Al-Ahram Weekly Online   14 - 20 September 2006
Issue No. 812
Press review
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Twin towers fall

Blair has been defeated and so too will Bush. Rasha Saad quotes the observers

Pundits engaged this week in the concept of victory and defeat. Coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the 11 September terrorist attacks, British Prime Minister Tony Blair's announcement that he will resign within a year was regarded as a sign of defeat for his and US President George Bush's so-called war on terrorism.

Two London-based pan-Arab newspapers, Al-Hayat and Asharq Al-Awsat, published articles that extensively covered the issue.

In his daily column in Al-Hayat renowned writer Jihad Al-Khazen said Blair's stance in last month's war on Lebanon was behind his local defeat. Al-Khazen wrote that there are many reasons for the revolt against Blair from within and outside the Labour Party. "The atrocious Israeli war on Lebanon, however, was the straw that broke the camel's back. It broke his political career in Britain," he wrote.

In his column "Bush's poodle" Al-Khazen said Blair's downfall came because he was too entwined with US policies. "Attaching himself [Blair] to a US imperialist policy that wants to subjugate the whole world, not only the Middle East, destroyed his [Blair] political legacy."

Al-Khazen also charged that such an approach backfired. "The intelligent prime minister backed a stupid [US] policy that increased the threat of terror worldwide, while he claimed he was fighting it, and spread hatred of Britain as well as the US.

"Tony Blair was supposed to have some ethics, but he supported all the Israeli crimes against the Palestinians and the Lebanese, merely because they were supported by the neo-conservative US administration."

In a lengthy article entitled "What next? Reflections of the children of Lebanon", Anthony Barnett wrote in Al-Hayat, "if I had a great deal of money, I would take Bush and Blair to court for aiding and abetting terrorism."

In his article, dedicated to Saqi Books and Dar Al-Saqi whose warehouse in southern Beirut was twice hit by Israeli bombs, Barnett insisted, "the masters of the West are not only fighting terrorism the wrong way; they are screwing up on their own terms."

According to Barnett, in its war on terrorism, the US has been defeated in every aspect, be it militarily, morally, politically or economically.

He said the invasion of Iraq was misconceived, but having done it, it would have been far better if the US had at least succeeded, as it might have, in helping Iraq become the democracy that its people wanted at the time. Instead, it turned itself into an occupying force, apparently trusting no one.

Thus America has been defeated. President Bush's successor "will not be able to pick up the phone and say, 'Hey, it was them not me, let's move on' and expect a return to the status quo ante bellum of US hegemony. America itself, its state and its system of government, is undergoing a defeat. The more it denies this, the greater the danger to us all."

For Barnett it is also a moral defeat, from Guantanamo to the Manichaean unilateralism of good against evil. "It is a constitutional defeat for a system that permitted Bush to steal an election and whose courts are only slowly establishing fundamental rights but doing so under a barrage from the right. It is a democratic defeat because the politics which permitted it is based on a financially suborned, gerrymandered, often uncheckable, low-turnout voting system that threatens to reduce suffrage in the US to government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich while it invades countries abroad in the name of democratic self-rule.

"It is a defeat for its media that misleads and misjudges. A defeat for its political class which as a whole has lost the capacity to oppose. And soon, from all accounts, America is also about to suffer an economic defeat on a global scale. Above all, perhaps, it is a defeat for American intelligence in every sense of that word."

In the Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat Hussein Shobokshi said that according to opinion polls, the American president's popularity has declined to unprecedented levels, a bad sign for the Republican Party.

In his article, "The US Republican Party and defeat", Shobokshi said the legislative breaches in the name of the war on terror, the disregard for strategic interests when dealing with allies, as well as a senseless financial policy, bringing about the federal government's biggest deficit in its history, are now being contested.

He said the Republican Party was beginning to see the danger signs and to recognise that the current administration will cause it to lose future races for the presidency. "The Republican Party will pay the price for its lenience within the current administration and suffer a defeat in the next elections."

Bouthaina Shaaban, Syrian minister for emigrant affairs and who writes regularly in Asharq Al-Awsat, accused the Arabs of turning their victories into defeat.

Referring to the fallout of the war on Lebanon which Shaaban implied was a victory for Hizbullah and the Arabs, she accused some Arabs of being taken in by Resolution 1701, which she and many Arab analysts believe was issued to provide Israel an escape from a severe military defeat, not to reveal the massacres Israel committed against civilians in Lebanon.

Shaaban noted that ironically this Arab stance contradicts noticeably with the considerable number of free voices in world media who are currently debating the reasons behind the defeat of Israel and its military machine.

Paradoxically, some Arabs try to undermine their potential and sources of strength by working to disarm their resistance and implement resolutions issued to subjugate their countries to foreign powers.

"If Arabs had stood up for their victory once, the whole world would have condemned the Israeli war crimes and would have brought Olmert, Peretz and Halutz and other war criminals before the international war crimes tribunal. Why do Arabs achieve victory then fail to hold on to it? In fact, some Arabs try to undermine their success and even feed the causes of their division and weakness."

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