This is the last of this four-part “Visions” series on the war on terror. It is time to move on. For the introductory article, see “ Visions of a World without the War on Terror (Part I)”, posted on 25/09/06 .
Dear Leaders of our Western Society:
At some point in the foreseeable future –once the irrational obsession with fighting terrorism (sic) has been replaced by another vote-winning set of slogans and costly failures– Western governments will need to rethink their international strategy. Depending on the general mood of the day –economic depression after the collapse of the dollar, anyone?– new general policies will need to be articulated. A humble columnist such as myself would never have the arrogance to tell you what to do next. However, I’m more than happy, taking into account the recent disappointments suffered by those of you who enthusiastically embraced the “war on terror” illusion, to tell you what not to do anymore.
Limiting your reach seems particularly apt now that the nation-state is becoming increasingly anachronistic and dependent on uncontrollable global forces, most frighteningly “the internets” (or “a series of tubes”, according to US Senator Ted Stevens, one of your trusted members). Like a dinosaur drowning in quicksand, it is perhaps best for states to stay as still as possible in order not to disappear completely. Who knows, perhaps someone will reach out in time and allow these territorial based monsters to survive in some way or other. This letter gives some advice on how to avoid any further sinking into the sand of your self-made terror.
Once your disastrous experiments in Iraq , Afghanistan as well as your domestic fear mongering have ended, please refrain from the following in your future endeavours:
1) Basing your foreign policy discourse on grandiose morality. It is obviously necessary to formulate and publicly acknowledge specific “national” interests, which than translate into an international posture. However, do not use supposedly universal values such as democracy and freedom – or the acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s personal saviour – in order to hide the fact that you have a specific, non-universal agenda.
2) Basing your foreign policy on grandiose morality . Too difficult to separate from the non-universal interests mentioned in the above point. Just forget about anything that involves the identification of evil-doers, islamo-fascists, dictators, or nuclear weapon programmes. Defend your own interests with vigour, and take responsibility for the consequences.
3) Advocating non-proliferation while upgrading your own top-of the notch nuclear-winter machines. Just let North-Korea have its fun. And Saudi Arabia , followed by Egypt and Syria . On the other hand, these countries might be dissuaded from developing their own programmes by Iran ‘s insistence that nuclear weapons are evil and should be avoided at all costs.
4) Investing in Riyadh and other places where women cannot drive cars . It simply doesn’t play well from a hypocrisy-benefit analysis and goes down badly with independent voters (unless they continue to sell very cheap petrol, of course). When in doubt, refer to www.terrorfreeoil.org for spiritual guidance. Or not.
5) Regime Change . Just say no.
6) Identifying the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sending fists full of dollars to Israel (the good) who can then buy fists full of dynamite in order to fight Hamas (the bad) and Palestinians in general (the ugly) – only because once upon a time in the west genocide occurred – is probably not an optimal strategy. Avoid viewing international politics as a spaghetti western.
7) Using international problems for short-term, domestic political benefits. Yeah, I know… but one is allowed to dream, right?
8) Confusing the causation of threats . Don’t blame faceless terrorists, Chinese industry or African dictators for our problems. The present world order – with all its forms of terror, environmental threats and human suffering – is shaped and mostly controlled by western history, culture and its leaders, i.e. you. You have some explaining to do.
9) Blaming the United Nations . You are the United Nations. Nobody takes self-hating schizophrenics seriously.
10) Believing that democracy is the final stage of human kind’s political evolution . Determinism is always an ex post exercise. In any case, isn’t it too depressing to believe that we cannot improve on a system that has kept George W. Bush in office for all this time?
With these guidelines in mind, I wish you all the best for the remainder of the 21 st Century. The world is obviously complex, and we appreciate your attempts at simplifying it through your narrative of good versus evil, law-abiding citizen versus terrorists, and Burger King versus Burqa. Unfortunately you were wrong, and now it is time to move on.
It is likely that with all the technological advances and international complexity you – leaders of territorial states – will become increasingly marginalised when it comes to global change and social evolution. Please accept this without resorting to futile attempts at defending your past hegemony. The mighty YouTube does not look kindly upon cry-babies.