Alice in the Looking Glass: No, We Can’t.
Ten years on, America and Britain could do with a shiny, big mirror above their collective warming hearths, for they need to look deeply into their national souls.
The transatlantic relationship is forged as much by a grand messiah complex as by their devastated market policies. A common propaganda of ethical integrity, bringing civilised values to the wider world in the battle of good versus evil has been hardly dampened by three wars, none of them successful. The war in Afghanistan sits like an ugly blister on the side of their national nose, swollen with a cancerous pus just out of their immediate vision. The war in Iraq has been reduced to a “lesson” in what to be done the next time, casting away any shadows from the Bradley Mannings and David Kellys of a collective conscience. WMD is a national joke with no fallout. There is impunity for their decision makers, for the people who are directly responsible for the deaths and damage caused to thousands, if not millions. The stains on their armies, even as human rights lawyers talk of maybe hundreds more ‘Baha Moussas’ are dismissed as a few bad apples. In the US, body bags are buried from cameras and in the UK, the average man still believes the British army are a force for good in the world. Civil liberties and human rights laws won and built over centuries are flicked away as an unnecessary entrapment created by hungry lawyers. And their big business profits whilst they pander to a distorted vision that they saved the Middle East from itself, even as their spooks laze by the marble-lined pool of other dictators.
All this collective destruction in the name of an enemy that barely exists, and barely existed. As Barack Obama exhorts the wane of Al Qaeda in his 9/11 memorial, the ghost of Osama Bin Laden must be dancing with his girls in paradise. His greatest accomplishment was surely not the killing of 3000 innocent people on that day but the planting of the great new fiction that Al Qaeda was a global army that could pull the West away from itself. The fiction frog-spawned. For ten years, the governments of the US and UK have relied on that fiction to pummel wars and promote an agenda that has left domestic policies, and populations, in tatters.
Today, the US and UK need to look long and hard in that tenth anniversary mirror, and reflect on who is better off today. It would be gracious for one of their leaders to remember and record that the crashing of those planes into the Twin Towers led to the deaths of countless thousands more. Iraq Body Count puts estimated deaths there alone now at over 1 million. The vanity of Britain and the US must end. Alice stared into the Looking Glass and announced: Yes, We Can.
If the leaders of Britain and America dare look into the fabled mirror, they ought finally to understand that they did not save the world.
No, Messrs Obama and Cameron, We Can’t.
September 11th 2011.