Lost years

23 November, 2015 (19:35) | All articles | By: Stuart Fraser

WHAT a profoundly depressing week. Have the years since Iraq happened at all? Apparently not.

Back then, in the wake of an appalling terrorist outrage, the west was instructed to feed its slavering media a war: 24-hour technicolour entertainment had the inconvenient side-effect of killing tens of thousands of people, but that didn’t matter because they were mostly black or brown and we got to see big explosions on the news every night. All the reporters were allowed to have sexy military fatigues and assume that solemn, two-weeks-constipated expression they wear when they deem themselves to be present at the making of history. And all that spectacular action live on TV was really satisfyingly good for business, at least for arms dealers and pharmaceutical corporations.

‘We’ smashed evil, destroyed a wicked regime, secured peace for innocent people, saved Iraq from itself. Only we didn’t.

The country descended into a hell of lawlessness and schism that continues to this day, long after the horrified Americans threw up their hands in baffled despair and exited stage left, chewing on a piece of straw and saying things like ‘dag nabbit’.

Now? Now we’re going to do it all again. The media requires feeding once more. Once more, a troubled UK government looks to disguise its petty cruelties by banging the jingo drums. Once more, the population wrinkles its inch-thick forehead, searches for the synapses that used to pass for courage and thought before they were hammered to dull defeat by football and Simon Cowell and casual racism and easy debt and endless gnawing greed, but there’s nothing left, nothing at all. The only response the majority can manage is a sort of cross between a grunt and a clenched fist. Anybody who suggests that maybe talking would be better than killing is howled at as if they’re some kind of religious heretic, fit only to be burned at the stake.

Look, there are sombre, important politicians laying wreaths and footballers pausing for a minute’s silence and there in the Daily Mail, right there, it says how evil ISIS are again. No need for thought.

There’s been a terrible attack on innocent people by crazed religious fundamentalists and so we must act. Only… we didn’t seem to feel the need to act when exactly the same attack occurred the previous week in Beirut, killing 43. That didn’t even make a filler on the evening news. And… when Israel threw its military might at women and children in Gaza, that was completely OK. And… people die in Baghdad every single day because the west made such an unholy mess of the place, but nobody gives the tiniest fuck about that.

Why am I even bothering to say all this? Well. It’s not to blame the West, nor to wring my liberal hands, but to point out the blindingly obvious: dealing with things in isolation does not work. It has never worked, it’s not working now and it will never work, not ever.

Had we looked at the situation in the whole and reacted to every death, not just neighbouring death, not just white European death, with identical regret, we would have spent the past 12 years building a new middle East in which there are so many jobs and prospects that people wouldn’t be willing to risk their now tempting, bright futures for the whims of a bunch of medieval nutjobs. Instead, we’ve left a situation in which people have nothing to lose, and now we’re going to create more simmering resentment and we’re going to condemn more people to die and we’re going to plant the seeds of yet another bitter harvest.

But what else do we do? That’s what people keep saying. When something this bad happens, what else do we do?

Think. Plan. Be kind, be merciful. Be brave.





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