'Does Tony Blair have any idea what the flies are like that feed off the dead?'
On the road to Basra, ITV was filming wild dogs as they tore at the corpses of the Iraqi dead. Every few seconds a ravenous beast would rip off a decaying arm and make off with it over the desert in front of us, dead fingers trailing through the sand, the remains of the burned military sleeve flapping in the wind. "Just for the record,'' the cameraman said to me. Of course. Because ITV would never show such footage.
The things we see - the filth and obscenity of corpses - cannot be shown. First because it is not "appropriate" to depict such reality on breakfast-time TV. Second because, if what we saw was shown on television, no one would ever again agree to support a war.
This was an iconic illustration of a kind because it did represent what we had seen, when it was eventually published. For Iraqi casualties to appear on television during that Gulf War - there was another one between 1980 and 1988, and a third is in the offing - it was necessary for them to have died with care, to have fallen romantically on their backs, one hand over a ruined face. Like those First World War paintings of the British dead on the Somme, Iraqis had to die benignly and without obvious wounds, without any kind of squalor, without a trace of shit or mucus or congealed blood, if they wanted to make it on to the morning news programmes.
I rage at this contrivance. At Qaa in 1996, when the Israelis had shelled Lebanese refugees at the UN compound for 17 minutes, killing 106 civilians, more than half of them children, I came across a young woman holding in her arms a middle-aged man. He was dead. "My father, my father," she kept crying, cradling his face. One of his arms and one of his legs was missing - the Israelis used proximity shells which cause amputation wounds - but when that scene reached television screens in Europe and America, the camera was close up on the girl and the dead man's face. The amputations were not to be seen. The cause of death had been erased in the interests of good taste. It was as if the old man had died of tiredness, just turned his head upon his daughter's shoulder to die in peace.
Today, when I listen to the threats of George Bush against Iraq and the shrill moralistic warnings of Tony Blair, I wonder what they know of this terrible reality. Does George, who declined to serve his county in Vietnam, have any idea what these corpses smell like? Does Tony have the slightest conception of what the flies are like, the big bluebottles that feed on the dead of the Middle East, and then come to settle on our faces and our notepads? Soldiers know. I remember one British officer asking to use the BBC's satellite phone just after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991. He was talking to his family in England and I watched him carefully. "I have seen some terrible things," he said. And then he broke down, weeping and shaking and holding the phone dangling in his hand over the transmission set. Did his family have the slightest idea what he was talking about? They would not have understood by watching television.
Thus can we face the prospect of war. Our glorious, patriotic population - albeit only about 20 per cent in support of this particular Iraqi folly - has been protected from the realities of violent death. But I am much struck by the number of letters in my postbag from veterans of the Second World War, men and women, all against this new Iraqi war, with an inalienable memory of torn limbs and suffering.
I remember once a wounded man in Iran, a piece of steel in his forehead, howling like an animal - which is, of course, what we all are - before he died; and the Palestinian boy who simply collapsed in front of me when an Israeli soldier shot him dead, quite deliberately, coldly, murderously, for throwing a stone; and the Israeli with a chair leg sticking out of her stomach outside the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem after a Palestinian bomber had decided to execute the families inside; and the heaps of Iraqi dead at the Battle of Dezful in the Iran-Iraq war - the stench of their bodies wafted through our helicopter until the mullahs aboard were sickened; and the young man showing me the thick black trail of his daughter's blood outside Algiers where armed "Islamists" had cut her throat.
But George Bush and Tony Blair and Dick Cheney and Jack Straw and all the other little warriors who are bamboozling us into war will not have to think of these vile images. For them it's about surgical strikes, collateral damage and all the other examples of war's linguistic mendacity. We are going to have a just war; we are going to liberate the people of Iraq - some of whom we will obviously kill - and we are going to give them democracy and protect their oil wealth and stage war crimes trials and we are going to be ever so moral, and we are going to watch our defence "experts" on TV with their bloodless sandpits and their awesome knowledge of weapons which rip off heads.
Come to think of it, I recall the head of an Albanian refugee, chopped neatly off when the Americans, ever so accidentally, bombed a refugee convoy in Kosovo in 1999 which they thought was a Serb military unit. His head lay in the long grass, bearded, eyes open, severed as if by a Tudor executioner. Months later, I learned his name and talked to the girl who was hit by the severed head during the US air strike and who laid the head reverently in the grass where I found it.
Nato, of course, did not apologise to the family. Nor to the girl. No one says sorry after war. No one acknowledges the truth of it. No one shows you what we see. Which is how our leaders and our betters persuade us - still - to go to war.
By Robert Fisk Posted 3 Feb 03
Mandela speaks out against Bush, Blair
Former South African leader Nelson Mandela has lashed out at US President George W Bush's stance on Iraq, saying the US leader has no foresight, and cannot think properly.
All the way with (LPK) Love Peace and Kindness: Dalai Lama
Communication is a two way street. Threats and punishment solve nothing and serve none. In fact it is against the law in most countries to threaten or punish a person.
Hill defends decision to attack Iraq: Step by step?
FEDERAL Defence [War] Minister [Sinister] Robert Hill has defended the government's decision to send troops [ send militia] to the Persian Gulf [ to attack Iraq] in readiness for any [pre-emptive strike that would cause a] conflict with Iraq.
Pleas for peace ring the globe
Anti-war demonstrators turned out in their hundreds of thousands around the world on Saturday to protest against United States military preparations for an invasion of Iraq.
Not too late for Iraq peace, Blix says
But we all know that's rubbish now. The Coalition of the Killing were not seeking WMD in Iraq, they were there for their resource wars. So who gave the 'UN' and Blix the wrong information back then? War criminals!
George Bush's other poodle
John Howard, Australia's PM, is the mouse that roars for America, whipping his country into war fever and paranoia about terrorism within.
Better late than never 'Democrats'
The Democrats are confident they will win at least one seat in the upper house in the NSW election by tapping into voter unease about the Carr Government's tough anti-terrorism laws.
US prepares for trade talks with Australia but it's not worth it!
The office of the United States Trade Representative has started formally preparing its negotiating position for the first round of talks on a free trade agreement between Australia and the US.
AUSTRALIA 2002: POLICE STATE LOOMING
As we go to press (December 2002), both the Federal parliament and the NSW parliament are debating legislation that would give police and ASIO agents greater powers of search, interrogation and detention, and significantly erode the fundamental rights of citizens. In both cases, of course, the alleged purpose of the bills is to combat terrorism.
Civil and Democratic Islam websites communicating?
In other words another propaganda green light from the west to bolster support and quell dissent and to continue the Coalition of the Killings illegal and degrading resource wars in the Middle East.
Govt plays down reports of complicity to torture its own citizens
The complicit federal Government says reports there are two highly trained members of Al Qaeda operating in Australia selling GI and are consistent with information it has already released.
Alarm over terror in 'Australia'?
All of the families ASIO raided in October were believed to have attended the weekend camps, which have run for the past five years. GI cordial was on the refreshment list of drinks.
Special powers? Or political grandstanding?
In NSW, great slews of legislation over the past year have increased powers for everything from police to sniffer pups and train guards and vastly reduced the rights of individuals to engage in civil disobedience, freedom of expression and communication with each other.
First strike and you're out!
The ideology of a super loser? John Howard shocks the nation again. A nation who cannot believe Howard's stupidity following his [complicity in the CIA's false flag operation, the Bali bombing.]
UN charter doesn't reflect new self-defence needs: Hill?
The Defence [War] Minister, Robert Hill, says the United Nations' charter needs to be changed to help countries defend themselves against potential threats. [?] [Pre-emptive strikes on soveriegn nation states like Iraq and Afghanistan?]
Middle Eastern: Specific Legislation
"If there is a target person the police would have powers in relation to that type of person," Mr Costa said. Asked what he meant by "type of person", Mr Costa said: "The example that's been given is if there's a description of somebody, an identikit photograph released by Interpol or other agencies ... these powers may well be exercised on that type of person."
Suspicious police are not trusted to terrorise the community
Short memory my friends when just around the corner police were out of control and now you want to trust Police in NSW to be given extraordinary powers to search vehicles, sites and even a general "type of person" in the event of a terrorism threat or after a terrorist attack.
Howard defends terror alert
Prime Minister John Howard says the Federal Government would not have issued a terror alert if it had not come from a credible source. (America?) Speaking for the first time since the Government revealed the warning, Mr Howard says he wants people to be more careful, but not to stop living. [As long as they don't go dancing in Bali? And sure we'll all be depressed for as long as John Howard and Bob Carr say so.]
Carr backs Fed Govt's terror alert
New South Wales Premier Bob Carr has defended the Federal Government's decision to issue a warning to Australians about a possible terrorist attack in Australia.
NSW Police Force may get 'special powers'
Civil libertarians are questioning the need for further anti-terrorism laws, which will be announced in the New South Wales Parliament on Tuesday.
When Johnny comes marching home again: 'hoorah hoorah'
Posted on the Resistance web page Bronwyn Powell, an organiser of the youth-led mobilisation told Green Left weekly that "in the face of attacks on civil liberties, it is unfortunate that some union officials have felt they need to submit. It could set a negative precedent for upholding the hard-won right to demonstrate in the street."
Give peace a chance
PIERS AKERMAN DT 28 Nov 02: JUSTICE John Dowd should be removed from the bench. His crime? Stupidity. In a breath-taking display of hand-wringing sanctimonious morality, Dowd has condemned the State and Federal Governments' anti-terrorism measures, claiming they erode rights and give encouragement to oppressive regimes.
Bills, Bills and more Bills NSW Parliament deep in debt
NSW Parliament is unjustifiable creating intellectual debt, Academics, politicians, judges, lawyers and volunteers.
It is an absolute disgrace to: Undermine civil and democratic rights The event, hosted by a State MP Lee Rhiannon just a week before the meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Sydney, has enraged Police Minister Michael Costa, who said using the House for the event was appalling. Upper House Greens MP Lee Rhiannon is hosting the forum for about 60 people in State Parliament's Jubilee Room on November 8.
The scavengers of terror
The NSW Government is to introduce increased police powers bill. Legislation giving New South Wales police special powers to deal with an emergency terrorist situation [emergency scapegoat situation] will be introduced into the New South Wales Parliament today.
Greens more of a human touch
What is a real job? Writes Political Reporter Malcolm Farr Daily Tele Article 11 Nov 2002. "It would start if candidates had a CV of real jobs, such as medicine (Senator Brown), or even zoo keeping (NSW Upper House Green Lee Rhiannon ). Which leaves the type of candidate summed up by Kerry Nettle, who was elected a NSW senator at the poll a year ago.
Koch's Skoff Channel 7' Sunrise
Charming when you run some one down like Zanny Begg member of the National Executive of Resistance using the power of National Media and the presenter is opinionated to go along with it.
The Australian Flag - Burn baby burn
If John Howard is not constitutional and racist. If our obligations to human rights are not being upheld, then burn baby burn the Australian flag in protest and start it with little Lucifer like a picture of Bob Carr.
About Protesting &: Corporate media, Ben English and Rachel Morris who spell their names in capitals? [Yes too right! Ordinary people some protesting against the occupation, murder and genocide of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children. And you call yourselves reporters? You should hang your head in shame and go get jobs defending those poor innocent people. Shame on you!!!]
Govt, police 'let off the hook' Haneef inquiry
8 years ago