Friday, April 09, 2010
That the contents of a previously suppressed Pentagon video has come as a nasty shock to so many, highlights the noxious disinformation fog in which Western citizens are cocooned. The mainstream media may be omnipresent, yet it is by no means neutral. From day one of the Terror Wars, the slaughter of civilians depicted in the video released by WikiLeaks, Collateral Damage, has been a key feature of the conflict. Both sides play dirty, but one side owns the skies.
In Afghanistan and Iraq the invaders have committed numerous atrocities: shooting unarmed locals at check points, on the street, even while they're tilling fields. We've bombed wedding parties, raided homes at midnight and murdered occupants of all ages, lying about it. We've stormed hospitals in Fallujah, unleashed chemical weapons (phosphorous), left a trail of depleted uranium … We've flattened the offices of Al Jazeera (twice), shoved “suspects” in dungeons, hid inmates from the International Red Cross and tortured prisoners to death …. and it’s still happening, day after day, with Drones wiping out remote villages, shredding their families, assassinating anyone we choose.
On April 4, the New York Times revealed how a “badly bungled American Special Operations assault” tried to over-up in the deaths of three Afghan women during a night raid. Soldiers then corrupted the evidence, gouged incriminating bullets from corpses and blamed their murders on the Taliban. Australia's covert forces have sunk in a similar mire, more than once killing the wrong people at the wrong address. After a year's so-called investigation, it is reported that not a single witness to the slayings has been interviewed. Surely it's time for the UN to outlaw the use of these undercover ops, with a license to murder and no-one to hold them to account.
When you think about it, when you tally up the criminal carnage of the last decade, and when you listen to the brutal exchanges on the Apache gunship - “please, another kill … light 'em all up” - you start to wonder what drives the spiralling of today's military atrocities. Yes, an army marches on its stomach, and that may still be true, but these days you get the sense that the burgers are washed down with lavish tumblers of blood. Often the blood of innocents. It becomes an addiction, perhaps, an insatiable desire that's part Gothic and part Surrealist, like a videogame played on a helicopter hovering over Transylvania.
When a short segment of Collateral Damage was played on Sydney's ABC TV news, viewers were told the rest of the clip was “too disturbing to watch”. Too disturbing to whom? The spin doctors? Our grandmothers? After almost a decade of war, a bit of disturbance is long overdue. It's time see up close what a modern military invasion is capable of destroying.
A few days ago, the former head of the UN's chief nuclear agency, Mohammed ElBaradei, told the British Guardian, that those who launched the war in Iraq were responsible for killing a million innocent people and could be tried under international law. Mmmm. The culprits are legion. George Bush, Tony Blair, John Howard and a slew of soldiers, advisors, lawyers and security aides.
Despite the claims of valiant WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange, several dark videos have surfaced over the years on the internet, while the knee-jerk pro war media kept is eyes firmly averted. A positive outcome of this aversion has been the rapid rise of the online anti war community, including WikiLeaks. Even as their horror story was breaking worldwide, CNN's front page was still desperately promoting its vital scoops on Tiger Woods and Apple's I-Pad, as amusingly captured here.
“What's the big deal?” This was a typical comment after the video release. “It's all a haunt from the past. Move on and kill them all. Even if they had pointed sticks in a war zone or an apple cart full of grenades. War is war. It is not going for a coffee at Starbucks or walking on egg shells anymore. Laughing at the dead is nothing new”. Thankfully, a significant number of war veterans return home from their tours of duty with seasoned eyes, and speak out against the injustices and brutality they witnessed. Instead of trying to shield viewers from the impact of Collateral Murder, a hefty chunk of it should have dominated the news. It is not the media's job to minimize the brutalities of the war and the crimes of commanders. Oh, sorry, it is their job.
In this first decade of the 21st Century, it is time to ask what kind of war machine the West has created? From the little we are allowed to know, it appears to be lawless, tech obsessed sadistic and dumb. It is an army of fat Draculas sucking the blood from the throats of the dispossessed, the impoverished, the ill educated, fuelled by an annual US investment of $607 billion on weapons of death.
“American and NATO troops firing from passing convoys and military checkpoints have killed 30 Afghans and wounded 80 others since last summer”, notes the New York Times, “but in no instance did the victims prove to be a danger to troops”. General McChrystal agrees: “We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat”. At last the mask slips. We get a dash of straight talking about the cruelty and futility of these odious invasions. As I write, bombs continue to explode in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan - a legacy of the mess created by the West. How can we claim to be Godly, as we blast families in mud huts with drones? How can we send war criminals from small nations to the International Court, while our own offenders still live high on the hog, immune from rebuke. Long live WikiLeaks. May it continue to tear down the veils of illusion.
Richard Neville lives in Australia, the land that formed him. In the Sixties he raised hell in London and published Oz. He can be reached through his websites, http://www.homepagedaily.com/ and http://www.richardneville.com.au/
Published in CounterPunch April 8 2010