honour-bound to state that our sincere condolences and sympathy here at LiveIbiza
goes out to all those unfortunate victims and their grieving relatives and friends
of the innocent people who lost their lives when they perished in the tragic
disasters recently in North America.
expect that every single person on this planet will have heard, read or seen
on television these ghastly disaster sites of the twin towers of the World Trade
Center at Manhattan in New York, the Pentagon in Washington and the woods and
fields of Pennsylvania.
I’m wondering whether folk out there will have had time or the opportunity to
read or have heard of certain news stories and features of interest that may
have got lost amongst the small print in the middle pages of a better quality
It is horrendous,
a terrible palaver and in self-defence I don’t want to draw a vail over these
psyche-babblings that are tentatively expressed in issues of this week’s publications
of The Daily Telegraph.
it will not be a complete waste of time to include several of these piquant
articles in my column of this week, purely for the benefit of those who might
want to try and make sense of the deaths and explain to our fellow human beings
the “fin-de-siècle” sensation of a would-be Messiah.
of military disasters
Army has never forgotten its incursions into Afghanistan, which led to some
of the worst military disasters in the nation's imperial history.
of Maiwand is still commemorated annually by the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire
and Wiltshire Regiment.
a British force of more than 2,500 men was attacked by a much larger Afghan
army and lost almost 1,000 men killed.
288 came from the 66th Foot, later the 2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment,
which fought with stubborn courage against overwhelming odds. Many of the British
troops were cut off from their line of retreat and finally 11 soldiers were
left alive. They fought to the last man.
Afghanistan involvement was born out of fear that the Russians might cross the
country and invade British-ruled India through the Khyber Pass.
Shah of Persia, supported by the Russians, invaded Afghanistan in 1837, the
British decided to install a former king of Afghanistan as a puppet on the throne
army invaded Afghanistan and made him king. Rebellions broke out and the invaders
found their position untenable.
the British signed a deal by which they would leave Kabul if the Afghans spared
their lives. On Jan 6, 1842, 4,500 British and Indian troops and 12,000 camp
followers marched out of the capital.
had no intention of honouring the agreement and swarmed around the column. After
days of slaughter one man, an army surgeon, Dr William Brydon, made it to safety,
his escape etched on the Victorian imagination by Lady Butler's painting The
Remnants of an Army.
warns of unwinnable conflict
Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in Christmas 1979, its army questioned the
wisdom of the move. The politicians foresaw no great difficulty.
end of December, an entire airborne regiment was installed at Bagram, north
of the capital Kabul, with GRU military intelligence and KGB specialists, many
in civilian clothes, swarming all over the country.
Soviet troops who poured across the border from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan
in the first few days after the takeover believed that the operation would be
over in weeks.
war lasted 10 years and cost the Soviet Union the lives of 14,000 soldiers.
In that time the Soviet-backed Kabul government was never able to subdue more
than one fifth of the country.
success the army enjoyed owed more to exploiting Afghan internecine rivalries
than to the exercise of military power. The army's greatest asset was the inability
of the mujahideen to put aside personal differences for the common good.
in Afghanistan was punctuated by a rolling series of local ceasefires, brokered
by Russian officers who commanded the respect of warlords.
were fragile and they were perilous: an officer who drove into the mountains
to meet a rebel chieftain was more likely to end up dead than wearing the Gold
Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union.
was the only way to secure any agreement in a country where the stab in the
back is a way of life. Russian commanders knew that the mujahideen used these
ceasefires to regroup and re-arm.
the old men in Moscow, they realised early on that war in Afghanistan was unwinnable
and that they should simply aim to get their own men back home in one piece.
officers commented at the time that the war they found themselves fighting reminded
them more of Tolstoy stories of 19th century campaigns in the Caucasus than
of anything they had learnt at military college.
rebels' greatest assets were their suicidal bravery and their endurance. "Their
assessment of the cost of an operation, in time, manpower and blood was beyond
our comprehension," a Russian officer said after the war.
is an old Pashtun saying to the effect that an Afghan might wait 100 years for
vengeance and curse himself for his impatience."
the Soviet army had to withdraw from Afghanistan the parallels with the experience
of the British empire, in its Afghan wars, were unmissable. Again a superpower
had been humiliated by bands of supposedly primitive tribesmen.
Russians caution the United States against any attempt to subdue Afghanistan.
Spetsnaz colonel told The Telegraph yesterday that despite current widespread
sympathy for the US, an invasion would unleash unprecedented ferocity.
"There is no doubt that the military could do the job. But would the politicians
be prepared to allow them to do it?
the moment global sympathy is with New Yorkers. But this would change as soon
as the Americans start killing Afghan women and children.
the Army then back off, the terrorists will have won. If the US continues its
operation it will spawn an entirely new wave of fundamentalist terrorism that
will threaten us all."
against bin Laden 'will start holy war'
Muslims will have a duty
to fight if America attacks the Taliban, Alex Spillius is told in Peshawar
Gul Rahman prepared for lunchtime prayers yesterday, he donned his ragged scholar's
robe, stroked his tangled beard and pondered the question of what the affects
of American military retaliation against Osama bin Laden would be.
a senior priest, who considers himself a moderate by the region's standards,
said: "Muslims around the world, from north, south, east and west, would
wage war against the United States. It would be holy war, our duty."
not empty words. Anyone in any doubt that reprisals against the Saudi exile
and his Taliban hosts would do anything other than bolster anti-Western Islamic
militancy need spend no more than a few minutes in the sinuous bazaars and dusty
religious schools of Peshawar.
here, bin Laden is an icon. He is seen as a pious man defending Islam against
combined Israeli and American aggression. As a just and holy warrior he could
not have killed so many innocent people in New York and Washington.
is blamed on a conspiracy to defame Islam or vague notions of natural justice
for previous American offences.
Osama has become a popular choice for parents wishing to bestow Islamic virtues
upon the newly-born, as was Saddam in the wake of the Gulf War. A man selling
posters bearing bin Laden's image on a pavement said he had sold all his stock
since Tuesday. "It's my number one seller," he said.
of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province is the gateway to the formidable
Khyber Pass leading to Afghanistan. The majority of Peshawar's population is
drawn from the same Pashtun tribe that dominates southern Afghanistan and makes
up the Taliban leadership.
A few miles
outside Peshawar there are thriving markets in guns and contraband household
must negotiate the Khyber Pass in the company of a Pakistani soldier and not
stray from the main road into the lawless hills that were the graveyard of thousands
of Britons during three Afghan colonial adventures.
of Pakistan, like the Moghul emperors before them, knows better than to interfere
with the ferociously-proud Pashtuns. The tradition of melmastia, or hospitality,
allied to Islamic comradeship, lies behind their passionate approval of the
Taliban's refusal to consider handing over bin Laden.
sacrifice him would bring us shame, would go against all our principles,"
said Gul Yusuf, 25, a student at Maulawi Rahman's White Mosque. "Osama
is our guest and in our history we have never given up a guest."
one of the million or so Afghan refugees who have settled in Pakistan since
the 1979 Soviet invasion and ensuing conflicts, said that if the Americans produced
evidence of bin Laden's guilt, then he should be tried by a Pashtun jirga, or
elders' council, which adjudicate everything from petty theft to murder cases.
they have no evidence, and if they attack it will be an act of terrorism, and
once again Afghans will suffer," he said to the fervent approval of a crowd
outside the mud and brick Kamwal mosque at an Afghan refugee camp.
keen to remind a Western journalist that American cruise missiles aimed at bin
Laden's hideouts across the border in August 1998, in revenge for the
bombings of two US embassies in Africa, missed their target and killed
think what happened in New York is wrong, but if the Americans attack we will
defeat them like we defeated the Russians," said Mohammed Al Jamal who
was only 14 when the Soviet invasion ended in 1989, unable to break down the
was backed by a Cold War America keen to thwart Soviet expansion. It is widely
held that among their military trainees in camps in Pakistan was a young Osama
is a man of America, they pampered him and now he is against them but he is
their creation, their problem," said Maulawi Israr, the camp's religious
supported us against Russia and now they have abandoned us. Afghanistan has
always been a game to the big countries, including you British. Everybody is
drawn by the beauty of our country, and then they bomb it."
hideout will prove hard to find
Smith, Defence Correspondent
is a country rich with targets for aerial attack by American bombers and cruise
missiles. Western intelligence knows the locations of Osama bin Laden's many
training bases and hideouts around the country.
it faces is discovering where bin Laden is hiding. He is unlikely to have remained
in his known hideouts in Afghanistan with the threat of United States action
claims that they are holding him "incommunicado" have been dismissed
as unlikely and he may already have disappeared into the lawless border areas
around the former Soviet central Asian republics.
sketchy ideas of where he might be, attacks aimed at killing him would inevitably
be regarded as failures and risk killing innocent civilians, leaving America
looking at best impotent and at worst no better than the terrorists.
realistic approach would be to assist the forces aligned against the Taliban
in their attempt to regain control of the country for the former government.
attacks aimed at bolstering the loose coalition, which was effectively controlled
by Ahmed Shah Massoud, widely believed to have been killed in a bomb attack
orchestrated by bin Laden, would be just as effective and less dangerous.
Massoud is dead, as the Afghan news agency reported yesterday, his Jamiat-i-Islami
movement is still the strongest force in the opposition to the Taliban and already
has a strong stand-in leader in Gen Muhammad Fahim.
recent advances by the Taliban forces, which are assisted by Pakistani military
advisers, the coalition is unlikely to be dislodged from its stronghold along
the Panjshir Valley, once a killing field for Soviet troops.
the opposition against the Taliban would allow America to build up a strong
coalition for action that would include Iran, China and Russia, all of whom
see the Taliban as a threat.
Russia also bitterly oppose bin Laden. His Al'Qaeda network has spread its influence
into the Chinese province of Xinjiang, where there is a large Muslim population.
It is also
fomenting trouble among the Muslim populations of the Russian republics of Dagestan
and Chechnya and the central Asian republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
allied itself with the Afghan opposition forces it would be able to gain their
assistance in inserting small teams of special forces to provide more sophisticated
weaponry and to gather vital intelligence.
bombardment of the Taliban positions, combined with technical assistance to
the opposition forces would provide time and space to allow bin Laden to be
pressure on Pakistan is likely to ensure that the Inter-Services Intelligence,
which has more information than any other agency on bin Laden, assists in that
location is known for certain, a special forces snatch team could go in and
remove him together with his leading henchmen so they can be flown to America
to face trial.
given American intelligence detailed maps and information on terrorist training
camps inside Afghanistan, the television news network Star News said in New
is wanted: dead or alive, says Bush
Harnden in Washington
Bush said yesterday that he wanted Osama bin Laden, the Saudi exile, "dead
or alive" in some of the most bellicose language used by a White House
occupant in recent years.
President Bush: remarks will
not win favour with Arab allies
want justice," he said after a meeting at the Pentagon, where 188 people
were killed last Tuesday when an airliner crashed into the building. "And
there's an old poster out West that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.' "
seemed to temper his remarks by adding: "All I want and America wants is
to see them brought to justice. That's what we want."
Texas-style rhetoric, delivered off the cuff, came a day after Vice-President
Dick Cheney said he would willingly accept bin Laden's "head on a platter".
Some advisers said that although the comments might be popular in America, they
would not be welcomed by European or Arab allies.
had just received a briefing on the call-up of military reservists and plans
for Operation Noble Eagle, the name given to the "war on terrorism"
that the president has vowed to prosecute.
a sombre tone, he told Americans they should expect further casualties. "The
United States military is ready to defend freedom at any cost," he said.
"We will win the war and there will be costs."
indicated that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan would be punished if it continued
to support bin Laden.
I can tell you is that Osama bin Laden is a prime suspect, and the people who
house him, encourage him, provide food, comfort or money are on notice. And
the Taliban must take my statement seriously."
reservists are being called up for domestic protection, supporting combat air
patrols over major cities and increasing staff levels at bases across the country.
As he shook
hands at a Pentagon cafeteria, a woman in a civilian dress began singing God
Bless America quietly. Before long, Mr Bush and everyone else there had joined
also met the pregnant wife of one of the Pentagon victims, hugging and talking
to her before giving her a kiss.
2001: Support surges as Bush becomes the President the people have yearned for
2001: Hesitant Bush draws strength from his 'iron triangle'
2001: Support for Bush rises as the nation unites
2001: 'The rest of the world hears you'
2001: Bush leads nation in prayers for strength and retribution
2001: Father defends Bush's flight from danger
2001: Bush fails to capture nation's mood
that jets carried another deadly cargo
Fenton in Washington
dust started to settle after the destruction of the World Trade Centre's twin
towers, the least-recognised of emergency workers were burrowing in the rubble
with test tubes, not shovels.
health officials in New York and Washington DC had been alerted by the Centres
for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta that the hijacked aircraft may have been
carrying a cargo even more deadly than thousands of gallons of aviation fuel.
looking for traces of smallpox, anthrax or other epidemic-causing diseases,
perhaps packed in the luggage of the hijackers.
since the collapse of the Soviet Union, which with America was the leading developer
of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, there has been a growing fear of
what terrorists could do with the planet's most terrifying technologies.
action by the Americans, working alongside British and other intelligence agencies,
is believed to have reduced the chances of a terrorist obtaining the machinery
and material necessary to produce a nuclear weapon, although the programmes
of rogue states such as Iraq and North Korea remain a significant threat.
more worrying to many scientists and defence experts in America is the threat
from "bio-terror", the spreading of lethal diseases through the air
or in water supplies.
usually mentioned are anthrax, which is widely available but very hard to keep
alive as a "useful" biological warfare agent; smallpox, which is a
tougher germ, but hard to obtain; and one or other of the most virulent forms
of plague, which is relatively easy to cure with antibiotics once detected.
is probably top of the list because of reports that the former Soviet Union
had developed techniques to keep the germ alive in an aerosol form that would
resist destruction by fire or explosion.
populations today, unlike previous generations, are not widely inoculated against
the disease because it is supposed to be extinct, except for those phials of
smallpox that America and Russia kept for "experimental purposes".
American experts believe that Russia cannot account for all its supplies of
events in New York and Washington were tragedies beyond what anyone had previously
imagined, but the potential of biological terrorism is far greater in terms
of loss of life and disruption," said Michael Osterholm, director of the
University of Minnesota's Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.
play down the likelihood of a biological attack, citing the difficulty of cultivating
and keeping alive enough disease germs and distributing them with the vagaries
of wind and weather.
a measure of concern in America, the CDC has contracted two biotech companies
to make and stockpile 40 million doses of smallpox vaccine, compared with the
seven million now available. The first batches are not expected to be ready
of Saddam point finger at Iraq
Graves in Kuwait
al Awadi took a long sip of his black coffee and thought deeply. "You know,"
he said, measuring his words carefully. "I can't help but think that all
this will lead back to Baghdad, and it will mean the end of Saddam Hussein at
businessman, out for a genial lunch with friends at a lavish hotel in Kuwait
City, spoke for many in the oil-rich state, invaded by Iraq 11 years ago and
liberated by an international coalition seven months later.
is unfinished business to do, and the world will not be safe until Saddam goes
forever," he said. His friend, Anwar al Madina, 52, was equally reflective.
"Osama bin Laden and his group may have carried out the attacks in the
United States, but who is behind them?
am sure, that when the Western intelligence services have done their investigations,
the trail will lead back to one place . . . Baghdad."
Kuwaiti government has been one of the most hawkish Arab supporters of the new
war against terrorism, many hope that the military campaign will lead ultimately
to Baghdad and the eventual toppling of Saddam.
diplomat said: "The Kuwaitis would love for Saddam to put his head above
the parapet, so the US and its allies can blow it off." Significantly,
Saddam has been the only Arab leader to praise the hijackers who wreaked such
devastation in New York and Washington.
of Kuwait, who relies on US and British forces stationed in his small, but economically
vital, country to defend it against a renewed invasion by Iraq, was one of the
first Arab leaders to offer unequivocal support to America and give authorisation
for the state to be used for any military operations in the Middle East.
will also supply refined petroleum products to be used by the American war machine.
An oil tanker has already been chartered by Washington to take 235,000 barrels
of marine diesel fuel from Kuwait to the Diego Garcia air base in the Indian
message of support will be passed from the Emir to the British Government today
when the new Kuwaiti Defence Minister, Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah, meets
Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, in London.
discuss the crisis and the potential role of the RAF detachment which operates
Tornados from the Ali al Salem air base in the country. For the Kuwaiti government,
the spectre of Saddam close to the north is a continuing shadow hanging over
would have preferred that the coalition forces who invaded southern Iraq in
1991 to have continued to Baghdad and toppled Saddam. Instead, the multi-national
force abided by United Nations resolutions and remained in the south.
Kuwait, using its enormous oil wealth, has been essentially rebuilt since its
liberation, and luxury cars and designer shops are as ubiquitous as they were
before the invasion, there is a strong feeling that the country will never be
entirely at peace until Saddam goes and is replaced by a more moderate government
scar of the war is the unknown fate of more than 600 prisoners captured in Kuwait
by the Iraqis. The Kuwaitis maintain that many are still alive in Iraqi prisons,
10 years on from the end of the war. Despite pressure from the UN, no information
has been forthcoming from Baghdad, which claims it has no information on them.
have made it quite clear where we stand, and we stand against terrorism,"
said a leading Kuwaiti government official. "If the Americans decide Saddam
was implicated in this vile act and attack him, we would welcome it."
the unequivocal stance by Kuwait has been welcomed in Washington and London,
it will inevitably set it at odds with extreme Islamists. Sheikh Jaber accepted
that when he said Kuwait and other moderate Arab states were already "terrorist
targets" themselves, because of bin Laden's crusade to oust US troops from
Kuwaitis have also shown their support for America and its allies by placing
a carpet of flowers and wreaths outside the US embassy. Crown Prince Saad al-Abdullah
al-Sabah, the Prime Minister, visited the embassy and the Kuwait Red Crescent
has donated £360,000 to the US Red Cross.
advertisements, expressing condolences, have been taken out by Kuwaiti companies
in leading American newspapers. As part of its support for America, Kuwait will
also take action against more than 100 "Islamic charity groups" operating
in the country, which collect what they call zakat, or alms.
said the government had often "turned a blind eye" to the groups,
some of which are suspected of raising funds for extreme Islamic terror groups.
America puts its faith in law of the gun
what passes for a joke doing the rounds in some of the less broad-minded communities
in America. It goes something like this:
you see the latest weather report from Kabul?"
I must have missed it."
they're forecasting light winds from the west this morning, blue skies and temperatures
in the mid-70s . . . this afternoon expect dense mushroom-shaped clouds, temperatures
in excess of 7,000 degrees, winds 1,000mph in all directions."
Al's Gun and Pawn Shop on the outskirts of Fort Lauderdale, southern Florida,
the owner collars every new customer with that same line.
- a great slug of a man swathed in gold bracelets whose real name is Richard
Spizouco - seems to find it funnier with each repetition.
laugh, too, as they head for a counter festooned with M16 assault rifles, Kalashnikov
copies and pump-action shotguns.
is tooling up," Big Al says appreciatively. "It's been like a zoo
in here since Wednesday morning. Sales are up 300 per cent.
sold more guns in the past five days than in the whole year to date. It's even
bigger than before Y2K when everybody wanted a gun."
is reported to be investigating at least 40 attacks on American Muslims following
last week's atrocities, and to listen to Big Al chat with his customers they
have reason to be scared.
on what reprisals America should take for the terrorist attacks. As gun enthusiasts
and supporters of the constitutional right of American citizens to bear arms,
Big Al and his customers are proud to be Republican voters.
a clear idea of what they expect from President Bush. "Cook 'em. It's as
simple as that," says Al.
should buy up some pictures of Kabul because they are gonna be real valuable
next week. Iraq too. The time for pussy-footing around is over."
soliloquies, punctuated by bam-bam sounds of Americans practising their skills
on the ranges overhead, receive frequent nods of approval.
him on the wall is a picture of Osama bin Laden, his face in the cross hairs,
above a sign saying: "Wanted, dead or alive".
a Gulf war veteran with a pistol in his hip holster, does not want to give his
name "for security" reasons but chips in anyway.
with you, Al. I just think we should have done the job properly after Desert
the President will take up from his daddy and finish the job. He's a cowboy
and I like cowboys. And if he doesn't? He'll never get my vote again."
customer comes in, recently returned from a holiday in Italy. He shares his
snaps with Big Al, showing some of the great frescoes in Venice.
at the grandeur, so bootiful. This war is about civilisation. The Taliban want
to blow all this stuff up. Remember what they did to those big Buddha statues?"
fingers the ornate gold crucifix around his neck. "Didn't you hear the
President? He said this was going to be a crusade.
will finish the job of the Coeur de Lion, Richard the Lionheart, one of your
English kings, am I right?
tell me, what have the Arabs ever done for the world? Name me a single famous
should give them no place to go. Raze the place, that's what I say and there's
plenty that'll agree with me."
strike 'a work of art'
Helm in Berlin
composer, Karlheinz Stockhausen, whose electronic music inspired the Beatles,
caused uproar yesterday after describing last week's air attacks on New York
as "the greatest work of art ever".
leader of the avant garde studio music movement quickly retracted the comments
made to journalists and asked them not to report them. But last night, after
they were made public, two concerts featuring his work were cancelled in Hamburg.
Weiss, Hamburg's culture senator said: "In the current situation the public
will not understand his remarks. They are cynical and amoral."
to the German press agency, DPA, the composer was asked about the attacks during
a press conference on Sunday night and replied: "What happened there is
- they all have to rearrange their brains now - is the greatest work of art
characters can bring about in one act what we in music cannot dream of, that
people practise madly for 10 years, completely fanatically, for a concert and
then die. That is the greatest work of art for the whole cosmos. Against that,
we, composers, are nothing."
foundation, which was the main sponsor of the concerts, issued a statement yesterday
saying that despite his retractions "a performance of Stockhausen is not
acceptable any more".
Sapsted in New York
in New York claim that the nation's largest commercial radio network is trying
to stop them playing some of the world's most popular songs for fear of upsetting
listeners following the World Trade Centre attack.
range from John Lennon's Imagine to Frank Sinatra's New York, New York and include
some considered in more obvious bad taste, such as Carole King's I Feel the
Earth Move and Peter, Paul and Mary's Leaving on a Jet Plane.
In an atmosphere
of strained sensitivities, where comedians and chat show hosts are studiously
avoiding jokes about the attacks, the disc jockeys maintain that the Texas-based
Clear Channel is attempting to impose a "national no-play list" on
their 1,100 American stations.
Clear admits that it did send out the list of 150 songs, the company says it
was not an attempt to ban them, merely to offer guidance to stations on what
might be considered poor taste.
who let their words get in the way as tragedy unfolded
aren't hacks," my old colleague Lucretia used to say of the people she
commissioned, with a wobble of the chin that expressed infinite respect. "These
is some of those very Writers - among them our brightest and best novelists
- who have responded most bathetically and self-importantly to last week's events
appeared quickly and were heartily blurbed. Often short, they abounded with
unexpected phrases and 10-dollar words, were suffused with an awed and angry
sense of occasion, and generally ended with an ostentatious copyright line.
some, of course, who did write well; and some seemed wiser than others. But
few had special knowledge of the politics of the event; few had first-hand experience;
and none had much time to think. All they brought to the party was their prose.
results have, in many cases, provided a comical example of the dangers of what
Tom Paulin, referring to Hazlitt, called "writing to the moment".
perhaps, Philip Roth refused to write anything about the attacks, and Bret Easton
Ellis said that he was too depressed to start making phrases.
have fallen face-first down the open manhole. Martin Amis, writing for the Guardian,
saw the collapse of the World Trade Centre as "the apotheosis of the postmodern
ruminated on "world hum" and "species consciousness" and,
coining a curious neologism, declared that the glint of the second plane was
"the worldflash of a coming future".
be underwhelmed by that, Amis portentously recorded the date as "the eleventh
day of the ninth month of 2001 (the duo-millenial anniversary of Christianity)",
and summed up the damage with flip machismo: "Manhattan looked as though
it had taken ten megatons."
As a "utopian"
retaliation, he suggested that the Afghan people be bombarded with food parcels
marked "Lendlease - USA", oddly echoing a Thai MP who has been urged
to resign after suggesting that Afghanistan should be carpet-bombed with pork
sounded self-parodic, consider Jay McInerney, who laboured beneath a "plume
of pearl grey smoke".
pleased that a dust-covered survivor had recognised him as "the author
of Bright Lights, Big City", but worried because the cover of his latest
book featured the twin towers.
himself by bringing his friend Bret (Easton) Ellis a hamburger, and later went
on, he informed us, to drink several bottles of " '85 Lynch Bages".
there was Jeanette Winterson, also in the Guardian: "Touch me. Kiss me.
Remind me what I am. Remind me that this life is one we make together . . .
The immensity of this event can only be mirrored by the immensity of what we
tiny blue planet is home to something special and precious - ourselves. We are
all human. We are all nothing and everything. The best we can do to begin again
is to forgive."
themes emerged. After an afternoon watching CNN, Ian McEwan was able to report
"colossal explosions, fierce red and black clouds" and dust "engulfing
the streets". Amis saw "vampiric reds and blacks".
McEwan: "The world would never be the same." Blake Morrison: "This
is the last week of the world as it was." Amis: "In that instant,
America's youth would turn into age." Paul Auster: "And so the 21st
century finally begins."
the first time that literary heroes have muddied their feet when writing about
current affairs. A succession of well-regarded Poet Laureates have fallen flat
with occasional poems, commissioned or volunteered (remember Tennyson's terrible
Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington?).
all-rounder Clive James, noted for his non-fiction, provoked more embarrassment
than empathy with his famous essay on the death of the Princess of Wales.
events in Eastern Europe at the end of the 1980s, George Steiner's attempt to
rise to the occasion led him to pronounce that "the apocalypse of hope
has been started by one man", that "we are back to the enigmatic pulsebeat
of the Messianic" . . . "What will step into the turbulent vacuum?"
he added nonsensically.
hacks - threadbare though their prose may be - serve the story. In some of the
pieces that have appeared over the past week, the story is serving the writer.
Rather than reporting on or even responding to events, they seem to be competing
is of a graceless scramble to be the first Writer to plant, as it were, a flag
atop the rubble.
stand beside bin Laden
Rashid in Lahore
Osama bin Laden plans over the next few weeks, leaving Afghanistan is unlikely
to be among them.
yesterday's decision by Taliban clerics to request his departure, bin Laden
is unlikely to abandon his safe haven of his own volition. The Taliban said
that his removal would take "some time".
state is now opposed to the Taliban, has joined up with the US alliance and
closed the borders with Afghanistan.
If he tried
to fly out of Afghanistan to Yemen - his country of birth and where he has considerable
support - the plane would be likely to be shot down by the US. There are already
UN sanctions on flights out of Afghanistan and air traffic controllers would
see the plane leaving.
could try to seek shelter among the extremist groups in Pakistan that support
him but that would be extremely dangerous and place Pakistan's military regime
in an embarrassing position. Anyway, security on Pakistan's borders with Afghanistan
has been tightened even further since the clerics' decision.
option would be to seek shelter with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU),
which is based in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif and whose 2,500
guerrillas fight for the Taliban. The IMU has launched guerrilla attacks against
Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan over the past two years and has declared jihad or
holy war against the Central Asian Republics.
the IMU is the principal target of Russia and the Central Asian states, who
are likely to offer bases to US forces and are expected to line up with Washington
in its attack on the Taliban. They are keen to wipe out the IMU and bin Laden's
presence would make that more likely.
bin Laden could go, Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Taliban education minister, said
yesterday: "You know, he has a lot of opponents and he will look and choose
for himself a suitable place. It cannot be done that he goes on the street and
takes a taxi and goes to another roundabout."
this week many of bin Laden's 3,000 Arab fighters took an oath of loyalty to
him, swearing that they would defend him or die. Bin Laden is unlikely to leave
them in the lurch by trying to seek shelter in a foreign country and he is likely
to stand by his friend, Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban leader.
which indicates that the decision to recommend bin Laden's departure is designed
to forestall a US attack on Afghanistan. But it is likely to fail. The US will
not be satisfied by a simple request that leaves bin Laden at large and fails
to address both the issue of his Arab bodyguards and his al-Qa'eda organisation.
has spent the past three years trying to negotiate with the Taliban about bin
Laden's extradition but the talks have always foundered on a long list of Taliban
conditions. Although these conditions have now been removed, the Taliban appear
to have passed the buck to bin Laden.
past few days tough talking by Pakistani generals to Mullah Omar in Kandahar
and to Islamic scholars in Kabul have shifted the Taliban's position.
significant has been the growing rift between the hardliners who surround Mullah
Omar in Kandahar and the moderates who form the government in Kabul and have
had to deal with the international community and the growing humanitarian crisis
in the country.
are fellow travellers with the Taliban hardcore and do not subscribe to the
harsh ideological edicts issued by Mullah Omar, such as the destruction of the
two giant Buddha statues in Bamiyan earlier this year.
not like the increasingly powerful political role that bin Laden and his Arabs
have come to play within the Taliban decision-making process.
not clear yesterday whether Mullah Omar would support the decision by the scholars,
although a spokesman said he would. Having been given the title of Amir ul Momineen,
or Commander of the Faithful, in 1995 by the same gathering of Islamic scholars,
he has the right of veto.
both bin Laden and Mullah Omar are confident that they can suck the US into
a war it cannot win if it attacks Afghanistan, just as the Afghan mujahideen
did to the forces of the Soviet Union after it invaded in 1979.
decision by the scholars also to call for a jihad if the US attacks Afghanistan
is ominous, because it uses the same language as the religious edicts against
mullahs had to say
are extracts from the text of a verdict by the Grand Council of ulema, or clerics,
yesterday recommending to the ruling Taliban that they persuade Osama bin Laden
to leave Afghanistan:
of Afghanistan has always referred major issues to honourable ulema for a solution.
The honourable ulema have always endeavoured to find a solution to problems.
of Afghanistan, in the face of their heavy responsibility for the solution of
the problems and in the light of Islam's holy religion, endorse the following
decision and verdict:
voices their sadness over deaths in America and hopes that America does not
attack Afghanistan but exerts complete patience and accuracy and investigates
the issue in its totality.
demands of America that the United Nations and the Organisation of Islamic Conference
investigate, independently and precisely, the recent events to clarify the reality
and prevent harassment of innocent people.
and the OIC deliberate over the utterances of America's president who has said
that this war will be a crusade. This news has hurt the feelings of Muslims
and has posed a major threat to the world.
to avoid the current tumult and also similar suspicion in the future, the high
council of the honourable ulema recommends to the Islamic Emirate to persuade
Osama bin Laden to leave Afghanistan whenever possible and chose another place
the light of the above-mentioned decisions, America does not agree and attacks
Afghanistan then, in the light of the sacred Shariah (law) the following verdict
of our religious persuasion say that, if infidels attack the soil of a Muslim
country, jihad becomes an order for the Muslims of that country.
invade an Islamic country and that country does not have the ability to defend
itself, jihad becomes an obligation on all Muslims.
attack the soil of Muslims they can, in time of need, ask Islamic and non-Islamic
governments for help.
If at the
time of America's attack, any Muslim, whether an Afghan or non-Afghan, co-operates
with infidels, becomes an accomplice or a spy, that person is also punishable
with death like the foreign invaders.
for war on the ground
Harnden in Washington, Alex Spillius in Peshawar and George Jones in New York
was preparing last night for a lengthy ground war as Tony Blair signalled that
he was ready to send British troops into action.
underlined its intention after the White House rejected as inadequate a Taliban
call for Osama bin Laden to leave Afghanistan of his own accord.
that the prime suspect in last week's terror attacks be surrendered immediately.
With American troops on the move, the Pentagon said it was preparing for "sustained
land combat operations".
the backdrop of American mobilisation, Mr Blair gave the strongest indication
yet that he was ready to send forces into action against bin Laden's network.
to New York for a memorial service for the British victims of the attacks on
the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, he spoke of the "heavy and huge
responsibility" he faced in taking such a decision - possibly within days.
he would not "flinch" from it. Britain was fortunate in having "some
of the finest armed forces in the world". Mr Blair said that bin Laden
must be handed over and that other groups in Afghanistan had to be crushed.
or fatwa, issued by a council of Afghan clerics said that bin Laden should be
"persuaded to leave whenever possible". But pointedly it did not order
does not meet America's requirements," said Ari Fleischer, President Bush's
spokesman. "This is about much more than one man being allowed to leave
voluntarily, presumably, from one safe harbour to another one."
"The president has demanded that key figures of the al-Qa'eda terrorist
organisation, including bin Laden, be turned over to responsible authorities
and that the Taliban close terrorist camps in Afghanistan."
In an address
to Congress early today, Mr Bush told governments around the world that "freedom
and fear are at war". They faced the choice: "Either you are with
us or with the terrorists.
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 disruption and defeat of the global
Minister had flown from New York to Washington for talks with Mr Bush before
the president's address.
in Paris earlier after meeting President Chirac, Mr Blair said: "One of
the most important and significant aspects of what has happened in the days
following those terrible attacks in the United States has been the strength
- indeed, I would say the growing strength - of the coalition right around the
world against terrorism."
concern among some British diplomats that Mr Blair's visit to New York was much
less full than that of President Chirac, who on Wednesday became the first foreign
head of state to inspect the devastation.
had only a brief meeting with Rudolph Giuliani, the city's mayor, and did not
visit the trade centre site. The Muslim clerics' proclamation on bin Laden,
whom Mr Bush has said he wants "dead or alive", came as a surprise
and was seen by American officials as a sign of some possible movement.
while their edict may have suggested willingness to compromise, it also declared
that Muslims should launch a holy war, or jihad, against America and any of
its helpers if they attacked the Taliban's fighters.
spokesman said that Mullah Mohammed Omar, the radical Islamic movement's spiritual
leader, who summoned the clerics, would act on their recommendation.
added that the departure of bin Laden, who has been sheltered by Afghanistan
for five years, "would take some time". About 800 clerics travelled
to Kabul from across the war-ravaged country to attend the council.
appeared to be a compromise between hard-liners and those who wanted to rid
the country of the threat of a devastating international military attack after
21 years of conflict and recent famine.
In a further
indication that America was planning major attacks that would inevitably lead
to casualties on both sides, Thomas White, the army secretary, said: "We
are ready to conduct sustained land combat operations as determined by the secretary
of defence and the president.
are ready to deliver it across the whole array of force structure: heavy, light,
airmobile, airborne, special operations - all of the combat capabilities."
of people missing at the World Trade Centre is now put at 6,333, with 241 confirmed
Toby Harnden in Washington
abandoned Operation Infinite Justice as the codename for its war on global terrorism
last night after concerns that it might deter Muslim nations from joining the
coalition it is leading.
scholars said that Muslims found the name deeply offensive because the Koran
said that only Allah could grant infinite justice.
Rumsfeld, the American defence secretary, was clearly uncomfortable when asked
about the codename. He said: "I do not know that those words have been
adopted. I think they are probably under review.
the United States does not want to do or say things that create an impression
on the part of the listener that would be a misunderstanding - and clearly that
for the domestic campaign against the terrorist threat is Operation Noble Eagle.
President Bush has already offended Muslims by his use of the word "crusade"
in describing his plans to eradicate terrorism.
House said that the codename Operation Infinite Justice had been leaked without
authorisation and would not be used again. It was not known what the new name
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow that you keep your words
soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
happy that I live in Ibiza.