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 Actually, I wanted the other one...






And then came September 2001…

  Out of nowhere it came, a day that would shake the world to its core. One minute all was as it should be, then came chaos. As the world looked on in utter disbelief, a nation was devastated. You could see the look of horror in the eyes of onlookers, dazed as they struggled to take in the impossible occurrence that had just happened. But they picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and the bastards still made the final of the World Cup!

Had a great deal of letters regarding September 11th too, unsurprisingly. We were on holiday in Tenerife when it happened, guess it’s one of those things like the Kennedy assassination, everyone is gonna remember exactly where they were when they heard the news. My first thought was condolences to our many friends on the other side of the pond, as well as sympathy for the American people in general. While the former is still heartfelt, the latter has become somewhat harder to maintain. I was hopeful at first, thought the American government showed great restraint. But I figured it was only a matter of time, particularly thinking back to Pearl Harbour and the consequent nuking of Hiroshima. Cynical? I don’t mean to be.

Although I wasn’t expecting them to do anything quite so drastic this time around, the eventual response still smacked of somebody hitting out in blind vengeance, pretty much as expected. An eye for an eye? Worse, make that one entire nation per tower. Afghanistan, Iraq, that takes care of the World Trade Centre… so who pays for the Pentagon? There must be some very nervous people in Iran and Syria right now. But not North Korea, no danger of them being attacked, they could defend themselves, perish the thought. And there are nervous people here too, all over the world, in fact. Bush scares me and many other “sane” people. He’s the President of the most powerful nation on Earth, yet appears to have all the intelligence of a bag of marshmallows. Oh, my most sincere apologies to marshmallows for the insult. George W. Bush; hmmmn, I have a feeling I've figured out what the “W” stands for.






Then there is his poodle… oops, I mean partner, in the axis of evil; fellow Christian, Tony Blair. Christians… now that’s interesting, which part of “thou shalt not kill” don’t they understand? I recall a

favourite T-shirt I had as a teenager back in the seventies (ouch), the message is as pertinent today as it was then. It said quite simply; “Fighting for peace is like f**king for virginity!” It always brought a smile to my face, but it’s a serious piece of philosophy, in spite of the language. We will never permanently solve the problems of the world with bullets and bombs. The sons and brothers of the dead and injured will always return to claim their right to revenge. As the Chinese so wisely say; “Before seeking vengeance, dig two graves.” Even in Bush and Blair’s own Christian dogma, the rule of thumb goes; “Vengeance is Mine! Sayeth the Lord.” I still remember Ronald Reagan a few years ago, talking of Armageddon; “Yes, I believe it will happen, it says so in the Bible.” It worries me that Bush and Blair may believe this too, thus raising the spectre of self-fulfilling prophecy. The fact remains that the United Nations did not authorise the attack on Iraq and the “weapons of mass destruction” do not appear to exist. So much for us all being 45 minutes from doomsday, huh? Justifying a war using a student thesis “borrowed” off the internet is not merely “spin”, it’s the full three-deck mixing.

We need to be honest with ourselves here, the Arab world has good cause to resent and distrust the west. Historically, we are the bad guys. The state of Israel was built with duplicity, brutality and terror. More importantly, it was largely financed by the U.S., without whose support it would not have survived. Yet America remains mystified as to why the Iraqis don’t want a McDonalds in Baghdad. As for Israel… what can I say? How can a race that suffered the persecution and near-genocidal injustice of the Holocaust, wilfully inflict such treatment on others. The Israelis, of course, have an inalienable right to their own nation, but so do the Palestinians, whose ancient claim to that land is equally valid. The militarily strong nations would be wise to remember, that with power, goes responsibility.

Sadly, the west seems to use power to inflict its morals on the world and threaten or bomb others into submission. All this creates is angry enemies, yet so much more could be achieved if we approached others as friends. American foreign policy is based almost exclusively on self-interest and is hampered by naivety, born of a lack of knowledge of the world around it. Bush’s thoughtless use of the word “crusade” only serves to illustrate that ignorance. British foreign policy still seems to be based on our wonderfully self-righteous Victorian imperial ideals; “Tally ho, let’s take Britishness to the wogs, eh what?” Lo, verily, we should revel in our glorious British history, for did we not give the world such gifts as… well, slavery, concentration camps and apartheid? And America, does it not have the most enviable record on human rights? Not to mention the fine work of that noble Christian organisation, the Ku Klux Klan. I’m probably not alone in wishing future pretzels much better luck.

My entry failed to win the Daily Mail caption competition