11 years after 9/11

Published Sep 10, 2012 03:20am

AFTER eleven years, thousands of lives, and trillions of dollars wasted since 9/11, the fallout from those events is still with us. And even though Osama Bin Laden, the architect of the attacks, is dead, his toxic ideology continues to delude young Muslims around the globe.

In ways he could never have foreseen, the Al Qaeda leader has changed the world for the worse. As we in Pakistan struggle to contain the tide of extremism threatening our very existence, the West has become a very different place, too. Security concerns have now reached such paranoid levels that everyday freedoms, once taken for granted, are at risk.

Apart from the cost in blood and treasure, 9/11 and the subsequent ‘war on terror’ has made the destabilising concept of pre-emptive war acceptable. The restraints of international law have been greatly weakened after the attacks on Iraq and Libya. Even as I write this, the crescendo of voices demanding similar action in Syria and Iran is growing.

In Afghanistan after 9/11, there was an international consensus reflected in a UN Security Council resolution calling upon the Taliban to hand over Osama Bin Laden to the US. Mullah Omar’s refusal brought even greater misery to his people than they had already been through.

But there was no such global agreement in or out of the United Nations over the invasion of Iraq. This military action, driven by the neocons in Washington, discredited both Bush and Blair. The fact that Saddam Hussein had no WMDs, and certainly had no links with Al Qaeda, made it clear that there was no legal or moral justification for the war.And yet, despite the clear illegality of their actions, both Bush and Blair continue to enjoy a peaceful retirement, and in the latter’s case, a very lucrative one. Just a few days ago, he was brokering a multi-billion dollar takeover bid. Through his personal appearances and consultancy, he is making millions. Understandably, whenever he appears on TV, he looks extremely pleased with himself.

However, he recently received a rare snub when Bishop Desmond Tutu refused to appear with him at an event in South Africa. Tutu has often been described as the ‘conscience of Africa’, and in a recent article in the Observer, he showed us why:

“On what grounds do we decide that Robert Mugabe should go to the International Criminal Court, Tony Blair should join the international speakers’ circuit, Bin Laden should be assassinated, but Iraq should be invaded, not because it possesses WMDs, as Mr Bush’s chief supporter, Mr Blair, confessed last week, but in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein?

“The cost of [this] decision has been staggering… Last year, an average of 6.5 people died there each day in suicide attacks and vehicle bombs… More than 110,000 Iraqis have died in the conflict since 2003 and millions have been displaced. By the end of last year, nearly 4,500 Americans had been killed and more than 32,000 wounded.

“On these grounds alone, in a consistent world, those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in The Hague…

“… If it is acceptable for leaders to take drastic action on the basis of a lie, without an acknowledgment or an apology when they are found out, what should we teach our children?”

I have quoted Bishop Tutu at some length because of the importance of his message. In fact, I urge readers to read the full article online. Last year, I heard the South African cleric speak at the Hay Literary Festival and was deeply moved by his simplicity and his gentle humour.

In a world where cynicism has largely replaced morality, it is important to heed the occasional call for ethical behaviour. There are far too few voices speaking out against the likes of Bush and Blair for us to ignore the ones that do break through the fog of callous pragmatism.

Another voice to call consistently for Blair to be tried belongs to George Monbiot. In a recent article in the Guardian, he pointed out that the UN Charter only permits wars in self-defence, and that Blair could be tried for dragging Britain into an illegal war.

Indeed, Monbiot has set up a fund through which people are paid for carrying out citizens’ arrest of Tony Blair (www.arrestblair.org). Four such arrests have been attempted thus far. So while it is unlikely that Blair will actually be tried for his crimes against humanity, his public ostracisation might serve to remind others that there is a price to pay for acting like “playground bullies”, to use Bishop Tutu’s words.

Against this backdrop of idealism and citizen activism, it was sad to learn that Ed Milliband, leader of the Labour Party, has announced that he will welcome Tony Blair back into the fold. Forget morality: even on grounds of political expedience, it appears foolish to even touch the ex-prime minister with a ten-foot bargepole. More than its economic performance, Labour supporters blame the party leadership for failing to stop Blair from taking Britain to war in Iraq.Ordinary Brits still fume at the lies they were fed by Blair to obtain Parliament’s support for the decision to invade. However, as I remind friends in England, the reality is that even after it became apparent that there were no WMDs in Iraq, they still re-elected Blair for another term.

By letting off people like Bush and Blair, we have made it clear that illegal wars will go unpunished, thereby lowering the bar for the unilateral use of power. We can see the results in the ease with which states now send their forces to intervene abroad.

Now, when Israel threatens to attack Iran, few point out that such an action would be strictly illegal under international law. But Israel has seldom heeded UN conventions. The real danger is that the region may again be sucked into armed conflict.

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Comments (19) (Closed)


kanwal
Sep 10, 2012 11:52pm
@Prasad Your comment had me roaring with laughter. I am right now trying to imagine what would have happened if USA and Britain had intervened "at the right time" in your words. By now Iraq would have successfully gotten rid of may be 5 times more dead and injured and displaced. What a happy soul you are. How did you manage to get intternet in your cave?
Khalid Latif
Sep 10, 2012 05:21pm
Prasad, What right does one country has to invade another in the name of saving opressed people? Can you name one country where there is no oppression at all? If there is oppression against the Muslims or Hindus in the US, should another country attack the US? What sort of international behaviour is this? If a strong country doesnt like the face of a leader, should it invade and kill him, under one false justification or another?
True Pakistani
Sep 11, 2012 01:33am
- the essence of human nature, on balance, is more EVIL than GOOD. is what the paki khakis are, and have been, doing to their own people since 1958 in any way less atrocious than what the americans and british are doing.
Khalid Latif
Sep 10, 2012 05:13pm
Every thing above is right, except, Musharaf. The US was ready to force its way into Afghanistan, whether Musharraf agreed or not. It was no point trying to control a wild bull, far stronger than you, by its horns. I think, any leader would have gone with the US plan. Musharraf had no choice.
Khalid Latif
Sep 10, 2012 04:58pm
Its so sad that most of the analysts and writers still believe that 9/11 happened as narrated by the US. Was any part of the aircraft recovered? What efforts were made to recover the black box? In fact, is any one sure that airline aircraft were involved in the attack? Is there one eye witness who saw an aircraft collide with the building? The experts say, 9/11 is a good video manipulation and the US media championed the propoganda. Besides, is it not true that a few hours before the 9/11, the Saudi families including that of Bin Laden were evacuated by an official flight to Jedda? Half the world has been fooled but what about the writers from within the US who had doubts about the reality of 9/11? Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. Bush was successfull in mobilising his military, essentially, against Islam. But, the climax has ended up on the other side. The drop scene is around the corner; right inside Afghanistan.
Rashid Sultan
Sep 10, 2012 04:27pm
"All it takes for evil to take root is for a few good men to remain silent."
Addy
Sep 10, 2012 08:08pm
How about UN Resolution 1441? It can be debated that Iraq was given enough time to prove its innocence, given its past record of non-compliance.
malik
Sep 10, 2012 04:42am
Real culprits for Iraq war was Bush & Co. Tony just followed along.
Prasad
Sep 10, 2012 06:26am
The whole premise of this article is shocking. People like you are too short sighted and the same of so-called righteous journalists drove society to ignore an evil like Hitler till it became too late. Saddam Hussien, Gadaffi are people who had to be killed. What is shocking is not that Britain, US intervened but they intervened too late. After they are the leading powers in the world and its their duty to come to help of oppressed citizenry under despotic rules. Saddam had to be killed way back in 1980's. What hope do people have when such despots rule; intervention will always have collateral damage but better than price of silence
guest62
Sep 10, 2012 07:04am
cAN NOT AGREE MORE WITH YOU SIR . PLEASE GET ONE CORRECTION TO YOUR STANCE ON MULLAH OMER . HE DID NOT REFUSE TO HANDOVER OBL , ALL HE ASKED WAS , IF YOU HAVE EVIDENCE , PROVIDE US THE EVIDENCE AND WE WILL LOOK AT IT AND THEN DECIDE WEATHER OR OR NOT HAND OVER OBL ..... BUSH SHARED HIS EVIDENCE WITH BLAIR ( THE OTHER ACCUSED ONE IN YOUR ARTICLE ) AND GENERAL MUSHARAF ( NOW UNDER INTERNAIONAL RED WARRANT OF INTERPOLE THREAT AND RUNNING FROM COUNTRY TO COUNTRY TO ESCAPE THE JUSTICE YET MAKING MILLIONS OF US$ ON INTL SO CALLED LECTURE CIRCUIT ) .... ON WHICH EARTH AND RULE , YOU DECIDE TO BOMB A COUNTRY OR A REGIME BECAUSE WHAT THEY HAVE ASKED IN RETURN , WAS THE BASIC NEED OF JUSTICE AND RULE OF LAW ????? WHY TO SAY BLAIR & GEROGE BUSH , WHY NOT COMPLETE THE TRIANGLE AND PUT MUSSHARF TOO INTO THIS EQUATION , AFTER ALL , THE HAVOC STILL RAINING ON THE COUNTRY CALLED PAKISTAN , IS THE AFTERMATH OF WHAT MUSHARAF DID IN PROVIDING UNSTINTED SUPPORT TO THE OTHER 2 FOR ACTION IN AFGHANISTAN .... IF YOU AGREE TO MY WEAKER VIEWS EVEN BY SAY 1% , THEN PLEASE ALLOW THIS NOTE OF MINE BE PUBLISHED TO HELP SERT YOUR RECORDS STRAIGHT A BIT ....... THANK YOU
Keti Zilgish
Sep 10, 2012 08:09am
When appraising Bush & Blair I cannot afford not to imagine what would have happened if Saddam Hussein was still in power right now.
mohammad hamza
Sep 10, 2012 08:25am
When will the Musharraf Obsession stop ? Musharraf had nothing to do with declaring war on Afghanistan. Please do not insinuate or malign Musharraf without any basis. No action was taken by Pakistan to attack Afghanistan. Under UN Resolutions we only did abide by providing a land route for supplies. The blowback of jehadi nuisance is the dirty crop sown by Zia ul haque that we are harvesting now. Get your facts and history right before demonising the best leader Pakistan had after Jinnah.
Kashif Khan
Sep 10, 2012 08:48am
Lets be realistic. Although I agree with you sir, but might is always right in real world.
AHA
Sep 10, 2012 11:15am
Too loud...
Vikas
Sep 10, 2012 08:39pm
I am not surprised about the attitude of the author. If Osama was innocent, then why he was hiding. Pakistanis are always right and the whole world is wrong. Kudos.
Muhammad Alvi
Sep 10, 2012 02:39pm
Sadam was bad, but it did not require an army of 200,000 men to remove him. Bunch of CIA officers could do it, without all the destruction caused by war. The Iraqi's and rest of the world would be much more satisfied by that solution. The purposes of war were beyond removal of Sadam.
ahmed
Sep 11, 2012 11:53am
Real country at fault was Pakistan. If it had not sided with USA and fought against Soviets in Afghanistan for millions in aid and bribery, the Afghanistan and the world would be have been a better place. Than if it had not used Jihad as a state policy, not installed Taliban as a strategic depth against India, the September 11 would not have happened and the world would have been a better place. Pakistanis have a habit of blaming everyone else but themselves, finding conspiracies everywhere, whole world is telling a lie except themselves.
Muhammad Alvi
Sep 10, 2012 02:48pm
I agree with your comment.
Muhammad Alvi
Sep 10, 2012 02:51pm
That is true. Britain is a small country without much clout on its own. Their leadres are always alligned with USA to maintain their status.