June 28, 2004 | Unknown

On a sense of persepctive

The sight of yet another hostage, marine Hassoun Wassef Ali, in Iraq being prepared for the grisly ritual of arraignment, soon to be refused demands, and then the brutal beheading – all delivered to us on the web – is truly and deeply sickening. It is easy to refuse this horror and to a certain extent one must, but I think this reflex should be resisted. We need at least to think through and beyond the ritual condemnations of those who placed the soldier in harm’s way. For a start hostage takers only achieve their ostensible demands when the hostage is important to the rich and the powerful. None of the victims so far have fitted that criterion. I used the word ‘ostensible’ because the other, and perhaps real, purpose of hostage taking is to spread terror, and in that it is extremely effective.
However I want to emphasise the ordinariness of many of the victims. It is that very ordinariness which should call forth our sympathy. It should also call forth anger at the policy makers behind the wretched Iraqi fiasco.
I want also to draw attention to another aspect of the hostage affair. The day after Paul Johnson was beheaded in Saudi Arabia, the media was full of horror and condemnation and rightly so. But not a word was said about the next day, when the mighty USA bombed Fallujah killing 22 Iraqis, including women and children. Kimmit the Butcher claimed that his air force had hit a ‘safe house’1; used by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He had advanced a similar claim when his men bombed an Iraqi wedding, slaughtering many innocent people. Most of these same people would have died deaths every bit as horrible as that inflicted by the knife wielders.
But there has not been a single condemnation from those horrified by the murders of the hostages. It is seemingly alright to bomb and kill hundreds of Iraqis, but the beheading of a single citizen from the West gives rise to anger and outrage in abundance.
I am reminded here of Gilo Pontecorvo’s film Battle of Algiers. In the script, by Franco Solinas, we get the following scene. A leader of the FLN has been arrested and put on show at a press conference. It is expected that this would discredit the resistance. He is asked specifically about the Resistance’s tactic of placing bombs in restaurants.
[Ben M’Hidi is standing in front of the journalists with handcuffs on his wrists and ankles. He is without a tie. He is smiling a little, his glance ironical. There are two paras behind him with machine guns ready. The picture is still for an instant; Ben M’Hidi’s smile is steady, so too his eyes, his entire face. Flashes, clicking of cameras.
Mr. Ben M’Hidi … Don’t you think it is a bit cowardly to use your women’s baskets and handbags to carry explosive devices that kill so many innocent people? Ben M’Hidi shrugs his shoulders in his usual manner and smiles a little.
And doesn’t it seem to you even more cowardly to drop napalm bombs on unarmed villages, so that there are a thousand times more innocent victims? Of course, if we had your airplanes it would be a lot easier for us. Give us your bombers, and you can have our baskets.]
A world, which has compromised its morality by supporting US terror, employing the latest technology, has no right to complain of Arab terrorists, if they say, ‘Give us the planes and we will give you the knives’.

Posted by Unknown at 2:38 pm | Comments Off on On a sense of persepctive |
Filed under: US Politics

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