July 7th as Machiavellian State Terror?
An article for J7 by Professor David MacGregor 1
Early reports likened the 2005 July 7th London bombings to Nazi air attacks on Britain more than sixty years earlier. A Sun leader on July 8 declared: “Our spirit will never be broken: Adolf Hitler's Blitz and his doodlebug rockets never once broke London's spirit."2 The comparison stuck, though the July explosions appear dwarfish beside savage Luftwaffe devastation of London, Coventry and other civilian targets. Indeed ever since September 11 media commentators have portrayed Islamic fanaticism as an eruption of evil unprecedented since Hitler’s bloody European rampage.
In this essay I want to draw a different parallel, though one that returns to World War II aerial warfare and its relation to so-called Islamofascism. July 7th resembles in many respects two other instances of terror on a world-historical scale: the Dallas shooting of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and bin Laden’s nightmarish September flights into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Like these earlier incidents, the London bombings may be an instance of what I have called Machiavellian state terror, spectacular violence perpetrated against the state by elements of the state itself.3 This form of terror advances domestic and/or foreign policy goals of the established order, and may involve assaults (real or fabricated) on the state’s own military, on innocent civilians, or on political leaders. Government sources and compliant media rush to blame a convenient foe, whether another nation, a political or ethnic group, or a “lone nut.”
Success of such episodes of terror, especially in advanced capitalist democracies, relies on inability or unwillingness of effective oppositional power centres to challenge the official account. Both the 1964 Warren Report on the Kennedy assassination and the 9-11 Commission Report issued 40 years later, offer profoundly flawed narratives. Nevertheless, those responsible for protecting the public interest, such as the media, or mainstream academic researchers, have embraced these cover-ups as unvarnished truth. With regard to the 9-11 Report, for example, Guardian columnist George Monbiot contends that dissenters “permanently wreck their credibility” and present a “crazy distraction” that endangers “popular resistance movements.”4 Yet Monbiot admits the air assaults could have been averted by the Bush administration. “I believe that they were criminally negligent in failing to respond to intelligence about a potential attack by al-Qaida, and that they have sought to disguise their incompetence by classifying crucial documents.”5 Incidentally, Monbiot’s remarks are clearly not supported by the 9-11 Commission, which found no malfeasance on the part of the Bush White House.
It may be easier to recognize Machiavellian state terror when practiced by nations other than our own. For example, The New York Times—a long-time opponent of “conspiracy theory”—offered a sober appraisal of the Putin government’s possible involvement in terrorist bombing of apartment buildings used to justify Russia’s renewed hostilities against Chechnya. “From the start, the bombings were viewed with suspicion, especially after the discovery of federal agents planting what turned out to be explosives in the basement of another building. (A training exercise, officials finally said.) In Russian politics, the violence clearly played to the advantage of hard-liners like Mr. Putin.”6 The respected U.S. intelligence site, Stratfor.com, surmised that recent highly-publicized attacks carried out by ethnic Uighur separatists on the Chinese border may have been manufactured by Beijing in order to curry favour with the United States as an effective opponent of Islamic expansionism, and torpedo the nomination of an Uighur activist for the Nobel Peace Prize. Besides, noted Stratfor, “by raising the Uighur "terrorist" issue, Beijing can create a sense of trouble and a rallying point for national unity without needing to threaten its foreign relations.”7
Events long in the past also may be less difficult to recognize as instances of Machiavellian state terror. Anti-Japanese hysteria generated by government and the press in the United States and Canada during World War II justified internment of tens of thousands of American and Canadian citizens and offered a rallying point for the war effort. Evidence of potential Japanese terror attacks on North American soil was totally imaginary, as now acknowledged. Far from offering opposition to a cruel and racist policy, writers and intellectuals of every political stripe supported “sending Japanese Americans [and Japanese Canadians] to concentration camps.” As historian Gary Okihiro observes, little was learned from the inhuman treatment of ethnic Japanese. Thirteen years after the belated Civil Liberties Act of 1988, accepting U.S. responsibility for wartime ethnic cleansing, “Congress passed the U.S.A. Patriot Act of 2001, under which racial and religious profiling enables a secret and arbitrary government sponsored program of registration, expulsion, and indefinite detention.”8
The JFK Assassination, 9-11, and July 7th
In the first few hours following the Kennedy murder, suspicion fell on all three possible culprits usually impugned during episodes of Machiavellian state terror: a foreign state, a marginalized group (in this case, domestic Communists), and then a lone nut.9 The spotlight shone briefly on Cuba and the Soviet Union (as sponsors of “Communist assassin” Oswald), and then fatally illuminated only Lee Harvey Oswald himself, an individual with ties to both the former USSR and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (a CIA-front whose ostensible goal was to encourage more congenial relations between the United States and Cuba). Oswald’s supposed Communist connections were downplayed by the Warren Report, which famously denied any conspiracy.
Few, if any, mainstream historians query the Oswald story, but a growing number recognize that Kennedy’s assassination removed a serious obstacle to escalation in Vietnam, a policy vigorously pursued by his successor Lyndon Baines Johnson, after the 1964 U.S. election.10 As documented on this site,11 the July 7th bombings helped weaken civil liberties in the U.K, providing motivation for Tony Blair’s ever more draconian anti-terror legislation. The terror events also severely discombobulated the global justice movement that had successfully raised issues of poverty, war and atmospheric change at the Gleneagles G-8 Summit, opened the day before the blasts.
Peter Dale Scott notes the striking similarities between the JFK murder and 9-11, including “the ability of the government to establish a guilty party or parties immediately, and the press and media consumption of that product to the exclusion of all other possibilities.”12 I would add that these resemblances extend to the London bombings. In Dallas on 22 November, the FBI targeted Oswald within minutes of the assassination, even though Oswald did not physically match his own description in the FBI file. Police surrounded the Texas Theatre, where Oswald had secluded himself, only seconds after he entered the movie house. In another feat of astounding investigatory prowess, the FBI had identified the 9-11 hijackers before Tower Two collapsed at 9:59 am. The FBI list included Flight 93 hijackers, even though NORAD “wasn’t aware that Flight 93 had been hijacked until 10:08, which is nine minutes later.”13
Shortly after the 7/7 bombings, Tony Blair announced from the Gleneagles G-8 Summit that terrorists had attacked the capital.14 The official story jelled rapidly although police did not mention four perpetrators until five days after the blasts.
The investigation led us to have concerns about the movements and activities of four men, three of whom came from the West Yorkshire area. We are trying to establish their movements in the run up to last week's attacks, and specifically to establish if they all died in the explosions.15
Scott’s remarks about the investigative parallels that join and extend from JFK and 9-11, may also be true of July 7th.
So it’s worth thinking about that for a moment, the two events together. And then in the other cases that we know about, how the identity of the person who is ultimately going to be identified as the culprit is established at the very beginning - Sirhan Sirhan [alleged killer of Robert F. Kennedy] the bag with the gun that identifies James Earl Ray [supposed assassin of Martin Luther King] – it isn’t investigative work AFTER the assassination, that finds these people, it is just following up what is already there, from the very beginning.18
There are similarities between 9-11 and 7-7 that do not apply to the killing of President Kennedy. There was no training exercise on the morning of 22 November in Dallas that mimicked the Dealey Plaza shooting, for example, though a number of such exercises were in play on September 11, and at least one existed in London on July 7th.
Unlike the JFK assassination and 9-11, no commission has yet been formed to investigate 7-7. As predicted by makers of the extraordinary documentary Ludicrous Diversion, such an official body would, in all likelihood, merely validate the official story. As with the Hutton Inquiry on the “suicide” of Dr. David Kelly19, its task would be to conceal the truth rather than reveal the facts. Philip Zelikow, now an advisor to Condoleezza Rice and former executive head of the 9-11 Commission, mentioned that the 9-11 Report did not make the same mistake as the Warren Report. While the latter contained 26 volumes of documentary evidence that proved very useful to assassination researchers, the 9-11 Commission Report includes no primary evidence at all. Interestingly, Zelikow is also in charge of the White House tapes recorded during JFK’s thousand days in power.20
The Anglo-American Heritage of Evil
No crime attributed to Islamic fundamentalism bears remote comparison with Nazi destruction of the European Jews, or Hitler’s grotesque reign of terror against German political resistors, Poles, Slavs, Gypsies, homosexuals, the disabled, and mentally challenged. Equally, the melancholy Allied wartime experience—my subject in the following paragraphs—looms over anything supposedly perpetrated by Islamofascism. Anglo-American revocation of human values discloses a vein of calculated cruelty recalling the worst excesses of the Roman Empire—though on a colossal scale undreamt of by the ancients.21
Scientific eugenics likely played a role in plans by President Roosevelt and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau to castrate every German male following Hitler’s defeat.22 They decided against genital mutilation, but hardly for reasons of compassion. A relentless five-year campaign of aerial massacre had borne Germany to the abyss; a disembowled Reich would never again challenge the new Imperium.
Philosopher A.C. Grayling compares the murderous Allied feint that leveled Hamburg in 1943 with September 1123. Yet most of New York’s social life went on as usual when the Twin Towers collapsed into dust.24 The story was different for Hamburg.
RAF bombers deliberately bypassed Hamburg one sweltering July night in 1943, but veered suddenly toward the city as civil defense units relaxed. Bomber Command had known for some time that cities are easier to burn down than blow up. Before the raid, fire engineers ordered fire insurance maps precisely detailing the layout of Hamburg residences; they noted flammability of various items in typical Hamburg homes, no doubt including baby clothes and wooden cribs. “Operation Gomorrah,” writes Jorg Friedrich in the German best-seller, The Fire,
[m]elted between forty thousand and fifty thousand people. Seventy percent of them were in the Hamburg-Mitte district, where the weapon achieved a kill rate of 5.9 percent. In the strictly residential streets of Hammerbrook, 36 percent of the residents were killed. Seven thousand children and adolescents lost their lives, and ten thousand were orphaned . . . The munitions had been unloaded in 43 minutes, and they were followed by atmospheric reactions that raged for three hours with the force of a Pacific hurricane. And then there was nothing left to burn. Unable to protect itself, the city consumed itself. Nine hundred thousand people fled the smoldering skeletons of buildings, in which the plague of rats was the only thing left alive.25
Hamburg suffered a total of five major raids in late July and early August 1943. The second (described above) was the most devastating. Munitions dropped in the raids were designed to kill and seriously injure civilians; incendiary bombs included phosphorus that stuck to the skin, could not be doused with water, and burned to the bone. Time-delayed munitions disrupted rescue and fire-fighting efforts, ensuring maximum casualties.
The victims of the first attack [on Hamburg] were either blown up, suffocated in air raid shelters from which the air had been sucked away, or cremated instantly in the raging fires outside. Many bodies were found so shriveled by the heat that adult corpses had shrunk to the size of infants.26
The Hamburg raids “marked a beginning; the real beginning of the kind of bombing campaign that the British government and its Air Force commanders in the bomber force had been planning since early in the war.” Hamburg itself experienced 213 air raids; nothing was left but rubble by V-E day.
The 40,000 deaths from the July 1943 Hamburg raids, in addition to those of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are codes for the extremes of what can be inflicted by force of arms. Not because of the rivers of shed blood, but due to the quick, deadly breath with which life was taken from the world.27
Hamburg was one of six German cities that suffered “five digit casualty figures within a single raid . . . Kassel, Darmstadt, Pforzheim, Dresden, and Sweinmunde.”28 These deaths accounted for less than a third of total civilian bombing casualties. The RAF targeted more than a thousand German towns and cities; hundreds of thousands of civilians were massacred. Victory over Nazi Germany was clearly inevitable by early 1943, but the remorseless Anglo-American bombing campaign gathered momentum until the closing weeks of the war. By May 1945 “40 percent of the seventy largest cities had been demolished, mainly by bombing.” A.C. Grayling remarks that Anglo-American destruction of Germany and Japan amounts to culturecide, the “concerted smashing” of a people, its cultural heritage and collective memory.
Destroying cities meant—in addition to killing and traumatizing many thousands of people—destroying monuments, libraries, schools and universities, art galleries, architectural heritage, the cultural precipate and the organs of corporate life that make an identifiable society.29
Lessons for the July 7th Truth Campaign
Facile comparisons of July 7th with Hitler’s air raids on England point to a more disturbing reality: the Anglo-American capacity for boundless evil in pursuit of empire. Demonization of the British Muslim community encouraged by the official story of July 7th has its analogue in wartime hatred of Germans and Japanese that countenanced erasure of whole peoples. The British public dimly understood the horrific import of so-called area bombing, and many applauded destruction of an entire culture. Yet this was not universally true. Vera Brittain’s courageous pacifism reminds us—as does the July 7th Truth Campaign itself—that evil, provided the facts are known, can be confronted and resisted. Commenting in 1944 on British press reports that the people of Coventry were gratified by Germany’s pulverization, she wrote:
Do the inhabitants of Coventry really enjoy the thought that the citizens of Hamburg—the most anti-Nazi city in the Reich, with its once large Jewish population—have suffered 60 times as much as they did? Does it really fill them with glee to reflect that sixty times their number of children, expectant mothers, women in childbirth, invalids, and aged people have perished in terror and anguish? . . . . What I do believe . . . is that they either do not know the facts, or, where they suspect the truth, they have consciously put shutters over the windows of their imagination. Many deliberately turn their backs upon knowledge, ashamed and fearful of accepting the realities which a determined facing of the facts would disclose.30
- David MacGregor [email@example.com] (PhD London School of Economics, 1978) is the author of a number of books and articles on Hegel and Marx. He has also written two articles concerning the September 11 terrorist attacks. He lives in Toronto. [return]
- See the interesting analysis in Damien McGuinness, “British Papers: ‘Our Spirit Will Never Be Broken,’” July 08, 2005, Der Spiegel Onlinehttp://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,364306,00.html [return]
- David MacGregor, “September 11 as ‘Machiavellian State Terror,’” pp. 189-222 in Paul Zaremba, (ed.), The Hidden History of 9-11-2001, Research in Political Economy, volume 23, Amsterdam: Elsevier Limited, 2006. See also Webster Griffin Tarpley, 9/11 Synthetic Terror, Made in the USA, Joshua Tree, California: Progressive Press, 3rd Edition, 2006. [return]
- “A 9/11 conspiracy virus is sweeping the world, but it has no basis in fact,” The Guardian, Tuesday February 6, 2007 [return]
- “9/11 fantasists pose a mortal danger to popular oppositional campaigns,”
The Guardian, Tuesday February 20, 2007 [return]
- Steven Lee Myers, “The World: There’s a Reason Russians Are Paranoid,” New York Times, December 3, 2006. [return]
- “China: Exploiting the Uighur 'Terrorist Camp' Raid,” Stratfor.com, January 09, 2007. [return]
- Linda Gordon and Gary Y. Okihiro, (eds.) Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment, New York, W.W. Norton and Company, 2006, pp. 6, 79-80. [return]
- Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.[return]
- See, for example, James K. Galbraith, “Exit Strategy” Boston Review, October/November 2003. (bostonreview.net/BR28.5/galbraith.html) [return]
- The July 7th Truth Campaign, “Capitalising on Terror: Who is really destroying our freedoms,” February 25, 2007. [return]
- Peter Dale Scott, JFK and 9/11 Insights from Studying Both,” Coalition on Political Assassinations, Dallas, November 18, 2006, Video (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7404458118476453937&hl=en). The paper presented at the conference was made available by Scott to this author. [return]
- Peter Dale Scott, “JFK and 9/11.” [return]
- James Ball, “After the bombs: The key political events that followed the London bombings,” The Guardian, July 4, 2006. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/attackonlondon/story/0,,1812299,00.html) [return]
- Metropolitan Police Service, “Press Conference, 5 pm July 12, 2005”. [return]
- Metropolitan Police Service, “Latest News: Police investigation continues into the 7/7 bombings,” 18 July 2005. [return]
- The July Seventh Truth Campaign, “July 7th Timeline of Events,". [return]
- “JFK and 9/11.” [return]
- Michael Chossudovsky “Who Ordered the Assassination of Dr. David Kelly?” Global Research, February 26, 2007 (Global Research). [return]
- See Joan Mellen, “The Kennedy Assassination and the Current Political Moment,” Talk at the 92nd Street Y, January 28, 2007 (http://www.joanmellen.net/truth.html). [return]
- [British] Bomber Command and two US air forces had ravaged Germany as no civilization had ever before ….” Jorg Friedrich, The Fire: The Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945, New York: Columbia University Press, 2006, p. 101. [return]
- Herman Knell, To Destroy A City: Strategic Bombing and its Human Consequences in World War II, Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2003, p. 7. [return]
- Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan, New York: Walker and Company, 2006, p. 278. [return]
- Adam Gopnik, Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York, New York: Knopf, 2006. [return]
- The Fire: The Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945, New York: Columbia University Press, 2006, pp. 96-7. [return]
- Among the Dead Cities, pp. 20, 18. [return]
- Jorg Friedrich, The Fire, p. 166. [return]
- The Fire, p. 100. [return]
- Grayling, Among the Dead Cities, pp. 168, 22. [return]
- One Voice: Pacifist Writings from the Second World War, London: Continuum, 2005, p. 117. [return]