Sunday, 13 November 2011

Remembrance Sunday. 'Best We Remember......'

Today is Sunday November 13, when the victims of war will be honoured in the annual commemorative service at Westminster Abbey attended by political leaders, chiefs of the armed services and nobility. It is followed with a ceremony of laying wreaths at the base of the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
This week the world learned that of all the NATO/CIA drone attacks carried out in Afghanistan and Pakistan to date, 85% have taken place since Barack Obama was inaugurated as President of the United States. We can safely assume that the majority of these have also occurred since Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Drones are otherwise known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, developed initially as 'spies in the sky', they are now armed with missiles. Drone 'strikes' deliver death to targetted individuals, and have become the preffered option for liquidating people instead of 'wrapping them up' and imprisoning them indefinately, often secretively (extraordinary rendition).
In the region of Mir Ali, Miranshah in Warziristan, drones are now flying on a near constant basis.
On Friday October 28 of this year, representatives from the British charity Reprieve and a Pakistani charity, the Foundation for Fundamental Rights met with elders from Warzistan and families of people killed by drone strikes to discuss what might be done. Present at the meeting held in the Margala Hotel in Islamabad was the 16 year old cousin of a young man killed by a drone attack while out riding his motorcycle eighteen months earlier. Tariq Aziz volunteered to help document the aftermath of future drone attacks, and it was agreed at the meeting that Tariq be taught photography for the purpose. Three days later, Tariq's name and that of his 12 year old cousin were added to the list of children killed by drones, murdered while they were on their way to visit their grandmother.
We have also learned this week that a newly published (and promptly leaked) IAEA report has tapped questionable sources of evidence to bolster the case for attacking Iran; an exercise which our own Ministry of Defence is apparantly eager to sign up for.
Yesterday another blast rocked the Iranian capital Tehran, and once more the Revolutionary Guards were the target. In all probability this death and destruction was the work of 'our' Special Forces; 'our' being a permutation of US, Israeli and UK military intelligence and killers.
The extent of our propensity for barbarism and our utter moral depravity thus becomes ever more apparent, and whether the farcical and fictitious remains sufficient reason for us to set the Middle East on fire once more remains to be seen. All indications are that this is the likelihood.
In re-visiting earlier crime scenes, it is instructive to recall that the Anglo American 2003 military operation 'Shock and Awe' launched upon Iraq was originally billed as a surgical strike carried out to remove Saddam Hussein's regime.
In early 2003 we who were protesting the impending assault were labouring under the delusion that war with Iraq was still preventable, if enough of us made our voices heard. We were engaged in trying to point out to anyone who would listen that our politicians who had the power to prevent this war had not had access to demonstrable realities that were being highlighted by people like Scott Ritter. As an ex UNSCOM inspector, Ritter was supremely qualified to inform us regarding the state of Iraq's weapons programmes, and yet it seemed that he was not being heard, either by the political classes, or more widely by the people of the US and Britain. Even Ritter's attempt to address a US pre invasion committee of inquiry was rebuffed by its own chairman Joe Biden.
Ritter's assertion that Iraq was basically defenceless is now accepted to have been the reality, but it is now virtually impossible for us to recall the prevailing atmosphere of fear that was stoked up in late 2002 and early 2003, both in the US and the UK.
People shredders. Mushroom clouds. Al Qaeda. Forty five minutes to doom..... all conveniently forgotten today.
Gradually though, living through those times we watched the pre-attack narrative evolve from speculation about what horrific fate awaited us at the hands of the evil Saddam, to the actual weapons which 'we' possessed, in order that we might 'defend' ourselves.
In an age of global media, the citizens of Iraq must have undergone a gnawing and steadily mounting anxiety as they were shown glimpses of the awesome weaponry about to be unleashed upon their towns and cities.
With the benefit of hindsight it is now clear that what we were actually witnessing in this build up was 'stage one' of 'Shock and Awe': a psychological 'softening up' operation akin to the torturer showing his victim the devices which are about to be used to break his mind, body and spirit.
The next phase of the attack was an intense bombing campaign followed by a rapid land invasion, carrying strong resonances of the Nazi concept of Blitzkrieg: overwhelming destruction on a massive scale, carried out at lightning speed, familiar civic landmarks consumed by fireballs in the blink of an eye. The psychological impact of an assault of this nature is long understood to be to instil a feeling of helplessness and subjugation in the survivors.
The architect of the Shock and Awe doctrine, Harlan Ullman, described the process as 'rather like Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks, but in minutes..'
The attack primarily focussed on destroying Iraq's communications systems, beginning with the telephone exchanges, TV and radio networks.
After the civilian infrastructure had been dealt with (water, electricity, sewage), the country's cultural memory was next for destruction. Widespread looting of museums, libraries, and universities occurred, with never an attempt to deploy occupation forces to check the pillage and destruction.
There was neither any attempt to count the number of citizens who had perished in Shock and Awe. In the West, TV viewers were led to believe that the attacks were carried out with precision guided 'smart' bombing aimed only at the 'bad guys'. Later it became evident that tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians had been slaughtered.
Today, while we await our masters decision of whether to openly bomb Iran, the man who slammed the door in Scott Ritter's face back in 2003, Vice President Joe Biden has been busy denigrating another truth teller. History will have to decide though whether it is Julian Assange, who in Joe Biden's words is a 'high tech terrorist', or whether this accolade is more appropriately bestowed upon Mr Biden himself.