The Sun on Sunday, 6th September 2015.
The Sun has form with truly contemptible headlines. “Gotcha?” 19th April 1989? “1,200 Killed by Mental Patients?” Their worst go beyond offensive and into irresponsible at best and outright incitement to violence at worst. But that little badge with Aylan Kurdi, all but solemnly swearing that we must bomb Syria now “for Aylan?” “If you care about little Aylan, you agree we must bomb Syria.” “Don’t let his death be in vain – bomb Syria, for Aylan.” Have you ever felt that shiver, that shock that runs through your guts, your spine, your nerves – that feeling of almost uncontrollable contempt? Where you actually feel yourself shaking, you can taste the very bile rising from your stomach, not sure if you’re going to be sick or you’re going to scream?
The Sun, 7th September 2015.
Israel Grants First Golan Heights Oil Drilling License To Dick Cheney-Linked Company
Israel has granted a U.S. company the first license to explore for oil and gas in the occupied Golan Heights, John Reed of the Financial Times reports.
A local subsidiary of the New York-listed company Genie Energy — which is advised by former vice president Dick Cheney and whose shareholders include Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch — will now have exclusive rights to a 153-square mile radius in the southern part of the Golan Heights.
That geographic location will likely prove controversial. Israel seized the Golan Heights in the Six-Day War in 1967 and annexed the territory in 1981. Its administration of the area — which is not recognized by international law — has been mostly peaceful until the Syrian civil war broke out 23 months ago.
The Sun seems to believe that it is by “blitzing” Syria we will end the refugee crisis. In their mind, the only way to stop ISIS is through massive military might. The UK, after all, is the fifth highest military spender, and are clearly The Best Armed Forces In The World according to Vernon Coaker. A great invasion, a moral crusade if you will, would surely bring peace and stability to Syria, and so end this crisis once and for all.
We tried it in Afghanistan.
“Afghanistan today is without a doubt the most dangerous place to be born,” Daniel Toole, regional director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
The war in Afghanistan is the world’s longest-running major armed conflict. It has been fuelled by the desire of the US, UK and allies to enhance their strategic interests in the region in the face of growing competition for resources and rising economic and political powers in Asia. The militarization of aid is making humanitarian work increasingly difficult, often channeled through military actors to win ‘hearts and minds’ rather than addressing the underlying causes of poverty and the real needs of the people. All major donors in Afghanistan, with the exception of India and Switzerland, are also belligerents. The political UN is fully aligned with the occupation forces.
In 2012, 1304 Afghan children were killed or injured in conflict-related violence. 283 killed and 507 injured. According to a UN report the “…vast majority of the incidents resulted from attacks with improvised explosive devices (399 child casualties) and suicide attacks, including by child suicide bombers (110 child casualties). Children were also victims of explosive weapons in populated areas, including mortar attacks, shelling and shooting between pro-Government forces and various armed groups (397 child casualties), explosive remnants of war (162 child casualties) and air strikes by the international military forces (74 child casualties). Some of the incidents were acknowledged by ISAF. Furthermore, artillery and mortar shelling from across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border killed at least 1 child and injured 25 others.”
We tried it in Iraq.
Of the 45,779 victims for whom IBC was able to obtain age data, 3,911 (8.54%) were children under age 18.
Children Killed by Coalition Forces
Of the 4,040 civilian victims of US-led coalition forces for whom age data was available, 1,201 (29%) were children.
The desperate situation of Iraqi children has been largely created by the international community, the US and UK in particular. Iraq has been exposed to:
- two decades of sanctions and punitive reparation payments which have hit the most vulnerable members of society;
- the destruction of vital civilian infrastructure through targeted bombing;
- the collapse of state apparatus after the 2003 invasion;
- continuous military violence and the opening of the country to al-Qaeda and other fundamentalist forces;
- a constitution founded on ethnic and religious division and US/UK support of sectarian and misogynist factions;
- corrupt governance
A survey published in January 2008, conducted in August and September 2007 by Opinion Research Business, a British polling firm, in conjunction with Iraq’s Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies found that about 20% of households surveyed had lost at least one member, and estimated that 1.03 million people had died in the war with a 95% certainty for a number of deaths between 946,000 and 1.12 million.
The deaths of so many men, women and children have had an enormous impact on Iraqi society. According to the Iraqi government,around 4.5 million children have lost one or both parents (almost 1 in 3) and approximately 600 000 children are living on the streets. Child labour has increased with 15% of children under the age of 14 now working. There are now between 1 and 3 million widows in Iraq, many struggling as heads of households and living in extreme poverty.
In 2012 102 children were killed and 310 injured in the violence.
Some of the issues facing Iraq’s 15 million children now include the following:
- Each year, around 35,000 infants die before reaching their first birthday
- Over 1.5 million children under the age of five are undernourished
- Around 700,000 children are not enrolled in primary school, while hundreds of thousands more drop out before graduating
- 2.5 million children do not have access to safe water, and 3.5 million lack adequate sanitation facilities
Around 800,000 children between the ages of 5 and 14 are working.
The Sun was right behind the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, championing the UK armed forces, gently ignoring the mounting suspicions that this wasn’t really solving anything at all. The Sun is beneath contempt: it contributes to the anti-immigration agenda currently warping UK political discourse.
Genie Energy wants unfettered access to Golan Heights; the ironmongers of the British establishment could do with a good war, especially ones fresh off a peerage; David Cameron feels vulnerable after this government’s first defeat. The UK is so moved by the poignancy of Aylan Kurdi, it’s clear the people want something to be done. But rather than assert the naked avarice of your ambition, you pretend it’s really about that little boy: that this is to stop the crisis which is affecting people so greatly, and seeing such an outpouring of humanity. If you have your heart set on destroying Syria, then at least have the courage to do it honestly.
If the Conservatives decide to take the UK to war on Syria – against Assad or ISIS, or both, whoever they end up going for – then The Sun should stand by its decision. Show you are willing to accept the death of every single child slain by a drone, crushed by airstrikes, or shot in the crossfire as acceptable losses – for Aylan. You call the four Labour candidates cowards for refusing to back military action on Syria? Show your courage and hold your ground when hundreds more Aylans die by British hands – and you demanded it happen.
Ever wondered where they got the red in The Sun? Now you know.