Ryeview – September 2002

How civilised are we?

John Clark writes…

First published: September 2002 – Gazette & Herald

Afghanistan lost the war. The ‘civilized world’ won. The next potential target for the ‘civilized world’ is Iraq. What makes me think that a second victory, let alone a war, may not be good news?

Our foreign policy gives the impression that Britain is wishing the return of ‘The Empire’. Not sending our own gunboat, but a small craft cruising along in the wake of the U.S. How many enemies can we create around the world? When will the number be so large that there is a reaction against Britain?

There may be people in Afghanistan who object to having their relatives killed; this killing having been carried out by US or British firepower. It doesn’t matter if it was a ‘smart’ bomb that wasn’t smart, ‘friendly fire’ or ‘collateral damage’ – their relatives are dead.

There may be people in the US, Britain or elsewhere in the ‘civilized world’ that object to their relatives being locked up without being charged. Civilization in Britain used to mean that everyone was entitled to their freedom other than those awaiting trial or after conviction. This is now no longer the case. Locked up for months if not years without charge or evidence is now happening. They may not believe us when we tell them this is civilized.

There may be people in the world who object to the Netherlands parliament. It voted to investigate the activities of 800,000 Muslims. They may not believe us when we tell them this is not religious discrimination.

What happens if we bomb Iraq? There may be people other than Saddam Hussein who get hurt, injured, maimed or killed. Children may be killed, schools destroyed, water supplies polluted, hospital power supplies cut off and all the other consequences of war may happen. How is the ‘civilized world’ going to explain to the people of Iraq that

  • This carnage was for their benefit
  • They will be better off with all these horrors of war because the prize will be ‘regime change’.

To achieve this the civilized world is going to have to use the very best of western spin, top PR companies and marketing moguls. Even if everyone is ‘on message’ I have a feeling that a large proportion of the   population of Iraq may not be grateful to the west.

Even if Iraq was the end of this so-called war against Terrorism look at the number of enemies already created. The recruiting sergeant for the terrorist groups will have an easy job. Ed Koch, an ex- mayor of New York, said recently that the people who attacked the twin towers were terrorists. Freedom fighters, he said, attacked military targets.

What has all this to do with Ryedale? A lot! If we go round the world getting the retaliation in first we will become the target. There will be a country or an organisation that decides not to sit and wait until the US and Britain have attacked. They will get their retaliation in first.

Two questions follow logically from the above.

  • Was this the policy of al-Qaida on the 11th September 22001 when it attacked the Twin Towers?
  • If a ‘small’ nuclear device was used to destroy Fylingdales would the attackers be seen as Freedom Fighters?

Would this mean that all the anti-terrorist legislation worldwide did not apply? No doubt the ‘civilized world’ would change the rules. Too late for Ryedale – maybe too late for the ‘civilized world’. I don’t support al-Qaida but I do understand why it exists.


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