When all the high-fives and cheering in the House of Commons are over and the bombs are dropping, I wonder if the mainstream media would decide to stop portraying this mammoth debate and vote as some kind of historic moment on a par with Churchill’s “we will fight them on the beaches”.
There was so much that bothered me about this whole Syria debate and the way it was covered that I almost don’t know where to begin.
Maybe it was the smug, gentlemen’s club laughter or self-congratulatory nature of much of the debating.
Maybe it was David Cameron equating opposers with being ‘terrorist sympathisers’.
Maybe it was the fact the whole thing seemed to exist primarily for a number of self-satisfied politicians to practice their oratory skills and to be applauded for it.
Maybe it’s the fact that the entire debate of course failed to talk about Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, or indeed the role the British state or Israel and the United States have played in building up the so-called ‘Islamic State’.
But more than all of that, it was the fact that the entire process seemed to me to reinforce the illusion that I already alluded to in this post last week about the symbolism, mass conditioning and Psy-Op of the recent Paris attacks. This mammoth parliamentary debate and vote seemed to me to play further into the already developing Psy-Op and the maintaining of those illusions; aided of course by the media, which devoted an enormous amount of coverage and analysis to the debate and the vote (something that was strangely absent in 2011 when David Cameron’s government decided to bomb Libya and overthrow its government for the sake of the very same school of jihadists and mercenaries we’re now supposedly trying to bomb in parts of Syria).
And all the excessive celebration and lionisation of Hilary Benn’s pro-bombing speech is something that plays massively into this broad psychological conditioning too – which is probably why the media has been so excessive in praising it.
It’s as if Churchill had just spoken about the existential necessity of fighting Nazism.
That allusion is no accident, of course, because it’s exactly what Hilary Benn was evoking, going out of his way to portray this situation as something it certainly isn’t.
This comparison of ISIL/Daesh with the Third Reich is entirely misleading.
There may be a moral or ideological comparison, but there isn’t a comparable level of threat to Western civilisation or to the UK. This idea being pedalled by various politicians – Hilary Benn now included – is a massive exaggeration and, as illustrated in this post about the Paris attacks, is part of a massive psychological conditioning.
Even the name ‘ISIS’, as I wrote, ‘is a Psy-Op name the media continues to use… because it phonetically sounds very similar to ‘SS’ when you say it, bringing to mind associations with the Nazi Stormtroopers. Things like this work on a subliminal level, but help to convince the broader population that ‘ISIS’ is the new ‘SS’ and that a Third World War may be necessary, just as the Second World War was. And the idea is frequently put across now that this is a grave threat to Western society on a par with the Nazis and that this attack in Paris was the worst since World War II‘.
But more and more in recent weeks the allusion has gone beyond mere symbolism and into an overt, pronounced propaganda formula to convince everyone of the utter necessity of bombing Syria.
This was already going on, though less frequently, months ago, typified by Defense Secretary Michael Fallon’s highly questionable suggestion that “we’re fighting a new Battle of Britain”.
No, we’re not.
ISIL isn’t capable of decimating British cities like the Luftwaffe; ISIL doesn’t have an air-force. In fact the analogy is so bad that it’s pretty much opposite to the reality: because we’re the ones bombing, so the only way Michael Fallon’s deliberately emotive analogy works is if Syria is Britain and the RAF (and French and American air-forces) are the Luftwaffe.
Of course that would be equally as spurious; but I’m just highlighting the absurdity of all of this inflated language and cynical manipulation of the narrative.
Hilary Benn has now massively amplified and played into those misleading notions, helping David Cameron’s government to build up ‘ISIS’ as the new Third Reich and to try to stir up popular feelings of patriotism, World War II nostalgia and an artificially-induced sense that this is ‘just like the Second World War’.
There is a concerted propaganda push now to push all of us into a ‘Clash of Civilizations’ mentality and to think of this as a fight for the existence of our civilization.
It’s nonsense. The only civilization under threat is Syria – it is about to go the way of the two other civilizations we already destroyed, Libya and Iraq.
And for that matter, this manufactured ‘Clash of Civilizations’ has only come about because of our invasion of Iraq, our destruction of Libya and our attempts (along with our allies) to overthrow the Syrian state by supporting terrorism. And we’re still doing it: nothing has changed, as is evident in David Cameron’s ludicrous delusions about the ‘70,000’ so-called ‘moderate rebels’ who could potentially act as our ground army against ISIL. It’s another lie: there are no ‘moderate rebels’ left in Syria, certainly not 70,000 of them. In reality, these rebels Cameron is talking about are there to continue the thus-far-failed operation to overthrow the Syrian state.
All of this inflated, self-aggrandizing speech-making doesn’t address any of that, but simply tries to convince everyone that we’re somehow in a battle for our very survival. It seems designed to make the British government itself feel heroic, bravely going into Syria to help save the world from this terrible threat to civilisation.
The only problem is: it’s a false narrative.
Even if we do ‘destroy’ ISIL, there’s nothing grand or heroic about it: we’d simply be helping clean up a nightmare that we helped create.
The actual reality, it must be reiterated, is that ‘ISIS’ *isn’t* any kind of existential threat to ‘the West’, to Europe, to France or to civilisation, certainly nothing like on the level of 1930s fascism or the dangers of the Cold War. ‘ISIS’ is simply a manufactured bogeyman, its rank-and-file consisting mostly of teenagers or disenfranchised young men who’ve been overly influenced by a mixture of Salafist indoctrination, violent, war-based computer gaming and intelligence-agency manipulation.
‘ISIS’ is an existential threat only in one part of the world and that’s the Middle East. In terms of Europe or Western civilisation, ISIL is only a ‘threat’ to whatever extent it is enabled or allowed to be by the real orchestraters of the entire crisis.
Yet within an hour of him speaking, some commentators were already calling it a ‘historic moment’. The Twitter response was over the top, to say the least, with some claiming this was the best oration since the Gettysburg Address.
But again, the speech was based on a false premise and narrative; so no matter how eloquent Hilary Benn was, it is eloquence without substance. It may as well be poetry. The way people in the chamber reacted, it frankly looked like a poetry reading.
And I’m not demonising Hilary Benn for it either; he is entitled to his position and may well have been expressing his honest opinion. But I can’t help but wonder if he has been bought out behind the scenes and is being maneuvered to launch a coup against Jeremy Corbyn.
For the Establishment to oust Corbyn from the Labour Party leadership would be very useful in itself, but to do it via the son of the late Tony Benn would represent a powerful symbolic coup as well.
And furthermore, this is all – and has always been – about the toppling of the Syrian state. We’re already being told, just a day after the airstrikes began, that this conflict could “take years”. Of course it will; because we’re not leaving until Assad is gone and Syria has been re-shaped into whatever new form is being planned.
The Syrian people get no say in it; they never have had a say in it.
Not everyone has been fawning over Benn’s speech. I’ve heard one journalist compare it to one of those historical re-enactment events ‘where sad men in their fifties try to inject meaning into their lives by pretending to be a Viking in a field’. That’s a pretty good description of what we saw; the lead being taken by the Establishment gentlemen’s club who were reenacting the glory days of the Empire and remembering every romantic depiction they ever watched or read about Our Finest Hour and the Second World War.
‘Political theatre and not democracy’ was how the journalist put it. ‘Benn’s speech, and the feverish reaction to it, confirms that British politicians… really, really miss the Second World War.’
David Cameron, in his mad haste, has taken Britain into a war that has no viable outcome. It is also dangerous, given the positions of Russia and Iran, neither of whom are likely to allow Britain, America, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the other allies’ to fulfil their ongoing plans to topple the Syrian government.
But then Cameron, like many of his chief international allies, has led Britain into an illegal war already, specifically Libya; and despite the destruction of that country (which still doesn’t have a government even four years later and which is, as we speak, being invaded by ISIL), Cameron and the others got away without being tarnished, and so who can blame them for carrying on the programme?
But seriously, don’t try to make out that Hilary Benn’s speech was something magical or noble.
Hilary Benn either is terribly ill-informed and hasn’t done much research or he was reading from a script someone else provided him. And Cameron calling the opposers ‘terrorist sympathisers’ is particularly perverse for a man who essentially committed British air-power to help Al-Qaeda accomplish regime-change in Libya.