Hysterical coverage, American morality and the unravelling of Empire: spiked readers give their views.


Topics Politics

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

What do you think? Email spiked letters.

While I agree with the points made by Mick Hume (After the attack on America, 12 September), I also think that something a bit stronger should be said about George Bush’s brazen cheek in lecturing the world about the evils of attacking innocent people. I’m sure his words were applauded by the citizens of Iraq, to name just one country that has been on the receiving end of the Pentagon’s bombs in the recent past. No doubt others will be getting a taste of the same medicine soon. Ed Barrett, UK

I was very impressed by your article on the events in the USA (After the attack on America, 12 September). What do you feel about the manic press coverage? Does this also represent a propensity to fear the worst? Or is there something inherently voyeuristic about the blanket coverage and the incessant search for the most horrific and dramatic pictures imaginable? I don’t want to hear about ‘The latest situation in America’ every five minutes. I’d rather switch off, and listen to people who want to understand why this was done. Leo McCann, UK

It is ironic that the reactions to these tragedies (from Blair to UEFA) have only succeeded in heightening the disruption caused by the terrorists (After the attack on America, 12 September). And it is already obvious that whatever the US military does next (and whoever they do it to) won’t go any way towards making the world a better or safer place. Mick Hume has put his finger on it: whenever America and the West intervene, things go from bad to worse. Remember Somalia? Or Haiti? My deepest concern is that Bush will use this tragedy as carte blanche to launch an offensive against anybody he damn well pleases. As usual, the consequences will be felt by the innocents caught in between. Jason Matthew King, UK

Your article is accurate and well-argued. But the question that seems to be on the lips of everybody here is: what form will the anticipated US retaliation take? Surely, this is something to fear and be concerned about. I have been having discussions with people where most can understand, if not applaud, the terrorist attack in the context of American/Western treatment of the peoples of the Middle East. Considering the USA’s desire to regain a sense of control via revenge, what can we expect next?

The instant reaction of the USA to yesterday’s events has been, understandably, anger. The question has been: how do we hit back? But there is another question that the USA needs to address: why did this happen? The self-image of the USA is one of a peace-loving nation upholding freedom and democracy. To much of the rest of the world, the USA is a violent bully, with a 50-year record of upholding dictators and torturers in Iran, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Indonesia, the Congo and the rest. A few years ago, I had a lengthy dialogue with a Pakistani mullah, a civilised and pious man who saw the USA as decadent, disgusting and a threat to his way of life. Somehow the Americans have to get to grips with the fact that theirs is not the only world view, and that they have to engage in a conversation among equals beyond the Mexican border. John M Holden, UK

Thank you for your sensible reaction to the attacks on New York and Washington; the article was a rare oasis of relief from the prevailing hysteria. The much-quoted parallel with Pearl Harbor seems to me to be entirely misguided. Pearl Harbor was a pre-emptive strike by a nation frightened of being encircled by its enemies. These attacks are acts of punishment or revenge for the perceived hubris, bullying and ignorance of the USA over the past half-century – so there would seem to be no common factor at all, except American bewilderment at the fact that some folk don’t like them. I believe a more accurate parallel would be the taking out of three legions by German tribes, which stopped the Roman Empire in its tracks. Let us hope that after we have got over the current US attempts at spurious myth-making, a similar process of unravelling might begin to happen to the American empire. Nigel Harris, UK

Your article is interesting, I think what has yet to be fully exposed is the role of the US in training and arming Middle Eastern Arab terrorists. If the attack came from the Middle East, we should also look at the role of the CIA in Afghanistan in the 1980s when it was funding and training the Mujihadin in their war with the Soviet Union. While it does nothing to alleviate the suffering of those who lost family in the disaster, I think it is probably time America looked at how it has behaved around the world – and if its global war-mongering and support for corrupt regimes across volatile areas of the world has not in some way come back to haunt it. Perhaps, rather than thinking about who they should lash out at, they should think about who they are training and equipping, and what the future global effects of this might be. David McKenzie, UK

An interesting piece. But as you imply, there are many oddballs out there who do not like American presence throughout the world; who do not like capitalism; who do not like what is new or useful, but want to freeze things in the past so they can run the show and preserve what they believe to be a superior way of life. And, like early Christians, they are willing to die (suicide) for their beliefs. Alas. You conclude the piece with what amounts to the very placid ‘let us enjoy what we have, let’s enjoy the moment’. Okay, I kiss my wife and hug my kids – do I pass the test now? Fred Lapides, USA

While I agree with Mick Hume that the world order is shaky and the Western mind fearful, I don’t think the attacks on the USA are a good example of this. These events were especially dramatic and unprecedentedly audacious, and unleashed destruction on a much grander scale than any comparable ‘terrorist’ action. It is not at all surprising they left people the world over feeling shocked and shaken, and threw the authorities into a barely-concealed panic – especially in the USA where people are used to the idea that they are somehow inviolable.

Mick talks of the attacks as ‘a small handful of highly motivated individuals’, old-fashioned zealots who we shouldn’t allow to frighten us into ‘adopting a precautionary approach to life’. This sort of rhetoric might be used when talking about serial killers or Rambos going berserk with guns in shopping centres, but it is inappropriate here. We are not talking about a few fanatical individuals, but what appears to be around 15 well-organised and dedicated people who were prepared to die for their cause, and who must have been supported by a considerable network.

If the attacks are linked to the situation in the Middle East, we can’t understand how such a thing could happen without addressing ourselves to the malevolent involvement of the USA in the region, especially its backing of Israeli repression of the Palestinians. spiked seems to have given up on international issues and the politics of imperialism, in favour of a narrow cultural analysis that sees everything in terms of the culture of fear and low expectations. Des de Moor, UK

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Topics Politics


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