Reactions 2

Three-minute silences, Middle East policy, and Is it Armageddon?: more spiked readers give their views.


Topics Politics

After the attack on America: more spiked readers give their views.

What do you think? Email spiked letters. Please keep your letters succinct.

As the dust settles in North America, we are told that the UK is in the front line along with the USA. This is simply not possible – we are not the nation that has been bombed. What we do see is the terrible events in Manhattan being used as an excuse to bring in repressive measures against the general population of the UK. Already, we have been promised security similar to that in Northern Ireland (which didn’t exactly achieve very much); and discussion on Radio 4 last week took the view that the argument for identity cards was now unassailable. We must be vigilant that the British state does not start reprisals – against its own subjects. Andrew Watson, Kent, UK

Mick Hume’s point about the degradation of the anti-imperialist struggle in the Middle East is fair enough. But it is impossible to divorce the sentiments of those involved in the WTC attack from the history of US foreign policy in the region, which for the past 50 years has been waging a war against regional nationalist movements. It is quite right that the current Islamicist movement has more in common with Western ‘identity politics’ than with the old third world liberation struggles. But these new politics have developed in an environment dictated by Washington. People are absolutely right to try and contextualise these trends within the nature of US foreign policy. Nick Frayn, UK

On 14 September I was compelled to observe a three-minute silence at my workplace. There is nothing inherently wrong with such a gesture, but when it is requested by the UK government I have problems. When I hear NATO secretary-general George Robertson invoking Tuesday’s atrocity as an attack on NATO, I feel repulsed. I did not elect NATO – how dare those same people who slaughtered innocent Slavs just two years ago claim to speak on my behalf and that of every other Western citizen? Andrew Cox, UK

Does any of spiked‘s readership recognise that, despite the USA’s realpolitik excesses and foreign policy failures, it is still the best society yet devised by a human population? This moral relativism that says ‘America is not the only worldview’ misses the point entirely – Islamism, as opposed to traditional Islam, is a force of almost medieval darkness; the envy, cultural low self-esteem, fanaticism, totalitarianism, and anti-human disregard for life itself are genuine threats to the West. It appears that many of the respondents to the spiked letters page have lost their confidence and belief in their own right to exist. It is as if they attempt to assuage their own ill-ease with relative liberty, pseudo-democracy and imperfect technology by romanticising murderous terrorist outbursts as some sort of manifestation of ‘payback’ by an oppressed people. John Collison, Canada

I do not sympathise with Mr Cummings over the lack of diversions on TV on the night of the attacks on America (TV UK, 14 September). If the locations of the targets are too clichéd for him, might I suggest that he arrange for the next Jihad to be moved to somewhere more amenable to his yearning for the unusual. In his criticism of the grammatical expressions used by the victims, I can only imagine that he would have the victims quoting Shakespeare in our next national tragedy, instead of the benumbed phrasings of real people who have just undergone an experience of massive and intense shock. To the politically naive, we might seem to be ‘at war with a bunch of guys with Stanley knives who are already dead’, but in reality, we are at war against the foes of civilisation and we cannot choose to blink, since dumb acquiescence in the face of terror merely encourages more. This is not a time for us to merely shrug it off as unreal and permit our freedoms to be held hostage for whatever price we are asked. Me Nottelling, USA

When I went into Boston on the morning of 11 September, what struck me was that there was no collective reaction to the event. A lot of people were exercising along the Charles river, enjoying the beautiful sunny day. About half of the stores were open; the other half had shut down and gone home. It seems as if, for many, as horrific as the day may have been, there was no reason to put life on hold. Others, however, stricken with fear, vowed never to fly or climb a skyscraper again. Harvard University offered ‘Prayer and Music on a Day of National Tragedy’ in Harvard Yard, while the Kennedy School of Government faculty answered questions from anxious students. On Tuesday afternoon, Bostonians had the choice of public displays of grief and fear or business as usual. And nothing to guide them in their decision. Jeffrey Nicolich, USA

There is a lot of fatuous nonsense talked about all this business. It goes without saying that what happened was appalling, but it isn’t Armageddon, and it certainly isn’t the ‘end of the American dream’. New Yorkers will do what Europeans did on a far greater scale in 1945: mourn their dead, clear away the mess and start again. And, knowing Americans, build a new WTC with 111 floors, just to make a point. The outpouring of silly anti-American snobbery is about as coherent as the rage of Caliban. A relatively mild version of this (often delivered in the patronising tones of a headmaster admonishing a not-very-bright pupil) is that America shouldn’t ‘overreact’. But America’s response so far has been disciplined and calculating. No matter: in the letters pages of the Guardian, it’s always Uncle Sam who is the uniquely crazy cowboy. Some form of military retaliation is inevitable. But this is likely to be part of a broader strategy involving economic, diplomatic and political levers, which will go on for years and certainly won’t always be followed live on CNN. The letter from Nigel Harris (Reactions, 14 September 2001) represents a darker example of anti-American snobbery. Nigel should answer this question: if the American ‘Empire’ really did unravel, with what alternative would he replace it? He might waffle some platitudes about a world free of want and exploitation. Well fine. But the New Order envisaged by the likes of the WTC bombers is not the liberal democracy we have fought for since the Enlightenment. It is a grotesque theocracy with hand-chopping and head-chopping aplenty. Tony Jackson, Cambridge, UK

I couldn’t agree more with Des de Moor ‘s conclusion (Reactions, 14 September 2001). The real horror of the dreadful attack on the USA will be the coming revenge attacks on, most probably, Afghanistan. This will mean that thousands of innocent people will be killed in retaliation for the deaths of thousands of innocent Americans. But those people in Afghanistan will be murdered for having the misfortune to be living in one of the most oppressive regimes in the world, a regime that the CIA, through the Pakistan Intelligence Service, funded and trained. So thousands may die for the (supposed) actions of their government, that they have no control over and that the USA put there in the first place. This has got to be the most important thing to inform people about. Tara McCormack, UK

Condolences of course to the families and survivors of 11 September’s attack. But over the past few days I have been avidly consuming the news, and what comes over is the way in which Osama bin Laden is being set up to take the rap for this. Every so often commentators will say ‘one name among many’, ‘we mustn’t speculate’ – before going on to do so. The Western world in its present touchy-feely state is empathising with America. The actual investigation will be minimal, and will give the West a green light to hit out at all those whose faces don’t fit. On BBC’s Newsnight, former prime minister of Israel Ehud Barak urged America to ‘attack the terrorists – such as Hizbollah, Islamic Jihad, Syria and Iran’. One thing is certain: more work for the undertakers is guaranteed. Floyd Codlin, UK

Ever since the 1980s, I’ve heard various people on the left apologise for terrorist actions which killed ordinary citizens by using a tired old argument: ‘If it weren’t for the US policies in the Middle East, this wouldn’t have happened.’ This argument is as intellectually bankrupt as one defending me for stabbing somebody with whom I disagree on the grounds that, were it not for the ideas of the person being stabbed, it wouldn’t have happened. Everybody with any sense of the world knows exactly what has been the result of the Israeli/Palestinian peace process: increased violence, hatred and division. Throughout the last American presidential administration, this country was completely bogged down in petty military interventions and occupations on behalf of European nations, all in the name of continued peace. Our repayment: multiple, coordinated terrorist attacks on American soil, resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocent people, coupled with vague apologist responses from people sympathetic to the ‘idea’ of the terrorist causes. But an attack like the one seen on 11 September will not shake this nation; it will only strengthen its resolve and positively unite it. My only fear in the current environment is that we will lose some of the individual liberties that have made us such a great nation. Individual liberties, which, contrary to European opinion, make a country strong, not weak. Mick Hume is sceptical about ‘who’ we will attack. This is to some degree a proper question to be asking. However, I think that if a strong and decisive (preferably military) response to this attack occurs, and there is a redirection of national intelligence towards relevant groups and governments, terrorism can be reduced to an occasional car bomb. Paul Oss, Seattle, USA

On the news I heard that Dubya got billions more than he had hoped for to make ‘whoever is responsible’ pay. But I was surprised to hear the vote was not unanimous! Apparently, one woman voted against, arguing that one must know more about what happened and who was responsible before giving the commander in chief such a financial (credit) carte blanche. Think she’ll be re-elected? Cobie – Brinkman, Australia

Read on:

Reactions, 14 September 2001

spiked-issues: Attack on USA

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics


Want to join the conversation?

Only spiked supporters and patrons, who donate regularly to us, can comment on our articles.

Join today