Sunday, 10 December 2006

SPOOKIER AND SPOOKIER

There is “a very grave danger” of a terrorist attack over the Christmas season, our commissar-like Home Secretary John Reid solemnly warns us. The security services have been put on second-highest level alert. Instead of basting her domestic turkey, our National Matron, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller [known to some, as her highly unpleasant father, Lord Chancellor Viscount Dilhorne, also was, as “Bullying Manner”], will be careering around potential trouble spots, damping down smouldering Islamic resentment with a hearty dollop of Christian Christmas cheer.

Haven’t we heard all this before? Didn’t Dame Eliza’s outfit cause unprecedented chaos at Heathrow with a wildly exaggerated scare a few months ago? And wasn’t it her predecessor who assured our Dear Leader that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction capable of obliterating Whitehall at 45 minutes’ notice?

So we give a weary shrug, and bite into another mince pie. Trouble is, though, WAS the Heathrow scare wildly exaggerated? Is this one? How shall we ever know? The security services are damned as scaremongers if they succeed in foiling a terrorist plot, and damned even more vehemently if they fail and an atrocity occurs. Being a spook is very hard cheese.

It also has an element of the improbable, and even the comic, about it. Visions of tweedy pipe-smoking men in deer-stalker hats sidling furtively into Shepherd Market pubs to rendezvous with their sleeper-contacts spring to mind with an irresistibly Ealing Comedy flavour. My own only [known] experience of being “fingered” as a possible recruit had a comic opera atmosphere. I was summoned to a West End military club, favoured by senior army officers, to meet a retired general who was seeking, ostensibly on behalf of an outfit working to improve employer-trade union relations, an editor for their newsletter. He took me into the deserted library, where he peered anxiously around and even peeped under the carpet – looking for electronic bugs, I suppose – before explaining to me in a stage-whisper how important this job was to keep track of subversive leftie elements in industry. I wasn’t offered the job. Maybe I showed my amusement too plainly.

My worry as a citizen about the security services is, quis custodiet ipsos custodes? If they spy on us, who keeps effective tabs on them? How real is ministerial responsibility, or are they pretty much a law unto themselves? If so, as seems quite likely, how balanced are their judgements and how effective their operations? What little leaks out about them does not give great cause for confidence. Politically, a lot of their operatives seem liable to hold views rather to the right of Genghis Khan, if such anecdotal memoirs as Peter Wright’s Spycatcher is anything to go by. [I suspect that the real reason why Margaret Thatcher fought so strenuously to prevent publication of that rather trivial and faintly absurd little book was because of the Neanderthal attitudes it revealed.] Operationally, we of course cannot be sure, but an extract I read recently from a book by an agent who had been sent to Pakistan to infiltrate Al Qaeda’s leadership did not inspire confidence in the insight and competence of his handlers.

I’m sure there are real threats, and I am hesitantly prepared to give Dame Eliza and Co the benefit of the doubt as they go about their spooky tasks.

But I sometimes wish she would send for Richard Hannay.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am a contact-lens wearing transvestite rocker in my spare time and I had a lot of trouble after the Heathrow Spoof, I can tell you.

anticant said...

Well, at least you weren't a burqa-wearing transvestite rocker - you'd have had an even worse time in that case.

Anonymous said...

I did say 'in my spare time'.
Seriously though, I would always say 'Heathrow Spoof' because it was just too timely.
If the government wants to give the people the 7/7 Inquiry, which so many have asked for, then I may be slightly more sympathetic to the view that we should simply trust them.
I am not of that mind at the moment.

anticant said...

Nor me!

zola said...

I have recently watched the DVD called "V for Vendetta" ( great stuff from the likes of Stephen Fry et al)and this 2006 film seems quite related to this post.
Guy Fawkes was the contemporary hero in this film.
Anybody else seen this ?

gingerwaster said...

Not to subscribe to conspiracy theories, but it's true that the impression that we are being spooked by the spooks is hard to evade. The question is, why ? Is it to drum up support for the British army in Afghanistan and Irak with a pointedly skeptical public ? Are they also party to the current White House-inspired fearmongering campaign to promote the Culture Wars ? Are they trying to convince us to give up even more of our freedoms in order to prepare the instruments of control they are going to need when the coming Peak Oil crisis surfaces and half of the population find their savings have gone up in smoke ?
However, by crying wolf a bit too often and presenting us with zero concrete evidence, they are losing credibility fast.
The spooks are getting spookier.

gingerwaster said...

Well, total dearth of ideas or is the question utterly boring ? Come on someone, at least make a show of interest....

Merkin said...

Well, GingerOne, we are with you but you are in the middle of a bit of house-cleaning elsewhere which is diverting the troops.
In point of fact the Heathrow Spoof was just such an attempt to divert us rather than being a serious concern over transvestite contact lens wearers.

gingerwaster said...

Yus but divert us from what to what, is my question...You don't think it's a plot to frame transvestites, do you ?

gingerwaster said...

As Merkin pointed out, the Heathrow scare is turning out, with time, to have been a damp squib after all (the main Pakistani suspect being a criminal with no terrorist ties), so it leaves my question answered :
Are they doing this to
a)to drum up support for the British army in Afghanistan and Irak with a pointedly skeptical public ?
b)to join the White House-inspired fearmongering campaign to promote the Culture Wars - including bombing Iran (there is a direct link between this campaign and the National Security Council, if anyone's interested) ?
c) to convince us to give up even more of our freedoms in order to prepare the instruments of control they are going to need when the coming Peak Oil crisis surfaces and half of the population find their savings have gone up in smoke ?

Or are there even spookier reasons ?

anticant said...

Do you really believe they are as Macchiavellian as that, Ginger? Just the usual panic-stricken muddling through, if you ask me. They resemble a blind man in a dark room fumbling around for a black cat that probably isn't there.

gingerwaster said...

anticant

They are indeed fumbling about in the dark, but nowhere near as much as you imagine. They most definitely are not in full control, because accelerating globalization has increased complexity to such an extent that we are in a state of turbulence (as shown by chaos theory) and it is nigh impossible to predict the consequences of the levers the people in power try to use. Very often, the actions they take to manage events lead to catastrophic results that run contrary to the initial objectives (Irak may be a case in point).

Most of the powermongerers have, however, read Machiavel or his descendants and been reared on the politics of power. They are constantly fomenting conspiracies and hidden agendas of one kind or another, to further their own interests, direct events their way and manage the population. They can't possibly explain their real motives - because they would risk not only dangerous dissent, but also give their foes weapons. What makes things even more difficult is of course that there are many conflicting interests within the circles of power and many competing sub-circles, so that the image of a bunch of children fighting over the steering wheel of an out-of-control juggernaut is highly appropriate.

A good look into the murkier pages of history makes this plain (in particular what went on during the Cold War and how false scares were constantly being manipulated) - what we are told our rulers are trying to achieve and what their real goals are are two very different things - hence the growing need for spin doctors and propaganda departments. A good way to get a handle on this is to read Chomsky (I think you have already, haven't you ?) - his research into the declassified documents of the last 50 years shows very clearly how this functions. Ever had a look at the "Project for a New American Century", for example ? Or read about the workings of confidential circles such as the Tri-lateral Commission, the Bilderburg Conference, the Council for National Policy or others of such ilk ? Or checked out what the Office of Public Diplomacy actually says it is trying to do ? I've been reading a lot about them lately, taking care to avoid the conspiracy mania that grips far too many bloggers and checking carefully that the evidence is credible. Not that there's anything surprising in this - people who have held power for generations naturally wish to maintain their privilege - they'd be stupid not to.

So with regard to my questions - I think the lack of support for military intervention by the British public is a very worrying phenomenom for the ruling class, both here and in the USA. They are bound to try to sway public opinion in their favour by whatever means they can, including both propaganda and dirty tricks. As for the "Culture Wars" agenda, many leading thinkers on the right, especially in the USA, make no bones about what they're trying to do - and I have found evidence, behind the anti-muslim campaign currently raging, of clear manipulation by institutes linked to the White House.

As for the fears about Peak Oil, they have been talking about this problem for a long time, in restricted circles. They're particularly worried about panic among the population, which could set off a huge financial crisis. So there's a consensus to keep it quiet as long as possible, but no real consensus on how to deal with it, since they are also involved in the fray and can hardly keep their heads above water. And frankly, they don't know - après nous le déluge ! You know what Bush's adviser said to a journalist who asked what we should do in the light of the coming crisis ? Nothing much, he said. Pray....

If you want proof of what I'm saying, I can provide you with plenty - in fact it's quite amusing because precisely because of all these contradictions, as well as the nigh impossibility of controlling information on the internet, most of this is actually in the public domain.

anticant said...

Ginger: What's the use of worrying? It never was worthwhile. Their real motives are, surely, to keep power and make money. War is very profitable, and for these amoral corporations it's like a game of Lego - make and sell the weapons to knock it down, then get fat contracts to build it up again, before you start knocking it down again. If a few hundred thousand people die in the process that's an economic benefit, as they don't have to be fed.

Yes, I am well versed in PNAC - had read it before the Iraq war started - but that little project has surely gone off the rails somewhat. The US is now seriously overstretched, militarily and economically. And, unlike you, I do think that the mindset of Islam is inherently totalitarian, and presents a growingly serious threat to the West - not least because the US/UK are making such a hash or things in the Middle East. bin Laden & co. must be cockahoop.

gingerwaster said...

Yep, agreed. Those are their real motives. But as they dare not, for the moment, at least here in the West, use force to stifle dissent, they have developed conscious mind-control strategies to ensure the population stays passive. I mean there are books about this written by some of the moguls of the Public Relations industry and it has become a fine art, the Spin Doctors/public Diplomacy experts now so prominent in US and UK government are the latest form of this.

Check how Chomsky describes the "Mohawk Strategy" in his tape "Propaganda and Control of the Public Mind" (audio extracts available from : http://www.answers.com/topic/propaganda-control-of-the-public-mind

- how the PR relations industry in the 30's developed the initial concept and strategy in a (successful) attempt to crush the Labor movement. It's basic elements included a call to "harmony" of the community, the concept of "Americanism" and "Unamericanism", the development of strife within the national community (hatred, racism, divisiveness) and the use of demonization to target labor activists and label them with the "communist" tag. This has been used as a model in the West ever since.

What I'm trying to say to you is that sure - Islamism is a danger for us - particularly in terms of terrorist attacks - but that this is getting spun out of all proportion by the government/neocon spin industry and that their objectives and corporate goals are ultimately far more dangerous for our civil liberties and harmony within our national communities, not to speak of the future of this planet, than the threat from a divided, besieged and ragged band of terrorists, though they could make our lives more dangerous.

Islamism is dangerous for Muslim societies, not especially for our own - I mean do you really think the Muslim community here is going to impose Sharia Law or something (even if they wanted to) ?

The demographic argument is stale - Muslim women in the West - and also, funnily enough in Muslim countries, have a falling fertility rate (in Iran it's 1,9 - ie almost equivalent to France) and immigration controls, though not completely stringent, since businesses need this cheap source of labor) are increasingly strict.

So where's the vital danger coming from ? I would argue that we are allowing these brainwashing campaigns to make us lose our hold on reality - and while we focus, mesmerized, on the targets and hate-scarecrows that are being dangled in front of our noses, we are sleepwalking into the kind of society we have always considered to be anathema.

By the time we wake up to this, it will be too late.

The most powerful forces in the world today are not Muslim fanatics, but Western multinational corporations. They can co-exist quite easily with Islamist societies (see the Gulf States) or with fascist regimes - their agenda is certainly not the welfare of the population, the future of the planet or democracy. And they are well in control of Western governments.

So joining in the fray by debating about the undemocratic nature of Islam right now is, I think, playing into their hands.

anticant said...

Ginger, if you want this sort of debate, I'm not sure my little escapist burrow is the right place for it. You and I have been over all this stuff already, on CiF before that proved to be a bogus "free speech" forum - a symptom of the malaise you outline. Having opted out of that, I'm playing a different game here, as you probably realise. I'm having a bit of fun sometimes, and not being too serious. The other path is too destructive of my peace of mind and what little health I have remaining. I have extreme bouts of tiredeness several times a day now, and really can't flog my brains any more about what needs to be done about the Cheney mob on the one hand and the Islamic mob on the other.

All I know is that you and I have quite different takes about the impact of Islam on the West. You have been out of the UK for many years, and evidently don't realise how these silly Pakistani hill-village peasants who have colonised large swathes of many of our towns have polarised opinion against themselves with incessant demands for special treatment because of their confounded religion. Unless they pipe down, and begin to comprehend the rudiments of democratic give-and-take, I fear there will be bloodshed here within a decade. As I live just down the road from a large mosque, this does bother me more than somewhat. More than Halliburton, in fact.

You're always welcome in my burrow, but do please lighten up a bit.

gingerwaster said...

Anticant

Sorry about that, you're right - right now I'm putting together a bunch of ideas and trying to develop them and I have a tendency to go on without thinking about context (my best mate sometimes takes the piss out of me - he says "nice chap, Ginger, but he does go on...")

In fact I imagined (maybe dumbly) that inside threads like this one, hashing out the ideas in detail might attract more bloggers to the site.

Well, I stand corrected and I'm very sorry I pissed you off - as well as to hear how knackered you're getting.

Just to make up for that, here's a little video which, if you haven't seen it already, will both delight you and have you in stitches - it's a speech by Douglas Adams I found while exploring the web, all about strange furry creatures and conservation :
click on "Streaming Video"
http://greylodge.org/gpc/?p=31

anticant said...

Thanks, Ginger. Yes, health is an ever-encroaching worry, like coastal erosion. The time has come to cultivate my own garden, and I blog for therapy - not to resolve the world's problems. Leave that to the po-faced Guardianistas! I want my burrow to be a friendly place, a fun place, and sometimes a serious place too. By all means let's comment on hot issues, bot not too solemnly or intensely.

As your message came up on-screen I was just reading what is I think the most scandalous story of all, which encapsulates the moral bog we're wallowing in - the dropping of the British Aeorspace/Saudi slush-fund investigation on the ground that "the wider public interest outweighs the need to maintain the rule of law" [per Lord Goldsmith, he who pronounced the Iraq war to be legal]. The adjacent item is "Blair interviewed over cash for peerages".

So much for poor old Robin Cook's 'ethical foreign policy' and NuLab's 'whiter than white' politics! Oh tempora, O mores. Wahabbis Rule OK! This means that yet more mosques will soon be built here, including the projected one for 40,000 - or is it 70,000, who really cares any more? - in East London. That doesn't worry you? In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

gingerwaster said...

Well....curious, innit, this Islam lark ?

You know, I have a mate who lived in Finnsbury Park, at the time when the mosque there was a hotbed of raving Islamists (80's)- and I remember when staying with him that I got pretty indignant about the fact that such extremists were allowed to rant and recruit in Britain, first in exchange for a no attacks agreement on British soil (which meant they could organize bombings in Paris for the Algerian groups, which were threatening my own family) and second because they were aided and abetted and armed by the US and the UK to bugger the Soviets in Afghanistan.

As regards the Saudi affair : the brand of Wahabbi Islam funded by the Saudis, which basically involves total submission of the population to the corrupt Oil barons and to Western multinationals, seems to suit our rulers just fine - in fact Saudi Arabia is the second largest recipient of US aid, not to mention the other petro-monarchies.

The West has been excessively friendly to Islamic regimes, aiding, protecting and defending them, so long as the oil keeps flowing and the profits roll in, and has in fact to a very great extent fomented and developed the current extremist version of Islam espoused by Bin Laden and consorts, to fuck the enemy.

And who aided the Shah of Iran to brutalize his own population and trained and equipped his fearsome secret police, the Sawak, leading eventually to a revolution and to the rise of Khomeiny ? And who protected and encouraged Khomeiny while he was in exile ?

What about the help and equipment we showered on Saddam ?

And who fostered, financed and aided Hamas in Palestine ? And why did Hezbollah develop in Lebanon among the Shia population ?

Then who instituted the policy of bringing over swathes of impoverished immigrants from the most miserable, backward parts of Pakistan to provide cheap labor for British industry and to fuck over the Labour movement and the Unions here and reduce the standard of living of the working class as well as disrupt their environment ?

I could go on but you get the drift.

So there's a massive amount of hypocrisy going on here.
And who is now pushing a huge hate campaign against Muslims and Islam in the West ?

And who's getting it in the neck, in the end ? The poor of course, both the native working class, whose society is being disrupted and whose standard of living is going down the drain and especially the impoverished Muslims in the dirty jobs and sweatshops here or under the yoke of brutal regimes in the ME, or hiding from Western bombs and DU capped shells.

Sorry to go on anticant - there I go again, intense as ever....but there is something really despicable about all this.

I just think that we are blaming the victims yet again, instead of dealing with the real causes and with the fuckers who have perpetrated these policies.

We are, to put it bluntly, being royally shafted.

Anyway, I will say no more...promise :-) - did you like the Douglas Adams video by the way ?

anticant said...

Ginger, I agree with everything you say, except the "blaming the victims" bit. Surely everyone with a grain of historical awareness knows perfectly well that the Anglo-American role in the Middle East sucks. First we [the British] exploited it rotten between the collapse of the Turkish Empire and the Suez crisis. Then the Yanks took over and have made an even worse hash of things - as they always do, having no real interest in, or awareness of, anybody but themselves. [I saw the other day that out of 1000 US embassy staff in Saudi Arabia,less than 100 speak Arabic!]

Where I part company with you is in viewing Muslims in Europe, and especially in the UK, as helpless victims. They are indeed adept at yelling "Victim!" all the time, while pursuing a highly aggressive, non-integrative agenda. Not because they are 'evil' - I don't buy into that rhetoric - but because they are credulous, and are incapable of thinking otherwise because logic is not Islam's strong point.

I think the "royal shafting" is ultimately being done by the Saudi royals. They must be shitting themselves with glee this morning. [Pardon the language, Zola].

Haven't had a chance to look at the DA video yet, and won't be able to until later today, as it's my morning up at the hospice, and I must hurry off there soon.

gingerwaster said...

Well, hard for me to judge, not being as it were on site and rubbing shoulders with said Muslims (though I know plenty of them here in France, and apart from the young bovver boys in the cités, most just get on with their lives).

But I'd really like to be sure that the majority of them are whining and whingeing and asking for more - isn't it a trick of the light due to a small, but very vocal minority ? Aren't the rest engaged simply in getting on with the business of ekeing out an existence and keeping out of trouble ?

I saw a bunch of interviews with young Muslims on the BBC site "Muslims in Europe" - their main complaint was that they didn't feel any kinship with the people representing them in their communities. They also seemed pretty integrated.

Ah dunno. I remember the Paki bashing days in the 70's when I was in England, and I remember the shit they used to be put through - much worse than anything I've seen here.

But you're living in Blighty and I ain't, so I cannot argue with you.

Enjoy the DA video - it'll put you in a good mood for the rest of the day !

anticant said...

That is probably so; it doesn't have to be a majority to cause trouble. Tails always wag dogs, often with dire results - look at the American and French Revolutions! - and the inert disinterested masses cannot escape all responsibility for not outshouting the agitators, any more than we can escape all responsibility for re-electing Bliar after he had invaded Iraq.

If you recall, I did advise Bunglawala & Co on CiF to send for Max Clifford, instead of digging themselves deeper and deeper into the pit of unpopularity, but they are too thick - and self-righteous - to mend their ways.

I suppose my distaste for them is purely selfish - I do NOT want the community I happen to live in poisoning by all their tedious rubbish. Maybe it is irresponsible, but I yearn for the pre 9/11 days when one scarcely ever thought about Muslims from one month's end to the other: they were simply those hard-working guys running the not very clean grocery shop up the street. I think their beliefs are a load of boloney, and I do not like the notion that some of the more fanatical ones are prepared to kill me for saying so. And besides, I am gay; I do not want to be thrown off tall buildings [maybe one of K. Livingstone's new City skyscrapers by his bosom pal Quradawi] or stoned to death by some mad mullah or other. Sorry, Ginger, but you will never convince me not to prefer their room to their company.

gingerwaster said...

He he, not to worry anticant, I don't want to convince you. I certainly understand the hostility women, gays and Jews have towards Muslim culture - it's epidermic because of the belief system and particularly aggravated by the fact that we're talking about a very poor immigrant peasant population who are completely lost in the modern world and have communitarian reflexes and rather instinctive prejudices. One of my best friends is a Canadian Jew and she's got exactly the same reaction.

True also that we've been hearing a lot about Pakistani violence and criminality recently - something that was absent in the 70's. In those days, they just took it. They seem to be going the same way as the young arabs in the suburbs here (though maintaining their religious beliefs, which over here have been abandoned). So I can understand the fear.

Still, though individually some of them may be threatening, I don't think they present a serious danger to Western society - it's actually axiomatic that the more people scream and yell and are vociferous, the less powerful they are. One of the scariest guys on the planet was Ariel Sharon. Even in the heat of battle, he never once raised his voice. Look at Bush and Rumsfeld - you don't need to make a fuss when you can trigger 30 cruise missiles at anyone who doesn't lower his eyes.....

anticant said...

Well, I DO worry, Ginger. Haven't you noticed how porous the global nuclear security system has become since the collapse of the USSR? Sooner or later some religious nutters - not necessarily Iran, not necessarily a state - will get hold of the means to make a dirty bomb and attempt to hold the world to ransom. That's a far more likely doomsday scenario than the crackpot 'Rapturist' ME Armageddon vision.

What I still want to know is, why wasn't bin Laden hunted down within weeks of 9/11? WHY? He obviously has powerful protectors, maybe in the highest echelons of USA government. And do you trust that "nice" Musharraf an inch? I don't, any more than I believe the Saudis are sqeaky-clean. Can't you see that whatever divides these people amongst themselves, they are all inflexibly united in desiring the triumph of Islam. And the way the West is blundering around like an elephant in a swamp, they may very well secure it in your lifetime, if not in mine. That is where the biggest danger lies.Do start using both eyes!

anticant said...

And, Ginger, it's not Muslim "CULTURE" that I and many others loathe - it's the primitive - indeed barbaric - cruelty practised in the name of Islam through sharia law and other supposedly "divine" institutions wherever Islam holds sway. These people have no notion of democracy, pluralism, or tolerance of "infidels". They don't want to know about such effete Western vapourings. If this mentality isn't fascist, what is? For Bush & Co to fondly imagine that we could bring "democracy" to Iraq and the ME through the sword or otherwise just proves how utterly barmy Americans are about the rest of the world.

Oh yes, Mulsims living in the West take advantage of our freedoms, but they don't necessarily APPROVE of them, even when they are doing.