Archive for July 13th, 2007

Sniper Sniping

Last night I got shown a computer game called Sniper Elite. As one whose interest in computer games was already petering out during the salad days of Sonic the Hedgehog, I was taken aback at the accomplishment of the graphics and the brutality of the violence.

You play the role of a sniper in wartime Berlin, apparently out to stop plans for nuclear weapons getting into the hands of the bad guys. The game allows you to shoot people from hundreds of metres away, and then follow the trajectory of the bullet – to the point where you see the head of your victim get destroyed in a flash of blood and guts.

Because I’m not able to imagine any circumstances where I could take pleasure in destroying someone else, and also because I’ve seen people lying dead from gunshot wounds to the head, I thought it was pretty repulsive, and I was thinking: this is classed as entertainment? If you were forced people to play these games after a day’s work, it would be brainwashing. Yet millions of people voluntarily sit down for hours on end with these games every day, using them to release tension, indulge sadistic impulses, and simply delight that they’re blowing people to bits.

Can’t we all just go back to Frogger?

Advertisements

Will Get Fooled Again

And I’m like, Dude, these people don’t understand what you’re saying…. They used to say a lot, ‘Oh, they’ll understand when the gun is in their face.’

The Nation has a long report by Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian on the brutality of the US occupation of Iraq, based on interviews conducted by with 50 US veterans.

Several interviewees said that, on occasion, these killings were justified by framing innocents as terrorists, typically following incidents when American troops fired on crowds of unarmed Iraqis. The troops would detain those who survived, accusing them of being insurgents, and plant AK-47s next to the bodies of those they had killed to make it seem as if the civilian dead were combatants. “It would always be an AK because they have so many of these weapons lying around,” said Specialist Aoun. Cavalry scout Joe Hatcher, 26, of San Diego, said 9-millimeter handguns and even shovels–to make it look like the noncombatant was digging a hole to plant an IED–were used as well.

Democracy Now! has interviews with some of the interviewees for the Nation report. One of them was involved in the invasion from day one:

And at that point in time I had a lot of reservations, because I was looking around, and I saw 150,000 troops making their way to Baghdad in the open desert, and here’s President Bush, and he’s accusing Saddam Hussein of having a massive stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, possibly a nuclear weapon, saying that he’s a homicidal dictator addicted to these weapons and we have to stop him now. And I was thinking to myself, I said, you know, what would be a better time for Saddam Hussein to use these weapons? He has 150,000 troops in the southern Iraqi desert, and he could launch these weapons on us directly and kill nobody but us.

Also on Iraq, an apparent criticism made by Martin Woollacott in Saturday’s Guardian of Eric Hobsbawm’s new book caught the eye. I haven’t read the book yet, but I was intrigued by the wording of the criticism. It says:

He does not examine the case that Iraq had a democratic tradition and a real national identity which, given a better-managed intervention, might have come to the fore.

This appears to suppose that a concentration of power actually existed that would have, at some point, been in a position to ‘better-manage’ the ‘intervention’; also, that the agents most likely to comprise this concentration of power would have had a real interest in a ‘better-managed intervention’.

The terms here are so open-ended that they are difficult to apply to some historically realistic alternative course of events. An ‘intervention’ could be anything from a series of diplomatic meetings to intensive bombing campaigns, and successful management -as any manager knows- depends upon the goal and objectives set forth, so it could entail a chicken in every pot, or a death in every household, or perhaps even both.

To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you imagine war with the states you have, not the states you would like to have. So within the range of reasonable potential alternatives, I see no reason to imagine that things would have turned out significantly different. For instance, an Al Gore administration may have waffled more vigorously, but, when it came down to attending to strategic interests, it would probably have bombed just as hard:

We have to defend our future from these predators of the 21st century. They feed on the free flow of information and technology. They actually take advantage of the freer movement of people, information and ideas.

And they will be all the more lethal if we allow them to build arsenals of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them. We simply cannot allow that to happen.

There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. His regime threatens the safety of his people, the stability of his region and the security of all the rest of us.

Bill Clinton, in 1998.

The most important difference between the Republicans and the Democrats, when it comes to foreign policy, is probably that the latter are better at portraying their urge to destroy as part of a moral quest in which ‘liberals’ have a specific interest. If the Bush-Cheney administration somehow does not get round to launching a bombing campaign against Iran before the end of its term, it is a fairly safe bet that a Democrat administration will pick up where they left off, only with even heftier backing from mass media outlets.

Oh, and watch some of this – War Made Easy:


I on Twitter

July 2007
M T W T F S S
« Jun   Aug »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  
Advertisements