Blood on the Comic Opera 104


At the Nuremberg trials, it was deliberately decided that those selected for the visible judgement on aggressive war would represent a cross section of the Nazi leadership, including each branch of the Armed services. It was thought very important to include a representative of the journalists who had whipped up the hatred.

I think that was wise. I do not suspect we will ever see a war crimes trial, despite Polanski’s best efforts. But there are so many arch propagandists for the war in Iraq that it would be hard to know who to pick. Aaronovitch, Cohen, Phillips?

But I think possibly the worst offender is our old friend Frank “Goebbels” Gardner. Yet again his grave but reassuring features have been delivering smooth propaganda, this time from the comic opera re-re-re-re-re-re-re-reinvasion of parts of Helmand – an operation which is costing the UK taxpayer £2 billion this month, and the US taxpayer very much more.

I rather like the comic opera Afghan General they have fronting the operation, to restore the “Legitimate authority” of electoral fraudster Karzai. The “Taliban” have of course sensibly melted away. There are however plenty of civilians still around for the Americans to blow up. Twelve at once is unusual, but they are being killed all the time.

One of Gardner’s favourite tricks is to call ordinary Afghan courtyard houses “Taliban compounds”. It is not a compound, it is a house. Perhaps Afghans don’t live in things we would recognise in Acacia Drive – but they are their homes.

Anyway, let’s all get out the bunting and celebrate a great national victory over some empty houses and cowering civilians. Let today be known forever as Frank Gardner day. Gentlemen of England now abed are really missing out on this one.

Meanwhile the Afghan resistance will avoid pitched battles and pick off our poor troops slowly and patiently, until the day we can’t afford it any more and leave. Karzai will leave too, to live in Geneva and count his cash. Alistair Campbell will tell us how much better life has become for the people of Afghanistan.

Sir Jock Stirrup (a real comic opera name) has just told us that the missile killing twelve civilians was a setback, be we would get over it.

The twelve won’t get over it, of course.

Probably some social misfit of unstable mind somewhere in England has been nudged towards a violent response. All for the good – that will help keep the whole ultra profitable security behemoth rumbling on.


104 thoughts on “Blood on the Comic Opera

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  • anno

    Whatever, this of course is no reason to bomb anyone.

    Thank you for this statement.

    It’s not helpful, when our prime minister tells us our troops are fighting to prevent terrorist attacks in the UK, that the majority of people in this country who don’t like Islam support his war-mongering because of their prejudices, and do not go further to think about the merits of his argument.

    To save the possibility of a disruption on our streets, Gordon Brown is sweeping heavily armed troops across a foreign country, displacing millions and hoovering up thousands of possible supporters of the Taliban into the death camps of General genocide Dostum.

  • technicolour

    The last ICM poll showed 47 percent against the ‘war’ in Afghanistan, with 46 percent in favour. 60 percent wanted the troops to leave, either immediately or within 2 years. (July 2009)

    Is anyone else surprised by this? It’s good news for anno, since it still proves that the majority of people do not support the invasion, but why has support risen? According to the BBC “a similar poll in 2006 found 31% backed the UK’s action while 53% opposed it.” Is it that people are ‘supporting’ UK soldiers, or are they really convinced by the argument that killing Afghans will keep us safe?

  • Jon

    @anno et al:

    The debate widens out somewhat, and whilst we probably agree on many observations, our prescriptions diverge substantially. The only problem with your perspective (that the only solution to the worlds problems is a religious one) is that we cease to have a common language to talk about solutions at all. But your religion permits you to posit secular solutions, and I am in favour of secular solutions, so there we have common language.

    But onto some of the other points, on which I think we may just have to disagree. You continue to insist without foundation that British people hate Islam, in the context of wanting to destroy Muslim societies, killing believers etc. I don’t think this is true and I don’t see any evidence for it.

    True, we do live in a culture of Islamophobia, and I am the first to agree that negative stereotypes abound, as well as a soft racist “fear of the other”. This is primarily a media construct, of course, set up consciously or otherwise to make ‘selling the war’ easier to the domestic public. But if technicolour’s stats on the British public are correct, we are hardly seeing a major endorsement for the war, are we?

    Furthermore, if a Briton supports the war, this is not evidence that he hates Muslims. He *may* do, but that would require further evidence that I just don’t detect – though I’d be interested to see if you have poll data, for example. I appreciate some people hate Muslims, but it is not the whole population, as you seem to think.

    Your position that “Islam fosters trust between the sexes and sorts out the brain” is akin to the Christian Evangelicals in the US who claim from time to time that they have cured a person of their homosexuality – an impressionable and vulnerable person is then paraded about to “prove” that this sexuality conversion has happened.

    I admit to having had similar perspectives on homosexuality as you, inculcated by puritannical and religiously extreme parenting (C of E). Thankfully I was also well-educated, which enabled me to escape from that dogmatic mindset, and I hope that you, as a homophobe, can do so too.

    I might say as this point that I try as much as I can to make criticisms of Islam carefully, given the Islamophobia I mentioned earlier. In particular, I recognise that there are many readings of Islam, and some are quite different from yours. I have no reason to suspect that other versions are less valid that yours, but I am inclined to think that you are bound by your prescriptive views generally to regard other readings as heresy. On that matter, I do hope that in time you might be more generous towards the potential validity of other people’s positions.

    Sadly, that might take some time, given your references to a “real Islam” – presumably which includes female deference, if not servitude, the mandatory wearing of the burka, and an oppressive anti-sex regime in favour of the introduction of Islamic law to Britain.

    Technicolour also raised some good points about extremist Islamic interpretation, and I would hope you would consider those issues sympathetically. I don’t imagine Allah would be in favour of female slavery or legalised rape, whatever it says in the Koran, or with whatever bias it is read.

    Again, your determining “feminists” as the originators of the war is baseless and far-fetched. You are, as I and technicolour have already said, conflating things you do not like and making them responsible for the invasion. Why not consider the hard financial reasons why NATO is in Afghanistan? Could it have something to do with the intended oil pipeline routes, perhaps? Is it also relevant that Afghanistan is in an ideal strategic position to assert Western dominance over the Middle East?

    I wonder, in fact, whether your real reason for disliking feminists – is that you believe female emancipation is against your religion. You did say: “[you] would love women to be empowered in all spheres of life” but you couldn’t resist adding “including the spiritual” at the end of that sentence. I think this means that the empowerment you had in mind is constrained by your harsh interpretation of the Koran, and that more permissive Islamic interpretations are wrong – for reasons unknown.

    Given your earlier statement on Western female behaviour, and your condemnation of their alleged “perfidy”, I think your attitudes towards women could do with improving. This is especially the case given that, to my mind, you have not cleared up your perspective on the causes of rape – if you believe Western standards of behaviour leave women “asking for it” then you think ill of men too, and your whole world-view needs revision!

    I don’t know if there is anything more that I can add, given your steadfast holding to an extreme position, except to read Muslim (and non-Muslim) texts that represent all shades of your religion. You don’t need me to tell you that there is plenty of debate about Islam in the Islamic world, and perhaps if you looked at other perspectives, you might come to a gentler, and less prescriptive, position on how other people should behave.

  • tony_opmoc

    It depends on who’s poll you believe, what questions are asked, and when you ask them

    http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/uk/afghan+poll+majority+want+troops+home/3411597

    Afghan poll: majority want troops home

    By Channel 4 News

    Updated on 05 November 2009

    Seventy three per cent of people wanting British troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan, a YouGov survey for Channel 4 News reveals. YouGov president Peter Kellner breaks down the results.

    Opposition to the war in Afghanistan has risen sharply in the past fortnight. Two weeks ago, 42 per cent of the British public thought the Taliban could be defeated, while 48 per cent thought they could not.

    Click here to see the full results (.xls).

    Now, following the deaths of five British soldiers yesterday and President Karzi’s much-challenged victory in the recent election, just 33 per cent think the war can be won, while a clear majority, 57 per cent think victory is no longer possible.

    As a result, 35 per cent now think all British troops should be withdrawn immediately ?” compared with 25 per cent two weeks ago.

    Only 20 per cent think they should remain in the country “as long as Afghanistan’s government wants them there” ?” down from 29 per cent two weeks ago.

    Women are especially keen to see British troops come home: 40 per cent think they should be withdrawn immediately, while just 13 per cent think they should stay as long as they are needed. Men divide more evenly: 31 per cent want them home immediately; while 28 per cent think they should stay as long as they are needed.

    These figures are likely to concern MPs. Public opinion lacks the power to force Parliament to end Britain’s involvement; however, no Government likes to commit troops to an extended conflict, and a rising death toll, with so little public support.

    Click here to see the full results (.xls).

    * 73 per cent of people want troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan immediately, or most withdrawn soon with the rest within the next year or so.

    * That figure rose to 77 per cent in London.

    * Support for troops in Afghanistan was highest in Scotland at 24 per cent.

    * People aged over 55 were the least likely to support troops being in Afghanistan, with 77 per cent wanting troops withdrawn immediately or soon.

    * Just 21 per cent of people aged 18-54 believed British troops should remain in the country as long as the Afghan government wants them there.

    Tony

  • Richard Robinson

    “Is it that people are ‘supporting’ UK soldiers, or are they really convinced by the argument that killing Afghans will keep us safe?”

    Hard to say, not having my own surveys, but I suspect it might have to do with the way the news is. Big Battle Looms, Our Brave Boys At Risk (oh, and Girls, of course, mustn’t forget the ladies, must we, patronising smirk. Ahem, sorry).

    I mean, a strong tendency for people to think that other people will think they’re letting those individual soldier-people down, betraying them as individuals, by suggesting that it might be less than a perfect idea. A variant of “how do you ask someone to be the last to die for a mistake ?”. Not wanting the troops sent out there is to undermine them, concern for the country is a lack of patriotism. My Country Right Or Wrong, Don’t You Know There’s A War On ? etc. We have it well internalised.

  • Jon

    @Richard Robinson – quite agree, nationalism and patriotism play a large part in support, sometimes subconsciously. All of that is a long way from a widespread deep hatred of the enemy – whoever that is exactly – or of Muslims in general.

  • Richard Robinson

    “quite agree, nationalism and patriotism play a large part in support, sometimes subconsciously.”

    I think it’s vaguer and less positive than that, people expecting “everybody else” to hold such an opinion rather than holding it themself. If you see what I mean ? (Propaganda works best when you don’t tell people what they should think – just tell them that everybody else does, and people will adjust to that even when they don’t agree).

    “All of that is a long way from a widespread deep hatred of the enemy – whoever that is exactly – or of Muslims in general.”

    Oh, yes. And – “Whoever that is” – yes. Who’s on offer for us to project our fears onto ? It keeps striking me, it all seems so ill-defined, the project keeps shifting. Has anybody ever published a clear set of War Aims ?

  • anno

    Jon

    Thanks for the minute analysis of my perspective. I really only raised feminism because I think it’s wrong to use dislike of Muslim treatment of women as we find it in some corners of the world as a justification for Nazi-style progroms against Muslims in those countries.

    The more I think about what is being done NOW in our name, the more it reminds me of Gaza last year. Would it have been patriotic for Israelis to support those terrible attacks? Is it our patriotic duty look the other way while Brown commits similar crimes.

    If so, I’ll go and sign up for the UK SS now. Nothing at all else to do on the work front. I particularly like those khaki green trousers with extra padding on the thighs. Heil Braun!

  • Jon

    @anno. You’re welcome. I hope it gives food for thought, and I should be happy if you want to come back to me on specific points. I think this sort of to-and-fro adds shape and character to each sides’ thought processes.

    In any case, despite our differences we are largely agreed on some big things: our UK rulers are practised liars, and killing civilians is unjust and counterproductive.

  • Clark

    Anno,

    sexuality and gender are more complicated than the simple categories of male and female. This is not sociology or psychology, it is physical science. A good summary of the evidence up until 1989 can be found in “BrainSex” by Anne Moir and David Jessel.

    As to our patriotic duties, I think that we should try to regain control of our “democracy”.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Jon, your forbearance is admirable. As for Lot’s wife, let me tell you that I too was turned into a pillar of salt many years ago, but that because it rains a lot in the west of Scotland, I dissolved.

    Asma Barlas writes well on this nexus. Check her work out on amazon or elsewhere.

  • john

    I Had suspicions about this guy’s political persuasions. I guess he is part of the British Establishment’s patriotic spin-Kipling machine.

    Comic Opera may be one way of seeing

    the “players” of “Democratic Bloody Afghanistan” and the former production, “Democratic Bloody Iraq”–I consider them to be black comedies, in the genre of “Holocaust meets Armageddon”, by the Fiddler-on-the-roof players.

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