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Non Stop Gunpoint Liberation
Journal of a Futurist - 16 June 2003
The Doors of Deception, a Death Metal Soundtrack
I stand on the terrace of the Sydney Opera House taking in the night-sweep of the Harbour Bridge and the twinkling downtown office blocks. Two Union Jacks flutter from the iron coathanger, a double dose of patriotism. Chattering patrons toss back champagne, a cheroot of medical marijuana is pressed to my lips. The skyline ever more resembles Manhattan. I turn my gaze to the ivory sails soaring above, muttering, at least we won this battle, as a bell signals the start of Sibelius. No, snarls a divided self, it was a draw. The buildings exterior is a triumph, the interior a tragedy, thanks to a long gone Minister of Works. The divas struggle to overcome the woodwork. And so it is with Australia. On the outside its a dazzling spectacle of golden beaches, prancing starlets and fine dining, while on the inside, dug into a Canberra hill, its a toxic cabinet of lawyer-politicians who will stop at nothing to further their own ambitions, including the killing and maiming of innocents in a land that did them no harm.
In a civilised democracy, how could this happen? Several reasons. The fostering of a culture of deceit at the highest level. A supine media. An impotent opposition.
Truth: Hard core, soft core and non core
Deception is the cornerstone of todays governance. It unites us with our Coalition partners the triad of Great Deceivers. Britains Tony Blair - spin artist, forger, fear monger: Iraq can blow up the world in 45 minutes. George W Bush, liar extraordinaire: Saddam helped Osama demolish the trade center. Then John Howard, whose pathological lying probably started as a cry for help, a desperate attempt to convince himself that hes interesting. Soon after taking office, he excused his first broken pledges with a memorable claim, they were not core promises. Howard has since discovered that many in the electorate prefer to be consoled with lies than challenged with truth.
Our nation has its fair share of people who feel threatened by immigrants and yet are decent enough to feel guilty about it. John Howard played on these fears & hardened their hearts by slandering a boatload of asylum seekers, accusing them of hurling their children into the ocean. Not the type we want in Australia. He won another term of office, and lost something more precious. Anyway, his latest piece of self serving tosh is that the supposed presence of WMDs was not the core reason for his killing Iraqis.
Of the three deceivers, Bush is the champ. Remember that Oscar moment when he, the leader of the worlds mightiest military power, tells the guys who built his tanks, hand on heart, that thanks to you, Iraq is no longer a threat to America. Eat your heart out, Orwell.
Why the watchdogs dont bark
It was fitting that the first recipient of such thanks was the team at United Defense, the makers of the Hercules Tank Recovery vehicle, which stared in the made-for-TV toppling of Saddam Husseins statue. (Topplegate). United Defense is controlled by the Carlyle Group, a private investment firm with $15.8 billion under management. A paid adviser to the Carlyle Group is the Presidents father, George H.W. Bush. And so it goes. A win-win war.
The doors of deception keep revolving. The more we hear about transparency, the less transparent are our leaders. The more we hear about accountability, the less accountable they become.
Why is the lying in public office so out of control? Maybe because the watchdogs arent watching anymore, and anyway theyre afraid to bark. Citizens are reduced to being consumers, exhausted and time poor, flat-out earning enough to pay for all the consuming. What we want is entertainment and thats all the media barons provide. Nothing is more entertaining than war. Especially against an impoverished enemy without ships or planes or even weapons of moderate destruction, led by a monster.
Dont blame the guys on the ground
But not the only monster. When General Tommy Franks proclaimed we dont do body counts, he was making a value statement. That the number of Iraqi dead doesnt matter. An artist friend, George Gittoes, dropped by with footage he shot in Baghdad. The tape is astonishing. This war is beyond Apocalypse Now, its music is beyond The Doors. The US tanks blasted their way to Baghdad with the clash of heavy metal; Metallica, Slipknot, 666
. Some of Georges footage was shown on Australias Sixty Minutes, with the most telling lines cut out. These were the repeated admissions by marines that, high on death metal, they shot anything that moved. It wasnt this that surprised me, however, as the trigger happiness of the troops has been widely reported outside America. ("They lost all control, the BBCs John Simpson told Soldier magazine, screaming, shouting and kicking people," an attitude of shoot first, ask questions later.) No, whats shocking about these high tech ninjas in their impenetrable machines is their implacable charm. Theyre funny, theyre candid, theyre smart, theyre free. It reminds you of the best of America, even at the heart of darkness.
Its the leaders who got them into this mess. The rank and file are not to blame.
In fact, within the Triad of Great Deceivers, genuine leadership and truth seeking is found at the edges the demos, the minority parties, the net. Britains blessed with a spirited, independent media that keeps Blair on the back foot. (As in the Observers horrifying map of unexploded cluster bombs carpeting Iraq, putting millions of lives at risk.) America and Australia are blighted by the dominance of Rupert Murdoch and his cavilling minions. On the other hand, behold the spread of the web. Maybe its a thousand voices shouting at once, but many of these are better informed and quicker witted than the 9 to 5 hacks. Right now, mainstream media are running opaque reports of a US operation against terrorist camps north west of Baghdad, where one American and 70 of the enemy have been killed. Thats a lot of bodies. Who are they? Who cares? This is a world in which the Israeli army fires missiles at babies and still claims the high ground. The New York Times leads us to believe the liquidated 70 were anti US extremists, whatever that means. Could it be a massacre? If it is, the first place youll find out is on the web, somewhere like www.whatreallyhappened.com Okay, lets try it. Bingo! Here we find a report from Islam Online that American troops "slaughtered" more than one hundred Iraqi civilians in Rawah, most of them killed while asleep.
Yes, pretty nasty. Lots of indiscriminate use of force by the US, capped with a quote that says it all: "Before I was afraid of Saddam. Now I am afraid of the Americans," said Mohammed, an elderly farmer too frightened to give his family name.
Finally, lets give the hometown paper a click, the Sydney Morning Herald, supposedly one degree left of Murdoch. Nah. The usual Pentagon fog, exuded by coalition flagships. The Herald recently took a deep breath, girded its loins and opined that a lack WMDs could be an embarrassment for the John Howard government. What? An embarrassment? Like passing wind in front of a duchess? Between 5,000 to 10,000 civilians have died as a result of our invasion, the infrastructure is wrecked, the killing goes one, the kids are freaked out, even Time calls it a mess and our meek pamphleteers suggest the perpetrators should blush. Bombing Iraq is not an embarrassment, boys and girls, its a hanging offence.
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