The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

T.W.A.T and the problem with Leopard spots

Eamon Sweeney • 2 April 2006

What has happened to the man? The recent actions of Tony Blair, the once proud doyen of 'Cool Britannia', it would seem is in the latter stages of the biggest mental implosion since David Icke prophesised a watery doom for Derry and Kerry all those years ago.

Thankfully, as yet, we have been spared the spectacle of Tony in a turquoise shell suit telling us that the end is nigh. Or, perhaps it is just fortunate that no two other counties in Ireland rhyme! Nevertheless, it is nearing the point when some tabloid wag will publish one of those separated at birth pictorials of the 'Primus Inter Pares' and the former Grandstand anchor man and Coventry City goalkeeper.

The strains of 'Things Can Only get Better' must have a totally different meaning for Tony now as when he used Peter Cunnah's tune to suggest that the Tories days were over in the build up to the '97 general election. I for one am delighted to think that a song written by a Derryman is probably haunting the mind of a British Prime Minister.

The corruption that is the natural by-product of a long time in power has surfaced with menace and venom within the Labour Party. As if that was not enough the 'Iron Chancellor' lurks a little less sourly in the sidelines, as his peripheral role evaporates and compels him beaming shark like towards the spotlight. It is perhaps a pity that there will be little left for him to work with when he gets there. A pity because I would have loved to watch Gordon Brown make an utter balls of everything as he surely would have. Blair may well be a thoroughly untrustworthy character, but charisma compensates for a lot of flaws. Brown's charm does not extend much beyond that of his Toby-jug façade. I think his China effigy would have sold a lot had he born born into the seventeeth century, laden as it was by a fondness for grotesque curiousities. Just like Labour policy, 'Cheap as Chips'!

That Blair's own end at the zenith of British political life is near is not in doubt. Blair has told us as much himself. His recent expression of regret that he made a mistake in intimating his departure was fiendish in its admission. Fiendishly deliberate mistakes are always fiendish. He managed to set the cat amongst the pigeons again, and kept the story alive at the same time. A grudging respect for this type of cleverness is compulsory. Pilate like he washes his hands of the party cracking before his and his nation's eyes and creates a little bit more of scorched earth in the process.

After a decade in which he has finally decimated any remaining notions that the British Labour Party are socialist in outlook, perfected the art of government PR, solved the 'Irish Question' (Ha, ha), devolved the 'Celtic Peripheries' in his desire to have a strong financial centre in England, and plunged his nation into an illegal war against basically anyone who looks vaguely like a Muslim, he says he is leaving.

The poor man has had enough. Gone are the TV interviews and 'transparent' public briefings full of saccharin sincerity, replaced by chat show musings on God, guilt, the universe and the fact he is obviously being heavily directed towards Catholicism by the ball and chain. The brightness in the eyes has faded to a dull shadow and the boyish haircut has surrendered to a more prominent display of forehead with more than a smattering of snow on the thatch.

"They are no more proper Muslims than the Protestant bigot who murders a Catholic in Northern Ireland is a proper Christian."

No this is not Mary Mc Aleese or Fr Alec Reid loosing the plot again, but words from Tony Blair's mouth speaking recently at a Reuters event that religious extremism - including the term Islamist extremism - should be labeled as such. Mr Blair said he realized his remarks were going to be controversial, but there was an "interesting debate" being conducted within government about how to counter extremism in British communities.

The "interesting debate" he spoke of to counter extremism in 'British' communities has been going on for quite a while, as we are only too aware of in this little corner of the world. We can only presume that all prior debates of this nature concerning the little local difficulty of the past 35 years here, were of such poor quality that this is why the perceived solution was to send the military in to quell the 'problem'.

Is this why the new Prevention of Terrorism Act (2005) is more draconian than its predecessor? The incarceration of terrorist suspects, more or less, at will, is hardly a new phenomenon in the United Kingdom. It's just that now it is more likely to be a result of dawn swoops in the terraced streets of Birmingham, Manchester and London, than the side streets of Belfast or Derry. Spin is one thing. It is entirely another thing, and a dangerous sign, when you start to believe it yourself. Poor, poor Tony.

The failure of debate to resolve such issues is hardly surprising as this mythical debate rarely transcends how hard the hammer must be dropped in order to secure what you want and what you need. Those whose thoughts and words deviate from the central line, are dissenters not to be trusted and certainly not to be listened to. God help you if you believe the TV rhetoric and do not realize the double speak is not the real policy.

"If the public knew the truth, the war would end tomorrow. But they don't know and they can't know."

These were not the words of Blair, but of David Lloyd George, to the editor of the Manchester Guardian, CP Scott, in 1914. Again however they could have been spoken at any time since the re-invasion of Iraq and the launch of T.W.A.T (That's the war against terrorism to you and me)! Could it be that T.W.A.T has adopted T.U.A.S as a working fire breathing mechanism? The USA and Britain have taken the tactical use of the armed strategy to extremes in this case.

The attitude of the powerful to the chattels like ourselves who have put them there in our misguided idiocy rarely changes. Leopards we were always told, have exactly the same issue with their spots. The Romans knew the value of our idiocy, but at least had the grace to admit it. At least Julius Caesar did.

"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar."

The difference this time is that, instead of a readily identifiable nation or group of nations the USA backed by the 51st state et al have chosen to take on the entire Islamic world. The citizenry of the world however have not been blinded by this supra-national patriotism. Its rights, however, are constantly being seized. It is one thing volunteering to be killed or be expected to die for one's country but I'm fucking sure I'd do it for the Yanks as well, in a frenzied blood lust for Texas tea.

Little wonder that the ultra-sensitivity of the Muslim world in relation to the images of the Islamic God and prophet have caused such a furore. I do not in any way condone the reaction of Islam to the publication of those damn cartoons. The beliefs of a religion that tells me that because I do not believe in Allah, I will have my arse roasted for eternity is anathema to me. That any image of Mohammed or Allah is an insulting one, is also as idiotic to me as a western Christian that I am expected to believe that Jesus Christ was a blonde haired, blue eyed white man. If Catholic dogma has been right all along, then I'll be roasting long before the turban heads' satanic equivalent gets hold of me.

The dreaded order from any editor to a lowly trainee hack is to be told on a rainy Monday morning to take to the streets and canvass the opinion of the local population. The embarrassment levels of approaching strangers in the streets to ask what they think is akin for me to having teeth extracted without anaesthetic. Nevertheless, it was that very type of order than befell a colleague and myself in the days after those stinking cartoons surfaced again. Derry is not a place that people take well to being stopped in the streets by shirt and tie wearing men. The reasons for this are obvious. It used to happen quite regularly here, for other sinister motives.

As ever some people simply did not have an opinion about the cartoons, or indeed much else. Some did talk, but did not want to have their thoughts published, perhaps for fear that the Jihad may visit their own front doors. Despite assurances that I am fairly sure that Al Quaeda cells are not operating in Derry City centre, nothing could stir their political cogs and their mouths from grinding to a rusting halt.

Yet, it was those who did speak that caused my total bemusement. Almost without exception they launched into an ill-informed rant against the Islamic world. Tolerance, it seems, is something that either side of the divide has failed to learn after almost four decades of butchering each other. It proves that tolerance cannot be easily achieved; That it will not benefit from financial incentive or peace dividends or idiotically over simplified TV adverts. Only time can cure this sickness. Time and the forgetfulness it induces. 'Wouldn't it be great if it was like this all the time?' No, it fucking well would not. It would be stupendously boring and I would have nothing to write about.

I stopped a young guy in a shopping centre. He had long hair and was well dressed in that expensive pseudo-hippy middle class student prick type of way. He had a guitar case slung nonchalantly about his shoulders and he smiled as I approached him. I posed the question about his views on the Islamic reaction to the publications of the cartoon and he agreed that he would like to make a comment. The news that morning was that six Muslims had died in stampedes during protests over the cartoons.

"I have the solution to this problem," he said.

I doubled checked his name in my notebook, in anticipation that I may be addressing a future Nobel Peace Laureate and that I had found him first.

"The solution is that every newspaper in the world should print one of those cartoons everyday until all the fucker's trample each other to death," said the hippy. Jesus, talk about judging books by their covers. I looked for a hint of a sarcastic smile on his face, to see if he thought that he succeeded in causing a sensation. He had, but there wasn't even a glimmer of a smile of any type. He was serious. So, purely in the pursuit of journalistic impartiality I told him to fucking catch himself on and be about his business elsewhere.

We have witnessed a certain political party here having to make sure that they took the majority of there people with them in order to sustain the wish list of an executive dictate. However, it would appear that if you strive for freedom, the first victims of its attempted achievement are the principles of free thought and speech, especially with regard to those you claim to represent.

"Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

This is not a quote from a recent USA cabinet meeting, but the chilling words of that little charmer Herman Goering on how to control the masses. I think this should be noted well by Islam. Our political classes already know all about it. Religion is a far more powerful inciter of hatred than any man can ever be. Apart, that is, from Paisley.

Another master war-mongering publicist, Winston Churchill, who was familiar with this island too, said of Iraq in 1921:

"Give the responsibility for the control of Iraq to the Royal Air Force, thus recognizing the ability of air power to maintain effective control of a mandated territory with the maximum economy in the deployment of forces."

In 1919, Churchill, in the irony of all ironies authorized the RAF Middle East Command to attack Iraqi rebels with chemical weapons. As Secretary of State at the British War Office he said: "[I advocate] using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes [and] against recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment. [I do not understand] the squeamishness about the use of gas [...] We cannot in any circumstances acquiesce in the non-utilization of any weapons which are available to procure a speedy termination of the disorder which prevails on the frontier."

A British Royal Commission who sought to support Churchill's policy in the Middle East as far back as 1913 said: "We must become the owners, or at any rate the controllers at the source, of at least a proportion of the oil we require."

Further confirmation that little has changed in that region came from Sir Arthur Hitzel, Head of the British governments India Office Political department in 1919. He said:

"What we want to have in existence, what we ought to have been creating in this time is some administration with Arab institutions which we can safely leave while pulling the strings ourselves. Something that wont cost very much, which the Labour Party can swallow consistent with its principles, but under which our economic and political interests will be secure. If the French remain in Syria we will have to avoid giving them the excuse of setting up a protectorate. If they go, or we appear to be reactionary in Mesopotamia , there is always the risk that King Faisal will encourage the Americans to take over both, and it should be borne in mind that the Standard Oil company is very anxious to take over Iraq."

So it would appear to be a case of, new century, same old shite. The personalities have changed since that gnarled, drunken old cigar chomping butcher had British pilots chucking canisters of mustard gas out of Tiger-Moths over the desert.

"By no moral right may the ownership and control of the natural and material resources of a territory be regarded as the absolute monopoly of the people who happened to be settled there."

There were the words of Phillip Snowden the Labour Party Chancellor of 1921. Children, this is the value of history. This shows us that once upon a time to be a member of the Labour Party, was to be a S-O-C-I-A-L-I-S-T. Now, I know it's a big word, children, but you can do it, you can learn what it means. It also meant that you had to have a conscience. Tony, please stop talking Shi-ite!




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles

4 April 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Interview with Michael McKevitt
Forum Magazine

Catching the Monkey
Anthony McIntyre

Policing the Status Quo
Mick Hall

John Kennedy

T.W.A.T and the problem with Leopard spots
Eamon Sweeney

Bigotry Imperils the Union
David Adams

'Fury over British PM bigot remarks'
Michaél MhaDonnáin

Then Why Is My Colour On Your Flag?
Derick Perry

Exorcise the Ghosts to Revive the Party
Dr John Coulter

How the Irish Screwed Up Civilisation?
Seaghan O Murchu

Play Ball
John Kennedy

Cumann Frithdheighilte Na h-Eireann - An outline
Fionnbarra O'Dochartaigh

Irish Prisoner Suffering Extreme Medical Neglect in English Prison
Paul Doyle

Profile: Maryam Namazie
Anthony McIntyre

Freedom of Expression: No Ifs and Buts
Maryam Namazie

Manning the Firewalls
Anthony McIntyre

Ulster Muslims' Fury at Web Cartoons
Elham Asaad Buaras

Freedom of Speech index

26 March 2006

Profile: Taslima Nasrin
Anthony McIntyre

For Freedom of Expression
Taslima Nasrin

Muslim News Interviews The Blanket

Who Fears to Speak
Richard O'Rawe

Dr John Coulter

Cartoons and Caricatures: An anarchist take on the cartoon row
Jack White

Taslima Nasrin (2000)
Anthony McIntyre

Who Said
John Kennedy

The Key
John Kennedy

Getting Away With Murder
Mick Hall

Will the Real Army Council Please Stand Up
Geoffrey Cooling

Upcoming New York Events
Cathleen O'Brien

The Letters page has been updated:

Freedom of Speech index



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