‘Liberal democratic values’ exist only on paper

The leaders of Western countries never cease touting their nation’s values, such as freedom of expression, respect for the rule of law and care for the less fortunate. Those responsible for bringing chaos to Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya almost always base their actions on ‘values,’ no matter how much death and destruction or collateral damage (a horrible term) they inflict.

Sad to say, we appear to have entered a compassionless era, one in which human suffering is being ignored and the lives of human beings devalued, depending on nationality or ethnicity.

Most European doors are barred to genuine refugees fleeing conflict zones. In the US, families are being brutally torn asunder by harsh immigration practices. Jorge Garcia was forced apart from his wife and two teenage children after having lived in America since he was nine years old. He is just one of hundreds of thousands dragged out of their homes by ICE each year.

The fate of 700,000 Dreamers who were brought to the US as children is nothing more than a political football; they are nameless, faceless congressional bargaining chips.

Britain’s Windrush policy is similarly heartless. Over half-a-million people of Caribbean origin who were invited to the UK in the 1950s, where they took on jobs most Britons did not want, have been living under threat of deportation despite having been assured of permanent residency.

A pamphlet on the Home Office website actually advised those forcibly returned to Jamaica to adopt Jamaican accents so as to fit-in. Those who could not come up with documents proving each year they spent in Britain (something I would be unable to do) were told they would be flagged-up if they sought medical treatment from an NHS hospital.

The government sent an invoice in the amount of £33,000 (Dh169,620) reclaiming past disability payments to a pensioner; another pensioner arranged a suicide kit, preferring death to being apart from his wife and children in a country he had never visited. Public and parliamentary outrage elicited an apology from Prime Minister Theresa May, not her own conscience.

Judgments made by the US and its allies on other states are rarely impartial value judgments. More often than not they are skewed to reflect geopolitical interests.

Gross double standards are the norm. Adversaries like Russia are automatically evil doers. Allies can do no wrong. Criticism of the Turkish government for its purges and its shutting down of free speech is muted due to its membership of NATO and its cooperation with ensuring Europe is not flooded with more refugees.

In the US/UK/French corridors of power, there is no mention of Israel’s killing of Palestinians, including women and children, protesting in Gaza. No condemnation of Israel’s alleged use of white phosphorous and strange-smelling gases on those desperate people. No brouhaha over the 400-plus children in Israeli prisons, most there for the crime of throwing stones.

Memories are short. The usual suspect standing on its moral high horse over an alleged chlorine gas attack in Douma, fired at least 10,000 depleted uranium tank shells in highly populated areas during the 2003 Iraq War, according to Pax, a Dutch peace organisation.

As George Monbiot underscored in the Guardian, US marines dropped napalm on the way to Baghdad as “the commander of Marine Air Group 11 admitted, saying “We napalmed both those approaches.” Forgotten too are the indignities, torture and sexual abuses inflicted on the detainees at Abu Ghraib.

Worse, the US and UK media have gagged themselves particularly with regard to the Skripal poisoning and the allegations that Syria used chlorine on civilians in Douma. CNN, Sky News and the BBC do not deviate from the official narrative.

Journalists refrain from asking hard questions and interviewees, including Major General Jonathan Shaw and former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, who dare to go off script are often cut-off mid-sentence.

There are a few exceptions. Robert Fisk of the Independent went unescorted to Douma to speak with residents and hospital staff who maintained there was no chemical attack. Fisk was asked by a Radio 4 show host about the “ethics” of his reporting.

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson questioned the regime’s motives when it was winning and the ‘rebels’ had agreed to leave on buses. He was branded as unpatriotic. Many in the mainstream media want sceptics to “shut up and obey,” he concludes.

Shockingly, a 56-year-old Briton called Ian interviewed on Sky News has been identified by the British government as “a Russian Bot” for “pushing a Russian narrative and spreading lies” on his popular Twitter feed.

“That is a total lie and complete fabrication by the UK government,” he charged, adding that he knows no Russians and has never been to Russia. When asked why he had been singled out, he said it was because his opinions, articles, videos, etc., on Twitter had gained a lot of traction.

Shut up and obey is right. Newspeak moulds public opinion. Surveillance of social media is increasing. Big Brother is watching. Ask the wrong questions and you risk being labelled a traitor as Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn discovered to his cost. McCarthyism is alive and well. Orwell must be turning in his grave.

Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at heardonthegrapevines@yahoo.co.uk.

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