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IUK: Fisk - War disturbs the most dangerous political tectonic
By Robert Fisk
9/10/2001 12:08 pm Tue
War disturbs the most dangerous political tectonic plate
in the world
08 October 2001
The most powerful military force on earth has now begun its
bombardment of the world's poorest, most ravaged Muslim nation.
And no matter how many loaves of bread are dropped with our
bombs, will there be a Muslim who will approve?
Is it possible, is it conceivable - even with our most sophisticated
missiles - that we are not killing the innocent as well as the guilty
in Afghanistan? We may say we are punishing Osama bin Laden.
We may believe it. But will the Muslim world believe it?
There has been much talk of a coalition these past four weeks but
it's not a coalition that includes any Muslim nation, albeit that
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and the little dictatorship up in
Uzbekistan are being dragged along behind it.
There are no Saudi Arabian or Kuwaiti pilots in the night skies over
Afghanistan. This is not a Western-Muslim coalition. This is the
West on its own, bombing a Muslim country that has a standard of
living close to the Middle Ages.
The bombing, I suppose, came in time for prime-time television.
But do we seriously think that Mr bin Laden and his cronies are
going to be caught out by this?
President George Bush talks about "sustained, comprehensive and
relentless" operations. But where does it go from here?
Those of us who remember the start of the Kosovo war - or,
indeed, the beginning of the air bombardment of Iraq - remember
how we were assured that our opponents would sue for peace in a
few days. But that did not happen and the Taliban, a monster
created by our two "Alliance" friends Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,
are unlikely to throw down their arms.
Of course, we will be firing missiles and dropping bombs on at
least 12 of Mr bin Laden's training camps. That won't be difficult.
After all we - or rather the CIA - built them for Mr bin Laden and
his comrades just under 20 years ago.
With more time and more work, perhaps we could have cobbled
together a bigger alliance but what we are doing now is plunging
into the very centre of jihadi culture.
The issue is not how many bombs we dropped last night or
dropped today but where the cracks begin to appear in the next 24
hours. Because Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan lay on the
most dangerous political tectonic plate in the world.
On Wednesday, if not before, we may find out the answer when
the Islamic conference opens in Qatar. It will be intriguing -
perhaps even frightening - to listen to what Muslim leaders say
when they meet.
True, Mr Bush has done his best to find a sop, pushing
humanitarian aid into the package of bombs and manhunts.
As usual, we've been told that the Afghans are not our enemies.
That's what we said before we bombed Iraq in 1991. And it's what
we said before we bombed Libya in 1985. And it's what the
Americans said before they shelled Lebanon in 1982. And, as a
matter of fact, it's what we told the Egyptians before we bombed
them on the Suez canal in 1956. But will the Muslim world believe
And just as a footnote to this bleak moment of 21st-century history,
are we setting up any judicial process, any courts, any legislation
to ensure that bad men are punished with the law? That is one
answer we are unlikely to get from our leaders in the next few