Wednesday, 17 February 2010
LEST WE FORGET
'Lest we forget' - that is the inscription you'll find on all war memorials in the United Kingdom. But individuals, people, nations and cultures all have selective memories.
Two nights ago, on Monday 15 February we were watching Newsnight, BBC2's flagship news programme. Gavin Esler (the host) was conducting a discussion with an American, the former US ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker and a British military expert Colonel Tootal. Their topic? Pontificating on the progress of Operation Moshtarak or Operation Togetherness.
A previous Coalition Operation in Afghanistan was named 'Panther Claw'. Now that sounded aggressive. So this latest onslaught gave credence to the Afghanis by giving it the native name 'Moshtarak'. And to make this military operation soft and cushy it was called 'Operation Togetherness' - like a big love-in on a TV sitcom such as 'Friends' or the Oprah Winfrey Show!!! I shall however refer to this sanctimonious 'venture' only as Operation Togetherness so that the cynicism and hypocrisy of the assault will not be rendered benign.
The British and the Americans have been beating the drums days ago about their 'Coming', just like the beaters on a Boxing Day pheasant shoot. British TV showed us trails of civilians leaving their homes to escape the inevitable pounding from the air and on the ground. I was thinking, where will they go for shelter? What will they do for food? What about the children's schooling? What happens to their farms and animals? What will their homes look like once these Western Warriors have satisfied their blood-lust?
By the second day of Operation Togetherness 17 civilians had been killed. We were not informed of their gender or age. If the situation had been reversed the electronic and print media would make a meal of the vulnerabilty and innocence of these victims. They would be described poignantly as children, babies, toddlers, mothers, women, young men and so on. However, the ITV newsreader read of these deaths in a very matter of fact manner, as if it was the weather report. But when it came to the next item of news - the death of yet another Tommy in Afghanistan - it was said in hushed respectful tones. We have been getting a lot of these reverent statements each time a British soldier dies in a war of his Kingdom's making on a country of 28.1 million people whose GDP (2008) is $21.4 billion, with a per capita GDP of $760 and is the 169th lowest in the world. Two-thirds of the population live on less than $2 a day.
As for the Motherland of 62 million people (2010), the GDP is $2.7 trillion, a per capita GDP of $43,733 and is the 16th/21st (?) richest country in the world.
This sad country has endured countless invasions from Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Babur the founder of the Moghul Dynasty in India, the British in 1830, the Russians in 1979 and since 2001 the almighty invasion of the Judaeo - Christian empire.
On British TV, we hardly see any depiction of Afghanis killed in this brutal war but we are served a continuous parade of youthful British boys who sacrificed their lives fighting for democracy for these 'towel-heads' in Afghanistan. Other than the media, the little Wiltshire market town of Wootton Bassett has never failed to demonstrate their respect for their dead. That is their prerogative.
The good people of Wootton Bassett honour their military dead.
But who will respect and dignify the deaths of these victims of this unparallelled vicious and unjust invasion?
Photo by REUTERS/Stringer.
The villagers of Kunduz burying their dead (up to 90)in a mass grave on Friday, 4 September 2009 after a NATO air strike. Just another oopss!! These natives, they all look the same. don't they?
And here's a bonus picture of one of our lads. This would look smashing in the pub or in The Sun tabloid!!
And when I watch Esler and Volker and Tootal performing like guests at a homely WI (Women's Institute) Meeting somewhere in a village in the Cotswolds I ask myself, "What on earth am I doing here?".