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Issue #1685      May 20, 2015

Editorial

Waterboarding minors?

It is no coincidence that the ramping up of fear over terrorism is happening at the same time that the US military is building up its forces in the north of the country in preparations for war against China. A climate of fear at home is essential in plans to take the country into conflict.

Authorities here and their counterparts in Britain are now arresting children caught up in the terrorism dragnet. The stench of fear is being used to increase surveillance on everyone and has seen $450 million being allocated in this month’s Budget to what is now the standard official and media term “homegrown terrorism”.

Mass surveillance does not reduce the threat of terrorism, but it does threaten our civil and political rights.

Where are all the terrorists? Man Haron Monis and the Martin Place siege? Haron Monis had a high profile, not only to authorities, but to the public at large. He fitted a type; a history of mental illness, a criminal record. The authorities took him off a watch list. He obtained a weapon and laid siege, in this case to a café. The incident was labelled by authorities as terrorism, a claim inflated by the media.

The outcome was the tragic death of two innocent people in the café; one by Haron Monis and one by the police. But if this was an act of terrorism then what took place in Port Arthur, Tasmania in 1996 was the biggest act of terrorism in the history of modern Australia: 35 killed, 23 wounded. The question of the shooter Martin Bryant’s values and religious beliefs were not a focus; the state of his mental health was.

Terrorism is real. It is a tactic as old as politics itself. So the Australian government and its industrialised western conspirators would have us believe they are waging a war against a tactic.

The conflicts cutting a swathe through the Middle East are not part of a war against terrorism. In fact they are assaults on the nation states of Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, driven by proxy forces funded by the US and its allies. In turn, Islamic State is not a state but a ragtag band of fanatics, mercenaries and out and out criminal elements.

At the same time, after more than 13 years of engaging in occupation and conflict, why would anyone think that won’t visit home in some form?

The spin is not new of course. During the original cold war years the bogy was terrorism linked to Communism. One example among many serves to reveal its current use is in keeping with the historical use by imperialim.

In January 1981, in his first news conference as US Secretary of State, Alexander Haig charged that the Soviet Union, as a “conscious policy” engaged in “training, funding and equipping” international terrorists. Following close on the heels of that statement a book, by one Claire Sterling, was published. The Terror Network: The Secret War of International Terrorism, was riddled with portentous but meaningless statements.

The reader was told that in 1964 or 1966 or 1968 the Soviet Union decided that terrorism was a cheaper and more effective way to conquer the West. It went on to claim that the Kremlin determined to use their Cuban and Palestinian “puppets” to take over terrorist movements and mobilise them in a coordinated attack on Western civilisation.

The author included in this vast conspiracy the Provisional IRA, kidnappings by then Red Brigades in Italy, the ETA in Spain and every other terrorist act to that time.

This propaganda tune with variations (the pretence now is that China and Russia are not targets) is still being played today.

There are reasons the ideas of extremism gain traction with youth, but at bottom what is driving those who feel marginalised in some way are the politics of racial and religious hate and division fomented by governments toward those ends.

The Abbott government is a leading proponent of the duplicitous and insidious, at one and the same time denying the agenda is about race and religion while by implication laying blame.

Now we have reached the point where children are being arrested and detained under secretive national security laws. What next, waterboarding minors?

Next article – Citizenship for sale

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