Socialist Worker

Inside the system

Issue No. 1822

Bush's battalion of blunderers

THE US might have the most sophisticated military hardware in the world, but its military intelligence remains a contradiction in terms. The US army's 11th Psychological Operations Battalion, known as 'psy-ops', is just back from Afghanistan and preparing for Iraq. Its job is to sell 'brand America' and undermine enemy morale.

It blasts the local population with horrific noise, like AC/DC. When the noise has driven the enemy to surrender, other psy-opers parachute in and hand out millions of leaflets and cartoon strips. But mistakes happen.

Millions of leaflets were dropped in Afghanistan, where less than 20 percent of the population can read. The psy-ops did not manage to get any native speakers before the US invasion of Somalia in 1993. Leaflets announcing that the US was bringing help from the United Nations spoke of the 'slave nations' instead.

The psy-ops planned to project a huge holographic image of Allah over Baghdad urging civilians to overthrow Saddam Hussein before the US invasion of Iraq in 1991. It was dropped when the US military realised that no one knows what Allah looks like. The reaction would have been interesting – images of Allah are strictly forbidden in Islam.
Thanks to Mike Simons.

Police's deadly raid

VIOLENCE towards pensioners is often used to call for more police powers. It was the police who terrified a 78 year old pensioner in Ashford, Surrey. Constance Sherwood died during a police raid.

The police used a battering ram to smash their way into her house. Mrs Sherwood's son said, 'She was literally frightened to death. The officers went flying into the bedroom and, for a little old lady like that, it would have been the shock of her life.'

TORY chairman (sic) Theresa May had pictures of her shoes all over the press after her speech to the party conference. Within hours the Russell and Bromley shop in Bournemouth reported that all the shoes, price £110, and matching handbags, price £199 and called 'Foxy Trot', had been sold to conference delegates.

The shoes have a motto engraved on the soles, one that top Tories might do well to remember: 'In love the chase is better than the catch.'

GROUP 4 is the world's second biggest security firm. In 2001 the company earned $200 billion from its prisons and detention centres. Always on the lookout for growing markets, Group 4 bought an Israeli security firm, Hashmira, earlier this year.

The Hashmira guards, mainly Israeli settlers, work closely with the Israeli armed forces to guard their settlements. Their idea of security involves forcibly preventing Palestinians from getting to hospitals and schools and farming their own land. Group 4 is reconsidering its position in Palestine after this was exposed.

Bombs brought Paddy

FAILED politicians need no longer fear for the future. If your leadership of a small, insignificant party ends, you can always run a whole country instead. Paddy Ashdown, once Lib Dem leader, is now running the country of Bosnia. He might not know the language, or ever have been elected by the people, but

Paddy 'enjoys the autonomy and authority which Queen Victoria's colonial administration would have envied', according to the Guardian. Ashdown is the International High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He can sack anyone, appoint anyone to any position and arrest anyone he chooses. Ashdown became known as 'Bomber Ashdown' during the Bosnian war of the 1990s as he was so keen to crush the Serbs. It seems the West's military attacks didn't do much to bring democracy.

Atrocity ignored

ONLY A monstrous regime would use chemical and biological weapons on its own people, say Bush and Blair. Some 40 years ago lethal chemicals were dropped on the Wiltshire countryside by crop dusting planes and tested on volunteer soldiers who had no idea of the risks.

Newly declassified Pentagon documents released last week reveal that deadly Sarin, VX and other nerve agents were tested around the Porton Down facility, Salisbury, in the 1960s.

Land of the free?

THE HARRY Potter books have sold around 110 million copies worldwide, having been translated into many languages. There is one country where the children's books are not so welcome. The Harry Potter books are the most banned books in libraries across the US. Christian fundamentalists have launched a hate campaign against Potter because of the books' 'focus on wizardry and magic'.

The second most banned book in the land of the free is John Steinbeck's Depression-era classic, Of Mice and Men. Several British schools have also banned the Potter books because of their evil influence.

Time to make money

CAPITALISTS WILL make money out of anything. After 11 September luxury watchmaker Corum rushed out a special timepiece.

Corum made 50 copies of its gem-encrusted Stars and Stripes watch which all sold for the price of £36,000. The diamond-covered rocket design (pictured) has also sold out.

Things they say

'IT'S ridiculous. We have lost everything and have had to live in an upstairs bedroom since the end of July. No flood victims have seen any compensation.'
Patricia, Scottish flood victim, after 16 top executives in Scottish water companies were made redundant, receiving £2.2 million of public money

'IN THE days of slavery there were those slaves who lived on the plantation and those that lived in the house. You get the privilege of living in the house if you served the master exactly the way the master intended to have you.'
Singer Harry Belafonte on US Secretary of State Colin Powell

'BLITZKRIEG was an enormous success.'
US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld admires Hitler's fighting techniques

'WE ARE actually serious about trying to do something. We are trying to win a general election.'
Oliver Letwin, Tory shadow home secretary and architect of the poll tax, outlines how the party hopes to improve our lives

'IT'S just discrimination. We are human beings just like those other ones, but they just see us as Africans.'
Pius Maina, victim of the US embassy bombing in 1998, complains about lack of compensation

'THE ANSWER is an unconditional yes.'
Gunnar Berge, head of the Nobel Prize committee, when asked if the award to Jimmy Carter was a criticism of George Bush

'AT FIRST the Indonesians had to lie on the floor while the foreigners got the beds and the most attention.'
Jawhar Nafa, hospital worker in Bali, supports claims that foreign victims got the best treatment

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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 19 Oct 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1822
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