Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Truth from Australia, spin from England

My darling dime store thief
In the War of Independence
Rock 'n' roll rang sweet as victory
-- "In France They Kiss On Main Street," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her The Hissing of Summer Lawns

Ten years ago today, the push for the war in Iraq was full throttle.  The three countries whose governments were pushing for the illegal war were the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.  The leaders of the three countries were Bully Boy Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Prime Minister John Howard.    Today on Mornings with Steve Austin (Australia's ABC -- link is audio), Austin spoke with Just Peace's Annette Brownlie.  Excerpt.

Steve Austin: Do you remember where you were when the planes struck the World Trade Center?  I can exactly.  I can then also remember where I was when the invasion of Iraq started,  I think, three years later, that's what it was. I was standing in the ABC [. . .] and we switched on the TV and all of the sudden the CNN cameras flipped on to Baghdad and they just waited.  And you knew what it meant because you knew that they had the drop, the invasion was about to start.  And I remember there was even an instruction went down from ABC News that it didn't matter what we saw on CNN, we weren't to say or announce that the invasion of Iraq had started because of a whole range of journalistic reasons, I won't bore you with the details.  But that time is seared in my memory.  We did a lot of stories on the Iraq War and spoke with a lot of people ten years ago -- or more -- ten years ago today, I think it is, who were vehemently against the invasion of Iraq.  And, as we now know, there's no evidence that Iraq had any involvement in the attack on the World Trade Center nor that they had a current Weapons of Mass Destruction program  A public forum is being held to mark a tenth demonstration of that protest because it was ten years ago today.  Annette Brownlie is from Just Peace.  Annette, take me back ten years ago today and the march in Brisbane.  Describe it for me, draw on your memory, your mind's eye, and describe it for me if you will.  Morning to you.

Annette Brownlie:   It's all very vivid.  As one of the organizers of that mass protest in Brisbane along with then  lord mayor Jim Soorley, we were at the Roma Street Forum expecting, you know, like in our wildest hopes, seven-to-ten-thousand people.  But that had to be multiplied by ten.  So between seventy and a hundred thousand people came that day.  And, uhm, many of the people that came in by train told me later that they couldn't get on the trains, the trains were packed, they had to wait for the next train.  A lot of people turned up late.  And people were arriving at the Roma Street Forum as the march actually arrived at the Riverstage.  So it -- it was incredible.  We couldn't believe it.   But, you know, people around the world said the same thing.

Steve Austin:  Millions of people, I think, marched in London,  the US, all sorts of places.  The Pope, the leader of the Anglican Church said "don't do this."  You know, all sorts of figures from around the world said, "Do not do this." But it went ahead.  Now before we get into the implications of that, who spoke at the forum?

Annette Brownlie:  Well we had -- one of the speakers was Andrew Bartlett who was, at the time, leader of the Democrats and he, again, will be speaking tonight at the forum to mark the tenth anniversary.   But there was a huge line up of speakers.  And it was -- it was massive.

Over in England, pompous Labour MP Tom Harris (Huffington Post UK) mocks Sam Parker's column on the Iraq War.  Parker feels distress over the fact that so many -- including himself -- marched ahead of the start of the illegal war and Tony Blair's Labour government didn't listen. Harris huffs:

Parker's article reheats some of the tired old arguments about poodles and Dubya and Blair: The US president eventually made "us" despise our prime minister as a result of their association. The writer doesn't quite identify who he meant by "us" - given Blair's record-breaking third election victory two years later, I guess he meant the anti-war protesters rather than the population as a whole.

Tony Blair left office in disgrace.  Ed Miliband is an idiot if he lets Tony back in.  David is the smart brother (I know them both) and, were he the leader of Labour, he'd be explaining to Tony that he's a liability.  Whether Ed gets the brains to do that or not, Tony Blair is a joke in England and around the world.  There have been repeated attempts at citizens arrest.  He can't escape his War Crimes.  He may escape legal punishment, but he's a joke.  Even his 'religion' has become a joke (specifically, smearing leaves, fecal matter and whatever else on himself and his wife before they 'procreate' has made for laughter around the world).  Tony didn't just leave in disgrace, he poisoned the term of his successor Gordon Brown.  Tony Blair and his lies are the reason Labour's no longer in power (the same way that in the US, the Republicans lost power or why Kevin Rudd's Labor Party -- and now Julia Gillard's Labour Party --  replaced John Howard's Liberal-Democrats).

Harris is an idiot to fail to see that that every political party in power in the three countries at the time of the start of the war are no longer in power.

He's a pompous ass who hurts his own party because what Labour needs to do is to find a way to make up for their appalling position on Iraq, not pretend like it doesn't exist.  As long as Harris is  bitchy, he can count on Labour continuing to have to struggle and to be out of power.

And tip to Harris, I don't believe a politician ever wins a public battle when they mock a citizen.  In fact, that strikes a lot of people as unseemly and undignified, it sort of cheapens the office.

Under neon signs
A girl was in bloom
And a woman was fading
In a suburban room
I said take me to the dance
Do you want to dance?
I love to dance
And I told him They don't take chances
They seem so removed from romance
They've been broken in churches and schools
And molded to middle class circumstance
And we were rolling rolling rock 'n' rolling
-- again, Joni's "In France They Kiss On Main Street"

Still in England, Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi is one of the many pro-war voices the Independent offers.  His writing is always one long, nasal whine and that's especially clear with his latest "'Was the Iraq war worth it?' is a question unworthy of debate -- so why are we still asking it?"  If I thought a topic was unworthy of debate or discussion, I certainly wouldn't waste 838 words on it.  But then my time matters to me and my life has meaning.

al-Tamimi wants to pretend he's above it all and so over it.  Of course, he wasn't when he was writing for Harry's Place back in the day, was he?

It must be something to live in a delusion so grand that you honestly think you can cheerlead an illegal war and then, years later, take to the world stage and offer boredom over the tragedies you helped create.

al-Tamimi is always sneering about public apathy towards the Iraq War but I think what he's really experiencing is public apathy towards his crackpot revisionary tactics.  al-Tamimi, you're as boring as you are predictable.  

We're going back to Australia because Annette Brownlie makes some comments that offer genuine perspective.

 Steve Austin:  You started protesting at the age of 16 against the Vietnam War.  Does it sadden you that this type of protest is still necessary but still appears to be ineffective?

Annette Brownlie:  It saddens me that it's still necessary, for sure.  You know, in an ideal lifetime, you would see the fruits of your labor.  But, you know, history isn't like that, is it?  It's sometimes  the really big paradigm shifts in human thinking take much longer than one person's lifetime.  And you think about slavery and just how long it took for people to accept that this was wrong.  Think about women's right to vote, it took a long time for that to take off.  And I'm, you know, I see what we do in the peace movement as being a continuum.  And at some point, we're going to realize that wars, indiscriminate killing of people, is a crime and it doesn't achieve what you want and it's criminal activity. 

The following community sites -- plus Janis Ian, Black Agenda Report, Susan's On the Edge, C-SPAN, Chocolate City and KPFK -- updated:

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

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