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Letters from Downunder

Whose security?

Submitted by Lindsay
Melbourne Australia!

If you want a picture of the future,
imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.
(George Orwell, 1984, part 3)

(8/2013) There is no such thing as a democratic war. In any reasonably large society could you imagine asking the electorate if they would approve of their leaders starting one? In any true ballot of ALL the people the answer would always be a resounding 'NO'.

War is always started at the behest of a few, those who see they can gain from it, leaving those attacked no recourse but to fight them. War breeds war, the gains to be had from its undertaking ephemeral, the cost always born by the general population and the next generations. In ancient times one smallish tribe may well have started one against a neighbouring tribe because any gains achieved were for the betterment of all, but when it comes to large societies any plusses are planted at the feet of those at top of the heap.

Even so, there have always been wars, and I assume there always will be, especially as the world's population soars, resources are depleted, and survival becomes harder. Which does nothing for 99% of the people who will pay the cost, but does not alter the premise. There's just one snag. What if a war is not a war? What if all the fighting is there, but nothing has been declared, just an old fashioned invasion has taken place? Formal war is actually something that was developed in the middle ages so everyone knew what they were doing and what was expected of them. Rules were established, codes of conduct written (look, I'm going to kill you, but I have to bayonet you because thatís' what the book says), and gentlemen's agreements reached before the armies marched in and took what they wanted from those they could. Kings and emperors got the spoils. The population suffered, resources were depleted, but that was the way things were done back then.

And, it seems, we have returned to that idea once more. No one calls it war, but that's what it is. Afghanistan is the most recent, with conflict there going back a hundred years or so; there are many other examples, all of them having one advantage: you don't have to live (or die) by the rules. There is no formality, no declared adversary, just the excuses put forward: They started it - they took out the twin towers; they need converting to democracy; their economy needs restructuring. They have weapons of mass destruction and so on.

So the Taliban, Al Qaeda get the blame. Fair enough, maybe they deserve it - but it turns out they are in lots of places, with lots of little cells. So let's go get 'em. We'll use contractors, mercenaries, drones. Sure, there'll be collateral damage, but what's a few thousand civilian deaths matter in this? We will combat terrorism. No one will do this to us ever again. Except us, of course.

The military love it. It's what they are trained for, and they don't really care if it's an old-fashioned war or not. They're there to fight, not philosophise. Strong nations - (those who believe they are, at least) -love it also. It shows off their muscles. Shows how passionate they are about something. But, like all passions, there is a down side. There are consequences, in this case of unforseen depths of anxiety and terror. Not of the invaded populace - though heaven knows they are terrorised - but the folk back home.

So, when you are terrorised, what do you do? In the inverted logic of the military and the hawk, you go to war against it. You fight terror with terror, whether the premise is real or not, whether the source is local or not. Say someone vents their disgust with the system by one or more violent acts. You call it terror. You tell people there are people who are terrorists, who will destroy you and your nation, whether it's true or not. If you disagree you also become one. Automatically. The boot goes in the face.

The military, the government, the myriad agencies set up to enforce this certainly do not ask why this happened, but how do we prevent it happening again. Because in every conflict there has to be the idea that there are some very bad people out there who need to be brought to heel. More - they have to be known to do so by the general population. In that way not only does the military justify their enormous expenditure, but are seen as the keepers of the eventual safety and peace of the land. The N.S.A is formed, expanded, gets almost unlimited power to wage this war. Governments go along with this, for whatever side of politics is in power, they know that if they do not support and justify attacking the terrorists the media will do the attacking - on them.

It becomes a no win situation for moderates, who believe there is a better way, a way of reason and acumen. One that does not call for the destruction of foreign nations as a way to establish democracy and peace there, invade the privacy of citizens, nor the need to rope in those who even look wrong. And worse than that is their penchant for doing the same to the citizens of the nation. And to do that they spy on them, listen for key words in their conversations, their internet postings, and give then a visit. A little detention will be good for you, get you to see the light.

Civil liberty? Sorry, this is a war.

Citizen rights? Sorry, this combats terrorists.

Police state? No, that went out with the demise of the soviets. Oh yes?

And in all this they make mistakes. Many of them. Their blinkers make them prone to errors. Horrible ones, which they surely do not wish the world to see. Whistle-blowers are to be blown away, by any means; the truth would be so embarrassing. Classified top secret, the war that isn't, the drones that do not see, care, or can be brought to justice; the torture, the skewed media, the spin that clouds all.

So whose security are they protecting? Why, their own , of course. They have introduced a form of neo-slavery, where we must all do as we are told or be whipped. And they have done this without being elected, without being answerable at an election, because they have assumed power.

You probably just don't realize it, but 1984 is truly here

Read Past Down Under Columns by Lindsay Coker