Action Against the Terrorists
John Heelan (JH) disagrees with Istvan Simon (IS). IS: Iran would have been a more deserving target for its direct involvement in 9/11 than Iraq was.. JH:It is fascinating how all of a sudden Iran is the "bad guy"- just what the neo-conservatives have been preaching all along. It is helpful that IRAN has large oil reserves also and is seen by Israel as its major potential opponent. And after Iran? Let's see! West Africa has large reserves for "liberation" and corrupt governments ripe for overthrowing or suborning as satraps. IS: It seems to me that the United States is slowly getting better at fighting terrorist networks, and that progress has been made. JH: Rubbish! The Iraq intervention has increased the level of terrorism world-wide as well as being the metastatic agent for disseminating Al-Quaida cells on a global basis. The US has lost control of most of Afghanistan and Iraq despite having overwhelming firepower and is constrained to operate on a limited basis from "forts", rather like in the Indian Wars of yore. IS: Currently the greatest and most effective ally of the United States in the fight against terrorism and Al Quaeda seems to be Pakistan. JH: The US track record of acquiring and using that intelligence has already been recognised as being inadequate. Seeing that the Taliban and Al-Quaida are still operating from a lawless part of Pakistan and are alleged to be supported by members of its own security services, it is obviously in that country's interest to provide the odd titbit of alleged intelligence (even though it appears that much of its has been found incorrect).
IS: Regarding the Bush administration efforts, some progress has been made also in protecting the United States from future attacks. JH: But endangering the rest of the world; its isolationism has increased the amount of negative comment about the US. This is the time of year in the UK that prospective undergraduates choose their university courses. The Independent reports that a survey of 150 UK universities reveals that the demand for Middle Eastern studies is such that courses are overbooked and even suitably qualified students are being turned away while 28 universities report that they are having difficulty filling their American Studies courses. Falling demand has prompted five universities to close their American studies departments and other institutions have cut staff. Keele University which traditionally has had the highest-regarded American studies department has halved its staff. The Independent concludes that people are shying away from "courses that might label them pro-US in the wake of the war in Iraq". [Source: Independent 31 August 2004, p.16]. If this is true, it could imply that the next generation of the UK's university graduates are demonstrating their distrust of US foreign policies by refusing to undertake academic studies on the US. That cannot be good either for the US or the UK.
IS:The identification and fingerprinting of every visitor to the United States seems like a major step that would make it harder for terrorists to slip into the United States. JH: In which case, it seems that the US must believe that the "guilty" emanate from the UK. Hitherto, the US has operated a Visa Waiver Program for business, pleasure and transit visitors from selected countries, the UK being one of those. However changes are being made to that Program, in the wake of 9/11, that will prohibit certain travellers making use of the Program. For example, "Travelers with a Criminal conviction(s). Under United States visa law people who have been arrested are not eligible to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP); they are required to apply for visas before traveling. If the arrest resulted in a conviction, the individual may require a special restricted visa in order to travel. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act does not apply to United States visa law. Therefore, even travelers with a spent conviction are not eligible to travel visa free; they must apply for visas."[source: http://www.usembassy.org.uk/cons_web/visa/]
Please note two elements in those restrictions, arrest anywhere in the world (even though there has been no charge or conviction and the person is totally innocent) and spent convictions (even though the past miscreant has already paid his/her debt to society). This means that even arrest for a minor infraction (e.g. drunkenness) will require the incautious youth to apply for US visas for the rest of his/her life, even though no charge has been brought. This raises problems even for well-known people, Euan, Tony Blair's son, will have to apply for a visa to the US for the rest of his life due to a very public arrest for alleged under-age drinking (presumably the Bush twins will not be allowed to leave the country?); Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's son's brush with the law on drugs matters; Sir Mark Thatcher, the Iron Lady's son, having just been arrested for alleged involvement in a plot to overthrow a Central African government (which he denies) no doubt will have difficulty in re-entering the US to join his American wife.Further, the imposition of photographing and finger-printing all visitors (formalities more intrusive than those of East Germany in the height of the Cold War- as one travel correspondent opines) and the elimination of US transit lounges not only will dissuade many tourists from visiting the US but also has resulted in transit hubs being relocated away from US soil.
RH: A WAISer does not talk rubbish, even though you disagree with him. We have stressed that enrolment in university area programs does not express like or dislike for that country. During the Cold War, when Americans detested the USSR, Russian Studies boomed here. Now they are in a decline.
Your comments are invited. Read te home page of the World Association of International Studies (WAIS) by simply double-clicking on: http://wais.stanford.edu/ E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Mail to Ronald Hilton, Hoover Institution, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Please inform us of any change of e-mail address.
September 27, 2004