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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  • eddie

    I agree with you Craig. Let’s get out and leave the Afghans to their own devices. They can go back to the medieval theocracy that they had before, where women are mere chattels, denied an education and stoned if they have the temerity to look at a man. Bring back the middle ages eh? Seriously, I agree with you. We should get out. Afghanistan is not a nation and never has been.

  • Ruth

    Well, I’d be really happy if the Afghans could come over here and free us from the corrupt government we have; a government that systemmatically imprisons people to hide its crimes.

    Yes, we have elections but elections mask the reality that whoever is elected is subservient to the permanent unaccountable government.

  • mary

    It took the execrable Eddie just half an hour from the time Craig put on this fine piece to come up with that vile paragraph.

  • 1971Thistle

    I’m glad you said that about Frank Gardner; I thought it was just me…Aaronovitch is an unpleasant piece of work, though

  • Tony

    My son and I sat down and watched Dr. Strangelove last evening and it was shocking how little progress American foreign policy has made since 1963/4. Same talk of acceptable quantities of deaths, so long as they are predominantly the deaths of designated Axis of Evil ‘foreigners’. Same deranged ignorance of and paranoia towards foreign nations having a right to their own self-determination. It was those damn Russky commies making everyone red in the face in the 1950’s and 1960’s, now it is those damn towel-heads.

    Will American foreign policy (for that we must include British and Israeli) ever grow up? Will bankruptcy be the only thing which stops us. There is a permanent state of denial, and smarmy propagandists like Gardiner don’t convince me. He is just one or two links down in the Alastair Campbell food-chain. As for Miliband’s repeated denial about British policy towards torture – give us a break. These characters belong in a Dickens story.

    What do Cameron and the Tories have to say about any of this? Nothing. They are too busy taking 7 million pound donations from Hedge Funders so for sure we can’t expect any change in policy towards the fat cats in the banks. Chances are other big-time donors will make sure we stay in the Middle East.

    The problem is that Parliament has negligible power in decision-making which is left to the executive who are more than influenced by party donors.

  • Vronsky

    From 1984, and disturbingly reminiscent of recent BBC bulletins and the commentary of Gardner.

    “He could hear just enough of what was issuing from the telescreen to realize that it had all happened, as he had foreseen; a vast seaborne armada had secretly assembled a sudden blow in the enemy’s rear, the white arrow tearing across the tail of the black. Fragments of triumphant phrases pushed themselves through the din: ‘Vast strategic manoeuvre–perfect co-ordination–utter rout–half a million prisoners–complete demoralization–control of the whole of Africa–bring the war within measurable distance of its end–victory–greatest victory in human history–victory, victory, victory!'”

  • Carlyle Moulton

    The Americans are absolutely useless at winning hearts and minds. If they were not they would realize that while the death of one of their soldiers is a tragedy, the death of a non-combatant civilian as “collateral damage” is a disaster.

    I question whether they actually want to win hearts and minds, perhaps their real goal is to keep the insurgency and hence the war going, enabeling the shoveling of large amounts of money from the taxes paid by poor Americans into the pockets of the owners of armaments firms and military contractors.

  • Carlyle Moulton

    I don’t usually agree with eddie but in his first post above I think he is actually 100% correct. Nothing that we have done by invading the country has improved the status of women in Afghanistan. The warlords in Karzai’s corrupt government are every bit as much gynophobic misogynists as the Taliban were.

    If the West can do anything to improve the lot of girls and women in Afghanistan it will not be by splattering a fair number of them over the landscape as collateral damage in air strikes designed to kill Taliban commanders in order to prop up the other lot of corrupt drug barons we have chosen to run this poor country.

  • anno

    The FG report mentioned an initial policy of not using bombs, but twelve people were killed at one time by a rocket. Sounds like a bomb to me. The public is shielded from the overwhelming destructive power of modern weapons, which are given the names of 18th century weapons. The report looked more like a moon-walk than warfare. The British army were behaving like US film-stars at the Oscars, bashfully presenting themselves as kind, patient heroes in a brilliant screen script.

    Our troops have machine guns which automatically spray a wide screen of bullets, virtually continuously. That’s a rifle. I went to my wife’s citizenship ceremony the other day. Two solid hours of patriotic Rule Britannia type music before the ceremony took place.

    Makes you wish you were Afghani or anything but British. One day, inshallah.

    Shoot-from-the-hip-Eddie, if you were up with the times you would be showering your opponents with bullets, and when you looked up you wouldn’t find any audience to argue with any more. Same old, same old. Except instead of persecuting our neighbours like Scotland, Ireland and France, we have the technology to assassinate half the world.

  • dreoilin

    This day, 15 February, in 2003, global protests against war on Iraq occurred in more than 600 cities worldwide. Estimates from 10 million – 20 million made this the largest day of protest in the history of humankind.

  • Jon

    It is unsettling that Bruce Anderson thinks we live in a culture where the following is acceptable to propose:

    “After much agonising, I have come to the conclusion that there is only one answer to Sydney’s question [how to extract information from an alleged plotter in a ticking bomb scenario]. Torture the wife and children.”

    I kid you not: read the article. Disgusting, as @dreoilin says, and worrying too, in equal measure.

  • Anonymous

    The status of women in Afghanistan is immensely higher than the status of women in the UK, who frequently go out, get drunk, get raped, take the morning after pill, spread HIV, and go back to work on Monday morning thinking of themselves nearly equivalent to the Virgin Mary.

    Stick to designing bikes Mr Moulton, you seem to know more about them than Afghan women.

  • Chris Dooley

    I too wonder about the change of heart from the military. Why do they feel the need to now pronounce civilian deaths ?

    They have NEVER bothered before.

    Winning hearts and minds by telling the truth ?

    We shall see.

  • MJ

    “They can go back to the medieval theocracy that they had before”

    As I’m sure eddie is perfectly aware, the Taliban were installed by the US. In the first half of the 20th century, during a brief respite from being fought over by global colonial powers because of its strategic importance, Afghanistan was indeed left to its own devices. Under leaders such Amanullah Khan, Nadir Shah and Zahir Shah Afghanistan pursued largely reformist policies that stressed, among other things, education and women’s rights.

    I’m sure that if left to its own devices once again Afghanistan will do just fine. In fact it won’t do fine until it is left own devices.

  • anno

    The Taliban are civilians, except in the minds of USUKIS forces, who label them the enemy from their own fundamentalist, religious, interfering in a foreign country, illegal point of view.

  • Jon

    Regarding the Independent piece again, there’s an excellent comment that follows it which asks whether Anderson would have the same views in the roles were reversed.

    The hypothetical scenario is an external aggressor is about to invade a Gulf state, contrary to international law, and torturing the wife and child of the British Ambassador to that Gulf state might produce information prior to a bombing raid that would save thousands of civilian lives. It’s a good question – would neoconservatives of his ilk be so in favour then? Or is torture “awful but necessary” only if “we” do it?

  • Jon

    @anon at February 15, 2010 12:48 PM: “…the status of women in the UK, who frequently go out, get drunk, get raped, take the morning after pill, spread HIV…”

    Anon, I am not sure of the point of your response to Carlyle Moulton actually is – do you think education for girls is a bad thing?

    I worry too about the tone of your criticism. This is veering OT, but I am wary to say the least of people who believe that raped women should blame themselves, given the “lifestyle choices” they made. Care to clarify what you meant, exactly?

  • algernon

    On Anderson’s torture article, he sounds like he’s trying to push the boundaries of the argument, making statements that are utterly disgusting, such as the torture of wives and children.

    I suspect that what this creep is hoping is that by pushing the threshold of debate on this subject will perhaps make issues like “girlie-man’s torture of water-boarding” easier for the public to accept and thus get his sociopathic friends in the intelligence industry off the hook.

  • anno


    At this present time, UKUS forces are striking against a Reformist group in Afghanistan. I was reminded of the UK’s protestantisation by Henry VIII by last night’s Dimbleby history programme.

    Thank God Henry persevered in removing Papal control and publishing the Gospels in English.

    The Reformation of Islam is 100% opposed by its enemies like the UK who have spent the last thousand years trying to disrail it. One pathetic excuse for fighting the Taliban is that their view of women is unacceptable. If you had lived with the UK victim of teenage rape and experienced the mind-boggling effects of sexual abuse in this country, you would know where I am coming from.

    There is a vocal, mad, hardcore of feminists who like the status quo of abuse in this country, like old colonels who say that the harsh public school system they were brought up in never did them any harm.

    On the contrary Islam protects women. The USSR invasion that preceded the current UKUS invasion of Afghanistan had resulted in an over-protective situation, which was in the process of being relaxed by the Taliban. People like Carlyle Moulton who try to justify the invasion of Muslim countries on the thread of feminism have the suffering of women and orphans on their blood-soaked hands. Crap is crap.

    It’s bad enough the Frank Gardner’s colonial crap without the loony feminist crap.

    Muslim women enjoy many advantages in their stable societies, or as my gym master at school said.’ I’ve got muscles in places where you haven’t even got places.’ Women in Islam enjoy benefits which western women can’t even imagine, including the tranquillity of practising a faith that will take them to heaven.

  • Anon

    You do know who Frank Gardner is, correct? I’m not sure if he was ever officially MI6, but he’s as near in as makes no difference.

    Look him up. Damn fool got his photographer killed too.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    My mind is focused not on this propaganda war in Southern Afghanistan, but the wider robotic assassination program conducted by the CIA.

    The agency’s operatives are recruiting anyone with a desire to make money from hand-outs to feed information into the system that the drones are killing terrorists.

    Leon Panetta has said the program is, “the only game in town’ and that is meant to reinforce the belief that the world’s last great military power can still control this war. In fact behind General Stanley McChrystal ‘corner’ when turned, might have it’s own unpleasant surprises.

  • eddie

    Anon “The status of women in Afghanistan is immensely higher than the status of women in the UK, who frequently go out, get drunk, get raped, take the morning after pill, spread HIV, and go back to work on Monday morning thinking of themselves nearly equivalent to the Virgin Mary.”

    Whereof you cannot speak thereof you should be silent. Are you lot going to let this pass without comment? How low ye have fallen.

  • anno


    If I understand you correctly, what you are saying is that the USUK strategy that destroyed indigenous opposition to the invasion of Iraq, will not work in Afghanistan. Control of Iraqi oil necessitated a less destructive approach, because UKUS need an infrastructure to deliver the oil. In Afghanistan UKUS have tuned up the propaganda lies, and cranked up the destruction,if that is possible,to far higher levels even than Iraq.

    Thank you for reminding us what is going on. Bush has already succeeded in uniting the Muslims of Middle East. If Obama goes on to unite the Muslims of the Middle East with the Muslims of Asia, it will definitely have consequences beyond MacChrystal’s battered copy of T E Lawrence’s manual on how to screw Islam. I wouldn’t like to be in Obama’s pyjamas when the unintended consequences start to appear.

  • Jon

    Eddie, causing more trouble I suppose – hopefully you’ll have the good grace to feel silly when you realise I’ve already criticised that. Your comment about people here “falling low” is typical of your Blairite desperation: pro-torture and pro-war is not looking good these days, and you have a lot of work to do to get your position popular (indeed, if it ever was).

    Your earlier sarcasm was unhelpful too. Some people here are opposed to UKUS forces killing civilians – surely you can accept that? The question of how to deal with extremist groups – aside from putting them into power in the first place of course – is actually a good question. But people will not want to discuss things with you if you behave like a troublemaker.

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