Inevitable Payback 140

In this globalised world, if we launch weapons of great destructive power into communities abroad, incinerating and shredding women and children, we cannot avoid the fact that those who identify with those communities – ethnically, culturally and religiously – will take revenge on people here. If we are lucky it will be revenge on combatants. If we are unlucky it will be on our innocents. But either way, the truth is this. We caused it.

We caused it by our invasions, occupations and bombings of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, none of which had ever attacked the UK. We caused it by all the dead women and children that British bombs, missiles or bullets killed accidentally. We caused it by the terrible deaths of the people we killed deliberately, who were only defending their country from foreign invaders, just as most of us would do. We caused it by the detainees killed or tortured. As a country, the United Kingdom caused it.

This is not the 19th century. Imperialist aggression now brings a danger of retaliation from empathetic communities embedded in western societies. This is so obvious as not to need stating. The danger of terrorism from Islamic sources would be much reduced if we just minded our own business on the international scene.

All that is very obvious. It does not, however, seem to have occurred to John Sawers, immediate past head of MI6, who has no sensible thoughts at all of the causes of terrorism. The right wing like to think that anyone opposed to the West is, by definition, spontaneously evil. If only they could look in the mirror sometimes and ask why people hate us, that would be a major psychological breakthrough. I have known John Sawers a great many years, and he is somebody who looks in the mirror very often. Sadly, not for that purpose.

At least he has the intellectual honesty to admit an open advocacy of the extreme big brother society. Abandoning the notion of smart intelligence, he has come out with a justification of the mass surveillance society which Snowden revealed. We cannot prevent terrorism without spying on innocent people, he declares.

In a sense, that is a truism. I have very often argued that it is impossible to prevent all evil and daft to try. You have a far, far higher chance of being murdered by a member of your own family than you have by a terrorist. Over the last 10 years terrorists have been responsible for almost exactly 1% of all murders in the UK. Let me type that again. In the last ten years terrorists have been responsible for almost exactly 1% of all murders in the UK. And about 0.007% of woundings. It remains true that the most likely person to kill you is in your own family. It is worth remembering that the number of people who died in the Charlie Hebdo atrocity was the same number murdered in France on average every week.

Now assuming the aim is to prevent murder rather than make propaganda, let us concentrate for a moment on – don’t worry, you will never in your life be asked to do this again, unless by me – let us concentrate on the 99% of murders which are not by terrorists. To take the John Sawers system, if we had permanent CCTV monitoring of every kitchen in the UK, we could probably prevent quite a few of those murders and a vast amount of non-fatal violence. It would take an enormous police and security service, of course, but we are getting there anyway. Sawers’ point is completely correct in logic – you cannot prevent all murders without massive surveillance of the innocent. It would have been even more correct if you just stopped the sentence at you cannot prevent all murders. Precisely the same is true of the tiny risk to individuals that is murder by terrorism.

The surest way to reduce the terrorist threat in the UK is to stop bombing or invading other countries. That simple fact needs to be screamed from the rooftops. The next thing you can do is solid old fashioned evidence-based police and intelligence work. The least effective thing you can do is simply trawl the email and online chat of millions of people. That clogs up the intelligence system with a vast mound of undigestable information, and results in the conviction of fantasists and boastful men who, while unpleasant, are guilty of nothing but thought crime. It is exactly the same result as if you tackled murder by arresting everyone who in an email or chat wished harm to their husband or wife. It is wrong to express that, but the percentage who would have really gone on to murder would be vanishingly small.

The great worry is the presumption which is sneaking in to the mainstream media narrative that it is the responsibility of the state to prevent all crime before it happens. It is not, and that is not an achievable goal. The restrictions on liberty it would entail would do more damage to society than crime itself, which mankind has managed to live with since civilisation began. The entire debate around terrorism needs to be recalibrated. The answer is not the ultimate Big Brother surveillance state. The answer is to stop our hideous violence towards communities abroad.

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140 thoughts on “Inevitable Payback

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  • Ba'al Zevul

    Well done, terrorists. You’ve achieved your primary objectives. You’ve got everyone talking about you. You’ve made the West substantially less free. And you have very effectively built on the sure foundations of localised Western clusterfucks in the ME to create a regional clusterfuck. The arms and surveillance industries must be extremely grateful. You’re worth billions in income…live long and prosper, eh?

  • Lollysmum

    Well said. UK is responsible for waging war on other nations & our so called decision makers knew that this would be the outcome of their actions. Such a shame that we will never see hard hitting articles like this in compliant MSM & broadcast media.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Mary

    Well said.


    A little puff piece from Frank (I was there) Gardner included here.

    Ex-MI6 chief: Government and tech firms must agree spy pact
    Sir John Sawers said a terrorist attack in the UK was “highly likely”

    British intelligence agencies and technology companies need to agree on data-sharing to stop terrorism, the former head of MI6 has said.

    Speaking publically for the first time since stepping down, Sir John Sawers said there could not be online “no-go areas” the government could not access.


  • KingOfWelshNoir

    Yup, and self-murder accounts for a hundred deaths a week, so they say. And that figure could be reduced to a moderately significant degree—certainly one Charlie Hebdu per week—with a modest outlay of funds. But the truth is, this has nothing to do with saving lives, it is clearly about social control. A bogeyman being massively hyped to scare people into accepting the mass surveillance that was the intent all along. This whole thing seems choreographed to me: every step, every new pronouncement from Theresa May, David Cameron, Barack Obama, MI5… they have stepped it up a gear. My alarm radio wakes me at 6 and fills me with alarm because the first thing I hear is some new piece of terror porn from the State or its security services. It’s always the first item on the news. Whether or not the Charlie Hebdu massacre was a FF or the genuine thing it seems they were just waiting for it or something like it to come along and provide a pretext to implement the next stage. The end game has been clear for a while now. Digital serfdom. And there seems to be damn all we can do about it.

  • N_

    Craig – Have you looked at Google’s plans? They have explicitly said they are preparing for mass microchip implantation and a microphone in every ceiling. I am not joking, and can provide links if you are interested.

  • Mark Golding

    We can blame ourselves, the British public for launching weapons of great destructive power into communities abroad, incinerating and shredding women and children. We are guilty. We have remained silent and impotent.

    The permanently delayed Chilcot Report was setup in 2009. Chilcot himself sat on the 2004 Butler inquiry into the intelligence used to justify the Iraq war, which refused to hold Blair or anyone else accountable for the “dodgy dossier” culled from old Internet reports and false claims, such as the assertion that Iraq had weapons that it could deploy against Britain within 45 minutes.

    All of the Chilcot inquiry’s personnel were chosen by Mr Brown MP from members of the Privy Council, a body appointed by the Queen on the advice of the prime minister.

    Inquiry member Sir Lawrence Freedman was a foreign policy adviser to Blair and a staunch advocate of the Iraq war. The historian Sir Martin Gilbert supported the war. Sir Roderic Lyne was British ambassador to the Russian Federation and is an adviser to JP Morgan Chase, which operates the Trade Bank of Iraq. He was also a special adviser to the oil conglomerate BP.

    The Chilcot Report will ensure that Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, then-Defence Minister Geoff Hoon, Blair’s director of communications, Alastair Campbell, former UK Ambassador to the United Nations Jeremy Greenstock, and then-Chancellor Gordon Brown for waging an illegal war of aggression are not held to account.

    The Chilcot inquiry will be utilised to legitimise the invasion of Iraq and affirm the basis on which it was carried out—the US doctrine of pre-emptive war.

    “I think that Britain as a country should feel incredibly proud” of its part in the Iraq war.

    Alastair Campbell September 2011

    To accept in any way that the Iraq war was wrong, let alone illegal, would be to call into question the essential strategic interests of British American imperialism and a UK foreign policy based upon riding Washington’s military coat-tails in Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and wherever else civil unrest, coups, false-flags, proxy and aggressive wars will be waged to secure domination of strategic resources and world power.

  • DoNNyDarKo

    It has to be shouted from the top of rooftops because our media fails to report on what we are actually doing to these countries.We spend millions instead whitewashing the history books clean.It’s 100 times cheaper than admitting to crimes against humanity.Those crimes are for the deposed and the losers.
    So it was always going to backfire and it is spectacularly.

  • ------------·´`·.¸¸.¸¸.··.¸¸Node

    How dare you suggest that Western intelligences services have a vested interest in heightening tensions and encouraging Islamophobia?!!

    . . . . . is what a lot of the usual suspects will soon be demanding to know, to which I reply

    Remember the film “Innocence of Muslims” which turned out to have been produced by an FBI agent.

  • MJ

    “We caused it by our invasions, occupations and bombings”

    The problem with this “Payback” theory is that it presupposes that these terror events take place pretty much as described by government spokespersons and the press. This is a problem because a careful look at the available evidence sometimes suggests that this narrative is nowhere near accurate.

    If you think those ISIS beheading videos show genuine beheadings then please steer clear of children’s magic shows, the Saw The Lady In Half trick will leave you traumatised for life.

    We are told that Islamist extremists killed 17 people in France, yet in the video of one of the shootings, it is clear that no real shooting takes place. A blank is fired over the head of a man in a policeman’s uniform, who then plays dead. It is simply a piece of street theatre.

    Unless we accommodate these uncomfortable facts into our analysis and address their implications head on, we end up talking about attacks on freedom of speech, or inevitable payback, which are, in the language of conjuring tricks, misdirections.

  • Jives

    Very well said Craig.

    Unfortunately there are many nasty stupid bastards in the media,spook game,corporate world and political arena who are making fortunes blindly promoting The Big Lie.

    Ultimately,of course,such greed,lies and stupidity will be called to account by the people and the bastards will get their comeuppance.

    Such grotesque and patently stupid lies are not sustainable.

  • Macky

    Node; “a lot of the usual suspects will soon be demanding”

    Somehow I think they will be conspicuous by their absence; yes that’s a prod to see if any can even attempt to argue against the commonsense of Craig’s “We caused it”.

  • Johnstone

    Craig, yes, good but the fundamental supposition of your analysis is that the reason for so called terrorist incidents occurring in European countries is foreign policy blow-back. But this assumes that home grown Muslim extremists are the perpetrators of these so called attacks (on non Muslims, freedom of speech and so on and so forth…). Are they really, is there any evidence?
    I would argue that if these incidents that are slowly but surely turning the whole of Europe into a caldron of xenophobia are indeed state-faked-terrorism then the diagnosis of blow-back seriously under estimates the nature of the problem.
    Doesn’t it?

  • Ba'al Zevul

    If you think those ISIS beheading videos show genuine beheadings…

    You think the people known to have been abducted and held hostage were not beheaded but quietly and humanely euthanased? They don’t seem to have come back yet.

    OTOH, see the picture of the latest hostages here…

    The light in the background seems to be coming from left of centre. That fits for the hostage on the left. It doesn’t fit for the one on the right. The contrast and colour values also look wrong, for all three figures. Both the hostages, on this picture at any rate, seem to have been superimposed on the background. That would be logical, as the captors would not want their real location identified and targeted. Let’s see what happens to them; they’re both quite well-known in Japan, and I’m sure they’d be missed by someone.

  • MJ

    “You think the people known to have been abducted and held hostage were not beheaded but quietly and humanely euthanased?”

    I have no theories. I’m just pointing out that the videos do not show actual beheadings.

  • Keith Crosby

    Craig, I think you put that rather well.

    Spend less on being the lackeys of American looting wars, chevachees and strafexpeditions and use the money to prevent the 70 DIY accidental deaths a year. Perhaps we could also consider the legal and lucrative tobacco bombs which do about 20,000 deaths a year while we’re at it.

  • parky

    To the average Joe Bloggs who uses the Internet in a casual way for leisure and entertainment purposes, he won’t care less that his emails and facebook might be accessed by some spook in GCHQ/NSA and won’t see it as an infringement of his privacy and civil liberties as he probably never gives a moments thought to such concepts.

    However if there are groups who are going to commit crimes of one sort of another and they are smart, they would never in a million years use any electronic communications and storage devices that may give away their plans if they intend not to be caught or stopped. This must have also occurred to the spooks but they still want to go ahead with the surveillance and presumably the increase in expenditure on personnel and computer resources regardless.

    No doubt the private sector will be involved one way or another who will land lucrative IT contracts for systems that will not provide the intended results. I am reminded of the failed NHS and ID Card and Child Support systems which cost the tax payer a fortune but ultimately failed. Nothing seems to change, move along please nothing to see here.

  • N_


    Thanks for your interest! I’m glad to hear that at least one other person here is interested in what big business is planning for the future.

    Here are some links. Rest assured, they don’t feature former politicians who claim they’re the messiah or gun nuts punctuating their comments with shouts of “We will not relinquish our firearms.” These are statements made by named senior Google and Oracle representatives to the major media.

    What Google’s engineering director Scott Huffman told the Independent in 2013.

    What Oracle’s European healthcare director Larry Nettle told the Sunday Times in 2005. (News International keep this article behind paywalls now, but I can confirm that the copy at that link is accurate.)

    The interesting question is what steps lie between now and the planned mass microchip implantation?

    What propaganda? What cultural developments? And which country or countries will be the first to chip more than, say, a million people? Singapore? China? Britain? What do we reckon?

    Critics need to think, to venture thoughts, to speculate intelligently, to think of realistic scenarios, and not to be afraid to be mistaken. For goodness sake, think about this stuff and discuss it.

    What we don’t need to do is stay exclusively at the level of saying, ever more frantically, “Hey, this is what’s in the plan”. We know it’s in the plan. Let’s move on and consider modalities and scenarios. Don’t get bogged down in ‘issues for idiots’ such as accountability of the intelligence services.

    To make a point from a slightly different angle: it’s about time that people realised just how important and influential the company called “Google” actually is.

    Here’s one of the steps in the course of events in 1930s Germany

    And here’s another one.

  • N_

    Am I right to think that most people who use the internet nowadays don’t even run email clients on their computers, allowing their inboxes and sent mail folders to be stored ‘for’ them by private companies?

    I know a lot of people do exactly that. I just wondered about the proportion.

    You’ve got to be such a moron to do that. I mean say the local post office said they’d store your letters folder for you, just to make your life more convenient. And you could come and look at it whenever you wanted. Would you say yes please, yum yum?

  • philw

    MJ – ‘The problem with this “Payback” theory is that it presupposes that these terror events take place pretty much as described by government spokespersons and the press. This is a problem because a careful look at the available evidence sometimes suggests that this narrative is nowhere near accurate.’

    No, I dont think this is strictly correct. The payback theory only fails if the incidents are completely faked or are false flags.

    I think you have to be pretty dumb to just blindly accept the official narrative. Events are nearly always spun. But that does not mean that all terrorist incidents are fakes or false flags. Lockerbie was real, its just that it suited the western powers at the time to blame it on the Libyans rather than the Iranians.

    You seem dangerously close to suggesting that nobody really died at Charlie Hebdo. That is absurd, insulting to those who died and their loved ones, and helps the ‘conspiracy theory’ meme with which the powerful seek to discredit sceptics.

    It may well be that some western interests knew about the planned Charlie Hebdo attack, or even aided its preparation, but it relied on there being enraged Muslims who wished for their own reasons to carry it out. And this is the payback.

  • Johnstone

    -Ultimately,of course,such greed,lies and stupidity will be called to account by the people and the bastards will get their comeuppance.-

    I wish I shared your optimism but optimism is a state of mind that has to be founded upon a bit of realism. Unfortunately though realism seems to have been abolished.

  • Vronsky

    It’s just one of those many areas where government policy seems deeply irrational, but only if you accept the government’s definition of its objectives. The economy is another.

    Look at what the policies are doing, and that will tell you what they are intended to do. They are wicked, not merely stupid (to answer Orwell’s question).

  • N_

    ‘Loved ones’ – a propaganda term from the funeral ‘industry’.

    There’s a war. Those who running the respective ‘sides’ share a lot. I mean for example one side recently asked the other to pay it a large sum. They didn’t want it in gold or heroin. They wanted it in electronic money. There’s only one world banking system. The key thing is how the market comes together with force. Capitalism is in an important way ‘all mafia’.

  • N_

    Yes, Ba’al Zevul, it is. I typed a tag wrong or something. Those were very significant, fast-acting, well thought-out and successful legislative changes.

  • Johnstone

    -It may well be that some western interests knew about the planned Charlie Hebdo attack, or even aided its preparation, but it relied on there being enraged Muslims who wished for their own reasons to carry it out. And this is the payback.-

    Then lets have a double conspiracy theory instead. Not agents of western governments, not Muslim extremists but both!

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