|The Media's Selective Indignation||More on the Iraqi war build-up from Ian Buckley|
I make no apologies for returning to the theme of the build-up for the war with Iraq. Such a conflict, as well as pushing the price of petrol up to £4 a gallon, could well unleash a tidal wave of up to a million refugees towards Europe. To get the public attuned to such a wasteful and futile conflict, the media often deploy one of their favourite weapons -- selective indignation.
Hacks of the allegedly liberal press like John Sweeney produce endless material on Saddam Hussein's son Uday, who is alleged on very slender evidence to be a corrupt and violent psychopath. But I very much doubt that Mr. Sweeney will ever write about the gangster associations of Ariel Sharon's son Omri, nor about the criminal activities of Sharon's close colleagues in the Likud party, which range from vote-rigging to drug-dealing. Ah, the open, honest reporting of the Guardian and Observer!
Even such newspapers' parrot-like contention that "Saddam gassed Kurds" is not based on as firm foundations as you might think. A US Army War College study by Stephen Pelletiere and Lt. Colonel Douglas Johnson contends that he did nothing of the kind. Both Iran and Iraq used gas during the battle for Halabja, but the gas which caused all the civilian casualties was of a type used by the Iranians. As Pelletiere was an intelligence analyst who specialised in the region, one would have thought that some newspaper editor might have picked up the story. But no one dared to touch this news item.
It would seem that the drive to war in the Middle East rests on very slender and dubious propaganda foundations. Even the Pentagon's Prince of Darkness Richard Perle apparently believes that Iraq isn't a threat at the moment, but might become one if left alone for a few more years! Threat in this context of course means a danger to US-Zionist interests, not to Britain. One of Saddam's supposed weapons of mass destruction is a large-calibre artillery piece with a range of 37 miles. I bet they're panicking about that in Southend and Ipswich!
But we are prepared to spend £6 billion on a war with Iraq that no one wants, while around 50 people a year die in Britain from blood poisoning due to bad teeth - totally preventable and merely the result of the expensive cost of dental treatment. A just and sane allocation of resources, would you say?
Even the run-of-the-mill secret bombing of Iraq which the RAF has out carried for several years has cost us one billion pounds, at a time when we are told that a whole host of vital services must be cut back. Well, maybe the public deserve their deprivation in exchange for their stupidity in allowing other interests to dominate our foreign policy.
When thousands of troops are sent off to the Gulf, the official line is always that they are going there to bring stability and order to the region. But we have precious little of that even in our own capital, just a few miles from the Mother of Parliaments!
In the once-respectable area of Camden, bin bags scattered in the street are found to contain the dismembered remains of prostitutes, which incidentally were discovered by a tramp hunting for food. Dear me, it's 2003, for God's sake! According to popular science books published in the 1960s, the British people should be commuting in flying cars by now, not reverting to the patterns of behaviour of cannibal tribes.
But over the past two decades or more, government policies of de-industrialisation have recreated social conditions unseen for 150 years. The resultant poverty has been one of the factors that's led to a crime epidemic. Additionally, the drugs economy has come to replace the vanished heavy industries of coal, shipbuilding, engineering and steel. The fact that the birth rate is the lowest ever recorded is yet another indication of the corroding despair that afflicts so many of our people. Because they see the present and future as offering so little, they have become fixated on the past, particularly the Second World War.
Same tricks as today
In Jeremy Isaacs' The World at War, repeated over the Christmas season as yet another sign of that obsession, many of the propaganda tricks that have been perfected today were already present in a more rudimentary form.
As might be expected, the programme made solemn mention of Kristallnacht, but neglected to inform viewers that it was the assassination of German diplomat Ernst von Rath by Herschel Grynszpan that triggered off that pogrom in 1938. Also not mentioned was that the pogrom was carried out by unknown elements and was roundly condemned by the Government of the time, which acted energetically to bring it to a stop.
But when Schlomo Argov, the Israeli Ambassador to Britain, was merely wounded by Palestinian gunmen, the victims of revenge attacks far exceeded the 38 or so of Kristallnacht.
For as a direct reprisal for the assassination attempt on Argov, Israel invaded Lebanon, resulting in the deaths of around 200,000 Lebanese, as well as the merciless slaughter of 2,000 refugees in the camps of Sabra and Shatila, an attack that was supervised by George W. Bush's man of peace, Ariel Sharon.
While neither outbreak of violence was right, why should one minor, if unpleasant, reprisal be continually recalled, whilst a much more recent action on a truly horrendous scale is virtually forgotten? Selective indignation doesn't come any more blatant than that!
Still, one senses that the culture of lies that dominates democratic nations is beginning to dissolve into fragments. It may well be that the New World Order has overreached itself, leaving the stage clear for the return of the eternal truths of folk nationalism.