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Saturday, 21 January 2012

Plus ça change...

Colonel Robert Bowman flew 101 combat missions in Vietnam. At the time of writing the following (1998), he was  bishop of the United Catholic Church in Melbourne Beach, FL. This was of course three years before the Sept. 11th, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. 

'If deceptions about terrorism go unchallenged, then the threat will continue until it destroys us.
The truth is that none of our thousands of nuclear weapons can protect us from these threats. No Star Wars system no matter how technically advanced, no matter how many trillions of dollars are poured into it, can protect us from a nuclear weapon delivered in a sailboat or a Cessna or a suitcase or a Ryder rental truck. Not one weapon in our vast arsenal, not a penny of the $270 billion a year we spend on so-called defense can defend against a terrorist bomb. That is a military fact.
As a retired lieutenant colonel and a frequent lecturer on national security issues, I have often quoted Psalm 33: "A king is not saved by his mighty army. A warrior is not saved by his great strength." The obvious reaction is, "Then what can we do?" Is there nothing we can do to provide security for our people?"
There is. But to understand it requires that we know the truth about the threat. President Clinton did not tell the American people the truth about why we are the targets of terrorism when he explained why we bombed Afghanistan and Sudan. He said that we are a target because we stand for democracy, freedom, and human rights in the world. Nonsense!
We are the target of terrorists because, in much of the world, our government stands for dictatorship, bondage, and human exploitation. We are the target of terrorists because we are hated. And we are hated because our government has done hateful things.
In how many countries have agents of our government deposed popularly elected leaders and replaced them with puppet military dictators who were willing to sell out their own people to American multinational corporations?
We did it in Iran when the US Marines and the CIA deposed Mossadegh because he wanted to nationalize the oil industry. We replaced him with the Shah and armed, trained, and paid his hated Savak National Guard, which enslaved and brutalized the people of Iran, all to protect the financial interests of our oil companies. Is it any wonder that there are people in Iran who hate us?
We did it in Chile. We did it in Vietnam. More recently, we tried to do it in Iraq. And, of course, how many times have we done it in Nicaragua and all the other banana republics of Latin America? Time after time we have ousted popular leaders who wanted the riches of the land to be shared by the people who worked it. We replaced them with murderous tyrants who would sell out their own people so the wealth of the land could be taken out by the likes of Domino Sugar, Folgers, and Chiquita Banana.
In country after country, our government has thwarted democracy, stifled freedom, and trampled human rights. That's why it is hated around the world. And that's why we're the target of terrorists.
People in Canada enjoy democracy, freedom, and human rights. So do the people of Norway and Sweden. Have you heard of Canadian embassies being bombed? Or Norwegian, or Swedish?
We are not hated because we practice democracy, value freedom, or uphold human rights. We are hated because our government denies these things to people in Third World countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations. That hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form of terrorism and in the future, nuclear terrorism.
Once the truth about why the threat exists is understood, the solution becomes obvious. We must change our ways. Getting rid of our nuclear weapons unilaterally if necessary will enhance our security. Drastically altering our foreign policy will ensure it.
Instead of sending our sons and daughters around the world to kill Arabs so we can have the oil under their sand, we should send them to rebuild their infrastructure, supply clean water, and feed starving children. Instead of continuing to kill hundreds of Iraqui children every day with our sanctions, we should help Iraquis rebuild their electric power plants, their water treatment facilities, their hospitals, and all the things we have destroyed and prevented them from rebuilding.
Instead of training terrorists and death squads, we should close the School of the Americas [Ft. Benning, GA.]. Instead of supporting insurrection, destabilization, assassination, and terror around the world, we should abolish the CIA and give money to relief agencies.
In short, we should do good instead of evil. Who would try to stop us? Who would hate us? Who would want to bomb us? That is the truth the American people need to hear.'

I came across this article by accident the other day and was immediately struck by how little things have changed. Now, this particular piece might have specifically targeted US foreign policy, but we in the UK aren't exactly innocent dupes. Our governments increasingly go along with the atrocious actions of the USA. In fact, you don't need to cast your mind back too far to when the Blair regime, ignoring the clear wishes of our people, and with the open cooperation of the opposition parties, went to war alongside America, a war based largely on lies propagated by Blair himself (The Niger yellow-cake uranium claims, the '45 minute' invention etc.).

The difference perhaps is that it's a bit harder now for Western governments to keep the rest of us from knowing about it. Of course, we have to want to know what's happening under our noses and in our name. The Occupy movement and others might give some hope that at last citizens are beginning to wake up to what going on around them, but that kind of action needs not only to be maintained, but expanded. I'm not naïve enough to believe that anything I write will have more than passing interest to a handful of people. In fact, most won't even get to read it, but it's important nevertheless that those of us who feel strongly enough at least register that fact and this is my way of doing so.

If you take nothing more from this, please at least consider the question; why do they hate us? If you're content to buy the old line of horse doody that 'they' hate our democracy, our freedom, there's nothing I can do to change your mind. If, on the other hand, you do question conventional wisdom, you need do no more than to ask yourself just how much democracy and freedom we do have. They'd have to be pretty stupid to envy us what we don't have. 

Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic love to tell us that 'freedom isn't free'. These dinosaurs, who almost always manage to keep themselves and their families out of any conflict, waffle on about how disrespectful of the war dead it is to use our freedoms for purposes other than those to which they would limit us. I say it is they who disrespect the war dead by trying to limit the freedoms for which these brave men and women fought. 

So, ask questions, take nothing as read. If you're reading this, you're sitting right on top of a vast repository of knowledge. Take a break from the latest online game and spend a little time, just a little, finding out things which are important. Don't take my word for it...

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Ooh, Matron!

It's happened at last. A jury has seen sense and might force the ridiculous Obscene Publications Act to be reformed. Michael Peacock was acquitted yesterday of six counts of publishing obscene materials. The OPA defines obscene materials as that which 'tends to corrupt or deprave'. The DVDs marketed by Peacock might reasonably be said to contain images which would stretch the bounds of decency, but the likelihood of them corrupting or depraving anyone seems pretty slim to me. Given that the acts performed were some pretty 'out there' ones (gay fisting, urination etc.), it's fairly hard to envisage anyone renting the wrong DVD at Blockbuster and being scarred for life as a result.

Now here's the problem I have with all this nonsense. The acts contained in the offending articles are without exception legal ones between consenting adults. Why then might it be considered illegal for anyone else to voluntarily pay to watch them? I find 'reality' TV repulsive, but would it be right for me to legislate against it? I was horrified to switch on my television one night to find myself staring in awe at that weasel George Galloway on all fours pretending to be a cat, licking his 'paws' and to clean his whiskers, all in an apparent attempt at impressing a Polish countess. I hate to think of this absolutely shocking waste of the gift that is television, but I absolutely stand by the right of anyone stupid enough to watch this stuff the right to do so without interference.

In this case, the prosecution lawyer had the unmitigated gall to describe the likely audience for this kind of material as, "a man, in his 40s, married,  whose wife doesn't know of his secret sexual tastes." So, are we to believe that, if this material were never published, this "man in his 40s" would continue to lead a perfectly 'normal' life?  I imagine the jury was as unimpressed by this delusion as I am.

The OPA was and is an attempt to legislate morality. I am sick and tired of politicians, that happy band of highly moral lawgivers, constantly telling me what's good for me. I'm a grown up and perfectly capable of making my own mind up as to what publications I invest my hard earned in. This was a victory for sexual freedom, but it was more than that. It was a warning to those who think they know better than us that it's time they had a rethink. I seriously doubt, though, that it will occur to them for one minute to pay the slightest attention.

By the way, do you want to know what I think is obscene? Well, I'll tell you. I find footage taken from a smart bomb's onboard camera as it flies down the air vent of an air raid shelter, killing several hundred civilians obscene. Think we'll ever tire of showing that before the watershed?