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It all started 96 hours after 9/11

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CHIMO Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-17-09 07:55 PM
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It all started 96 hours after 9/11
In theatres up and down the country, it used to be that anyone, whatever their job, was pulled magnetically towards the stage. All through the day they would find themselves venturing down into the auditorium. They would casually try to catch a glimpse of the actors, a glimpse of the action, because that was where their job was rooted. Today, 10 years into the new century, theatre workers, like the rest of us, sit staring at computer screens all day, and sometimes all night. Hardly surprising, then, that this has been the decade of Looking Away.

Visit us, please, from a previous century and you'll see us walking down the streets, wired cockleshells in ears, jabbering like lunatics in a Victorian asylum. It has long been understood in any line at any shopping till that the electronic will take precedence over the physical. The queue will wait while the sales assistant answers the phone. In any given situation, Absence always trumps Presence, presumably on the grounds that the unknown has more potential for excitement than the known. "Is he all there?" we used to ask of our neighbours' idiot children. Now we ask of everyone, "Is he there at all?"

Every period throws up its own favoured means of mass distraction, but you're going to have to pull every history book off the shelf to find a distraction quite as nothing-to-do-with-anything as the US invasion of Iraq. The decade's significant date of choice for most historians is taken to be 11 September 2001. An airborne suicide attack on the twin towers in New York killed 2,948 people of 91 different nationalities. But if I was going to choose the day when the destiny of the new century really took shape, then I'd opt for 96 hours later. On 15 September, George Bush assembled his cabinet in casual clothes at Camp David (Paul Wolfowitz came without invitation and wore a suit) and, over chicken noodle soup, fried chicken and mashed potatoes, began to yield to the dazzling temptation of deliberately pursuing the wrong suspect. Hey, said the Americans, Let's Look Away.

It was Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, who, on that occasion, had the foresight to point out that Afghanistan had often been the nemesis of imperial powers. Britain had got bogged down there. So had Russia. The attraction of Iraq as a theatre of war was that it was doable. One hundred thousand Iraqis killed in the doing might have begged to disagree. But it was also Condoleezza whose face later expressed a momentary affront to the ever-growing privileges of the privileged. After Richard Clarke, the graceful counterterrorism adviser to the US National Security Council, had apologised to the grieving relatives of 9/11 for his failure to forestall the massacre, you could see in Rice's sour, magisterial demeanour a rather different reaction. She wore a scowl that, at the end of decade, you would see on the faces of leading financiers and politicians all over the world. Etched deep on her features was a look of pure disbelief. My God, the ruling class was being held to account!
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Hissyspit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-18-09 05:47 AM
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1. Kick nt
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Liberation Angel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-18-09 01:06 PM
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2. k&r
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