Sunday, 15 August 2021

Dare Name

As he approaches his seventieth birthday in October, Peter Hitchens is clearly on a warning from the Mail on Sunday, or it is on a warning from higher up, not to mention directly the fact that the 9/11 attacks came from our beloved Saudi Arabia. From the start, everyone has always known that. The BBC is having kittens that women in Kabul may not be allowed out unless they were accompanied by a male relative. But women in Riyadh never have been. And the men who enforce that were the men who bombed New York and Washington on 11th September 2001. With that in mind, Hitchens writes:

Turn on the BBC and you are certain to hear some voice urging that we 'stay' in Afghanistan or return there. By 'we', of course, they mean the poor bloody infantry, the people who always end up fulfilling the ideals of political blowhards. Look, our Empire collapsed in bankruptcy more than 70 years ago. We have no more business in Afghanistan than do the Austrians or the Poles.

Nor would we do any good if we returned. That poor country has done nothing but suffer at the hands of meddling outsiders. It was attacked in 2001 because the USA did not dare name or attack the country that was really the origin of the September 11 attacks, and still doesn't. You'll have to wait, or guess, too – the reports remain sealed, though the CIA and White House know what's in them.

I don't much like the Taliban either. But sending young men from deindustrialised cities in Britain and North America to be killed, or have limbs blown off, so Cherie Blair, Hillary Clinton and the rest of the sisterhood can feel good about the treatment of women in Kandahar seems out of proportion.

If Afghanistan now falls into the hands of non-feminists, it is largely because the USA, in a piece of cynical mischief unmatched in modern history, colluded there with Saudi Arabia to help Islamist mujahideen against the USSR in the 1980s. They created a monster they couldn't control, destroy or defeat.

As for those Afghans we now leave to the mercy of the fanatics, our leaders surely knew this would happen in the end. It's another illustration of the old rule: don't make promises you cannot keep. When you do, don't make other people keep them for you.

For now, though, Hitchens is still permitted to write:

Why is Julian Assange still enduring some of the nastiest prison conditions in this country, as if he were some mass-murdering mobster rather than awaiting an appeal on his extradition?

I argued here last September that the USA were trying to extradite him on political grounds, and that they would never hand over to us any of their citizens who had been accused of leaking British secret documents. A judge soon afterwards ruled against his extradition.

Now, at last, the USA's appeal against this is being heard, though any British Government with a spine will refuse to hand him over anyway. Regardless of that, his harsh and miserable detention is cruel and unusual punishment. At the very least his conditions inside prison should be eased.

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