The roll out of the latest terror atrocities continues in the western media – devoid of context and analysis, deeper questions or any sign of guiding intelligence. Just tabloid shock-horror, largely unsourced “personal stories” of tragedy or heroism, and lots and lots of fear porn.
“Planes evacuating holidaymakers began arriving back in Britain on Saturday” said the Guardian today, as if Tunisia were now a war zone. It’s not, it’s a place where one man (now dead) shot 39 people, and while it’s understandable people want to leave, they do not need to be “evacuated”.
While this “evacuation” is going on, of course, David Cameron is chairing a meeting of COBRA and saying things like this:
These savage terrorist attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and France are a brutal and tragic reminder of the threat faced around the world from these evil terrorists.”
Well, savage? – yes. Brutal and tragic? – yes. Evil? – yes. But do we need COBRA? Really? Eight Britons murdered on a beach by a single shooter is a terrible human tragedy but a threat to British national security? No, of course not. It’s nonsense. The invocation of COBRA and the “evacuation” meme are both there simply to impress us all with that essential sense of fear and chaos out of all proportion to the event. And it should warn us already that – at very least – this newest human catastrophe is going to be used, with the usual slick cynicism, for the forwarding of an agenda. Coming out of this there will be calls for greater “security”, less “tolerance” for “terrorism”, which rainstorm of platitudes will become a license for more surveillance and more war.
It’s at times like this that responsible news outlets need to be the voice of reason. They need to challenge such looming cynicism, and the narratives that underpin it. But even away from the rabbit-in-headlights vacuity of its front page the Graun makes little effort to do this. Over in the Opinions section, Jonathan Freedland’s response to it all is to pile on more woolly confusion, hand-wringing and despair.
After Tunisia, Kuwait and France we should not be afraid to call evil by its name…”
Freedland says, as if he imagines this is a brave and controversial point. Does he think most of us have previously considered mass beheadings, burnings and drownings to be pretty ok? Does he think we’re going to read this and think “ohhh…he’s right you know; we really should crack down on this stuff”? But Freedland purposely eschews rational analysis, and admits as much:
I know there are coherent, substantial explanations for all these events. Historical legacies, geopolitical forces, local factors: they are all relevant, but they only go so far. They do not reach the heart of the matter: how is such horror possible?”
Sorry, Jonathan, but with all due respect this is a crock. In the real world, beyond your rectally-focused despair, these “explanations” you disdain do “reach to the heart of the matter” and if you bothered to read up and think on they would probably go a long way to telling you “how such horror is possible”. If you were to stop hand-wringing and rambling on at great but entirely unoriginal length about Nazi Germany and how “evil is always with us” and other deathless platitudes, you could perhaps do some…oh what’s the word?…investigating into what this current evil actually is; where it came from, and – most importantly – who picks up its tab.
For a beginning you could ask where ISIS acquired those “state of the art” underwater cameras you mention in passing. Not to mention the skills to use them so “slickly”. Did they steal them from the much-invoked but largely imaginary “moderate” rebels along with the all those Toyotas?
Not very likely, given the fact these “moderates” are a figment – or a fig leaf. A creation of White House spin to cover the murky question of who and what the US is really backing in Syria.
Cards on the table Jonathan. As an intelligent man, do you find the media version of ISIS entirely beyond the need for interrogation? A ragtag collection of volunteer jihadists tooling around the deserts in huge fleets of matching four wheel drives, “looting banks”, kidnapping millionaires and ransoming them, somehow managing to acquire the means and wherewithal to refine and export enough oil to make them billionaires, while also fighting a war on several fronts against the Syrian army, the Iraqi army, Turkish fighters and the USA. To say nothing of filling in their spare time making highly professional movies of their numerous atrocities, designing and minting their own gold and silver coinage, and making hundreds and hundreds of flags.
A terrorist group that produces glossily packaged end-of-year reports
Not the most convincing narrative in the world is it? Almost a bit like a a very sick piss-take isn’t it? After all if conspiracy theories are per se absurd – how can we offer this – most extremely absurd – conspiracy theory exemption? At very least we need to acknowledge the problems and deficits in the story and look at the alternatives.
For example you could wander over to the Wall Street Journal where citizens of Iraq are quoted as saying they “know” the US is funding and equipping ISIS (though of course the WSJ dismisses this as a “conspiracy theory”, but since everything about ISIS is just that, this would appear to be a distinction without a difference).
And did you see the article in the Express Tribune back in January, alleging the US is directly funding ISIS?
Yousaf al Salafi – allegedly the Pakistan commander of Islamic State (IS) or Daish – has confessed during investigations that he has been receiving funds through the United States…”
“The US has been condemning the IS activities but unfortunately has not been able to stop funding of these organisations, which is being routed through the US,” a source said.
“The US had to dispel the impression that it is financing the group for its own interests and that is why it launched offensive against the organisation in Iraq but not in Syria,” he added…”
Did the Guardian ever cover these allegations? Did the BBC? (not enough ostriches maybe?).
Then there’s Wes Clarke’s breezy admissions that “ISIS got started from funding from our friends and allies”…
ISIS got started through funding from our friends and allies. Because as people will tell you in the region that if you want somebody who will fight to the death against Hezbollah, you don’t put out a recruiting poster saying, ‘sign up for us. We’re gonna make a better world.’ You go after zealots and you go after these religious fundamentalists. That’s who fights Hezbollah. It’s like a Frankenstein….”
And the claim by Harvard research scholar Garikai Chengu that ISIS is made in the USA:
Much like Al Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS) is made-in-the-USA, an instrument of terror designed to divide and conquer the oil-rich Middle East and to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region.
The fact that the United States has a long and torrid history of backing terrorist groups will surprise only those who watch the news and ignore history.”
America is using ISIS in three ways: to attack its enemies in the Middle East, to serve as a pretext for U.S. military intervention abroad, and at home to foment a manufactured domestic threat, used to justify the unprecedented expansion of invasive domestic surveillance.”
Or if you prefer, there’s this article by ex-Guardian journalist Nafeez Ahmed…
According to leading American and British intelligence experts, a declassified Pentagon report confirms that the West accelerated support to extremist rebels in Syria, despite knowing full well the strategy would pave the way for the emergence of the ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS).
The experts who have spoken out include renowned government whistleblowers such as the Pentagon’s Daniel Ellsberg, the NSA’s Thomas Drake, and the FBI’s Coleen Rowley, among others.
Their remarks demonstrate the fraudulent nature of claims by two other former officials, the CIA’s Michael Morell and the NSA’s John Schindler, both of whom attempt to absolve the Obama administration of responsibility for the policy failures exposed by the DIA documents..”
Ellsberg is quoted in the article as saying:
[the US Defense Intelligence Agency] were not only as they claimed supporting moderate groups, who were losing members to the more extremist groups, but that they were directly supporting the extremist groups. And they were predicting that this support would result in an Islamic State organization, an ISIS or ISIL… They were encouraging it, regarding it as a positive development, because it was anti-Assad, Assad being supported by Russia, but also interestingly China… and Iran…”
At very least – according to these allegations – the US was willing to permit the creation of ISIS as a means to an end (toppling Assad). At worst, the US intelligence agencies virtually built ISIS, from the ground up.
Is all this just a conspiracy theory? Maybe, but – as I have already said – it’s a no less improbable one than the ISIS as comic book villain story that you appear to have no problem with. And if these allegations are true it would explain a few things wouldn’t it? The “where did they get their money and trucks?” question would finally have an answer, as would the puzzle of why the greatest country in the world can’t locate and destroy a bunch of lunatic jihadists rolling round a desert in matching cars waving big black flags. ISIS would be shown up as just another bunch of conveniently psychotic US provocateurs – and not a real-life SPECTRE after all. Which, on the whole, does seem a bit more believable doesn’t it?
But of course it would also leave us with an ugly fact. That the western powers are – at very least – turning a blind eye to the arming and funding of these psycho clowns. That they are paying for – or know who is paying for – those state of the art under water cameras, those orange jump suits for the condemned, and those green-screen equipped snuff film studios.
Is the US bankrolling the very carnage they are now busy deploring (and unquestionably intend to use to their advantage, sooner rather than later)? As a man who worries about evil, Jonathan, I’m sure that as soon as this possibility comes to your attention you’ll be broadcasting it on the Graun’s front page.