Friday, 9 September 2011

9-11 Ten: Manston a Kent failure

This Sunday marks 10 years after 9-11 but have we learnt nothing? Manston airport remains perhaps Europe’s most dangerous airport.

Noise and air monitors removed by Infratil and TDC. Banned EU airplanes regularly flying in and out transgressing all the safety zones.

Gunrunning and blood diamond flights from the Congo, Sudan and Sierra Leone spiced with cocaine from Nigeria.

And even banned Islamic airlines such as Afghanistan’s KAL Air or EqyptAir setting off from Cairo to land at Manston at 3am – when the airport is closed.

And the CAA and Kent Police wring their hands while KCC fund Infratil with tax-funds and the Environment Agency looks the other way on pollution. For months and years.

And all barely 10 minutes fly-time from Canary Wharf and requiring little more than half a dozen Lear jets for a spectacular opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics.

Yet the world has changed since 2001. Over 35,000 terrorists arrested worldwide - largely in Turkey, Iraq and Afghanistan. While the threat of a global Jihad and Caliphate has collapsed.

The Arab Spring has shown that Arabia wants to be more like the West in terms of democracy and free and prosperous societies. And are certainly keen to remove repulsive dictators such as Gadaffi and Mubarak – assisted by Britain for torture, rendition and arms sales.

While even the Iranian Ayatollahs and repressive regimes of Syrian and Yemen can no longer count on State control even through the barrel of a gun.

And the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have highlighted how to win the war but lose the peace and carry on wading knee-deep in blood – surely time for DFID to instigate a Ministry of Reconstruction to swing into action after the first 6 months of any conflict or R2P action?

How can it possibly be justified to fire million pound cruise missiles into breezeblock shacks – a million pounds would buy an awful lot of hospitals and vaccines or work by Kent’s MAG or Smile Train. Or for the EU to export arms sales to conflict regions.

But the ramifications of the 9-11 decade persist even in Kent: safety barriers at Canterbury Cathedral, extra Police patrols at Dover, German Islamic terror suspects arrested and extra X-ray style equipment for nuclear and chemical devices.

While, the Calais Jungle and human trafficking through Dover resounds with the voices of desperate refugees from failed nations such as Somali, Afghanistan, Congo and Liberia. The 21st century challenges are not Islamic terrorism but dictatorships and failed nations.

The Arab Spring should be heeded also in Kent for its role in bringing youth out onto the streets in search of meaning and work - when Kent faces its highest-ever NEET and graduate unemployment. And a shocking 10 out of 12 Kent Districts failing to meet the government’s own economic and social targets. And diversity challenges only just touched on by Kent Police and NHS.

While Kent’s ever-expanding tax-take and growing public sector on a smaller wealth-generating sector is a recipe for disaster. Failing to extend the electoral franchise to 16 year olds in ever-higher life-spans only encourages at worst a tyranny of pensioners. All laced with the failure of Party politics representing only 1% of the populace and only 30% electoral turnouts. A perfect picture for a turnip Taliban if you will.

A reform of twinning associations from suburban cocktail parties in Lille to their original purpose of encouraging peace in war-torn Europe would work equally well with the Congo and Somalia or Cold War fragments of TransDniestra, Belarus or Kurdish diasporas.

Rather the 10 years since 9-11 has shown a sudden upsurge in democracy: ailing dictator such as Castro and Mugabe will soon be gone, the Burmese generals have begun to don suits rather than uniforms and North Korea is increasingly alone as China begins to democratise.

Aside from the sabre-rattling of the Korean peninsula the last Cold War fragments are the divides of Cyprus and Guantanamo lease and stale one-party crony-communism of Laos and Vietnam.

And democracy faces its last challenge only in Saudi Arabia and the tiny Asian state of Brunei where the vote for women is still banned.

Islamic fundamentalism is still important: the Thai-Malaya border, the islands of the Philippines and Indonesia and caves of Pakistan but now increasingly driven by State failure and crushing poverty.

Incredibly with only 3 years to go, none of the UN Millennium Goals are enshrined in Kent’s public sector – or anywhere in the UK.

And cancer and leukaemia from asbestos in Kent, Thor mercury hushed up by the Environment Agency akin to the same eco-scandal in Cato Ridge or dodgy tax haven construction projects such as Pleasurama and the Cayman Islands, seem more akin to the Third World than South East England.

If Islamic extremism has flickered brightly, the next 10 years without ethical policies are likely to see the same problems of dictatorship and poverty continuing the problem. And only ever highlighted when pilots learn to takeoff but not land. Because the bomber always gets through.

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