Jihad: a War Journal by Ari Sitas: Page 2 of 9
AThe deliberate and deadly attacks that were carried out against our country," President Bush announced the day after the planes hit their terminal targets Awere more than an act of terror. They were acts of war." (7) In tandem, the CNN shifted its billing from AAmerica under attack" to AAmerica's New War."
Those who doubted America's hegemony over other nation-states in the new global order had to eat their facsimiles and off-prints: in hardly 48 hours the Bush administration and its power-elites built a coalition for military action as presidents and prime-ministers fell over their shoe-laces in the rush to pledge their support. The enemy: International Terrorism. Its habitat: Afghanistan or thereabouts. The modus operandi: retribution and retaliation. Bush's decisiveness earned him a 90% support rating among the citizens of the USA. It does not matter whether the Guardian's Charlotte Raven was right or wrong in penning that the AUS is going full scale into a war that doesn't exist." (8)There will be bombs, visuals of suffering and at some stage, although this is highly unlikely, a declaration of victory. From a nation-state that was losing the moral high-ground in world affairs over arms reduction, pollution, racism, debt cancellation and whose economy was beginning to look like a spattering giant led by a more-than-spattering president, the US has rebounded with a new narrative of leadership.
As Time Magazine's Nancy Gibbs, rather heartfelt piece intoned:' our enemies turned the most familiar objects against us, turned shaving kits into holsters and airplanes into missiles and soccer coaches and newlyweds into involuntary suicide bombers. So while it was up to the President and his generals to plot the responses for the rest of us who are not soldiers and have no cruise missiles, we had candles, and we lit them on Friday night in an act of mourning, and an act of war ..We are fighting not one enemy but two: one unseen, the other inside. Terror on this scale is meant to wreck the way we live our lives...Because the killers who hate us did the unthinkable, nothing is unthinkable now... among the casualties last Tuesday was one..certainty: that anyone lucky enough to be able to live in America, share its vices and freedoms and gifts, surely would not want to destroy it." She concludes hr piece with a stanza of a hymn sang by the mourners in their vigil: Aand though this world, with devils filled/ should threaten to undo us/ We will not fear, for God hath willed/ His truth to triumph through us." (9)
Charlotte Raven was unconvinced: Athe subsequent roar of anger was the sound of the US struggling to regain the right to control its own narrative... By turning what should have been a criminal manhunt into an all-out war, Bush was asserting the right to define the US reality. Instead of submitting to the reality, he created a situation he wanted, fashioning a plausible, beatable enemy that bore only a passing relation to the ragbag of loons in Osama Bin Laden's camp." (10)
To an outsider caught on the southern tip of Africa, Charlotte Raven's piece seems off the mark: it is not about the Aragbag loons" around bin Laden and the derogation the statement implies. Nancy Gibbs states as much in her refusal to be worried by Azealots" who might have been promised 72 virgins in paradise for their self-sacrifice (another grand derogation), but about those who were allowed to share, in her poignant words, the Avices", the Agifts" and Afreedoms" that constitute American ways of life. The war originates from a deeper paranoia and it concerns people who should have broken through the membrane but didn't. Unlike her dumb-witted compatriots who have started targeting all Orientals who had made it through immigration, she is enraged about a crucial violation of the certainty that formed the American psyche. After all she knows that there are millions from the Rest of the world scratching and cheating at the gateways to be given the opportunity to share the Avices","gifts" and Afreedoms" in the greatest national success story of recent history. It is the deep discourse of righteousness, unmarked by a memory of domination or suffering; it is also the solipsism of self-made virtue. In the acerbic words of Randy Newman, it is the voice repeating a refrain that Awe may not be perfect/ but heaven knows we try".(11) The realisation that this world is Adevil- filled" ever-ready to undo this emotive space demands the sacrifice it calls for.