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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Saturday, July 09, 2005


The ramifications of the London bombings continue to resonate. The Sydney Morning Herald's Peter Hartcher - becoming more and more like an obedient mouthpiece of officially sanctioned propaganda, such as today's piece and yesterday's tongue-kiss column with any number of vetted diplomats - may argue that the attacks will not affect the political standing of Bush, Blair and Howard. Perhaps. But their justification in "staying the course" in this "War on Terror" is beginning to look a little shaky.

Blair called the massacres an act of barbarism, but as Robert Fisk argues, "what were the civilian deaths of the Anglo American invasion of Iraq in 2003, the children torn apart by cluster bombs, the innocent Iraqis gunned down at American military checkpoints. When they die, it is "collateral damage"; when "we" die it is "barbaric terrorism." Once again, the West's racist heart is exposed. "We" are suffering and "they" are liberated.

Democracy Now interviewed a number of British commentators in the wake of the outrage, including British MP George Galloway, George Monbiot and Sunday Times journalist Stephen Grey. The Murdoch reporter issued the most telling statement:

"I have spent a lot of time in the Middle East recently and in Iraq, in fact, last year. I think one important thing to understand about the nature of Islamic terrorism is that it's not just about a threat to the way of life of the West. If you talk to people who actually are close to these movements, I mean, they hate, above all, the policies of the West, and what - you know, I won't comment on those policies, but they extend much - they're not just invasion of Iraq, they also extend to our policies to the Middle East peace process, our involvement in Afghanistan.

"Many of the people who are drawn to these movements are not people who are looking for some sort of Taliban lifestyle, they're people who are actually motivated because they support some kind of insurgency about the way the West is dealing with the Middle East, and they feel the Middle East is utterly humiliated. The Middle East people are utterly humiliated by the West and the Western policies. And this is the response they seek. It's an appalling response, but I think to understand it, you’ve got to understand it goes a lot further than simply a kind of revulsion against the Western way of life."

Such truths were virtually ignored in today's Australian media (though the SMH's Alan Ramsay made a valiant quote-reliant effort.) The SMH didn't even mention Iraq in its editorial. Air-brushed from reality. "We" bare no responsibility for London, they were arguing. The perpetrators were "evil." Their meaningful words were echoed by the ALP leader Kim Beazley: "These terrorists are sub-human filth who must be captured and eliminated and we condemn them and their evil." Would the Opposition Leader like the British authorities to be as ruthless as the bombers? Does he support the death penalty now? Who could forget former ALP leader Simon Crean and his acceptance of the Indonesian death penalty for the Bali bombers?

As ever, we're treated to the Australian's Greg Sheridan, pontificating about a conflict he barely understands - such is a man who prefers travelling overseas and solely interviewing government officials, leaders and conservative think-tanks - and telling readers the following:

"Too many commentators think of the war on terror as a Western invention, an ideological construct to justify the quagmire in Iraq, which they inevitably and foolishly compare with Vietnam. But the war on terror is not Vietnam, it is World War II, a global struggle of many years' duration against an implacable and powerful enemy, seized of a total ideology that brooks neither compromise nor amelioration, only defeat or victory."

"The terrorists are committed, in the long term, to the destruction of the West, but this is for now a lesser priority than kicking the US out of the Arab world and the Muslim world more generally, and destroying the governments which rule those lands now."

"...It would be wrong simply to dismiss the Iraq of today as a disaster in the war on terror. Most of Iraq is relatively calm. The terrorists have no positive program for the country and have been reduced to killing indiscriminately large numbers of Iraqi civilians, including Sunni Arabs, their core constituency."

Sheridan's glaring ignorance - and the echo chamber within the Australian media - allows such propaganda to pass as fact. It is not. Take this report from the London Times of July 7:

"Iraqi security forces, set up by American and British troops, torture detainees by pulling out their fingernails, burning them with hot irons or giving them electric shocks, Iraqi officials say. Cases have also been recorded of bound prisoners being beaten to death by police."

Furthermore, many of the men hired by British and American forces were trained under Saddam Hussein and are well versed in the art of torture and abuse.

Toppling Saddam was always going to be easy part of the "Coalition's" mission. Their utter failure in establishing a free, secure and democratic country is more than enough explanation for the London attacks. "We" are building a "democracy" based on the very same ideology of Saddam. Secret prisons, unbridled torture, death squads, arbitrary arrest.

So enough with the hand wringing about London. Let the facts emerge, the perpretators caught and punished, the intelligence improved. Fisk rightly says that this inhuman attack, "represented a total failure of our security services - the same intelligence 'experts"' who claim there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when there were none, but who utterly failed to uncover a months-long plot to kill Londoners."

Isn't it about time we realise that "our" terrorism is contributing to "theirs"?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, a cup 'o' java and am calmer now, it's just that trawling sites that are pro-war gives me a Tourette Syndrome mindset. Here is a great link for your good readers :
Regards Grinna

Saturday, July 09, 2005 1:11:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Such sense is in very short supply these days. We are not "winning" the war, never have been and never will, the way we're going. Probably because it's not really a war. Our deluded media and govt cheerleaders don't want citizens asking too many questions because they'll be getting some pretty damn uncomfortable answers.

Saturday, July 09, 2005 1:17:00 pm  
Anonymous Dennis Smith said...

In the Middle Ages, uneducated, ignorant people thought the world was flat and that ships which got too near the edge would tip off.

In the year 2005, cunning business and media tycoons and shifty, self-serving politicians try to convince the educated but still gullible masses that anyone who opposes their narrow Judeo-Christian-Capitalist-Imperialist Coalition is evil, subhuman filth.

Despite education, ignorance still reigns!

Saturday, July 09, 2005 9:15:00 pm  
Blogger Iqbal Khaldun said...

Absolutely. In fact, a good education often opens the gates to all manner of chauvinism. Much of our education system is in this mould. Not all, but much. For instance, economics is taught to school and university students from a very narrow, essentially market-capitalist paradigm as though it was a collection of the laws of nature, and no other manner of facilitating an economy is conceivable. Some may say that all manner of other economic systems are conceivable but the present manifestation of capitalism has proved to be the most workable. Assuming that were true (and I don't but will hold my peace for the time being), the unfortunate fact is that even the economic theories students learn are inconsistent with the reality. Mainstream economic theories are rarely, if ever, practiced by the largest economies in the world (the US, EU, Japan, and so on). All the major economies are driven by some form of corporate welfare and protectionism. Yes, there are constantly tensions amongst different camps of capitalists, but the situation remains fundamentally the same.

Faced with that premise, a question springs to mind (yes I'm big on questions today). What steps can be taken to educate and inform members of a society in a manner that favours free thought and creativity?

Saturday, July 09, 2005 11:12:00 pm  
Anonymous Dennis Smith said...

Absolutely! What passes for eduction in 2005 in no more than vocational training. The rich and powerful don't want the masses to think for themselves but instead chase illusions that will make the rich and powerful more so.

If people stopped to think for a moment, they would clearly see that war and violence only breeds more war and violence. They would see that dropping cluster bombs on, and using depleted uranium explosives against, people eventually leads to what happened in London.

Let's bring education back into education!

Sunday, July 10, 2005 10:25:00 am  

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