IMHO Rants '01

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In Defense of Denver, Dec 01
Anyone spending any time at might have read his latest attempt to lampoon & lambast Denver. 

Having lived here for 5 years, Nick's left & is clearly unhappy about spending so much time here.

Let's address some of Nick's points, and try not to get bogged down in personal invective:

1) Denver is not 'intellectual' enough in terms of places & events.

There may be some merit in decrying the city for lacking a certain clatter of the chattering classes. But as Mr F points out, there are, even here, clever/stimulating people. I've been to see a top notch play & a top notch rawk band in the last month. Of course, much of my spiritual nourishment comes from the papers (both of them), music and film, for which venue is of little import. But I digress.

2) A 'depressing lack of anything to do'. Anyone labouring under such illusions should waste no time in reviewing the activities of the esteemed eejit, Mr Jon Hartley & his politically correct journal. J.Be & I do not exactly sit at home watching telly every night.

3) There is no three. What sort of an attack was it? I'll throw one in for you, Jarvis. Denver is transitory. It has no history, and none of the people we ever seem to meet hail from here. Nor do they stay. I myself fall neatly into this category, but it's a tad frustrating and probably makes people a little more 'LA'-like than is healthy. Sort of like living on holiday.

Aside from the obvious sparkling, spiked jewels to its West Denver is also swamped with sunshine, enabling one to engage in any outdoors activity known to man. If the right honourable dogdick thinks he will be playing touch rugby amongst the concrete cows of middle Manhatten perhaps he's been engaging in some of that narcotic activity of which he spoke with such authority? Time once valuably spent playing computer games will now be spent fighting commuters, blistering cold and lung-bashing smog.

Right, now for a few personal attacks. With intellectual entertainment like this how those long Northern winters are going to fly by... 

Regret: how very Nick. Mr Furness: je t'accuse.

Of course, let me in no way repudiate my planned move to San Fran in 2002. I just feel like the last 5 years could be summed up by any of the following (unrelated) adjectives: corking, spanking, blinding. And I want to come & visit Mr F & co in this promised land of Noo Yoik, so I'll stop.


ps Starsky, what's a coffe table?

Er, looks like I was wrong. Or was I?, Nov 01
Anyone reading my comments of before might be fooled into thinking that the whole Bin Laden / Taleban thing was spot on, that I was a naysayer without reason.

OK, the military action of the last couple of months has gone stonkingly well, beyond most people's hopes. It looks like the Taleban will be out by the end of the year, and that Bin Laden -- the golden prize -- will be caught or killed in that timeframe. The Stock market is soaring in the background. The West has won.

Or has it? While the lesson that the West has taught -- that no State may actively sponsor & defend terrorism -- cannot be unnoticed in every nook & cranny terrorism may crawl in, it's highly unlikely that state support was key in the support structure of the attacks. The terrorists were covert & international. Laundered money from drugs, distributed to cells in countries dotted around the West was the cornerstone of the operation. How is knocking down the Taleban really going to suppress an anthrax attempt organised in London?

The main weakness of the current ploy is that it's addressing only the symptoms of situation, not the causes. Not without reason was Bin Laden thinking his job is done, that a "thousand" (that number is eerily 3rd Reich-y) Bin Ladens would come after him. While poverty & religious extremism co-exist, there's every reason to believe the current wave of action is breeding further contempt in the Middle East. 

Repeating Past Mistakes, Oct 01
Hmnn...if I were Bin Laden, my reaction to the events of the past month would be:-

1) Initially, I would have been fearful. The West does not jump into immediate retaliatory strikes but builds a coalition, a net around which to entrap me.

2) Happy with the fact that only the US/UK are involved militarily, and hoping that they are going to isolate themselves by their unclear objectives. At some stage the desire, born of emotion & rage, to avenge those being buried has overtaken the colder, more rational assessment of the situation.  Muslim allies start dropping out of the coalition as the 'attacks' fade into Clinton-style ineffective one-off strikes. Best of all for Bin Laden, the world starts seeing the action as naked colonialism -- a high handed attempt to teach the Islamic world a jolly good lesson.

OK, I saw the article put out by Blair, putting forth the suggestion that Bin Laden & the Taleban are inextricably linked. Taking that axiom one can get drawn to the idea that the Taleban itself needs to be crushed, and so conventional military action can be taken. Once the regime is destroyed Bin Laden and his followers will be crushed.

But that theory rests on several false premises.

Firstly, what proof was offered in the above document? The document is undeniably compelling in its presentation of the arguments for Bin Laden & Taleban guilt, but there is not a single smoking gun offered in evidence. The document says "The details of some aspects cannot be given, but the facts are clear from the intelligence", thereby leaving a nagging doubt.

Bush published the 22 most wanted terrorists in the world as a precursor to this action. How many are from or in Afghanistan now? How will this action ("rearranging the rubble of central asia") have any bearing on those individuals? The point underlined by that list was that this is a transnational phenomenon. How many have been captured since the list's publication? 

Thirdly, how much support is going to be lost in the campaign? All the obvious statements about the Soviet invasion remain valid -- a people used to guerilla warfare tactics, well-armed, inhospitable climate/terrain. A ground war will necessarily cost lives and, if not won within a few months, sap confidence exactly as before.

Fourthly, what sort of regime are we going to leave in the Taleban's place? Again, parallels can be drawn with Vietnam & Kabul itself. Whatever puppet government is installed has no more guarantee of surviving the US withdrawal than any other preceding it. There seems to be no obvious existing alternative. Even where there are 'pro-West' governments in the region they don't seem to be working (see Saudi-Arabia for details).

It appears as though until that religiously charged part of the world has industrialised all we can do is treat the symptoms of the economic imbalance. Nevertheless I remain convinced this is not the right course of action to take. Let's bleeding well hope I'm wrong.

Out of focus, Sep 01

In a statement on his official website, he said: "These organisations exist SOLELY to protect us from this sort of atrocity. Very simply, they have failed us. When we pay exorbitant taxes we expect a degree of protection and security from the people who receive those taxes. They have failed us."

There appears to be a Diana-style outpouring of emotions happening here, which seems reasonable given the staggering events of Sept 11. Twice the casualties of the entire IRA campaign of the last 30 years, and a visual impact unrivalled since Hiroshima. Comparisons to Pearl Harbour, however, do not stand up. Having lived with the IRA in Blighty for 25 years, it appears to me as though Americans are choosing, through naivety and a somewhat isolationist view, to think of this as a traditional conflict, and one they can win.

The statement above combines ignorance of terrorism -- somewhat understandable -- with rightwing anti-government sentiment, throwing tax-paying in to fuel the fire. Perhaps Moby should live in any other developed country to avoid these 'exorbitant' taxes, or receive a satisfactory 'degree' of protection.

The 'aim' of counter-terrorism is limitation, both in terms of containing terrorists and preserving freedom. Its chief weapon is espionage, a human pursuit with, naturally, human flaws. There is no 'act of war', and no 'victory', to be achieved. While the world has such inequity of wealth & divergence of religious belief terrorism is here to stay.

Understandable as it is to view this tragedy in terms of traditional conflict, the US & Mr Bush have to focus on rebuilding, strengthening security & moving on. Any other course of action (see previous failed attempts at bombing Libya/Iraq, or Israel's  revenge attacks) will continue a pattern that seems only to have benefited terrorists. 

Having rejected the Pearl Harbour analogy, let me finish in 1940s London. Blitz mentality -- getting on with life, albeit painfully -- is as effective a technique (see Brighton bombing attempt on Thatcher in 1984) as I've seen. Eroding civil liberties and/or counterattack has only provoked further trouble. It's a harsh new world.

I've read quite a few articles on this harrowing topic, and disagree with many of the columnists I respect. Although negative & somewhat harsh, I think this is the most realistic assessment I've come across.

And after September 11, 2001, and the horrible, horrible deaths of thousands of innocent people, one thing will be certain: the world will be the same again after all...

Read Article (M Parris, The Times)

Basic point is, this isn't a war, it's terrorism. There is a difference in the intent of the attackers and the defenders. For us (the latter), it's a matter of
1) damage limitation without erosion of civil liberties
2) not playing into the hands of the terrorists by inciting further violence/terrorism with sweeping counter-attacks (see current world reaction)
3) seeking to understand why terrorists do what they do, i.e. attack causes not symptoms

Last edited: 18-Dec-2001

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