Are we living in an Age of Terror?

bombing Vietnam

Bombing Vietnam back into the Stone Age


Have you noticed that, with all the turmoil in the Labour Party, the Chilcot Report has completely disappeared from the news agenda?

The question is no longer: should we try Tony Blair for launching an illegal war, in which possibly more than a million people have died, and countless others have had their lives destroyed, with disastrous consequences both for the region and for the world as a whole?

No, the question now is: is Jeremy Corbyn a good leader of the Labour Party, given that sometimes his delivery at Prime Minister’s Questions can be a little lacklustre?

This, after only ten months in the job, and with constant attacks from all sides, including his own.

It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. They say that Corbyn is “unelectable” and then, by making that claim very loudly and persistently to a hostile media, while undermining him at every opportunity, making sure that it does, in fact, come true.

Do you think it’s a coincidence, given that a large number of the 172 MPs who voted for the motion of no confidence, owe their jobs directly to the patronage of Tony Blair?

I was listening to Charles Clarke—Blair’s Home Secretary from December 2004 to May 2006—on Any Questions on Radio 4.

This was on Bastille Day when a lorry had ploughed into the crowds in Nice, France, killing 84 people and injuring many more.

The question was, are we living in an age which will be defined by future generations as “the Age of Terror”?

Clarke was thrashing round trying to find an answer. He suggested there was no precedent for the ideology behind the increasing violence of our times.

He referred to the National Liberation struggles of the 20th Century, such as those in Ireland or South Africa, but said that, while you might disagree with the aims of people like the IRA, you could at least understand their motivations.

He said that he thought the closest analogy was with the anarchists at the end of the 19th Century “who went round blowing up people because they felt that blowing up people was the thing to do.”

In other words, the Islamic State is nihilistic.

“They are talking about creating a society in which all the fundamental experiences of our society are destroyed. All sorts of fundamental freedoms, the position of women and so on, wouldn’t be allowed.”

He was also very clear in stating that the perpetrators of such attacks weren’t responding to international events, such as the wars in Iraq or Libya. In other words, he was exonerating Tony Blair from any responsibility for the current state of the world.

“They may be provocations at particular points,” he said, “but that’s not fundamentally what this is about.”

It’s strange that Charles Clarke can’t find a precedent for these barbarous acts. He’s about three years older than me, so you would have thought he would be able to recall one of the defining events of our era: the Vietnam War.

The Vietnam War is a prime example of what happens when you start bombing a region “back into the Stone Age” as Gen. Curtis LeMay threatened in May 1964.

That’s a cute expression, and has been used many times since, most recently by Ted Cruz with reference to Islamic State—or “so-called Islamic State”, which seems to be the preferred formula for describing them in the media at the present time.

The consequence of such barbarity is more barbarity, as anyone with half a brain should be able to understand; and the exact analogy to the Islamic State during the period of the Vietnam War was the Khmer Rouge.

I won’t go into a history lesson here. You can read up on it if you like. I just think it is clear that the attempt to portray the activities of Islamic State as unprecedented is a gross violation of the truth.

Islamic State aren’t nihilistic: they are insane. They are insane, just as the Khmer Rouge were insane, but the circumstances which gave rise to that madness is the same in both cases: the large scale bombing and destruction of a region and a people by a technologically superior power, the United States.

It’s noticeable that, once the bombing stops, the insanity goes away.

The Khmer Rouge have long been consigned to the history books, and Vietnam, despite its communist ideology, is not averse to embracing the pleasures of the modern world.

The United States, it has to be noted, is also insane, and while there has been a wave of mass killings sweeping the world, from the UK to Norway, from Belgium, to Germany and France (but not South East Asia) the vast majority of those paroxysms of mad violence occur within the borders of the United States itself, often without any discernible ideology being attached.

John Donne said that no man is an island. He was referring to the presence of death in our lives. But it’s not stretching the point too far, I think, to say that the actions and beliefs of any one of us can affect us all. When murder and violence are the preferred options of the most powerful nation in the world, is it any wonder that the citizens of the world are inclined to take a lesson from that?

When you terrorise people the consequence is terrorism.

Corbyn knows that. Apparently, Blair does not.


Christopher Stone

This entry was posted on in homepage and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.