Sunday 30 September 2007

The sad truth is that we all choose to ignore the truth!


Due to my need for a break, this piece was written several weeks ago. Since then, such is the way of the world, there may well have been a major terrorist attack in a country near us.
And there may not have been.
As we become older we see bigger pictures, and truths gradually reveal themselves to us.
A realisation dawns that we are all complicit in lies of such enormous proportion that it becomes wearying to write them down.
As Greek tragic dramatist Aeschylus (525 BC - 456 BC) pointed out, "In war, truth is the first casualty."
Sometimes you just have to stick your head above the parapet and spell out some truth, so that it doesn't die a death.
We all know that the US bombing and subsequent occupation of Afghanistan is not going to defeat Al Qaeda.
We all know that the Taliban will probably prevail, however undesirable that may be. We all know that the so-called 'Coalition' will fail where the Soviet Union failed before. We all know that Afghanistan is not a country that any foreign power can occupy and impose its own peace upon.
We all know that democratic government set up in Afghanistan is no more a viable or realistic representation of the people's wishes than is the similar puppet government in Iraq.
We all know that Saddam Hussein had no links with Al Qaeda. They distrusted each other.
We all know that, as a result of the wars being waged in Iraq and Afghanistan, Al Qaeda is now growing in numbers every day.
We all know that neither war was really a retaliation for 9/11. We all know that Bush was going to do it anyway.
We all know that hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and injuries remain uncounted by Coalition forces, and that the untold suffering imposed upon local civilian populations will serve only to recruit more dissent directed against the occupying forces.
We all know all these things, and we all moan about George Bush, but by our silence we tacitly allow these wars to happen.
And they do, but not because they seek to liberate subjugated populations; not because by superimposing the Western ideal of democracy onto Arab and Asian cultures we will improve the lives of indigenous peoples.
But because western society thrives on two conditions beyond all others.
For our governments to rule us 'successfully', we must have enemies, and we must fear them.
In order to write this piece, I went on the internet to find out how many people had died in recent terrorist attacks in western Europe.
All I found was site after site raving on about the growth of Islamic terrorism; how we should be afraid of Islamic terrorists; how Islamism is destroying our way of life.
It is?
Not mine.
When I was a boy, terrorists were white, real and unavoidable. The IRA bombed the hell out of my home town. Nowadays, too many supposed Islamist attacks are filed under 'Imminent' and 'Alleged'.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world was starting to look peaceful, so new enemies had to be invested in.
At this point conspiracy theorists might have something to say, and I will neither sit here and rubbish their theories, nor claim that their ideas are correct.
All I can do is say what I know. What we all know:
That ever since the end of the Cold War, the US and its allies have been investing heavily in future enemies.
They have bombed and invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. They have accused the Iranians of State Terrorism and threatened their nuclear programme with military action. They have antagonised the Syrians, the Lebanese and the Somalians.
In fact, Somalia shows perfectly how American foreign policy succeeds in recruiting for Al Qaeda
Over the last ten years, Somalia has offered what looked like an ideal breeding ground for Islamic terrorism. A weak government sits alongside a traditional Islamic (or good old-fashioned 'Muslim') nation with a glut of religious organisations from which Jihadis might grow.
But they didn't, because the people wanted peace.
So the Americans, working with the Ethiopian army, chased suspected Jihadis into the southern tip of Somalia, and then sent in AC 130 helicopter gunships, which proceeded to wipe off the face of the planet all the villages and any signs of life in the area.
As a British soldier put it, having perfected the military equivalent of drift-netting, they 'kill everything that moves, and then see who you have got left afterwards.'
Sure enough, after this and many other airborne attacks, a terrified population runs to Al Qaeda to protect them from the deliverers of death from the skies.
We all know that we don't want to see innocent people die. We all know that there are dark evil people out there who happily kill murder and maim innocent people for political religious and economic gain.
We know that sometimes these killers come in the form of terrorists, and sometimes in the form of governments.
What we have to decide, each and every one of us, is where we draw our own personal lines over the old maxim, 'One man's Terrorist is another man's Freedom Fighter.'
Anyone who fights an American is now described as a terrorist. Might not the 'insurgents' of Iraq just be Iraqis fighting an occupying power?
We know that Nelson Mandela is today an heroic liberator, just as we know he used to be perceived as a mad terrorist.
We know that Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams used to be terrorist bombers, just as today we see them as peacemakers. We know that General Musharraf of Pakistan and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia preside over brutal and repressive regimes. But they are not our enemies because they do what America tells them to do.
We know that we are fed a diet of lies, and yet we choose to swallow, because it is easier to eat the convenience foods of hate that to forage, cook and serve up a little truth of our own.
We know, because we are intelligent people, that when we are told to hate certain people, our crime is to obey, because then we don't have to understand them.
Yes, some people just kill for the hell of it.
But usually, people kill because they are already in hell, and are looking for a way out.

Double Vision

Caricatures Ireland

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