THE SPECTER OF AN IDEOLOGICAL WAR: Kenya caught in the middle.

A few days after the criminal attacks on the World Trade Center, President George W. Bush declared a metaphorical war on terror. The word “war” was once again applied to a nebulous concept in hopes of rallying support to Bush’s plans. Had Bush declared war on “terrorism,” a noun that denotes physical acts of violence, the war would have remained attached to the material world. By declaring war on “terror,” America’s enemy became ephemeral and eternal.

The spectrum of international relations with the US took a new face and entered a new phase following the September 11th terror attack. Here is an excerpt of a speech delivered by President George W. Bush’s to a joint session of Congress on the evening of September 20, 2001. It basically outlined America’s new diplomacy based on unilateralism and force.

“…………On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country. Americans have known wars, but for the past 136 years they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the casualties of war, but not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning.

The United States respects the people of Afghanistan — after all, we are currently its largest source of humanitarian aid — but we condemn the Taliban regime. It is not only repressing its own people, it is threatening people everywhere by sponsoring
and sheltering and supplying terrorists. By aiding and abetting murder, the Taliban regime is committing murder. And tonight the
United States of America makes the following demands on the Taliban:

-Deliver to United States authorities all of the leaders of al Qaeda who hide in your land.
-Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens, you have unjustly imprisoned.
-Protect foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers in your country.
-Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan.
-And hand over every terrorist and every person and their support structure to appropriate authorities.
-Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps, so we can make sure they are
no longer operating.

These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. The Taliban must act and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists or they will share in their fate.

Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.

We’re not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen their kind before. They’re the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends in history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies.

We will direct every resource at our command — every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war — to the destruction and to the defeat of the global terror network. Now, this war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success.

We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place until there is no refuge or no rest.

And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.

From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime. Our nation has been put on notice. We’re not immune from attack. We will take defensive measures against terrorism to
protect Americans.

And tonight a few miles from the damaged Pentagon, I have a message for our military: Be ready. I have called the armed forces to alert, and there is a reason. The hour is coming when America will act, and you will make us proud. This is not, however, just America’s fight. And what is at stake is not just America’s freedom. This is the world’s fight. This is civilization’s fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom…………”

THE Middle East has seldom been more confusing. Not only is the region more politically turbulent than in decades, with old certainties everywhere challenged by unexpected twists and shifting alliances. The volume of news has swollen, too. New media and new freedoms generate more and more information and a wider range of views, yet this is filtered through ever more kaleidoscopic prisms of cant, wishful thinking, prejudice, deliberate disinformation and propaganda. If only the picture could be clearer and more simple, sigh the region’s people. If only there were some overarching narrative to explain the one big, pressing question: why are we in such a mess?

According to many there is. The story goes something like this. Western powers, led by America, are realising their long-held aim of dividing and weakening the Arab and Muslim worlds.

The first phase of this plan—so the theory goes—unfolded in Iraq, where the Americans achieved a double purpose. They destroyed a powerful Arab army and ignited a civil war, driving a wedge between Sunnis and Shias that has sent fissures streaking across the region. Western meddling also broke Sudan in half, detaching a freshly hatched and hostile new state in the south from the Arab and Muslim north.

Phase two came with Western funding of revolutionary movements made up of internet activists, NGOs and human rights agitators, whose seditious scheming helped spawn the Arab spring. As Arab regimes toppled helter-skelter, Western powers swept in to magnify the disorder.

In Libya, NATO bombs obliterated another Arab army, even as Western arms fed the competing militias which have carved up what was left of the Libyan state.

The plan for Syria was different, but equally devastating. Western powers encouraged its people to revolt, but instead of promoting victory over the regime they have drip-fed the opposition with just enough ammunition to sustain a ghastly civil war. The result has been the destruction of yet another Arab army, the creation of a crippling humanitarian disaster, the deepening of sectarian schisms and the evisceration of another Arab country.

The ultimate target of this plot, so the conspiracy theorists explain, is Egypt itself, the Arabs’ most populous, strategic and culturally influential Arab state. Having achieved the fall of Hosni Mubarak in the revolution of 2011, Western agents fomented strife between Muslims and Christians. Secretly, America formed an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood in the hope that once in power, the Brothers would subdue Egypt’s army. Indeed, the Americans planned to use the Brothers as a spearhead across the region, undermining governments and curtailing intellectual, scientific and economic progress everywhere.

But in June of this year the Egyptian people rose up to fend off this plot by overthrowing President Muhammad Morsi and his cabal of Brotherhood plotters. Now, under army leadership and with the backing of wealthy Arab allies in the Gulf, Egypt will lead a revival of Arab power.

Among subscribers to this vast conspiracy theory, views vary, particularly regarding Western motives. For some it is obviously all about Israel, with its Western allies simply picking off its potential Arab challengers, one by one. But some see America itself as the prime conspirator, whose objective is to control the world.

This may all sound preposterous to most Westerners. Yet the very simplicity of the story makes it oddly appealing to people living amid wrenching political upheaval. In online conversations with this writer, the gist or the whole of this unified theory of Middle Eastern conspiracies has been related credulously by a broad range of Egyptians, from the apocryphal taxi driver to highly paid financial risk consultants, from university students to tourism executives and government officials. Moreover, to judge by articles in Egyptian newspapers that are known to carry plants by security agencies or to derive from interviews with retired intelligence officers, conspiratorial views appear to permeate Egypt’s state-security apparatus.

One irony among many is that, with the odd change in detail, this theory of an evil grand Western design is eerily familiar. It is nearly identical to the narrative of victimhood long purveyed by those now being hounded by those same police and intelligence officers—the Muslim Brothers and their Islamist fellow-travelers.

President Bush’s first State of the Union address, delivered to Congress January 29, 2002.

“……….And the depth of their hatred is equaled by the madness of the destruction they design. We have found diagrams of American nuclear power plants and public water facilities, detailed instructions for making chemical weapons, surveillance maps of American cities, and thorough descriptions of landmarks in America and throughout the world.

Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Syria.

States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.

We’ll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events while dangers gather. I will not stand by as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.

Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch, yet it must be and it will be waged on our watch.

We can’t stop short. If we stopped now, leaving terror camps intact and terror states unchecked, our sense of security would be false and temporary. History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom’s fight.

In a single instant, we realized that this will be a decisive decade in the history of liberty — that we have been called to a unique role in human events. Rarely has the world faced a choice more clear or consequential.

Our enemies send other people’s children on missions of suicide and murder. They embrace tyranny and death as a cause and a creed. We stand for a different choice — made long ago, on the day of our founding. We affirm it again today. We choose freedom and the dignity of every life.

Steadfast in our purpose, we now press on. We have known freedom’s price. We have shown freedom’s power. And in this great conflict, my fellow Americans, we will see freedom’s victory…….”