He might as well be an American. His kind respect just one thing, money . . . . I was 10 when the B-29 came. My family lived underground for three days. When we came up, the city was gone. Then the heat brought rain, Black rain. You made the rain black and shoved your values down our throat. We forgot who we were. You created Sato and the thousands like him. I am paying you back.
Sugai (Tomisaburô Wakayama) speaking to the character Nick Conklin (Michael Douglas) about Sato (Yûsaku Matsuda) Black Rain
SUMMARY: The very sad thing about the Manchester attack personal tribulation felt by the families who have lost their loved ones is that no real culprit for the root causes of this tragedy that shall continue to haunt both the Western and Non-Western countries for the foreseeable future has been searched and analyzed for either by the governments ,the mainstream media or still less the pundits and the so-called counter-terrorism and intelligence experts that are now “a dime a dozen” as they too, like everyone else continue to sensationalize and barely touch on the very short-term analysis or remedies, by only stating the obvious. A week later, another devastating blast in the center of Baghdad in Iraq killing over 30 people followed by yet another powerful blast in Kabul, Afghanistan in the supposedly very secure area of the city killing more than 90 people, a Casino in Manila the Philippines leaving 37 fatal casualties and then the London Bridge attack killing seven people is testimony to the fact that short-term scapegoats, superficial “explanations”, added precaution and self-indulgence in irrational political absurdity will not prevent more future attacks which is not the question of if, but when and where it will occur.
The truth is that the inept foreign policies of the United States and the West in general over the past three decades without any disregard for the realities of the winds of change and more importantly the consequences of their very shortsighted and impetuous policies are largely responsible for the current quandary that has besieged the world. The so-called experts and specialists that are paraded in a dog show manner on various networks, stating the same old same old, along with former and currently affiliated various government intelligence and national security officials are all evidence of a dismal report card as proven by the events in Manchester, Baghdad, Kabul, Manila, London and still many to follow that their failed analysis and policies present.
Hence, while the US and Western policymakers and analysts continue to dream in the comfort of their environment behind closed doors of a Universe that is far apart from the very complex world they are trying to impose their irrelevant vision upon, they have and shall continue to find the hard way that their discourse and chic colored “PowerPoint” image presentations has never had any “Power” and certainly no pertinent “Point” and has been completely incongruous with the real world. There is no doubt, that there should be a short-term scrutiny and re-thinking of the domestic security policy, but, with a focused eye for the cause and effects prism of analysis where clearly the ball has been dropped. Inevitably the debate is extremely multiplex if this is not an understatement and passionately viewed by all parties. However, a major resetting of the US and Western foreign policy compass on the right path is a must and for a very long haul at this stage.
This is the devilish thing about foreign affairs: they are foreign and will not always conform to our whim.
— James Reston
The Culprit: The Flawed US/European Foreign Policy
As the United States and its allies have slowly but surely created a major political, military and financial quagmire, ironically, they continue to double down on an incomprehensible policy that is now touching them hard at home. After the inauspicious interventions in Iraq, Syria and now Libya, the situation has evolved into such a vicious circle that its humanly cost and consequences has literally washed to the shores of Europe, Turkey, and airlifted to the U.S too. In a nutshell, practically all these countries and some from outside the region have had their intelligence and Special Forces involved in supporting and creating “opposition” groups that in reality are nothing more than armed militia with dubious swaying influence by those who have sponsored them. Thus these Frankenstein-like created groups have seriously backfired on all of them – with no end in sight.
In Libya, for example, where the Manchester suicide bomber had come from, both the CIA and MI6 along with the Anglo/American Special Operation Forces who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi are still very active and up to their eyeballs with running Libyan militias. The death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, in reality a CIA officer who had operated previously under the cover of the State Department, a common practice, as political officer in several locations such as, Jerusalem, Cairo and even Damascus was in line with his militia-related mission that had gone sour and is maintained to this day.
As Britain too has continued to nourish and play the militia and the intrigue game in Libya, it is noteworthy that the Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi was clearly and according to anonymous reliable sources in contact with the British intelligence — like quite a few other British citizens of Muslim background — that the MI6 has nurtured and sent all over the Middle-East as part of its intelligence operation — just like the United States, Israel and few other European and Middle Eastern countries such as Turkey and Jordan. That is the reason why Abedi was able to move with complete impunity and even help the logistic support of sleeper networks that have yet to manifest their existence, because of MI6 trust, confidence and security clearance, returning on May 18th from a recent travel to Libya. In fact, the British police have categorically insisted that:
“the 22-year-old was not known for his extremist views before he launched last week’s terror attack at the Manchester arena.
Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Ian Hopkins said the 22-year-old had featured on police logs in 2012 for theft, receiving stolen goods and assault.
But he had not featured in the government’s Prevent counter-terrorism strategy, Mr Hopkins said.” Daily Mail, May 30th, 2017
Thus he had become a double agent, masking his real intentions and affiliations while helping the network that was able to use him while planning for the next attack. This is also the main reason why the British authorities were highly sensitive and irritated by the American leaks in fear that their clumsy handling of such a matter would become a nightmare public political scandal.
There has been another precedent for such mishap that happened in the Afghanistan CIA Forward Operating Base Chapman when Human Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi who had been arrested by the Jordanian intelligence service, the General Intelligence Directorate (GID) in January 2009 was thought to have been “turned” to penetrate al-Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas. But instead, he was able to enter the Base on December 30, 2009, in all liberty to detonate his suicide vest killing seven CIA officers and contractors, a Jordanian intelligence officer along with an Afghan personnel working for the CIA in one of the most deadly attacks against the agency in 25 years. This had also resulted in critical intelligence compromise. Still worst, he had compromised serious intelligence gathering methods and operational techniques in favor of al-Qaeda and other targeted opponents.
Return to your friends and tell them that we came here with no peaceful intent, but ready for battle, and determined to avenge our own wrongs and set our country free. Let your masters come and attack us: we are ready to meet them beard to beard.
— William Wallace, Scottish Revolutionary, 1270-1305
Why then the suicide bombers, their network, and planners are so bitter and ready to sacrifice with such dedication? The answer in large part must be searched for to a great extent in the narrative that touches them and that they actually feel and live on a daily basis with all the deaths, devastation and hopelessness that surrounds them — caused in large part by the US and its allies. This has certainly facilitated the job of their fanatic religious leaders who are exploiting those narratives masterfully in pronouncing the West’s evil turpitude. In response, the Western account of events in convincing the grass root extremists of a varied narration publicly or through the social media has been very dismal, blurred and most definitely handicapped by the reality of the facts on the ground. The chaotic sociopolitical state of affairs in the West, of course, along with corruption, domestic political infighting and revelations do not help matters either. In fact, the American and European politicians are unable to convince even their own constituency about the governing competence and still less their “Good Faith” /honesty in domestic or matters of national security and foreign policy.
But, at the end of the day, the bombing attacks that have continued to beset the West are all the result and repercussions of the decades-long incompetent Machiavellian and chauvinistic foreign policy agenda with an extremely short-sighted view — if it needs to be reiterated. The warning signs and the red flags have always been there for those who have been willing to look in foresight with real experience, humanly pragmatic manner and above all wisdom. There are at least two telling instances. The Shah of Iran, during the Iranian crisis and the upheaval of 1978-1979 that led to his downfall had warned both the US and the West who were, in fact, supporting and encouraging opposition to his rule — exactly as what they did in Iraq, Syria, and Libya — both privately and publicly as to the dramatic consequences of his departure by asserting that: “If I leave, Iran will go down. If Iran goes down, the Middle East will go down. If the Middle East goes down, the world will suffer.”
Less than a decade later at the height of another serious American foreign policy scandal during President Ronald Reagan, the Iran–Contra affair also known as the Irangate, the former Head of the Iranian Foreign Intelligence Service during the Shah in exile, wrote to the Head of CIA Iran desk at the time whom he had known since his assignment in Iran expressing dismay at such a strategy and operation conducted by the US government. Astonishing for him, was the manipulation of the United States by both Israel and Britain in its overall foreign policy posture.
The underlining analysis of the letter presented below, its tone and conclusion are written three decades ago and only a few years after the fall of the Shah certainly points to its pertinence and foresightedness. It was later revealed to the former Head of the Iranian Intelligence Service that the letter had been read with much intensity by the very high-level administration officers and eventually shown and discussed with President Ronald Reagan at a meeting due to its crucial analysis.
But as the entire Muslim world continues to glow and radiate in a Chernobyl-like disaster more hardcore militants at home that find their way to other countries; and the so-called “moderate Arab allies” that in reality are neither and only present a huge political and economic drain and liability, it continues to drag down an already misplaced American and European foreign policy. More so, given the fact that not only the Arab countries have been unable to help alleviate the Palestinian suffering and repression, but they have undermined their own legitimacy further by publicly becoming allied with Israel that continues to be uncompromising in this endeavor. The paper on Iraq, written in 2003 and only 3 months after the supposed self-declared victory by President Bush had concluded:
“Meanwhile, the recent suicide bombing attacks in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and eventually ALL other Arab-Muslim states – has only JUST BEGUN. Faced with tremendous economic problems and long-term humiliation – the man in the street in these countries does not trust anymore its corrupt, dictatorial leaders and is, therefore (if it is not an understatement) more and more susceptible to the forces of EXTREMISM. But, persistence on the same path by the US, calling the whole world Terrorists and trying to fight them – won’t cut the mustard.”
So while the West has — finally — started to wake up from a nightmarish dream of its own making, it is clear that until now the reality has been treated at best as a deception and worst swept under the carpet. A recent article by David Usborne in the Independent attributes the success of the American invasion of Panama as a pivotal experience that may have encouraged and triggered the US invasion of Iraq. Since Britain has also been consistently an accomplice in many of America’s foreign policy adventurism, the same argument, if it is subscribed to, can be made about the British/Argentinean war of Malvinas, Kosovo and Sierra Leone, that were all accomplished without any lingering military burden. However, the pertinence of the reasoning of the article about the cause of Iraq invasion not debated, a point brought up by it is the connection between the foreign policy folly abroad and the terrorism in Britain that had invited itself into the British election and underlined by Jeremy Corbyn, the head of the Labor Party as explained by the article:
“The Iraq war, especially, has surfaced as a new flashpoint in Britain’s election, with Jeremy Corbyn attracting spitting indignation from the Tory right for connecting the dots between policies of invasion and intervention with an elevated risk of terror attacks on domestic soil. “Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services,” the Labour leader dared to suggest, “have pointed out the connections between wars that we have been involved in, or supported, or fought, in other countries and terrorism here at home.”
But it is too late, as those experts and professionals in the intelligence and security services are the same “a dime a dozen” ones who like the Monday Morning quarterbacks are only now stating the obvious. But there will be unfortunately more innocent blood spilled as the politicians who have had so cowardly buried their heads in the sand continue to play disdainful politics with absolutely no real applicable policy that does need a bitter medicine.
Do you know what is killing Western democracy George? Greed and Constipation: Moral, Political and aesthetic.
— Bill Haydon (Ian Richardson) speaking to the character: — George Smiley (Alec Guinness) in Tinker Tailor Solider Spy
The West’s Moral Dilemma
In the aftermath of the Second World War, the moral conflict and debate between the Western democracies and Communism culminated into a serious self-conscious questioning of the values presented by both side’s intellectuals’ class. As a result, some of the most trusted elite who had been recruited by their respective intelligence service in the United States and Britain were earnestly tested into becoming a “turncoat” quite simply because of their challenging moral values. The betrayal of Britain by Kim Philly, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross was known as the Cambridge Five is a case in point that rattled not only the British intelligence services but also affected the Anglo/American cooperation and partnership forever.
This moral catechism and strife for a better society is captured brilliantly in John le Carré’s classic Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy thriller made into a series by the BBC and later a movie where the central character George Smiley played magnificently by Alec Guinness confronts Bill Haydon, played by Ian Richardson equally an impressive performer, who has been revealed as a very valuable Soviet mole in the British secret service and is waiting in a safe house for the exchange against the British spies behind the Iron Curtain. There is a scene toward the end where Smiley goes to see Haydon for unraveling as he puts it, the “Why, When and How” i.e. why he had turned his coat, when it had happened and How he had become a Soviet agent.
The lines and the exchanges radiantly shed light on the moral dilemma plaguing not only the society at the time but also the status quo ruling class. The irony of course, in putting this into context, is that they could have been taking a page out of the current socio-political turmoil and debates.
In response to George’s question of Why? Bill in a mixture of chuckling and sniffles in the BBC version responds:
“Why? You ask that? Because it was necessary, that’s why. Someone had to. (takes a deep Breath) We were bluffed — you, me, control, all of us. The circus talent-spotters, all those years ago they picked us when we were golden with hope. Told us we were on our way to the Holy Grail; a lifetime of glory in front of us: service to the great cause, freedom’s protectors. (Snickering): My God. (Laughing and sobbing): what a question. “Why?”
Bill then asks and answers the question that was quoted at the top, (sigh) “Do you know what is killing Western democracy, George? Greed and Constipation…”
“I hate America very deeply. The economic repression of the masses institutionalized. Even Lenin couldn’t foresee the extent of that. Britain Oh, dear. No viability whatever in world affairs. I suppose that’s when it began, turning my eyes to the East I mean, and I saw how trivial we’d become as a nation . . . Until the mid 50’s I still had hopes . . . lingering loyalty to what we represented. Self-delusion of course. We were already America’s street walkers.”
The fall of the Soviet Union at the end was as much because of its economic demise, as it was due to a closed and suppressive society it had gradually evolved into over the course of decades. Those were the times that Western democracies and America could boast of its higher moral values, than Communism. Particularly, after the fall of the Soviet Union and the adherence of Communist China to the free market, the West was vindicated for the freedom, way of life and the system it represented. Not anymore. Sadly, those days have long dissipated now that the Western societies faced with multiplex socioeconomic and political hemorrhages, or in the words of the character Bill cited — constipation — are seriously questioning its values in the light of the fact that the vitality and life have been taken out of its existence. Hence the trust and belief of both the grassroots and the rank-and-file of the governing body have been either largely lost or at best find themselves adrift in search of a balanced and just solution. But, the delusional and wishful thinking status quo relentlessly faced with a gravely broken and dislocated system continue on the same path.
The case of Edward Joseph Snowden, Chelsea Elizabeth Manning (born Bradley Edward Manning) and now Reality Leigh Winner, all very young and leaking sensitive documents — not for money or because of the common culture of selfie five minute fame, but a conscientious struggle, are all reminiscent of the moral conflict that had existed during the Cold War. More alarming for the status quo should be the lack of trust and conviction by the younger generation in the narrative they have been given throughout their life. The absence of respect for honesty, integrity, and accountability of the elite in all walks of life from governmental institutions to Multi-nationals Oligarchy or what some like to call Corporatocracy with their undeniably ruthless economic web, as perceived by many, does not make it any easier for the struggling younger generation who witness them riding the gravy train of money, fame, wheeling and dealing with hypocrisy at the very top, to believe in the system that is evocative of a delinquent society.
The determination and resentment has been such that Ms. Reality had admitted, according to the Assistance US Attorney Jennifer Solari that she had leaked the Top Secret documents “to a particular news agency she admired” and demonstrating her hardcore values by adding that “she was underwhelmed with what Wikileaks had to offer “and even mentioning in a personal journal of her desire to “…burn down the White House” which should be considered as an even higher level of dissatisfaction that the younger generation in the West is feeling and willing to translate it into a greater anti-establishment action. How can the West, other than the culture of fear and self-indulgence win over the radical extremist overseas when it is unable to persuade its own very disenchanted base?
Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.
— Frederick Douglass, African-American social reformer
All Men Are Created Equal
The pain felt by the families of the Manchester and later the London attack was on the front page of the Western media with the victim’s faces for over a week and continues to be fanned for social media interest and sympathy. Yet, the same pain being felt on daily basis all over Iraq, Syria, and Libya…has been lost to the small print if at all reported only with political interest and certainly not the same sympathetic detail. The Pakistani Taliban attacked a school in Peshawar, run by the Army in 2014 killing 141 of whom 132 were the children. They were adamant that it was an act of retaliation for the Army’s attack on the Taliban in the Waziristan and the Khyber area killing hundreds adding “we wanted them to feel our pain” for the Army’s attack as well as the American Drones that do the same, with Pakistani’s government approval.
The recent attack on 31 May 2017 in Kabul would have proved the same indifference for the 90 people who died there again, had it not taken a toll on foreigners. In the pertinent words of the headline to Patrick Cockburn report in The Independent:
“In military terms, the Afghan conflict is a stalemate. It takes a spectacular bombing with foreigners involved as victims for the world to remember the killing continues.”
Then as he correctly reports the details of that explosion and the underlying analysis:
“The explosion of a giant bomb in a sewage tanker close to the diplomatic quarter in Kabul is receiving much publicity because of the heavy loss of life and because so many foreign embassies were damaged. A BBC driver was killed and four BBC journalists were wounded by the blast.”
“But, aside from spectacular incidents where foreigners are involved, the Afghan war has largely dropped off media and diplomatic agendas since direct foreign combat involvement ended. This has happened even though, over the past two years, the conflict has been escalating with the Taliban gradually gaining ground and the Afghan affiliate of Isis, also known as Khorasan Province and which holds far less territory, losing several of its strongholds in recent months. The number of civilian casualties last year was 11,000 of whom 3,500 were killed according to the UN, the highest number since 2009. The severity of the fighting also forced half a million Afghans to flee their homes.”
The inconvenient truth, though, is that the Anglo/American aggression with their allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya has now become a brutal and bloody civil war that no one likes or wants to acknowledge with an incomprehensible strategy and/or accountability to this date by the West and the international community. The British, of course, with their wicked Imperial colonial past in manipulating the regional conflicts along the lines of religious and ethnical groups in order to fish from the muddy water had been instrumental in all the above conflicts. However, as Jack Straw in a 2002 New Statesman interview had alluded to the past British mistakes and their continuous effect until the present time:
“Straw is pumped up, and embarks on a list of British historical errors. “India, Pakistan – we made some quite serious mistakes. We were complacent with what happened in Kashmir, the boundaries weren’t published until two days after independence. Bad story for us, the consequences are still there. Afghanistan – where we played less than a glorious role over a century and a half.” He moves on to the Middle East: “There’s hardly a country . . . ” he checks himself, before going on: “The odd lines for Iraq’s borders were drawn by Brits. The Balfour declaration and the contradictory assurances which were being given to Palestinians in private at the same time as they were being given to the Israelis – again, an interesting history for us but not an entirely honourable one.” Then he gets to Africa. His “huge arguments” with Robert Mugabe are about democracy and good governance. “However, when any Zimbabwean, any African, says to me land is a key issue . . . the early colonisers were all about taking land.”So this is not a case of imperial values in a modern setting. It’s not about spreading the gospel of western democracy. It’s about a strict adherence to the UN. Straw even has a copy of its charter in his pocket, which he is happy to recite.”
Yet, Jack Straw did not have the wisdom to realize the above mistakes are about to be repeated in far greater magnitude that should be added to the list of Britain’s past immoral foreign policy blunders. But he certainly did not possess any principles to oppose and resign as did the late Robin Cook with his truly foresightful resignation speech, putting everything in the correct perspective and what he had always proclaimed with sincerity as the “ethical dimension” to foreign policy. But when confronted with the question:
“So what exactly is his foreign policy? What is the big idea? Straw thinks about it and offers the following: “Democratic socialist, number one. Engaged. Active. Trying to secure a more peaceful and prosperous world, and one that is founded on, rooted in, our commitment to the UN and international law.”
When it is pointed out to him:
“That doesn’t sound quite as snappy as Cook’s grand proclamations back in 1997 of an “ethical dimension” to foreign policy. What’s happened to that, I ask? He laughs. “We each choose our own words, right? I’ve given you my own words.”
If it is not an understatement, no one is laughing anymore and as Saddam Hussein had said in an interview with a French journalist, “the United States and Britain have two copy of the UN Charter, one in their right pocket and the other in the left pocket, one is for their use and the other for others” Mr. Straw was obviously reciting the rules put in the pocket that applied to his agenda and interest.
So when the recent attacker in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral had shouted “It is for Syria”, this should be taken as another sign of injustice and the lack of adherence to the international law that Jack Straw has been falsely proclaiming and giving cause for the militants to fight back further. For now, at least, the West has completely lost its creditability along with something more crucial, the Hearts and Minds of the entire Third World. Even Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda had realized that: “It may be alright to possess power based upon guns, it is, however, better and more gratifying to win and also to champion the hearts of the people.” Something that is uncertain to return anytime soon in the near future. How could the Libyan people forget the fact that for months the American government and Congress were preoccupied with the loss of four diplomats in Benghazi, where since that incident at least over several hundred people have been killed in Benghazi alone?
The lyrics of two well-known songwriters and singers are telling in trying to understand the desolated people’s feeling across the war-ridden countries that are easily susceptible to become extremists or find sympathizers for their cause in a nutshell. In one of his well-known and popular songs “Like A Rolling Stone”, Bob Dylan who recently won the Noble literature price has a couple of lines that captures it very well:
When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal.
How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?
Another song ironically also a title so appropriate at this time, as it was back then, is called Russians by Sting and its lyrics certainly matches perfectly in capping today’s predicament:
There is no historical precedent
To put the words in the mouth of the President
There’s no such thing as a winnable war
It’s a lie we don’t believe anymore
Mr. Reagan says we will protect you
I don’t subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me, and you
Is if the Russians love their children too
This has been an all-around year of elections in America and Europe with grassroots electors voting their discontent with the governance and the establishment. The United States’ election was the start of a wave of disapproval where President Donald Trump was able to capitalize on it and in a speech rightfully stating:
“The problems we face now — poverty and violence at home, war and destruction abroad — will last only as long as we continue relying on the same politicians who created them in the first place.”
In 1998, a Northern Ireland peace deal was reached dubbed as the “Good Friday Agreement” that ended 30 years of very bloody conflict. The Irish Republican Army, during the course of the conflict launched a series of spectacular bombing attacks in Britain including one on Downing Street at the height of the first Iraq war and later in 1996 its largest detonations of 1,500-kilogram (3,300 lb) explosives in the center of Manchester proving that no precaution can stop the perseverance of dedicated opponents. As Britain begins the long way to uncertainty of economic and sociopolitical stability at home and confused foreign policy abroad in the aftermath of yet another destabilizing election along with the rest of its European allies,; while Germany’s Angela Merkel is talking about the times of change for Europe to rely on itself, the only way out of the current crisis is to be realistic and see the writing on the wall with a sound policy and strategy to combat the domestic and national security crisis and challenges that shall be facing the global village for a long time on the horizon of international relation. It is time, therefore, for the world statesmen, politicians, and leaders to realize that playing politics, rhetoric and fancy terminologies used by their analysts, that has always been behind the curve for the irresponsible policies of the past and its current consequences can no longer be an option.