Poppies, Politicians and Psychopaths: As the world’s leaders came together for Remembrance Day, there was a scent of hypocrisy: commemorating the mass casualties of two catastrophic world wars while simultaneously waging new ones.
In November The Bridge Magazine editorial focuses on true crimes, allowing readers to understand what goes on inside serial killers’ minds in a bid to prevent more people becoming their victims.
This November, analysis and statistics on world civilian casualties due to bad politics, lies, propaganda and war brings politicians out on top as the most dangerous types of people, not only on a par with but actually above the common psychopath.
According to the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, Sweden, and the Centre for the Study of Civil War at the International Peace Research Institute, there have been ‘a total of approximately 218,000 events of conflict and organized violence in the world between January 1989 and December 2015’.
The dataset covers individual incidents of armed conflict and organized violence such as clashes, battles and attacks against civilians globally. The data is built to be globally consistent and comparable. As such, it opens access to easy investigations allowing, for example, local-level analyses of cases and countries as different as Sri Lanka and Iraq or the Democratic Republic of Congo and Israel/Palestine together.
Most conflicts have resulted in at least 1,000 battle-related deaths in a single year.
Civilian casualties are true crimes and politicians should be held to account.
Death tolls from armed conflicts are, of course, significantly more catastrophic than those that result from the crimes of serial killers.
In Roman Catholic culture, the month of November is the month of souls in Purgatory, when the Church commemorates all her faithful children who have departed from this life but have not yet attained the joys of heaven.
Remembrance has become part of modern British life, culture and heritage. Also referred to as Poppy Day or Armistice Day, Remembrance Day is observed in Commonwealth countries, including Australia and Canada.
But this November, we should reflect on the fact that politicians cause more loss of civilians than terrorists, serial killers or medical diseases.
What is the point of politicians standing on ceremony to mourn the deaths of millions in the world wars when they are at the same time waging or provoking wars in their own time?
To understand how so many millions of people end up as the casualties of political manipulation and wars, it is necessary to gain more understanding of their home and foreign policies.
On arms trade, war, terrorism and blood money.
Britain continues to sell arms to countries that commit human rights abuses and is now ranked second in the world for weapons sales, a report shows. It is currently contended, for instance, that Saudi Arabia is using weaponry supplied by Britain to carpet bomb Yemen.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) found that the UK was second only to the United States in terms of generating money from the arms trade:
‘UK weapons sales made up 10.4 percent of the total $401 billion worth of arms sold around the world.’ In 2015
More recently, on 5th November 2016, in an explosive interview with John Pilger at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian Assange claimed that Hillary Clinton and ISIS are secretly funded by the same shadowy figures.
If governments deliberately exploit, even encourage unpleasant and destructive forces, to who should we look as a guardians of public ethics? There seems to be one law for the lawmakers and another for the rest of the public.
Britain and other Western powers have built their empires on war and the arms trade. Taking into account the most recent civilian bloodshed in Libya, was the scalp of Colonel Gaddafi worth the lives of all those civilians killed since the trouble began? No dictator can surely be worth the deaths of so many people in their country, especially when we know these deaths could have been prevented.
On racism and imperialism: John Pilger’s film Steeling a Nation is an exposé of UK/US foreign policy and imperialism
The story of Diego Garcia is shocking, almost breathtaking. Diego Garcia was first settled in the late 18th century, a British colony lying midway between Africa and Asia in the Indian Ocean. The island is one of 64 unique coral islands that form the Chagos Archipelago, a marvel of natural beauty.
When Harold Wilson’s Labour Government in the late 1960s and early 1970s
wanted to make a deal with the US, which was looking for a military base in the Indian Ocean in order to monitor Soviet activity, Diego Garcia was selected.
The islanders were tricked by the British and frightened into leaving; those who had gone to Mauritius for urgent medical treatment were prevented from returning, all as the Americans began to arrive and build the base.
In return for leasing the island to them, the British government won abundant good will from the US and a major financial contribution to its Polaris submarine programme. Ironically, the US base on Diego Garcia is called Camp Justice.
Africa and other regions of the world rich in mineral resources are constantly at the whim of Western capitalist governments seeking to occupy them and exploit their natural assets, just as happened with Diego Garcia.
On foreign policy; coups to overthrow former colonies and governments; and puppet presidents.
It may be argued that Western leaders are the manipulators behind the shameful show African nations and people have been displaying to the world for decades by killing each other, plunging their continent into a bloodbath of tribalism and endless wars.
By contrast, African fat-cat leaders have been living lives of opulence unthinkable to most Western people, who often work hard to give generously to feed neglected and starving African children.
African leaders can be so corrupt that they will overlook laws that could prevent them from abusing their country’s wealth. They have private bank accounts engorged with the vast amounts of money that none of their Western counterparts have even known.
The overthrows of more progressive African leaders who attempted to offer genuine alternatives to Western-style modernisation, such as Patrice Lumumba (2 July 1925 – 17 January 1961) and Laurent desire Kabila (November 27, 1939 – January 18, 2001) of the Democratic Republic of Congo, are believed to have almost certainly been sponsored by the West.
Maybe Western powers still hoped to retain profits from unfair investment and trade contracts, but in so doing they brought parts of the continent to their knees with the scale of poverty and misery they inflicted.
But for all the legitimate criticisms of the West, the question remains for African leaders themselves: what have you done to your own continent?
The dice was already cast for the developing world way back in 1944 when the Breton Wood Conference, convened by US President Franklin Roosevelt with delegates from 44 allied and associated countries, was initially set up for the reconstruction of Europe and to develop the Third World after the Second World War. Instead, however, it simply set up a platform from which America mapped out a new world economy for itself to benefit from primarily.
The true Janus-face of this ‘New Economic Order’ is depicted at length by the investigative journalist John Pilger in his special report entitled War By Other Means, published on 20th April 2012. According to Pilger, it was the
‘United States that fashioned the present “global economy”, at Bretton Woods in 1944, so that its military and corporate arms would have unlimited access to minerals, oil, markets and cheap labour. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were invented to implement this strategy. Their base is Washington, where they are joined by an umbilical cord to the US Treasury, a few blocks away. This is where the globalisation of poverty and the use of debt as a weapon of control were conceived. When John Maynard Keynes, the British representative at Bretton Woods, proposed a tax on creditor nations, designed to prevent poor countries falling into perpetual debt, he was told by the Americans that if he persisted, Britain would not get its desperately needed war loans. More than half a century later, the gap between the richest 20 per cent of humanity and the poorest 20 per cent has doubled.’
On aid and Donation
Remember Live Aid in 1985? That symbol of concern and generosity? Did you know that during that year the hungriest countries in Africa gave twice as much money to us in the developed world as we gave to them? There was another famine last year, perhaps you’re one of those who took part in Red Nose Day. Did you know that before that day was over, the equivalent of all the money that Comic Relief had raised in Britain, millions had come back to the rich countries?
Every day vast amounts are given by the poorest countries to the richest countries as interest payments on loans that most of them never asked for or even knew existed. In other words, contrary to myth long popular in the West, it’s been the poor of the world who have financed the rich, not the other way around.
On endless ore of mineral resources
Eastern Congo is one of the world’s richest countries in terms of mineral resources, but yet Africa is portrayed by the mainstream media as the world’s leper. The country does not have basic infrastructure and facilities, such as roads, making it difficult to regulate safety hazards and child labour.
Warmongers and foreign mining companies have turned the DRC into a perpetual battlefield over the last decade –the bloodiest of them all since World War II, where some of the most gruesome casualties were children. Congolese mineral ore reserves comprise millions of tonnes of diamonds, copper, cobalt, zinc, manganese, uranium, niobium, tantalum, ebony wood, timber, to list only a few.
The country is naturally blessed with mineral resources, but yet blighted by the world’s most powerful Western governments.
With more than 92% of global coltan and other mineral reserves located in Congo, a number of analysts have argued that international demand for the metal has become one of the driving forces behind the war in DRC. Coltan, also known as rare earth mineral, is a black mineral that can withstand heat and hold a high electric charge when refined, and the component maintains the electrical charge in computer chips. Coltan is among the many strategic minerals found in Congo which form the basis of the high-tech global commodity chain.
Technologically advanced nuclear weapons, planes, cars, wireless systems, DVD players, mobile phones, ipods, night vision goggles, fibre optics, capacitors, smart phones, mp3 players, laptops, Play Stations, and many toys also depend on the coltan trade. More than 80% of the world’s cobalt, gold and diamond are found in Congo, which is also the largest supplier of high-grade copper.
It is not difficult to establish a connection between Congo’s permanent war, alleged tribal tensions, coups and overthrown regimes and the international capitalist demand for endless supplies of such Congo-abundant minerals as coltan. Nor to link this with the tumultuous tension brought by the Rwandan involvement in DRC politics and the desire for warmongers to maintain the established order.
It is no surprise that the ore mines are located in the bloodiest areas of Eastern Congo. The mines can then be easily controlled by warmongers whose roles are airbrushed of brutality in the mainstream media. So as the mineral traffic goes smoothly, the media can then use spin and propaganda to deflect accusations of dictatorship away from the murderous regimes they support in order to make profit.
At the cutting age of the high tech, modern humanity needs to inject an ethical dimension to its technological ‘ingenuity’, spirit of invention and acquisitiveness. Wisdom will help us operate more judicious choices.
The German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s (1724-1804) deontological moral theory is arguably one of the best moral theories –he was an opponent of utilitarianism: he believed that certain types of actions (including murder, theft, and lying) were absolutely prohibited, even if they resulted in more happiness than other alternatives.
Modern humankind needs virtue to save it from perdition. According to the Thesaurus Online, virtue in Latin (virtus) is ‘moral excellence, a positive trait or quality deemed to be morally good and thus …valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being’.
To sum up, in order to avoid depravation that will lead to the eventual extinction of our species, we should show respect and love towards our fellow human beings, promote collective and individual worth, and do our utmost to pass on the right virtues and fundamental values to the next generation, which, quite apart from questions of morality, are also the wisest and most pragmatic options in ensuring the continuity of our species.
Below are few areas that we should all be aware of to avoid the pitfalls of mass manipulation by our politicians.
Noam Chomsky has listed 10 strategies of manipulations by corrupt media helping politicians to cover up their crimes and come out with ‘clean hands’.
Noam Chomsky is the philosopher and activist once voted the world’s top public intellectual.
Chomsky has compiled a list of the ten most common and effective strategies resorted to by the agendas “hidden” to establish a manipulation of the population through the media in order to justify political oppression, violence, racism, wars, tempered financial crises and many more cataclysmic vicissitudes.
- The strategy of distraction: the mainstream media diverts our attention away from the real social problems to matters of no real importance.
- Create problems, and then offer solutions.
- The gradual strategy such as the minimal state, privatization, precarious employment, ‘flexibility’, unemployment, wages, ‘zero-hours contracts’ with no decent income guarantees.
- The strategy of deferring.
- Go to the public as a little child:
- Emotiveness as opposed to rational objectivity: making use of the emotional aspect is a classic technique to create fears and anxieties.
- Keep the public in ignorance and dose them with mediocrity.
- Encourage the public to be complacent and satisfied with mediocrity: promote mediocrity and simplistic values to the public in order to encourage stupidity, vulgarity and ‘uneducatedness’.
- Strengthen a sense that all individuals are to blame for their own misfortunes (though almost always the poorest and least powerful and very rarely the wealthy and powerful).
- Getting to know the individuals better than they know themselves.
In most cases, the system exerts greater control and great power over individuals.
As a result, government home and foreign policy have done more harm than good to civilians around the world.
The moral question is: should the world stand by and see so many defenceless fellow human beings being so mercilessly used like this? Surely it is time, in the twenty-first century, for the world to join together and say enough is enough –no human being should be used as a tool, as a means to someone else’s ends?
For anyone to argue that one is accused of being “politically incorrect” to question such obvious interrelations between the phenomena detailed above is to reduce the dialectic to an irrelevant, petty and disrespectful level.
The Romanian-born 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Elie Wiesel, once said:
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
Thanks to his activism, ethics and sense of justice, Wiesel, the Sorbonne-graduated journalist, received the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his victory over “the powers of death and degradation, and to support the struggle of good against evil in the world.”
There are no riches as nourishing as a clear conscience. Human beings should be what we value most. Not our popularity, not the success of our political party or religious beliefs, not the success of our business, not our wealth, but our fellow human beings.