Sunday, 16 August 2015



As a pumped-up political prima donna in the early 1980s I’d talk long and loud of the evils of something called the ‘Military Industrial Complex’. Back then in my early 20s the world seemed so simple, so black and white. It was completely clear to me that wars were wholly avoidable but essential, as they provided shop windows for the world’s latest military products. 

How were some of the planet’s wealthiest manufacturing corporations going to sell their latest fighters, computer-controlled missiles and stealth bombers, if nobody had the chance to see them in action?

Remember the First Gulf War? No no no, not the real First Gulf War between Iraq and Iran. That one doesn’t count any more, because in that one the West supported Saddam Hussein, so now we try to forget that. I’m talking about the second First Gulf War, the one called ‘Desert Storm’, when the United Forces of Democracy liberated Kuwait, leaving skeletons and scorched earth along the road to Baghdad.

Yeh, that one. Don’t tell me you weren’t impressed the first time you saw footage of smart bombs. There on your tele was a live picture of a house thousands of feet away from the plane that shot the missile that flew into the window and hit the very person it was meant to hit. Unless it was cloudy, when the gizmo didn’t work, or those times when the guy was out playing dominoes up the road with his mates and they just killed his wife and children instead.

Part amazed, part horrified, you watched as the height of killing technology combined with Sky TV to produce live warfare in your living room. Thankfully you’re not a psychopathic dictator sitting on a pile of oil money, because if you were, your finger would be aiming directly to dial McDonnell Douglas and say yes please, you’d like to order 20 of those planes and all the missiles you might ever need.

State-of-the-art killing machines don’t come cheap. We’re talking billions here, serious chunks of green folding that can make or break a developing economy. It’s no surprise that the UK’s royal family are often the ones to visit prospective arms buyers. When you’re selling apocalyptic weaponry you’d be wise to send your Head of State to press the punters’ flesh.

Sadly, it turns out all those ‘Military Industrial Complex theories I spouted as an idealistic young lefty were right. After the Berlin Wall came down I wondered who might be our next enemy. Spanky new weapons were still being made but there was no war suitable to use them in, and then in 1998, while living in California, I saw Osama bin Laden.

“That’s him!” I shouted out loud and prescient, as soon as I saw a photo of a wizened bearded man flash up on the TV news. “Look at that face. Remember him. He’s our new enemy. We’ve just been given a new person to hate.”

Since then that enemy’s name has changed a few times but the message is clear: with the Cold War long gone, the Military Industrial Complex needs a new enemy, and the War on Terror is perfect.

Call it Osama, call it Al Qaeda, call it ISIS, call it what you will. In Orwell’s 1984 he called it Goldstein. I’m calling it the relentless indefatigable enemy, who you can no more defeat than destroy an idea.

We’re not stupid, even though our leaders and media treat us as such. We know that you don’t cure terrorism by dropping bombs on the Middle East. We know that’s like sowing seeds to destroy a crop.

The War on Terror will run as long as each side wants. If we truly wanted peace we would simply stop attacking them, but there has to be a shop window for those weapons.

To justify such dreadful expense while your Auntie’s been on a waiting list for dialysis for six months, they have to ram the terror down our throats, ears and eyeballs on every news program, newspaper and radio show, every day of our lives.

We must be made to feel afraid, so that we accept the need to be protected by our rulers attacking others.

Quite accidentally President Obama let slip a great truth a couple of weeks ago. Speaking to the BBC, he was arguing yet again and most nobly for gun control legislation in the United States:

“If you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it's less than 100. If you look at the number that have been killed by gun violence, it's in the tens of thousands.”

Terrifying and tragic statistics for domestic America, but as Michael Moore showed so eloquently in his film Bowling for Columbine Canada actually has more guns per capita than the USA, yet a minuscule murder rate. 

Unlike Americans, Canadians live in a collectivist society with a safety net, whereas in the USA, fear is a way of life.

Fear of losing your home, your job, your doctor and dentist, because there’s nowhere to turn when things go wrong. That fear is then stretched towards others who might take what you have: those terrorists; that indefatigable relentless enemy.

Yet we heard it straight from the President’s mouth. Less than 100 Americans killed by terrorists in the last 14 years. Last year alone, 450 Americans died by falling out of bed, but there’s not much money to be made from a War On Falling-Out-Of-Bedism.

The Shop Window Wars cost hundreds of thousands of innocent lives around the world. To justify this our leaders, along with the global corporations who lead them insist we endure a portrayal of the War on Terror, which goes on and on, daily assaulting our senses, constantly darkening our hearts and fencing in our minds.

This bombardment of the public with the War on Terror serves only to create terror and perpetuate war. Is there a finer definition of terrorism?

©Charlie Adley

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