As BenSix at Back Towards the Locus observes:

Our earnestness and energy is not, in many cases, produced by events but applied to them when it befits our whims and prejudices

Back to school, busy planning, getting to know the classes, etc, I’m not making as much time to post here as I’d like. However, BTTL and the article by Norman Geras to which he linked prompted a surge of energy and earnestness. Couldn’t just ignore it, as I normally do. Wound me right up, did Norm.

At some point, I will revisit/republish here the things I wrote 10 years ago against the impending wars in Afghanistan, then Iraq… maybe I’ll revisit the notes made in the years since, detailing feelings of profound misery, about the intransigence of the UK/US governments, the constant feeling that any second now someone was going to blow some shit up somewhere, then a news story noting that they had. Feelings of desolation, anger, frustration, alienation, rage or guilt (as Peter Thomas once narrated). This fading notion that instead of a springboard to constant conflict, the horrible attacks on the US in September 2001 could have been an opportunity to do things differently, better. Wasted years.

Yet war apologists and writers like Geras maintain this air of personal affront, aggrieved common sensibilities, which sounds more and more peevish as years go by, as their arguments for conflict ring more and more hollow, as things can only get worser. With his little digest, Geras merely lists straw man after slouching straw man. Citing human rights in defence of what we did to Fallujah is at best tasteless. The curiously contorted idea that democracy is crucial yet starts and finishes at the ballot box – point 5… MASSIVE global demonstrations, and “they” didn’t listen. One would expect some sort of acknowledgement, at least, but against urgent representations, logic, compassion and fact our governments went to war anyway. “Why should they go out to fight? They leave that up to the poor,” as Black Sabbath observed.

I can’t believe an actual Professor actually considers the facile points or arguments addressed in his piece as worthy of mention. That it was published as an “11 for 9/11” kind of anniversary belch, a pop bullshit Greatest Moans, an excuse for tossing off some beermat opinions, just makes it worse, somehow. Geras using a solemn occasion as a crucible for more simplistic yet potent logomancy, the sort that has sustained just over a decade of war and global tension. It is an insult to everyone’s intelligence.

Gah. GAH!

There has been a very great deal of commentary globally on the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi , the Libyan man convicted of the Pan-Am Flight 103 Lockerbie bombing.  The whole thing was making me very melancholy, the sudden outpouring of fury, repressed grief and indignation.

Outrage from some apparently unconnected with anything, for the sake of political point scoring? FBI head Robert Mueller joined the chorus of people decrying the relase of the bomber (which, having dropped his appeal, the terminally ill al-Megrahi remains), saying it gave “comfort to terrorists around the world”.  Given compelling evidence that al-Megrahi had precisely nothing to do with the bombing, it might be suggested that his continuing imprisonment was providing terrorists around the world with such comfort (I picture them swiping their fists and snarling ‘Curses!’ in their lairs).

Mueller’s comments refer to his release ignoring due process such as conviction by jury, which al-Megrahi did not get, the case against him being heard by three Lords, Sutherland QC, Coulsfield QC and Maclean QC, and no jury:

Left to right: Lords Coulfield, Sutherland and Maclean

Left to right: Lords Coulfield, Sutherland and Maclean

 Al-Megrahi was convicted pretty much entirely on the basis of the evidence of Tony Gauci, a shopkeeper from Malta, described as ‘an apple short of a picnic‘, by one of the Prosecution, and allegedly paid quite a large sum of money by the Americans for his testimony.  Gauci said he was pretty sure, kind of, that he had sold some clothes to someone who looked just like al-Megrahi (except for being a good few inches taller and between 10 and 20 years older 11 years before he identified al-Megrahi.)

This was enough to do for al-Megrahi.  As the late investigative journalist Paul Foot notes in a totally absorbing special report for Private Eye (which is only £5.00 and essential reading):

 There was no evidence at all that he [al-Megrahi] had made the bomb, packed it in a case and put it on the plane at Malta, but he obviously had.

 

The report by Foot also pays particular attention to the previous suspects in the case, who had been Palestinians paid by the Iranians or Syrians, and who were dropped from the picture when the first Gulf War was about to kick off and the Syrians and Iranians suddenly looked like they should be onside.

 Dr Hans Köchler, the UN-nominated independent observer charged with evaluating the trial, said in 2001: 

…the undersigned has reached the conclusion that foreign governments or (secret) governmental agencies may have been allowed, albeit indirectly, to determine, to a considerable extent, which evidence was made available to the Court.

 

 All of which governments or (secret) agencies would have an interest in not being made to look like idiots by the outcome of a successful appeal by al-Megrahi, hence, perhaps, the very loud shouting now that the original “rightful” conviction appears to have been negated. 

270 people, meanwhile, remain dead…  with relatives left very little chance of actually finding out what happened, possibly due to further international political chicanery, with accusations involving oil deals being placed at a premium in the matter. As usual.  

 I admire the decision of Kenny MacAskill, made under extreme pressure. I hope that the real answers for why and for how the plane was destroyed might emerge, although I doubt it, both regarding the facts and with regard for any kind of adequate reason as to why such things happen.  

We seem to have a limitless capacity as a species for vindictiveness, in what drives some of us to bomb each other, or to wish some other similar fate on the people who do so, as if that will make anything better.  Decisions like that made by MacAskill give me some sort of minuscule hope we might be able to get over ourselves.