We Are The Barbarians, We Are The Guilty

The last two nights, the British mass media has been gleefully featuring pictures of Tony Blair sweating as he repeatedly asserts that “Weapons of Mass Destruction” will be found in the USK-blitzkrieged ruins of Iraq.

What a triumph of civilisation! What a brave, defiant mass media we’re blessed with that so questions our power elite. Surely we’re lucky?

But hold on – isn’t this the very same mass media that gave unquestioning support to the build-up to the illegal invasion of Iraq and state-sponsored murder of thousands of Iraqis? The same media who regularly had panels to comment on the invasion which had not even one anti-war member? The same media who unquestioningly decided to support “our boys” in whatever action they were taking right or wrong. Der Sturmer would be proud.

Of course, now the damage is done, now those thousands of people are dead and an entire country lies shattered by the brutish assault of USK forces, now we can be allowed to hear dissent. After all, the US has got its hands on the Iraqi oil and is carving up the pie nicely, as Robert Fisk points out:

“Iraq’s airports are for auction, management of the port of Umm Qasr has been grabbed for $ 8.4m (pounds 5m) by a US company, one of whose lobbyists just happens to have been President George Bush’s deputy assistant when he was governor of Texas. Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney’s old company, has major contracts to extinguish oil fires in Iraq, build US bases in Kuwait and transport British tanks. … Iraqi reconstruction is likely to cost $ 100bn which – and this is the beauty of it – will be paid for by the Iraqis from their own future oil revenues, which in turn will benefit the US oil companies.”

The ruling class doesn’t mind sacrificing the odd pawn to win the game. Perhaps Tony Blair’s career will be destroyed by the WMD scandal but, ultimately, does the US government care? No.

And it provides us, the Great British Public ?, with another media spectacle which serves two purposes.

Firstly, it personalises a general, class-based action (the US right-wing’s adoption of “pre-emptive attack” in their draconian National Security Strategy) and transforms it into the bad deeds of one man, Tony Blair. Classic scapegoating: let’s not look behind the curtain, let’s not examine and question how the illegal invasion of a small, impoverished country happened, let’s just point the finger. Bad Tony! Misleading Parliament! Naughty!

Secondly, it reinforces the myth of a fair, free media. People will point and say, “See – they’re daring to attack Blair and US policy!” But even a cursory appraisal of the media coverage of the invasion will reveal how totally (self)censored and pro-government our media is. I’ve seen breathless coverage of US missile attacks where the reporter sounded like a narrator in an arms sales video. Facts, figures, specs – these were all trotted out. But the only proper question, why are we attacking this country and killing these people?, was never asked.

No doubt some kind of weapon could be whipped-up by the occupying USK forces. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if a cave was discovered, stacked with some nasties. Why should I be when we sold them to Hussein in the first place?

But they’ve been looking a long time now. Blair’s claim, that the UK was “45 minutes from being attacked” is obviously false. If a team of inspectors was to land in the US or UK and examine military areas, how quickly would they find missiles and cluster bombs? Even if there was prior warning, munitions take time and care to destroy. And the traces have to be hidden too.

So, let’s look at the full story. We install and then support a vicious dictator called Saddam Hussein in Iraq. We turn a blind eye when he kills thousands of his own people as long as he keeps following our general plan. Then, he gets uppity. So we invade, killing many innocents but not Hussein. Then we impose sanctions, laying long-distance siege to his country. In that process, we kill a million Iraqis (UNICEF estimates at least 600,000 children) and thus squash any ability for popular revolt.

Then we send in the greatest, most brutal military machine on this planet to invade Iraq. Our media masturbates wildly at the sheer glory and “justness” of this move, dreaming up ever more stirring, jingoistic headlines. OUR BRAVE BOYS! Against the terrifying… who? The starved, oppressed, ill-equipped subjects of our dictator gone bad. Well done. That was certainly a glorious struggle. A bit like an elephant treading on a troublesome ant.

In the process of invasion, we break international law again by not preserving the rule of law. Thus, priceless cultural artifacts are looted and destroyed because the only buildings and ministries we patrol and protect are those concerning oil.

Does any of this sound familiar? Hordes laying siege? Devastating attacks on a civilian population justified by no morality whatsoever apart from ‘might makes right?’ The victors destroying the culture of the occupied because all they care about is the spoils? We claim to be civilised in the West. We use derogatory terms like ‘developing countries’ to describe anywhere that doesn’t eat as many burgers and make as much pollution as we do.

But we are the barbarians. We are the savages, beating our chests and proclaiming our greatness as we rip the smaller, defenceless opponent into shreds. We’re guilty of invading a country with no provocation whatsoever and murdering its occupants. In that, we’re no different to the Nazis on their bloody crusade. How did all those Germans let the Nazis that ruled them carry out such terrible crimes? Why didn’t they stop them? Take a look around you…

And then, our media scapegoats a few individuals whilst brushing the unpleasant pictures of severed babies heads and cluster bomb victims under the carpet. Because we’re good, we’re moral, we’re just and peace-loving.

We’re civilised.