War Zone Britain: Welcome to the Olympics, London 2012
by Felicity Arbuthnot, critically-acclaimed journalist and Senior Researcher with former UN Assistant Secretary General and UN Co-ordinator in Iraq, Denis Halliday and John Pilger’s Award Winning Documentary “Paying the Price – Killing the Children of Iraq”
July 14, 2012 (TSR) - When London scraped past Paris to win the 2012 Olympics by four votes on 6th July 2005, on the day preceding the 7/7 London bomb attacks, triumphalism of the “Rule Britannia” genre was rampant – and for many cringe-inducing and concerning in the extreme. The UK had joined the US in the invasions and near destruction of swathes of Afghanistan and Iraq. Award of this great international event surely sat badly with a large world view of Britain.
The then Prime Minister, Tony Blair – whose offices provided the historically misleading document about Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” sealing the decision to invade – was integral to the Olympic bid. Sir Steve Redgrave, one of the Bid Team in Singapore commented at the time: “ … if you have to pin it down on one person it’s Tony Blair coming out here …”
The triumphalism was short lived. Fifteen hours after the announcement, explosive devices on London’s transport system during the morning rush hour,placed on trains and a bus, killed fifty two people and injured seven hundred and seventy.
The Olympic opening ceremony is on 27th July, the anniversary of the Centennial Park bombing of the Atlanta Olympics (27th July 1996) killing two and injuring one hundred and eleven.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence surely do not believe in omens, but nevertheless reality now is a world away from the UK’s Award commitment that: “The 2012 Olympiad stands under the motto ‘Green and Secure.’ “
The US Dow Chemical company’s “worldwide partner” status – the highest level sponsorship of the Olympic Games for “a decade of positive association” with the “Olympic brand” at a price tag to Dow of $100 million arguably hardly presents either a “green” or “secure” image.
Dow is parent company to Union Carbide, responsible for India’s December 1984 Bhopal disaster, the world’s worst chemical accident, resulting in at least eleven thousand deaths. A 2006 Indian government affidavit pertaining to still ongoing legal actions stated the leak caused a staggering 558,125 injuries.
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked
“Oh, you can’t help that”, said the Cat: We’re all mad here. I’m mad, you’re mad.
“How do you know I’m mad?” Said Alice.
“You must be”, said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
(“Alice in Wonderland”, Lewis Carroll, 1832-1898.)
Campaigners, survivors and the Indian government have protested Dow’s sponsorship. It seems still uncertain whether the Indian team will take part in or boycott the Olympics. (i)
On 30th April it became clear that Londoners could factor in potential chemical, biological or missile attack. “Exercise Olympic Guardian” was announced – the UK had, of course, now enjoined the US again in threatening another two countries, Syria and Iran. London too has become a war zone.
“We are fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here” has been the US and UK political mantra of their illegal invasions,. Ironically Olympic London’s mobilization is now being compared by politicians to the World War 11 Blitz – when the area most devastated by Germany’s bombs were East London – the main Olympic venue.
General Sir Nick Parker, in command of the totalitarian terrorization of Londoners and residents around other Olympic venues explained: “It’s an air threat (of two kinds) the sort of 9/11 threat … and also the lower, slower type of (missile) which might pop up closer to the Olympic Park, which we would need to intervene.”
Thus, in this most densely populated area, batteries of surface-to-air Rapier missiles (which launch at up to three times the speed of sound) have been sited on two residential blocks of flats within bombing range of the stadium. The “formidable” Rapier with warhead: “to guarantee a kill”, cited by its developers as a “hit-ile” rather than a missile, is being deployed at six London sites in all (so far.)
Parker’s concern is to protect Olympic venues from “… very serious threat.” Should planes or missiles crash on residents, their lives and homes are clearly a price worth paying. “Drones will patrol the skies over the Olympic park, barricaded behind an eleven-mile electrified fence and guarded with sonic weapons and fifty five teams of attack dogs.” (Guardian, 11th July 2012.)
Sonic weapons can shatter windows and ear drums up to three kilometers away – of parents, children, people simply pottering around in their homes.
Typhoon jets and helicopters with snipers are based minutes hit time away at West London’s RAF Northolt (first such deployment since World War 11) RAF Puma helicopters in East London with “side firing machine guns” are included in a “sad history” of British military aircraft crashes, according to the military savvy Daily Telegraph (3rd July 2012.)
Warships with Royal Navy Lynx helicopters: “now with increased firepower” based on board, are on the Thames and at the rowing venues at Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour. General Parker’s contingency plans, however, have not accounted for nature’s near biblical deluges currently submerging cars in Weymouth’s Olympic “Park and Ride” facility.
Portland, which overlooks the rowing contests has been walled in reminiscent of US erected walls in Baghdad, to prevent massively inconvenienced residents’ availing of small compensation in watching contests free.
Soldiers patrol the streets, about 13,500 being deployed, more than deployed in Afghanistan - twelve thousand police, twenty thousand varying other security personnel with at least a thousand American police and military personnel, may be more, figures change.
But in spite of all, perhaps the most alarming material has come from an undercover reporter (ii) experienced in such work, employed as a security guard with G4S the main contractors for Olympic protection. His truly terrifying recounting includes a plan to evacuate the whole of London (eleven million people) and the importation of two hundred thousand (body) caskets, each being able to hold four or five people.
So if you plan to visit the Olympics (traveling from abroad up to five hours wait to pass immigration at Heathrow Airport; part of motorway to London currently collapsed, but there is always the underground transport system) enjoy your stay.
Update: As this is finished a further three thousand five hundreds troops, many” “just back from Afghanistan” have been drafted into the main Stadium area. Let’s hope they remember where they are.
Weather forecast: “Cold, wet, windy.”
Originally published in Center for Research on Globalization.
AUTHOR: Felicity Arbuthnot
Felicity Arbuthnot is a London-based freelance journalist and author specializing in social and environmental issues with special knowledge of Iraq, a country which she has visited thirty times since the 1991 Gulf war. She has written and broadcast widely on Iraq, one of the few journalists to cover Iraq extensively even in the mid-1990’s during the sanctions. With former UN Assistant Secretary General and UN Co-ordinator in Iraq, Denis Halliday, she was senior Iraq researcher for John Pilger’s Award winning documentary: “Paying the Price – Killing the Children of Iraq (Carlton/ITV March 2000) which has been aired worldwide and sent shockwaves through Washington and Whitehall. In February 2001, the documentary on Iraq sanctions for which she was sole researcher for Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE) in the ‘O Would You Believe’ series, entitled ‘Denis Halliday Returns‘ – Iraq’s tragedy under sanctions through Halliday’s compassionate, incisive eye – also achieved critical acclaim. She is also the author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of the published Baghdad in the educational Great Cities of the World Series for World Almanac Library. Arbuthnot has been nominated for a number of Awards for her coverage of Iraq, including the (EC) Lorenzo Natali Award for Human Rights Journalism, the Millenium Prize for Women; the Courage of Conscience Award and an Amnesty International Media Award. With a unique insight into Iraq under sanctions, her articles and broadcasts are used by MP’s in Parliamentary questions and is quoted by MP’s and academics worldwide. Felicity is also a frequent contributor to Center for Research on Globalization.