Saturday, 27 September 2014

Bombs or Ebola?

Politics is all about choices...
Back in the dark days of 1940 when France had been overrun, the RAF was seen by Churchill as the main method of taking the war to Germany. He authorised an increase in allocation of funding to Bomber Command - much to the disgust of rival service chiefs. Although good for morale, the raids were spectacularly useless. There is the true story of a bomber crew heading off for a raid on Germany when they met an electrical storm over the Channel. Their navigation instruments went haywire so they relied on visual observation to find the target. They found a huge river, flew up it until they saw the target - an airfield. Bombs duly dropped they turned and headed back to England. Some hours later, the navigator called on the intercom that he believed they were flying over Liverpool. The awful realisation dawned that they had flown up the Thames and attacked a British airfield. Worse was to follow as it became clear they had done very little damage. A fighter pilot shortly afterwards flew low across the home airfield of the bomber and dropped a German Iron Cross in ‘celebration’ of their achievement. 

During the Iraq War in 2003 we were shown on a nightly basis ‘missile porn’ as an excited Pentagon spokesbod would eagerly describe how these things could turn right angles and head down chimneys or through windows, such was their phenomenal accuracy. One remarkable account was followed by another news item that the US had apologised to Syria for hitting it with two cruise missiles intended for Iraq. Forget windows and chimneys - how about hitting the right country?.

The unmentioned dark side of all this machismo is the fact that these are high explosive devices that kill lots of people and injure horrifically many many more. Bits of flying metal eviscerate human flesh creating terrible injuries. The people in the region are very used to being shot at, bombed and blown up having had eleven years of chaos and conflict thanks to Blair and Bush. 

Despite knowing this, the Commons voted overwhelmingly to restart bombing attacks on the IS (ISIL/ISIS) terrorists. No end game. No exit strategy. No real sense of what the consequences will be. A blank cheque for the security state. The same state that uses GCHQ and NSA to listen in to its citizens without checks or balances. The state that spends billions of our pounds on the ‘security’ industry while at the same time hammering the poor and vulnerable in the name of austerity. 

Last night on C4 ‘Unreported World’ there was an eyewitness account of the Ebola crisis in Africa. The programme came from Sierra Leone and was moving and concerning. The virus is highly contagious, so much so that medical workers have to protect themselves in total body protection. These are effective but scare the locals. Over 3,000 are known to have died and the disease is spreading. There is no known cure. Patients are isolated and treated with palliative care and given fluids etc in the hope that their immune system will overcome the disease. This works in some cases. 

Obama has at least sent a lot of troops to build urgently needed hospitals and similar facilities. Unless this disease is contained and eventually overcome it presents a real and present danger to our society. Far more so than the terrorist threat. It is a great sadness that the UK government can always find money for bombs and struggles to help those in our country who are in the greatest need. 

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