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15 Nov, 2015

Paris attacks: 15 Years of a “War on Terror,” And What Have We Got?

Fifteen years after the terrorist 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, and the trillions, repeat trillions, of dollars spent on security, surveillance and weaponry, sanctions to curb terrorist financing, the regime-change attacks on countries, the biometric fingerprinting and iris-scanning, tighter visa restrictions, airport naked body-scanners, eavesdropping and monitoring of terrorist “chatter”, drone strikes, the trampling of human rights and democratic freedoms, the dozens of toothless UN resolutions and condemnations, the sanctimonious speeches about averting a “Clash of Civilisations,” the infiltration of mosques, etc., etc., etc., this is what we get.

Whoever these killers are, and they are no different from those who attack innocent students, shoppers and office workers in the malls, schools and college campuses of the United States, none of the anti-terrorism campaigns seem to obstruct their single-minded determination and ability to launch strike after strike.

So, when the world is done with condoling and condemning still more tragic loss of innocent lives in Paris, is it about time to ask: What has been achieved by the “war on terror”, now mid-way through its second decade? Who should be held accountable for the monstrous failures? Would the world have been better off if the wasted mega-billions had been used to build schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure to alleviate poverty, build peace and achieve the Millennium Development Goals?

And what next? More surveillance? CCTV cameras? Airport checks? Visa Restrictions? Drone strikes? Anti-Muslim witch-hunts? Regime-change military operations? And what guarantee that any of it will prevent the next round of attacks?

Only the truly deranged can kill innocent people in this cold-blooded, macabre way. But equally deranged are those who allow the killings to continue without challenging the failure of the methods being deployed to prevent them.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. That fits the travel & tourism industry very well. Solemn condemnations and denunciations are as worthless as the paper they are written on, but there seems to be no apparent shortage of them.

For those pondering a career change, it appears that the real money lies not in the so-called industry of peace, but in the industry of death and violence. The arms trade is a bigger job creator and economic driver than travel & tourism.

In the U.S., every shooting attack is followed by calls for gun-control, which is immediately, vehemently and successfully, opposed by the gun lobby. Today, the U.S. is awash with guns, and the world is awash with weapons. Many of those gun-makers are the same companies selling weapons and security apparatus globally.

Every international attack plays right into the hands of security and intelligence agencies, especially the Israelis who claim to be the leading experts in waging the “war on terror”. Global peace is their biggest nemesis. With every attack, intelligence agencies walk free. To add insult to injury, they demand more money and authoritarian powers.

The latest James Bond movie, Spectre, released just last week, was a resounding warning of the spectre of unaccountable security and intelligence agencies seeking a blank cheque to do whatever they want, supposedly in order to keep the world safe for “freedom and democracy.”

Isn’t freedom and democracy what the United States and the “coalition of the willing” countries sent their young people to die for in Iraq in 2003? Attacked Afghanistan in 2001? Not much “freedom and democracy” around today, is there? And what about those “weapons of mass destruction” supposed to have existed in Saddam Hussein’s stockpiles? Remember President Obama’s famous “New Beginning with the Islamic World” speech in Cairo in June 2009? What has been achieved since then?

In American malls and college campuses, each killing is followed by a widespread outpouring of soul-searching and psychological probing to identify the root-cause “demons” in the killers’ minds. They are often identified as loners, with some deep, mental issues – the product of broken homes, some personal grievance, fired by their bosses, whatever. They are always described as “mass shooters”, never terrorists (unless they happen to be Muslims).

But globally, if Muslim killers even begin to talk about the decades of anger, bitterness and frustration at the unsettled Palestinian issue, the mayhem in the Middle East, the double standards and hypocrisy of the “war on terror”, it is all rubbished as being inconsequential. If the Israeli occupation of Palestine is cited as a root cause, that’s immediately denounced as anti-Semitism.

There is no justification for terrorism, crows the United Nations. By the same token, neither is there any justification for double-standards and selective application of the terminology to brand only Muslims as terrorists while everyone else is called a shooter. Remember Anders Behring Breivik? Wade Michael Page? Who? Can’t remember? Look them up in Google.

It is simply beyond belief that not a single travel industry leader can muster the courage to question these glaring failures and double-standards. We are no better than “sheeple” – carpetbaggers of dreams who have great difficulty in dealing with nightmares. We love to sweep problems under the carpet, avoid controversies, stick our heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away, even though we know it won’t.

And of course, we live in a total state of denial that geopolitics and conflict are a far bigger threat to us than global warming, economic crises and natural disasters.

Forty years ago this year, one of the bloodiest conflicts of the last century, the Vietnam war, ended when the American public became aware that their leaders were lying to them, and their young people refused to go off to die in the jungles of Vietnam. The once powerful mainstream U.S. media such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and the TV networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, including the famous anchorman Walter Cronkite, who was known as the “most trusted man in America,” played a major role in ensuring that the U.S. public knew the truth.

Then the protests started. One of the best-known protestors was a champion boxer named Muhammad Ali. Today, the world needs a new generation of Muhammad Ali’s to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, confront lying leaders and hold them accountable.

The “war on terror” is now the world’s new Vietnam War. And it will not end until the truth emerges, and the failed decision-makers behind the scenes are named and shamed, and publicly held accountable for their disastrous policies.