around the world. This was quickly modified. We have now all been invited to join America in the war against terrorism.
There are reasons to have doubts about such an ill-defined enterprise. Before discussing them, I must state that I am not a military analyst. Nevertheless, I think the principals of analysis as applied to business and engineering models can also be applied to this situation. The problems I see are:
- Rather than an isolated act of terrorism the attack on New York seems to be an outright act of war. Murder on such a scale is usually the province of warfare. The fact that Al Qaeda is not a nation-state does not preclude this as an act of war. The new global economy makes it possible for a small band of fanatics without a home to declare war. The ideological roots of this war go back to the invasion of the US embassy in Iran in 1979. The US just didn't take Islamism seriously until this most recent attack.
- If this is the case, a War on Terrorism does not make sense. As already discussed terror is a tactic of warfare. Whether or not it is legitimate is academic. Apart from the feel-good factor of denouncing them, it serves no useful purpose to declare war on the tactics employed by an enemy, even though you may deplore them. If you wish to fight him, you must identify him, engage him and attempt to neutralise him.
- This is a classic example of assymetric conflict. When a small group armed with paper knives can make such a significant strike against the mightiest military power the world has ever known, I need only say Quod erat demonstrandum.
- Oil is the ingredient that has pivotal importance.
Religion And Politics - A Heady Brew
Know your enemy as you know yourself
Sun Tzu - The Art Of War.
Although many of the Taliban leaders masquerade as men of the cloth, they are clearly a fascist organisation, as is the Al Qaeda network. The fascism practised by these groups is particularly virulent because they mix religion with their politics. Political ideologies that attempt to explain human behaviour with untestable simplistic models usually instill irrational loyalty in followers. However, despite irrational behaviour, most devotees of secular ideologies espouse rational maxims. Adherents to religious fascism however, have a philosophy that is irrational to the core. Worse still they celebrate their lack of reason. Martyrdom is anticipated with ecstasy. Their religious beliefs makes individuals resistant to de-programming.
All of which makes them extremely dangerous.
The September attack involved considerable long-term planning. Many of the hijackers had spent as much as two years preparing for their mission. They came from outside the society they planned to attack. They lived amongst their enemy and maintained their sense of purpose. They engaged in many of the transactions typical of the global economy that was their target, as well as enjoying the benefits of that economy and yet their ideological compasses remained unswervingly oriented. This is deep programming, and despite what Hollywood might have you believe, is far deeper and more permanent than what could be achieved with any secular ideology.
Such dangerous single-minded cadres are not created overnight. Each individual would take at least fifteen years of careful and thorough programming. Unfortunately there is a plentiful supply on hand, courtesy of fundamentalist schools.
It has been a serious omission not to name fascism as the enemy. Furthermore the declaration of a War On Terrorism could be seen as a cynical attempt to exploit the situation and realise a fundamentalist conservative agenda. Such a potentially un-ending conflict can only serve to distract the public from the real economic and environmental problems.
Militarily, the rump that remains from the Taliban and Al Qaeda are puny. Now that there has been (a long overdue) tightening of security, the major threat they pose is the potential of making additional converts. That is why it is vital to destroy them as quickly as possible and not to allow them to claim any propaganda victories. It is also important to ensure that the benefits of globalisation are more evenly distributed and that people who have a genuine grievance about a global business entity have some means of redress. To date, globalisation has emphasised only the flow of capital.
Religious fascism has taken hold in countries where the nation-state is weak. The only western democracy which might support religious fascist movements is the USA. This is due to a puritanical heritage that has proved fertile soil for the most ardent and dogmatic of Christian fundamentalists, creationists, pro-life extremists and other assorted bible-bashing ratbag elements. And there are more of these per capita in the USA then in any other western nation.
On 19-Apr-1995, a bomb attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City killed 168. Until 11-Sep-2001 this was the nation's worst terrorist attack and was the work of homegrown American fascists. Timothy McVeigh, who was executed for the crime had associations with many far right groups including religious fascists. McVeigh saw himself as a martyr and it is probable that he believed that there would be further acts of violence to avenge his execution. He showed no remorse for his actions and claimed to have acted alone. Although it seems certain that he had many contacts with networks of like-minded extremists.
These small bands of lunatics don't pose a tactical threat to a nation-state as powerful as the USA. However none of these groups seek a direct confrontation with law enforcement agencies. As with all revolutionary terrorists, their intent is to disrupt and provoke the state into taking repressive counter-measures. They mistakenly believe that such repression will bring additional converts into their fold and eventually trigger a universal revolution.
The right wing in American politics have often misunderstood fascism. Throughout much of the twentieth century, many of them have seen fascists as fellow travellers, capable of providing a bulwark against socialism. This profound ignorance of the ideology has lead the USA to cuddle up to fascist regimes such as the military junta of General Pinochet and the Taliban.
The extraordinary fact that Osama bin Ladin was trained and financed by the USA, has been noted and then promptly set aside by the mainstream media. The US support for Islamic fanaticism goes back two decades. It consisted of weapons, including tactically vital hand-held anti-aircraft missiles, money and training. Even Hollywood got in on the act and made movies, glorifying the brave islamic freedom fighters.
In the long sad history of bad ideas, this one would have to be up there in the top one hundred. The band of fanatics that had been trained, armed and provisioned with American money made the transition from freedom fighters to terrorists when they used what they learned to attack US personel. There has been a considerable angst about the inability of America's intelligence agency to predict the September Raid, but little attention has been paid to the fact that the government and the intelligence agencies actually created the problem in the first place! To date none of the victims in New York have thought about suing their own government for criminal negligence, but given time the idea may surface.
Winning The War.In the Australian movie The Dish, the character Glenn (played by Tom Long) has to re-configure a computer that uses data sent to the team from NASA. The incredulous Al (played by Patrick Warburton), an American asks how there could possibly be anything wrong with the data from NASA?
The problem: The computer was calibrated for the Northern Hemisphere.
A ripple of laughter ran through the (Australian) cinema I was sitting in, when these lines were spoken. Sadly a lot of Americans would have missed the joke. In order to appreciate it, they would need to open their atlases and flip past the many pages devoted to the United States and Northern American and look closely at the half-a-dozen maps at the back. Where the remaining ninety-five percent of the world's population lives.
In an address to a Joint Session of Congress, President Bush Declared:
Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber -- a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.
President Bush made several statements that were profound in the immediate aftermath of the attack. In the fear and uncertainty that surrounded those terrible events, George Bush consulted with advisors and acted on their advice. He consulted with other nations and avoided immoderate language. There was no talk of a unilateral response.
And the terrorists do hate Americans (and all democracies) because of their freedoms. Fascism is the natural enemy of democracy. There is a deep and abiding hatred of pluralism and tolerance in fascist theory.
Furthermore, all fascists since Mussolini have expressed contempt for capitalism. The modern variants are particularly hysterical about globalisation. America's own experience with fascism should have made the nation shy of the ideology. Over four hundred thousand American soldiers killed in the global war against fascism in the forties, which is the most ever lost in a foreign conflict. In 1979, the US embassy was invaded by Islamic fascists and the staff were taken hostage, which is usually interpreted as an unequivocal declaration of war. There have been two horrific terrorist attacks in the USA, one of them with links to Christian fascists and the other the work of Islamic fascists.
In the history of US conflict, the body count for combined religious and secular fascism is much higher, then for that chalked up by communism. And as already discussed, the communist boogey man has since proved to be hollow inside. Capitalism may be finished also, since it may not be able to cope with the multiple problems of depleted oil, climate instability and religious fascism.
The demise of capitalism will be largely unlamented. As a philosophy it is as irrelevant as the now defunct communism. There has not been a single accurate prediction made with pure capitalist theories. Although there have been some quite remarkable failures (e.g. the Great Depression). Democracy however, should be defended. It may not be possible to mount a military defence. Religious fascism, whether Islamic or Christian should be considered a serious threat and because of the assymetric nature of the conflict, the battle may be difficult to resolve on the battlefield. The best antidote for religious fascism or for that matter any fascism is a robust secular democracy.
Unfortunately in the year since the attack on New York, the American people have been subjected to another attack on democracy, from their own President. The US Patriot Act conferred considerable powers to the executive. This might be reasonable in a traditional war. However suspicion is mounting about the Act. The President should return to the speeches he made immediately after the attack and read them again carefully. In such a time of crisis everyone looks to a leader for leadership. However George Bush will not be able to trade on the currency of those speeches for much longer, if his administration continues to use the war on terror as an opportunity to promote their own agenda. Since the fine rhetoric he spoke in the aftermath of the attack, his administration seems set on course that will ignore international opinion. They have also signaled that they will revert to tariffs to protect American industries.
This war is unlike any that America has fought before. Because of the disparity in the strength of the opposing sides it may not be possible to achieve a military solution. In this conflict it will not be America's airpower that is the important weapon. It will be Western democratic institutions. The fascists have no intention of engaging the US or any Western nation-state in direct conflict. They hope that their activities will bring about a response that will create conditions that are conducive for their fantasy of a fascist revolution.
If America should retreat into isolationism or fundamentalism (either economic or religious), than fascism everywhere has won a major victory.
If America is to win a war against fascism, then the first step is to recognize that fascism is the enemy. The next step is to start listening. And as Sun Tzu says, It is especially important to listen to one's enemies.
Although nothing I have stated in this essay is new, the mainstream media seems to have skated around the issues of oil and religious fascism.
Also since writing this Dan Byrnes has written an essay on the 9/11 - the first anniversary, which is along the lines of an analysis of the historical and philosophical roots of the Attack on New York. Such analyses suggest that the problem is not just a crisis of capitalism, but a Clash of Civilisations.
|Chris Kendall|| World Petroleum Reserves and Consumption.
Based on a presentation given to the Palmetto Forum in South Carolina, 05
Sep 2001. Data extracted from information published by the Energy
Information Administration of the DOE.
|Cutler Cleveland & Robert Kaufmann|| Why the Bush Oil (Energy) Policy Will Fail.
Two academics do a thorough comprehensive demolition job on President
Bush's Energy Policy. Which as the authors note is actually an Oil Policy.
This paper was written in the first quarter of 2002. The entire site www.oilcrisis.com is worth a look.
|Paul Keating|| The Fifth Annual JCPML Lecture.
This address by (Mr Big Picture) Paul Keating, ex-prime minister of
Australia includes comments on globalisation and unilateralism that are
far more incisive and candid than any he could possibly have made during
his time in office.
|David Kennedy|| Rise To Power.
Taken from a Background Briefing program broadcast on Radio
National, in which Professor Kennedy, an American historian examines the
crucial stategic decisions which transformed the United States into
(ultimately) the world's only super-power.
|Benito Mussolini|| What is Fascism.
An abridged definition of fascism as penned by its' creator in 1932.
Essentially, it glorifies war as the noblest means of settling all
|Michel Chossudovsky|| CRG -- Who Is Osama Bin Laden?
A comprehensive summary of the rise of Osama bin Laden. This article
written by a Canadian academic was posted immediately after the attack on
the WTC. It starts with Osama's days as a freedom fighter and friend of
the USA (when he fought the USSR) to his days as a terrorist (when he
employed the same tactics against the USA). With friends like these who