Saturday, November 20, 2004

Cruelty and contempt for human life

When a car bomb exploded outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta on September 9th, our politicians were quick to condemn the perpetrators, calling them “evil and barbaric” terrorists.

US forces shell FallujahLast week, the US military used tanks, artillery, heavy machine guns, attack helicopters, AC-130 gunships, F-16 fighter jets, 2000 lb bombs, mortars, missiles and snipers in a devestating assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah, destroying homes and vital civilian infrastructure, indiscriminately killing, wounding and terrorizing residents trapped in the city.

Fallujah has been razed, its residents have been denied food, water and medical aid. Electricity and sewage systems have been smashed. Mosques, hospitals and clinics were bombed. Woman and children were crushed under the rubble of their homes. The streets were strewn with dead and dismembered bodies.

This is terrorism, state sanctioned terrorism.

Yet we have not heard a single word of concern for the civilian population of Fallujah from any of our politicians. Not one word of condemnation for this brutal and excessive use of force against a civilian population.

Instead, they offer glib rationalizations for the carnage in Fallujah. Foreign Minister Downer said the attack was necessary to “ensure the Iraqis can have an election.” Downer believes the slaughter of innocent civilians will give the new Iraqi government “democratic legitimacy and the support of the Iraqi people.”

Minister Downer exhibits all the characteristics of a prototypical sociopath — deceitfulness, aggression, a lack of responsibility, failure to consider consequences, a reckless disregard for the safety of others, an absence of guilt or remorse and an inability to tolerate dissent or delay.

Phillip Ruddock - apologist for torture - another sociopath.

John Howard - jailer of children - an unapologetic war criminal.

Our government has about as much regard for innocent life as it has for international law. While our politicians pay lip service to the primacy of the individual, they openly disregard their obligation under the UN Charter to “refrain from the threat or use of force”.

The rank enthusiasm for war shown by our politicians, mainstream commentators and the establishment at large, is an indication that cruelty and contempt for human life are thriving in our society.

The callous brutality of our government is aided by the abject debasement and moral vacuity of the mainstream media, which slavishly and uncritically peddles pro-war propaganda.

I have absolutely no sympathy for this resurgence in nationalistic militarism and no faith in the advocates of armed aggression or the spurious arguments they use to legitimize violence.

As Albert Einstein once said, “It is characteristic of the military mentality that nonhuman factors are held essential, while human beings - their thoughts and desires - are considered to be unimportant or secondary.”

But society at large tends to glamorize war and glorify the fallen.

Media moguls endorse our government’s complicity in the unlawful attack on Iraq and its continuing support for the criminal behaviour of the Bush administration and the US military.

The media neglects to address the moral, legal and political issues surrounding our government’s commitment to war. This attempt to gloss over the cost of war must be confronted and discredited.

Freedom, democracy and the rule of law have failed to quell state sanctioned violence. More than ever, peace and justice require steadfast opposition to the use of armed force.

Politicians who advocate war need to be challenged and condemned for promoting violence. Corporations that profit from war should be identified, scrutinized and denied political influence.

Civil society must resist the creeping scourge of militarism.

We need to rethink the current defence and security paradigm.

While most people believe in the need for a strong and effective defence force, few are prepared to scrutinize the effect that militarism has on formulating national policy and managing international relations.

If we were truly committed to pursuing global peace and security rather than corporate windfalls for the weapons industry, we would investigate and promote alternatives to armed conflict when it comes to resolving disputes.

Ultimately, peace and security will be achieved through international cooperation, arms control and multilateral disarmament. Only by strengthening ties and promoting trust between nations can we hope to deal with the problems that face a globalized world.

If war supporters would flex their minds just a little, if they could comprehend the suffering caused by the warring they're so fond of, the world might become a place where humanity can co-exist peacefully.

Certainly, without that glimmer of empathy and compassion in the hearts of our fellow citizens and leaders, we will end up destroying ourselves, and much of the beauty and wonder of this world as well.

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