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17 Sep, 2006

Flashback: How did we EVER get hoodwinked into these mindless wars?

Originally Published: 17 September 2006

While the world was looking back five years at the 9/11 memorial, I was looking ahead five years in earnest hope that we will then be able to look back 10 years and wonder how we could have been hoodwinked into these mindless wars and conflict by some of the worst global leaders ever.

I am prepared to wager that historians will reminisce with shock and awe at how little the generation of the early 21st century learned from the bloody mistakes of the 20th century and walked with its eyes wide shut into another round of totally avoidable violence.

They will query how global leaders could begin the 21st century by signing off on the Millennium Development Goals, and then allow themselves to be fooled into spending trillions of dollars, not to alleviate poverty and avert global warming, but to fight a group of people who can freely send videotapes to TV networks but still evade the most sophisticated intelligence and technology ever devised.

Regrettably, other more memorable anniversaries passed unnoticed last week which, if commemorated by the global media with the same fervour as the live broadcasts of the Bush and Blair speeches, would probably have done more for the cause of global peace than these loathsome leaders of the so-called “civilised world.”

It was on Sept 13, 1995 that Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO Executive Council Member Abou Abbas signed an agreement at the White House granting limited Palestinian autonomy. Although not perfect, the erstwhile Middle East peace process was marked by a period of relative calm.

It was September 11, 1906, exactly 100 years ago, that Mahatma Gandhi undertook his first public protest, spurring the non-violent campaign against racial prejudice in South Africa and demonstrating to the world that non-violent resolution of most conflicts is possible.

These more memorable anniversaries – which I, as an Indian and ex-resident of the Middle East, remember well — were drowned out, as they always are, by the new round of jingoistic rhetoric about the “war on terror” now upgraded into “a struggle for civilization”, which parallels the escalation in the branding status of the “enemy” from merely “Islamists” to “jihadists” and now “Islamo-fascists.”

In an age of knowledge economies and unprecedented scientific and technological progress, is every election in the “civilised world” now set to be fought around the issue of the “Islamic terrorism” bogeyman?

Perhaps not. Mercifully, there is increasing evidence that the American public, as the Lord Buddha would say, is becoming enlightened.

The real American giant is awakening, as those who refused to be lied to any more strive to retake the country back from the right-wing neocon fascists and their even more dangerous finger on the nuclear button.

Having been fooled once into sending their children to die in search of the undeniably non-existent weapons of mass destruction, the American public is starting to question the official version of everything — just as happened in Vietnam in the 1970s.

Inspite of the best suppression efforts by “embedded journalists,” this scepticism is being triggered by firebrand journalism like the story in the U.K. Independent which reported on 10 September 2006 that “the ‘war on terror’ – and by terrorists – has directly killed a minimum of 62,006 people, created 4.5 million refugees and cost the US more than the sum needed to pay off the debts of every poor nation on earth.”

Said the paper, “If estimates of other, unquantified, deaths – of insurgents, the Iraq military during the 2003 invasion, those not recorded individually by Western media, and those dying from wounds – are included, then the toll could reach as high as 180,000.”

Just like documentaries such as Fahrenheit 9/11, a new series of documentaries like Loose Change (www.loosechange.org/911/) are pooh-poohing the so-called “facts” behind the catastrophe.

In Afghanistan, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, opium cultivation rose 59 percent in 2006. This will soon become the deadly killer, heroin, which will permeate western cities, peddled by organised crime syndicates who apparently are a second-rate threat as compared to “Islamic terrorists.”

Questioning the influence of the Israeli lobby on American politics and corporate life, the American public is taking notice of stories in the Israeli press itself, such as the report in Ha’aretz on 12 Sept 2006 quoting the head of an IDF rocket unit in Lebanon as saying, “What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs.”

The unit head quoted his battalion commander as saying that the Israeli army fired around 1,800 cluster bombs, containing over 1.2 million cluster bomblets.

“In addition, soldiers in IDF artillery units testified that the army used phosphorous shells during the war, widely forbidden by international law.” (Source: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/091206C.shtml)

Getting approval for yet another fatalistic adventure, an attack on Iran is not proving to be the pushover the neocon fascists expected. After having lied and cried wolf so often, scepticism is running high, but certainly not dampening their desire to test global gullibility.

Even as the US public awakens, the leaders of the “civilised world” continue to live in denial about their own culpability.

When they undertake policies that create jobs and economic growth, the leaders rush to take credit. When their policies lead to mayhem, chaos and death, it’s those nasty “Islamic terrorists.”

So, for me, 9/11 was an opportunity to reflect on a wider history of the world – of western colonialism, apartheid, genocide and slavery, the Inquisition, the stolen generations in Australia, the fate of the native Americans, the Vietnam War, the Gandhian revolution and the self-sufficiency economy of His Majesty the King.

Being served an increasingly western version of history, today’s young generation does not deserve to become a victim of the same policies that many of our forefathers fought and died to free us from.

Unfortunately, the man in the White House says this struggle is still in its “early hours”.

According to the Washington Post on September 13, 2006, “President Bush said that he senses a ‘Third Awakening’ of religious devotion in the United States that has coincided with the nation’s struggle with international terrorists, a war that he depicted as ‘a confrontation between good and evil’.”

The man’s still got two years to go.

Oh dear, oh dear!