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Fantastical March 2, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I forgot to post this up last week, Tom McGurk’s musings in the SBP on another high profile political phenomenon of our time – and there’s little point in deconstructing his latest missive in that paper since he is much exercised by the Fine Gael leadership contest.

Writing about Donald Trump’s administration he’s decided that a ‘detente’ between the US and Russia ‘is coming into view’. Others of us may wonder at that.

But writing about ISIS he contradicts himself fundamentally.

He writes, and there’s an unpleasant enough little jibe or two in the opening sentence:

After eight years of Obama cosmopolitanism, native-born white America is taking charge again. The backlash has begun all along he rust belt and the Bible belt, and you folks ain’t seen nothing yet.

Liberal mouths may still be open wide in astonishment as the White House begins to resemble a cross between the Beverly Hillbillies and Little House on the Prairie, but they’ll get used to it. They’ll have to.

He continues:

Take the hugely controversial policy of banning seven nationalists entering the US. It is, of course, utterly naive to suggest that such restrictions will significantly reduce the chances of terrorist infiltration. To a determined jihadist determine on entering the US the paper wall of passports and immigration officers affords little threat.


But remember this president is a man who was elected complaining about politicians who are all talk and no action. This is the politics of getting your retaliation in first.

Imagine – as I suspect Trump has – if tomorrow afternoon news breaks of a sustained attack, suicide bombers targeting, say a trading floor on Wall Street and Macy’s store in New York. There are reports too of shooting on the metro in Chicago and in restaurants in Philadelphia and Washington. A truck is hijacked in new Jersey and driven at high speed into a crowd queuing at a bus station.

Is all of this unimaginable? Sadly, the answer is no. We live in a time where a mere minibus full of fanatics could bring a continent to a halt.

Does that not sound like hyperbole? A continent brought to a halt? Really? Over these sort of attacks? This is not to downplay the latter, but McGurk appears blissfully unaware of how societies adapt to such things – Belfast and Derry did. London too in its own way. And there were many more than sporadic attacks in those places. Yet for McGurk…

Within hours of the attack, ISIS claims responsibility and some of the dead terrorists are identified as recent arrivals amid the flood of refugees.Now ask yourself, following any such an attack how much criticism of Trump’s migration regulations would there be then?

But McGurk has already said that such regulations cannot ‘significantly reduce the chance of terrorist infiltration’. And such regulations are not merely not fit for the purpose Trump proposes and McGurk appears to second, but also have additional effects further afield. Alienation of populations in those seven state – Iraq being one of them. The loss of whatever shreds of credibility the US retains. And so on.

So Trump is effectively no different to those ‘politicians who are all talk and no action’ because his actions have by McGurk’s admission, no utility.

McGurk goes further:

Maybe in the days afterwards – as the burials and the 24-hour television post-mortems begin, the sheer immensity of the jihadist threat to all our lives in the western democracies might finally sink in.

Even Trumps critics, so determined to personalise this crisis for their own agendas, might come to understand the existential nature of this threat.

But this jihadist threat, this existential crisis, of which McGurk writes hasn’t actually happened in the US and the immigration ban cannot prevent it and what if it occurs with the immigration ban in place, what then, what does McGurk (or Trump) propose given that it cannot prevent it in any meaningful way? I don’t know what McGurk means about ‘personalising’ a crisis… does he mean any criticism of Trump or the measures he sought to impose was ‘personalising’ it?

And frankly, and without for a second being callous, is it an existential threat? Is it an immense jihadist threat? Or is it actually something that while deeply problematic is within the capacity of agencies as matters stand to contain to a greater rather than a lesser degree. McGurk near enough implicitly appears to see such attacks as a teachable moment, but they then are their own justification. Yet they are, as of yet, near enough entirely imaginary.

And would the sporadic actions, appalling as they would be, which McGurk describes bring down the US? Of course not. 9/11 couldn’t do that. Sure a dirty bomb in a couple of cities would cause unimaginable chaos, but even then the US would survive, indeed little short of the release of weapons so indiscriminate that they would likely impact on those using them would do such a thing.

All this effort on McGurk’s part and to what end? To applaud, softly, the following:

As this new American civil war pits nationalism against cosmopolitanism, Trump is sending out signals that America may be heading back to isolationism.

Bear in mind that he cannot – McGurk has said it, secure the borders of the US, that US troops are vanishingly unlikely to leave the Middle East if only in order to support regimes that would otherwise buckle under popular pressure unleashing whatever furies that might soon enough turn their attention to America. The troops are heading home? Fantasy.


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