The Bush Administration vs. Salim Hamdan
Ah, Sunday. Well the weekend here starts like any other day really. Having fallen, stumbled or otherwise extricated myself from bed or whatever other location and position I've fallen asleep in, I head first for the coffeee filter and than the "inbox". Or rather, the "spambox".
I subscribe to an ever-increasing number of newspapers, magazines, newsletters and links pages. Since many are mailed in bulk, I have to check the spam folder to make sure something genuine hasn;t slipped into it. Only then to I delete.
The sad fact is that, starting Friday midnight, the profusion of spam continues all weekend with junk arriving almost non-stop. 3 to 5 times the amount I get on weekdays and it is highly frustrating to sort it.
That done I move to the real inbox. Normally I read headlines and synopses rather than full articles, but since a lot of my regulars go dormant at the weekend it is when I take some time to read in more depth. Now and then there is a longer story that departs from the worldview whilst being whooly relevent at the same time and this link leads to one such.
Salim Hamdan is a detainee in Guantanamo Bay. His case will be a first for those incarcerated in the Cuban outpost and may become a test-case for Bush/Rumsfeld policy. This is his story and well worth reading. Some tangental issues, such as the nature of "Jihad" also give pause for thought. Lying somewhere between evangelism and crusade it is a notion not easily perceived in the west despite bearing an uncanny resemblence to Christian and Jewish fundamentalism. Less obvious still its that its rise is clearly the result of the western world's interference with and betrayal of Islamic cultures and their values.
In learning Hamdan's history, it was impressed on me that, despite its loose-knit and widespread structure, Al Qaeda seems to operate using a very familiar hieracharchial system of command and class divide. Hamdan may have been as physically close to Bin Laden as it's possible to be, but at the end of the day he held the lowliest rank, was concerned only about his paypacket as a driver and was also intellectually ignorant of his position in place and time. This is like penalising a chauffeur for the crimes of a missing passenger.
I hate war and violence and have nothing but contempt for those that promote it. Nonetheless, and as I've said before, "terrorism" has always been a method of warfare and not a finite thing in itself. Witness some of the activites of both ourselves and the French resistance during World War 2. The war against Amerika and its allies in the west is not at all welcome or to be condoned, but is is the end by-product of imperial interference and betrayal.
A quote in the artice reads:
Bin Laden was clear about the goals. "He would say over and over again that we must carry out painful attacks on the United States until it becomes like an agitated bull," al-Bahri recalled, "and when the bull comes to our region, he won't be familiar with the land, but we will."
Therein is the quandry. Amerika is indeed behaving like an agitated bull and has quite literally stampeded into the lion's den. Worse still, it taken half the western world in with it! The task ahead is not just withdrawl, it is to make reparations that will be both understood and beneficial to those who will otherwise be the next generation of conscripts for "Jihad". If the footsoldiers of this hidden army are given hope and the motivation to direct their energies elsewhere, the command structure of dissent will fall and a peaceful accomodation might be in sight.
That won't happen if we abandon them to the festering ruins of a raped and pillaged infrastructure - democracy and freedom are meaningless without hope and the foundation on which to build them. If Hamdan versus Rumsfeld ends in defeat for Rumsfeld, it may just send the smallest of signals that justice and conscience can still prevail in the empire of fear.