Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Algeria, Mali - media amplify Cameron's war drums

Amid news of the tragic hostage deaths in Algeria, our streamline media have almost nothing to say about the complex context of the attack, resolving, instead, to simply echo David Cameron's shrill war rhetoric.

Ever on cue, the BBC dutifully amplified Cameron's warnings of a necessary escalation and protracted "war on terror" across North Africa.   But here also was the 'liberal' Independent in similar stenographer mode:
Mr Cameron spelt out the scale of the challenge posed by al-Qa'ida-affiliated groups operating in the region. "It will require a response that is about years, even decades, rather than months," he said. "And it requires a response that is painstaking, that is tough but also intelligent, but above all has an absolutely iron resolve. And that is what we will deliver over these coming years.

"What we face is an extremist, Islamist, al-Qa'ida-linked terrorist group. Just as we had to deal with that in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, so the world needs to come together to deal with this threat in North Africa... We need to work with others to defeat the terrorists and to close down the ungoverned spaces where they thrive with all the means that we have."

The Government has not ruled out giving extra help to the French-led operation in Mali.
Even for 'informed' outlets like the Independent, what France is really doing in Mali is left largely unaddressed, as though French F-16s and 2000-plus heavily-weaponed troops entering another sovereign state to protect its own geopolitical and economic interests - notably, oil and gas - has litttle or no bearing on what's just happened in Algeria.

And with French motives accepted as benign, any UK-based 'support' is similarly endorsed without serious question.

As SOAS academic Jeremy Keenan explains, the formation of Islamic fighting rebels in Mali can be traced to their effective creation by the powerful Algerian state intelligence and security agency, the DRS, which, in turn, has been colluding with Western intelligence agencies. In essence, the Algerian state spawned the very al-Qaeda-styled rebel group Ansar al-Dine that France and the West are seeking to counter in northern Mali.

Keenan also confirms that the jihadist attack on the Algerian gas plant can be read as Islamic fighters  from Mali paying retribution for Algerian betrayal in permitting French use of its airspace to launch their intervention.

While pitching expediently with the West in pursuit of al-Qaeda, "Algeria had long warned against military intervention against the rebels, fearing the violence could spill over [their] border."

The inevitable outcome: blowback, retribution and deepening destabilisation across the region.

As Glenn Greenwald reminds us, the crisis in Mali can also be directly linked to the disastrous fallout from Nato's destruction of Libya which saw the return to Mali of a more weaponised Tuareg tribal resistance in alignment with those Islamic forces.

Alongside other US/Western meddling in Mali/Algeria and false-flag destabilisations detailed by Keenan, this set of foreign manoeuvrings and jihadi/tribal resistance led to the overthrow of Mali's corrupt government, giving a convenient green light to France's 'supportive' invasion.

Altogether, a much more complex picture than Cameron's simplified claim of the 'expanding jihadist threat' headlined by a compliant media.

Jihadist Islamism, however reprehensible, proliferates largely because of rampant poverty, Western-assisted corruption and the West's ongoing appropriation of the region's land and resources.

But the whole proclaimed purge of jihadism is also, notes Greenwald, driven by the perennial racist message which equates 'Muslim' and 'terrorist', a pretext for invasion which only serves to multiply such resistance and conflict:
"[T]he propaganda used to justify all of this is depressingly common yet wildly effective. Any western government that wants to bomb Muslims simply slaps the label of "terrorists" on them, and any real debate or critical assessment instantly ends before it can even begin. [...]The French bombing of Mali, perhaps to include some form of US participation, illustrates every lesson of western intervention. The "war on terror" is a self-perpetuating war precisely because it endlessly engenders its own enemies and provides the fuel to ensure that the fire rages without end."
Cameron deplores the killings in Algeria as a "despicable act", yet accepts not the slightest responsibility for their encouragement.

He also spoke in parliament about the "poisonous ideology" of jihadism, pledging to stamp it out in North Africa. Meanwhile, his government and the wider West turn a blind eye to the same jihadist forces committing dreadful massacres in Syria.

While the West facilitate the channelling of guns and aid to a Syrian 'resistance' infused with poisonous jihadi ideology and specific political goals, it delivers bombs, arms and ground forces to help curtail those very same forces in Mali.

Hence, we have this 'perpetual war' waged by the West, a profit-driven, selectively-delivered agenda underpinned by Cameron-type bombast and the service media which faithfully reports such claims.

The headline prominence of Cameron's statements are a template lesson in how establishment aims and interests get simplified, packaged and delivered to a general viewership with limited time, interest or attention spans.

Cameron proclaims 'the Islamist threat' in choice, alarmist language, his words get primary airing on the Six O'Clock News and 'expert' correspondents scan big maps of North Africa intimating 'the interminable spread' asking what can be done to 'contain it'.

What begins as a gallery-playing soundbite gets dutifully elevated to gravitas-sounding 'alert' and a 'common problem-solving' analysis on what 'we', our politicians and a 'worried' public, can do to counter it.

What gets deliberately lost is the geopolitical minutiae, the collaborations, the subterfuge, the cynical intelligence, the complex detail, above all 'our' elite's own criminality in creating and perpetuating such conflicts, all complementing the key task of keeping the public in a state of 'informed' ignorance.

And so it goes relentlessly on, like some dark cycle of misery.

Infinite militarist expansion, corporate greed and prettified interventions, further bombings, proxy violence and human loss, retaliatory actions, civil suffering and dislocation, more political posturing, myopic journalism and media complicity.

Not at all what we're expected to think about when workers, foreign and local, are killed in places like Algeria or when we're urged to support Cameron's 'new war on terror'.

Propaganda and thought direction at its very Orwellian best.

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