Sunday, 11 September 2011

Ten Years On

I was not going to mention Nine Eleven, the airwaves having been so full of comment, reminiscence, commemoration, images. I can see a place for commemoration: the act, its scale, the suffering, the aftermath all demand it of our human nature. What come as relatively new, of course, to the human condition are media overkill and the economic imperative of selling newspapers.

It was interesting listening to Tony Blair being grilled by John Humphrys for half an hour yesterday morning. Normally I find Humphrys an ordeal to listen to but, given an important subject, he often rises to the occasion. Our tangerine-hued former PM still asserts that Iraq was an appropriate target after the destruction of The Twin Towers. Having been persuaded by the WMD argument at the time, I initially supported the invasion of Iraq but it is far from clear now that Iraq was relevant to the conflict provoked by the events of 9/11. Afghanistan? More pertinent it still seems to me as a crucible of fundamentalist terrorism, in spite of the errors and omissions of our campaigns there and the attempts to build and support civil government. 

How wonderful it would be if guns were not used, as violence and trauma feeds violence and further trauma. I have to admit however that I believe we are in a war. This was my gut reaction on learning of the Twin Towers ten years ago: that the flying of hijacked planes into key targets was a declaration of war. A new form of hostilities certainly, but war nonetheless. To call such acts of terrorism criminal both trivialises them and imposes on us means of dealing with them and protecting ourselves that are insufficient to the task, whatever the failings of military approaches on their own. Criminality is indeed involved, but surely we are entitled to call the actions of our own 7/7 bombers treasonable also?

I have spent much of today resting, either in bed or on the sofa. I have just had no get-up-and-go, although I have managed to feed the right mix of ingredients into the breadmaker to produce a loaf and to install anti-virus software on our daughter’s new computer. Every day brings some modest achievement. Tomorrow I will have to drag myself to the building society to send some dough (the financial kind) to France, since Nationwide no longer seems to allow one to deal with such direct payments online.

A friend sent me a kind email today and attached a couple of photos from his recent family holiday on the island of Iona. Here’s one.

Iona Abbey.
Tony Blair's predecessor as Leader of the Labour Party, is buried on Iona, which he loved. His epitaph is a  quotation from Alexander Pope: "An honest man's the noblest work of God".
How different history might have been if his heart had not given out. Would we have invaded Iraq?

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