Fiction Versus Reality

There’s a new season of the spy show ’24’ currently running on telly. In it, the intrepid US security forces battle against yet another Hispanic super-baddie, bent on bringing death to millions.

This is the dominant theme of much current leisure media: the US government battling an unending war against drugs and for democracy. Whether it’s Jake 2.0 or Splinter Cell, the message is much the same.

And yet…

In the real world, what do we see? We see the US and UK governments using their security forces to do what? Why, to tap the UN’s Kofi Annan, of course.

In the real world, we’ve just taken part in the murder of 10,000+ Iraqis. Our pro-democratic, peace-loving governments simply had to kill them in order to save them from being oppressed. Makes perfect sense to me. Of course, they were being oppressed by the dictator our government set-up and supported with our tax money for years but let’s just try and forget about that, eh?

In the real world:
On July 2, 1986, 18 year old Carmen Gloria Quintana was walking through a Santiago slum when she and photographer Rodrigo Rojas were confronted by government security forces. According to eyewitnesses, the two were set ablaze by soldiers and beaten while they burned. Their bodies were then wrapped in blankets and dumped in a ditch miles away. Witnesses who spoke out about what they saw were beaten and arrested. Such events are not unusual since “Captain General” Augusto Pinochet seized power from democratically elected President Salvador Allende in 1973, and buried Chile’s 150 year old democracy. “Democracy is the breeding ground of communism,” says Pinochet. The bloody coup, in which Allende was assassinated, was carefully managed by the CIA and ITT, according to the Church Committee report. Tens of thousands of Chileans have been tortured, killed, and exiled since then, according to Amnesty Intemational. (Source: Friendly Dictators)

Speaking of Chile, surely games like Splinter Cell should be revised. Here?s a few scenarios I think would do well:

1. Operation Chile
There’s big trouble in little Chile: the locals have only gone and elected a democratic socialist government! You can’t have that! If your backyard has a socialist beacon, there’s no telling how uppity this will make your own working class. So, you have to infiltrate the country and stage a coup against the elected government, installing your puppet Pinochet. You take control of a crack team of CIA operatives. You get 100 extra bonus points for every 10,000 people machine-gunned to death in the football stadiums. (Note – if it does well, you could sell add-on packs for Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras…)

2. Iraq Attack
There’s big trouble in little Iraq! Your hand-installed puppet, Hussein, has gone crazy! You didn’t mind him gassing those Kurds (in fact, you did nothing) but now he’s openly defying you. Plus, he’s not playing ball over the oil fields, which is why you installed him in the first place. Your task is to assemble a team of top spin-doctors and manufacture enough evidence to make the tin-pot dictator of an impoverished country look like a global threat. Anything so you can go in and carpet bomb the population, teach ’em who the boss really is. Bonus points for every truck of severed Iraqi children’s body parts you keep off the TV.

Don’t the above scenarios sound more realistic? They certainly fit in with the PNAC and the current US government’s declared goal of fighting more wars to assure America’s dominance.

You see, that’s what feels strange to me. Every day on the news, I’m confronted with a new low in larceny from Tony Blair or George Bush, with another hyper-Orwellian nugget of uncontested bullshit. Take this pearler from Goering-wannabe Alastair Campbell, speaking about Clare Short’s attack on the Labour warhawks:

“I think it’s very sad that people who have been in position of influence and authority now behave in a way that just reveals a bitterness that is very very deep.

“I’m not going to waste too much breath on her. I just think people feel sad when people they may well have respected behave in away that is clearly very very bitter.” (Source: BBC News)

Really, Alastair? Are you sure that’s what people think? They’re saddened by an embittered minister?

Or do you not think they might be more worried that you and the New Labour high command falsified evidence, invented data, lied in Parliament and hounded Dr. Kelly to his death? All in support of an illegal invasion of Iraq, of a war crime. You did that, Alastair. The blood of those thousands of civilians is on your hands. Not that you seem to care, poncing around London still spouting off after your alleged retirement from politics. It must be great to have absolutely no conscience, to be able to assist in the murder of thousands and be completely, utterly sanguine.

This is the political reality, that the US and UK are governed by murderers, by war criminals.

And yet…

I’m sure we’ll see another round of summer Hollywood blockbusters where some square-jawed WASP hero battles evil Muslims/Yakuza/insert stereotype and once again saves the world for Mom, apple pie and the good ole US of A.

The disconnection is laughable. The gap between reality, between the brutal extermination of Iraqi civilians and the sanitised, fictionalised military is untenable.

We’ve just sat through a war in which an American sniper shot an unarmed civilian woman because “the chick got in the way.” Does that sound like the kind of hero you see in the stirring, gung-ho epics Hollywood churns out? He simply murdered a woman in cold blood and got away with it.

Imagine a transposition: imagine a film about a brave SS officer travelling to France and infiltrating the cold, dark heart of the evil terrorists known as the French Resistance. He alone, can save the Fatherland from their vicious bombing campaigns against the benevolent Nazi occupation government. Together with his Valkyrie girlfriend, he unravels a vast Jewish conspiracy against his beloved Reich.

Does that sound like hogwash to you? Well, in news terms, that’s just about what we?re being sold every day about occupied Iraq, if you replace ‘Jewish’ with ‘Arab’ and ‘Reich’ with ‘USA.’

The Iraqi resistance to occupation, to the installation of yet-another USA-appointed puppet regime is not billed as a fight against occupation, it’s reported as purely the action of ‘Saddam loyalists.’ How the reporters achieved this great feat of telepathy, I don’t know. But this framing, that the USK forces are of course the good guys so anyone against them is bad, is promoted unconditionally.

Is it true? What would you do if a foreign country bombed your country flat, killing your entire family? And then it invaded and the first thing it secured was anything connected to your oil resources. Would you throw flowers at the occupying army or bombs?

Fiction vs. reality: in fiction the FBI fight against the evil drug cartels. In reality, the FBI itself engaged in peddling drugs to defuse the civil rights movement.

Fiction vs. reality: in fiction our armed forces are decent guys always acting honourably, the enemy are evil, murdering terrorists. The reality is massacres like My Lai and now Iraq.

Fiction vs. reality: in fiction the Grisham courtroom sits in stunned silence as a politician is unmasked as a criminal and gets lead away to the cells. In reality, the government appoints stooges like Hutton and Widgery.

And the real baddies always escape justice…