The Guardian Weekly is 100: 9/11 to the election of Trump – part 3
The Weekly is completed in London on a Tuesday morning, printed in various global print sites soon after and then posted to subscribers from Thursday morning. The 9/11 attacks began at 12.25 GMT, not long after that week’s issue had started printing – so instead of the Twin Towers or Osama bin Laden, its lead story, unfortunately, was “African heads rebuke Mugabe”. The next edition made amends with a fine selection of the Guardian’s coverage of the atrocity, including a report on the impending strikes in Afghanistan by Luke Harding, Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton-Taylor; a Bin Laden profile by Jason Burke and essays by Edward Said, Gary Younge and Simon Schama, whose words had appeared in the previous Friday’s daily Guardian.Guardian Weekly, 20 September 2001 (click to enlarge)
The day America took the hit of its life
By Simon Schama
It came, literally out of a clear blue sky, one of those eye-poppingly beautiful mornings when you forgive autumn for polishing off summer. All around New York the last rituals of America’s innocence were being enacted: huddles of mums and dads at the roadside reassuring their seven-year-olds that there was nothing frightening about the big old yellow school bus lumbering towards them. A grey heron was dabbling in the mill pond in our Hudson valley suburb, oblivious like the rest of us to the fact that American history, in the shape of its most irrepressibly ebullient city, and American power, in the shape of its fortress Pentagon, was about to take the hit of its life.
Two nights before, millions had watched the Spielberg-Tom Hanks second world war TV epic, Band of Brothers, based on Steven Ambrose’s history of a paratroop company in the Normandy invasion. Like Saving Private Ryan, its selling point was supposed to be the unsparing realism of its combat scenes; its willingness to concede pain and terror. Up to a point. The tobacco tint of the images told you this was history, inspirational, consoling. And a history in which everything worked out just fine. Some, at least, of the good guys would make it. And whole nations of bad guys would bite the dust. Click here for the full articleThe invasion of Iraq | 27 March 2003 edition A US marine passes the corpse of an Iraqi soldier killed during a failed ambush on US forces marching to Baghdad Photograph: Paul O'Driscoll
Beginning on 19 March 2003 at 9pm, the US began the “shock and awe” campaign that would devastate Saddam Hussein’s defences. The Guardian’s editorials had warned of the perils of the invasion. On the morning of 19 March the paper declared: “It is objectionable, and legally fraught, that the US and Britain are resorting to force without unambiguous and agreed UN authority. The odious nature of Saddam’s regime and the future threat it might pose to other states does not mitigate these concerns.”
Two pieces trailed on the front of this issue looked at the fears surrounding the invasion’s legacy, including Neal Ascherson’s prescient worries about the rise of theocracy in a broken Iraq. Within months, al-Qaida and the group that would become Isis were on the rise …Only Iraqis can decide
by Neal Ascherson
Incredibly, with American tanks halfway to Baghdad, there is still no agreement on how to run a military occupation regime, let alone on a programme to reconstruct an Iraqi state. (The best suggestion so far is for a UN “blue police force” drawn from Muslim countries to restore order and justice at local level.) Tony Blair is evasive about free elections in Iraq, but at least he and [French president Jacques] Chirac seem to agree that the security council must authorise a post-Saddam civil authority. The real trouble is in Washington.
There, the most extreme hawks not only reject American involvement in “nation-building” but resist any role beyond emergency aid provision for the detested United Nations. They are likely to be overruled. Jay Garner, the retired American general who is supposed to become the temporary civilian head of the occupation authority, knows that the UN will have to take political responsibility of some kind, and last week’s Azores meeting committed the reluctant President Bush to seek security council endorsement of “a post-conflict administration”. But precious time is being wasted.
The project of building a strong, just and reasonable Iraq faces awful obstacles, but starts with two advantages. The first is the speed of the American-British onslaught. This means that there has been no time for regional warlords to get their armed forces into the act as recognised “allies” and claim a share of central power. And the speed of the advance may also – with luck – ward off the real doomsday scenario now looming over the conflict. This is a full-scale Turkish invasion of northern Iraq, which would crush the Kurds, cripple a future Iraqi state and destabilise the whole Middle East for a generation. If the Americans can get first to Mosul and Kirkuk, they may be able to head off this disaster.
The second advantage is the powerful tradition of Iraqi nationalism. All nation states are constructs, and the fact that Iraq was invented by the British in 1920 out of three Ottoman provinces has not prevented the growth of a patriotism directed largely against foreign interference. The British granted Iraq formal independence in 1932, but returned during the second world war and pushed Iraq around until their credibility collapsed after Suez. Two rebellions against western “neocolonialism” have become mythic. The first was the unsuccessful 1941 revolt against the British by Rashid Ali, misleadingly dismissed by western historians as “pro-German”. The second was the putsch by General Qasim in 1958, which murdered the king and tore Iraq out of the pro-western Baghdad pact. The ensuing struggles, which ended in Saddam’s dictatorship and the one-party rule of the Ba’ath, have not diminished Iraqi pride in an independence perceived as wrested from foreigners by force. And this tradition, although hijacked and betrayed by Saddam, is still solid enough to build a new state on.
Then there is the question of Islam. Iraq, under the parliamentary democracies before 1958 as under the Ba’athist dictatorship, has been a secular state. But the Americans, above all, have to accept that this is going to change. Islam is going to be much more powerful in the new Iraq, and not only in the Shia south. If the transitional governors show wisdom, a moderate form of sharia law can co-exist with liberal democracy. If they panic, then a surge towards fundamentalist theocracy could become nstoppable. And the Americans will also have to accept that a free, democratic Iraq will support the Palestinian cause and condemn Israel.
The Arab Spring | 4 February 2011 edition Egyptians celebrate after President Hosni Mubarak resigns Photograph: Khaled Elfiqi/EPA
On 17 December 2010, Tunisian vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest after his cart was confiscated. His death began unrest that would lead to the toppling of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali the next month and a chain of events that would end Hosni Mubarak’s reign in Egypt and Gaddafi’s in Libya. It was also the beginning of protests, violence and eventually war in Syria and Yemen. Before the crackdowns began across the region, the protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square arguably represented a high watermark of Arab spring optimism. The Weekly’s 4 February cover story was a report by Harriet Sherwood and Peter Beaumont on the hope in Tahrir Square. Mubarak resigned as Egyptian president a week later.Guardian Weekly 4 February 2011 (click to enlarge)Egyptians think the unthinkable
by Harriet Sherwood and Peter Beaumont, Cairo
Some brought paint and brushes to express themselves, some prayed, some yelled political slogans, some picnicked on eggs and bread, underneath the clattering helicopters.
But all came to demand the end of the Mubarak regime – and on the seventh straight day of protests, many believed they were on the home stretch.
“We have spoken. When the citizens speak, we cannot go back,” said Ahmed Mustafa. “I came here to fight the fear inside me. Now people have lost their fear.”
“For the first time I am proud to be an Egyptian,” said Susanne Saleh, a 38-year-old mother of three. “People are exploding. Mubarak is facing the pressure of his people and there is no way he can stay.”
“This is the end,” said Ala’adin al Sahabi simply, a view echoed in many of the handwritten signs. “Game over, Mubarak,” said one.
About 10,000 people streamed into Cairo’s Tahrir Square, paying no heed to the curfew which was today brought forward to 3pm. Indeed at two minutes to the hour, a large contingent of chanting protesters appeared, to cheers, from a side street in a bold demonstration of defiance.
In contrast to the violence meted out in Friday’s protest, there was no sign of the police or army inside the square although it was ringed a block back by tanks and armed soldiers. They did not attempt to prevent access to the square but were instead polite and helpful. “The army will take the people’s side,” predicted Adel, one of the protesters. “The lower ranks all hate Mubarak too.”
The mood among protesters was heady; most feel victory is within their grasp. A call for a million Egyptians to join the Cairo protest tomorrow will be easily surpassed, many said. “If people leave this square the regime will survive and Mubarak will have his revenge,” said Ahmed Muhammad. “Tomorrow we will be stronger, there will be millions.”
They were scathing about the new government announced by the president. “This is all nonsense,” said protester Omar el-Demerdash, 24, a research executive. “The demand is clear: We want Mubarak and his men to get out. Anything other than that is just not enough.”
Israa Abdel-Fattah, a founder of the 6 April Group, a movement of young people pushing for democratic reform, added: “We don’t want life to go back to normal until Mubarak leaves.”
Demonstrators climbed lamp-posts to hang Egyptian flags and signs proclaiming “Leave, Mubarak!” One poster featured Mubarak’s face plastered with a Hitler moustache.
Few had a clear idea of what might happen following the departure of Mubarak, other than talking in passionate, if ill-defined, terms about democracy and freedom.
The crowd included both supporters and critics of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organisation which the west fears will step into any vacuum left by the fall of Mubarak. “Ninety-five per cent of the people do not support any party,” said al-Sahabi.
On the battered and increasingly sparse grass in the centre of the square, someone had pitched a tent with a sign saying, in Arabic and English, “Freedom Motel”.
Metres away, Ramy Hussein, 26, had already set his sights beyond the end of the Mubarak regime. “Without what happened in Tunis, this wouldn’t have happened here,” he said. “I think it will happen in Syria as well because Assad is also a dictator.”
The election of Donald Trump | 18 November 2016 edition
In less than 18 months, Donald Trump leapt from 50-1 outsider to president of the United States. To cover one of the most tumultuous elections in US history, the Guardian’s team crisscrossed the country. Sabrina Siddiqui was at the Republican convention and on board Hillary Clinton’s campaign plane. Gary Younge visited swing towns such as Muncie, Indiana. Dan Roberts, then Washington bureau chief, followed the Trump circus all the way, witnessing first the initial GOP backlash and finally Trump’s coronation as POTUS 45. In the first edition of the Weekly after the shock result, Roberts looked back on Trump’s journey to the White House on the back of his wildly popular rallies – and the collective blindness to Clinton’s weaknesses.Supporters of Donald Trump cheer during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown on 8 November 2016 Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Trumpland’s unstoppable rise
by Dan Roberts, Washington
Sixty million Americans voted for Donald Trump, each for their own reasons. Some were simply angry or afraid. Others were bored, indifferent to all the outrage directed at their candidate, eager for change above all else. Many, undoubtedly, welcomed permission to vent dark feelings of resentment towards people not like them. All were alien to a coastal cognoscenti which decided long ago that this election was a foregone conclusion.
Under the commonly agreed rules by which presidential races are decided, it wasn’t even close. Democrats clung to a consolation prize that although they lost almost all the key electoral battleground states on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton received 600,000 more votes overall because her supporters were concentrated in more populous cities. A less reassuring way of thinking about this is that Trump’s supporters were more evenly distributed in the places that most closely reflected the nation’s diverse political reality while Clinton’s were huddled together in like-minded bubbles.
The new American swing states became more familiar to me over the course of two years, at least 100 rallies and tens of thousands of miles on the campaign trail. The primary and general elections took me to 24 states, including a year embedded with Bernie Sanders’ campaign, and then, once he lost, non-stop travel with Clinton and Trump. It meant I lived and worked for much of this time in 10 states that determined the eventual result: Iowa, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Colorado, Michigan, Virginia and Pennsylvania.Guardian Weekly, 18 November 2016 (click to enlarge) Photograph: GNM
Airports in Des Moines, Cleveland, Miami, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Manchester, Denver and Detroit, the roads to Richmond or Pittsburgh: all became almost as familiar as Reagan National Airport and the Beltway were back home. In Washington and New York, I rarely met anyone who thought Clinton could possibly lose. Out on the trail, I rarely met anyone beyond the campaign’s often sparsely attended official events who was enthusiastic about her.
I gave up looking for explanation among DC’s identikit army of pundits and academics. At first it was embarrassing to be constantly told I was naive to question the Clinton coronation; eventually it was just annoying that they seemed incapable of understanding what voters saw in Sanders or Trump when I had just come back from rallies packed to the rafters with adoring fans.
Talking to reporters on other newspapers was sometimes difficult too, if you wanted to conform to the required “savvy” nonchalance of the modern profession. On the Clinton plane, where we helped take turns as pool reporters, it was heresy to contemplate her loss out loud. Even at the back of the Bernie bus, there was open contempt for his quixotic tilt at the Democratic nomination.
Incredulous editors and columnists were more easily persuaded something was up when the primary results for both parties started coming in: 22 wins in total for Bernie Sanders, a 74-year-old Jewish democratic socialist from Vermont, a near clean sweep for a reality TV host who hadn’t met a demographic he couldn’t insult.
In the end, there was no new surge of Hispanic or women voters coming out for Clinton in disgust at Trump, just a shortfall of several million white (and black) working-class voters who had turned out for Obama but chose to stay at home this time – and lots of Republicans who proved far less appalled by their candidate than they were willing to tell the pollsters. Click here for the full article.The cover of the Guardian Weekly’s 100th anniversary supplement
• Part one: the Wall Street Crash to the Suez crisis• Part two: the moon landing to the genocide in Rwanda