Whatever the criticisms of John Pilger, he has achieved the remarkable feat of keeping alive his indignation towards government and media manipulations and duplicities for decades. His recent documentary The War You Don’t See is no exception. I rather belatedly sat down to watch this yesterday.
Pilger takes the global media to task for its sycophantic coverage of the Iraq war, when journalists had to be embedded if they wanted to work for any of the mainstream press, and once embedded, were compromised as to what they could reveal and what they would have to conceal.
As with any account of events, current or historical, there is much truth to be found in the authors’ silences. What has been omitted and why is perhaps the first question a discerning reader needs to ask. In the case of Iraq, there are alternative sources such as Al Jazeera, independents and blogs and of course Wikileaks. Pilger has gone to these sources as well as interviewing big names such as Dan Rather and a couple of very defensive and pedantic VIPs at ITV and the BBC.
“Well, it depends what you mean by the word links,” the ITV VIP argues, in a pathetically unsuccessful attempt at sophistry that serves only to confirm Pilger’s allegations of sycophantic bias. ‘Blair was very careful when he chose to use the word links,” the ITV Blair apologist continues, demonstrating in one sentence the entire Pilger thesis of conspiracy and collusion between government and mainstream media. (Of course, we know even more about this parasitic relationship since the recent Murdoch News of the World downfall. Say what you like, Pilger’s still on track.)
Under Pilger’s politely unrelenting pressure, these media bosses acknowledge their obsequience to their government in the matter of their reportage of the Iraq invasion, as well as WMD’s and chemical weapons allegedly held by Iraq and used, falsely, to justify the invasion.
The footage of the suffering of Iraqi people is horrific. Up to 90% of those injured and killed in this war are civilians. This is of course a reflection of the increasing sophistication of weaponry: in the first World War there were comparatively few civilian casualties. “Collateral damage” in wars has increased exponentially with the aggressor’s ability to bomb the living shit out of anything that moves.
As I wrote here this documentary was banned from screening at some events in the US and Pilger’s invitation to speak was revoked. Having watched it, I can see why it is perceived in some quarters as a threat, as it clearly explains the role of media as the servant of government in the propaganda of war.
Alleged war criminal Tony Blair has been in Australia this past week, and has been predictably courted by over-awed mainstream journalists. Blair, a convert to Catholicism, is promoting a faith-based attitude to global affairs and has harsh words for secularists like Julia Gillard, who he seems to feel are missing the point.
Personally, I’m unable to take Blair out of the context of his slavoring admiration for George Bush, and his lack of judgement on the Iraq invasion. There was plenty of evidence available at the time to cause any serious-minded political leader to pause and re-consider his position.
Blair, like John Howard, did not do this, and took us to war in spite of a great deal of opposition from their respective electorates. The consequences of this were and continue to be death, death, and more death with a very large dose of suffering thrown in.
The first fifty asylum seekers to be sent to Malaysia were intercepted yesterday. They will be taken to Christmas Island, and held for 72 hours for preliminary health and identity checks before being flown out.
As another example of how government propaganda works through information that is either omitted or collectively and consistently ignored, nobody wants to address the small matter of our laws. In domestic law, asylum seekers are permitted to arrive in Australia in any manner whatsoever, with or without papers, and to request protection while their refugee status is ascertained.
I would sincerely like to know why there is no move to rescind this law, seeing as we have no intention now or in the future of upholding it. Like the human appendix, it would seem to be a useless evolutionary remnant, and we should get rid of it in case it turns septic and poisons the whole system.
Apart from that, it is psychologically unhealthy for an individual or a country to exist in a state of cognitive dissonance. No good can come from it, and we ought to be lining up our laws with our actions if we don’t want consequences.
I would also like to know why asylum seekers who arrive by plane are not sent to Malaysia. Why do we have this two tier system in Australia, and why are we creating a two tier system in Malaysia? How to explain this peculiar attachment to promoting inequality amongst the world’s most vulnerable and desperate people?
Of course, I am asking the wrong questions, that is, the ones nobody wants to hear, but there’s nothing to be done except to keep on asking them.
Everybody knows that none of this has anything at all to do with asylum seekers and refugees per se. It is solely to do with “stopping the boats” in the desperate hope of shoring up the increasingly tenuous possibility that the Gillard government will survive the next election. Asylum seekers arriving by boat are collateral damage in this domestic battle. Strangely, many of them are already collateral damage as a consequence of the wars we’re involved in, in their home countries.
I guess there are just some human beings who can be damaged collaterally over and over again by the same people, and nobody thinks it matters.