Information, Vicarious PTSD and Idiot politicians

The brilliant Michael Leunig's cartoon from May 2009

The brilliant Michael Leunig’s cartoon from May 2009

We are informed about what is happening in our world by journalists, academics and writers with an interest. They gather, report, release, filter, analyse and in some instances, invent or manipulate information to feed hungry readers across the world.

Currently, headlines that predominate are the war ‘hotspots’ of Gaza, Ukraine and Iraq. The polarisation of views about these situations is self evident and in-depth information is rare. It’s mostly about the good guys and the bad guys, depending on your political persuasion.

These ‘hotspots’ are not new. Palestinian people have been oppressed since before the 1948 announcement of the Jewish State of Israel.  Iraq was torn open by the US in 2003 with a longer history of colonial oppression and participation in wars with neighboring countries. See here The Ukraine has a long history too of invasion and colonial rule, From Stalin to Hitler and under the USSR, where Jews and Tartars were oppressed for various alleged allegiances and religious/ethnic prejudice. See here . Recent political upheavals there have included the so called ‘Orange revolution’ of 2004 and the suspected dioxin poisoning of its leader Victor Yuschenko (who’s pockmarked face presumably as a result of the poisoning was widely circulated by newspapers in 2004) .

Few journalists provide a handle on context, history, or even the current opinions of the ‘little people’ so heavily effected by the situation they are living with. The beauty of the blogsphere is that ‘little people’ get a chance to speak out. There are some brilliant examples of this where language barriers are overcome by translations and the thoughts of local people effected by the violence are publicised. see here for Gaza, here for Ukraine. As for Iraqi’s blogging now in English in Iraq – I have struggled to find anything recent. I will have to learn Arabic. The bloggers have left, died, disappeared or I’m not looking hard enough. See here for Riverbend story

So called ‘hot spots’ and continuing wars or coups continue across the globe – Syria, Libya, Sudan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Yemen, Columbia, Nigeria, Central African Republic, and many other countries, over political, religious and ethnic differences and military or colonial rule over populations continues across our planet. Meanwhile in countries that appear ‘stable’, ‘democratic’ and ‘peaceful’, deep divisions are increasingly evident, as the gap continues to widen between ‘haves’, wanna have’s, strugglers and ‘have nots’.

Journalism of ‘distance’ and the often simplistic analysis in much of our ‘press’ combined with the regular ‘throw away’ lines of political leaders creates and fuels racism and nurtures prejudice, fear and cultural ignorance. If you absorb this flood of ‘news’ on a regular basis you may well be feeling:

Overwhelmed
Anxious
Sad
Confused
Helpless
and have a sense of a foreshortened future………………

But we live in Australia, “the lucky country” so what do we have to feel this way about?

I’ll start here. Let’s examine what our government is telling us (through the ‘mainstream’ media) it’s currently concerning itself with…….

The Australian PM, Tony Abbott met with ‘our allies’ of UK and US last week to talk about all things ‘matey’ and to Holland to pay respects over the deaths of passengers on flight MH17. While he was in Amsterdam we saw a young Dutch girl called him a ‘kind man’. This sentiment was no doubt echoed by John Kerry and David Cameron in their recent meetings, where our PM would have continued his sycophantic behaviour offering our services to our colonial masters. I realised Abbott was only 9 when another Aussie PM by the name of Harold Holt assured the 37th US President, Lyndon Baines Johnson at the White House in July 1966 that Australia as a staunch friend would go ‘all the way with L.B.J.’ Nothing much has changed –we remain a colony, jumping in all the way to war for what? remember Gallipoli?.

Our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, (weird they are called Bishop and Abbott eh?) has unsurprisingly overstepped herself with thoughtless, arrogant comments about the Ukraine and Russian intentions there following the annual AUSMIN bilateral consultations with the, US secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defence, Chuck Hagel (more about AUSMIN in next post). With the G20 being hosted in Brisbane in November this year Bishop has indicated Putin may be prevented from attending.
The International Business Times (An IBT Media owned internet site that also publishes Newsweek) reported,  Bishop accused Russia of “using humanitarian aid as an opportunity to occupy Ukraine” and on the matter of sanctions has….
said Australia will consider the options currently available. She urged China to help put pressure on Russia to stop weapons and military personnel to enter Ukraine. The Australian foreign minister reminded everyone of Russia’s behaviour in the past few months which led to the breaching of Ukraine’s sovereignty. Bishop said Russia’s actions were something China does not tolerate.  China has previously pointed out that if the situation had happened in its own country, it would be considered acceptable …………Bishop said if Russia intervenes with Ukraine using the humanitarian crisis, it will be viewed as a “transparent artifice.” …………….
She accused Russia of ignoring growing international concerns about a ceasefire and the need for recovery teams to collect remaining body parts of MH17 victims scattered at the site. On the day Australia held its national day of mourning for the MH17 victims, Russia had imposed import sanctions against Australia..” Reissa Su 13th Aug 2014   (see full article here )

Bishop has been severely castigated by Vladimir Putin and Russia has imposed Import sanctions on Australia in response.

Our PM and his Defence Minister have both weighed in….

Mr Abbott described the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as a terrorist army that posed”extraordinary” problems for the Middle East and the wider world. He pointed to new pictures of an Australian child holding up the decapitated head of a slain Syrian soldier published in Australian papers on Monday.
“We see more and more evidence of just how barbaric this particular entity is,” he told ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) radio.
Australian Defence Minister David Johnson told ABC radio “We are ready to assist in whatever way we can should we be asked to assist by the Americans and Iraqi government,” … “the threat posed by the terrorist group is serious, and “anything was to be expected”. “This could turn very, very nasty in a very short space of time,” he said. “I don’t think right-minded countries can just sit back and watch atrocities unfold … without taking some action.” see mainstream yahoo article in full here

Meanwhile numerous blog posts, tweets and comments question and compare the US support to help prevent ‘genocide’ of Yezedis on Mt. Sinjar with their lack of support and apparent indifference to the Palestinian Gazan people under attack from Israel.
See examples here and here. This is the milder version of those who openly accuse the US of complicit aggression with Israel. see here and here

There have also been some attempts to answer why the US is taking on this fight for the Yazedi in Iraq when Palestinians in Gaza, Rohingya, in Myanmar and even Hazara in Afghanistan are being murdered. see here and for the oil here

I will leave the comparative fairness question regarding US choices for readers to contemplate. However, as to what so called ‘humanitarian assistance’ they directly provide and where they provide it perhaps I could use Julie Bishops expression (noted earlier in this article to describe Russia’s ‘humanitarian efforts’ in the Ukraine) to describe current US  action as a “transparent artifice.”

We could find our politicians humorous if they weren’t so scary. Here’s their messages to the nation:

Russia Baaaaaad, US gooooooood (Apologies to George Orwell)
We’re not going to sit back! (Apologies to Twisted Sister)
Things could turn nasty!
Expect anything!

So are you…..
Anxious, Sad, Confused, Helpless
and maybe fearful of what is to come?………………or is it all too ludicrous?

Reading the spin and watching what these people are doing in our name and with our money, I regularly feel traumatised. Blogging is I guess a way of processing and making sense of what is happening, of connecting with feelings and grounding myself. Maybe we all have a dose of vicarious PTSD (see below) as people who have experience something well outside our comfort zone if we care to find out how our fellow humans have to live (or die).

“PTSD: After a traumatic experience, the mind and the body are in shock. But as you make sense of what happened and process your emotions, you come out of it. With post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), however, you remain in psychological shock. Your memory of what happened and your feelings about it are disconnected. In order to move on, it’s important to face and feel your memories and emotions.” Full site see here

All I have to say is……………….. “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”

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