Fergal Keane: Living with PTSD, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, presenter Fergal Keane, Director Mike Connolly.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0017795/fergal-keane-living-with-ptsd

There’s a contradiction Fergal Keane suffers from Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder (PTSD) but he’s in Ukraine. He’s on the frontline. He’s been there before. Cutting his teeth in the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. He’s been in South Africa and Rwanda.

The British journalist, Linda Melvern (2000) A People Betrayed, outlines the role of the West, NATO, and the international community, which stepped aside in 1994 and Rwanda’s genocide with over a million dead. She outlines here reports of victims from a peace-keeping mission:

‘They left the Bangladeshi crew with the Armoured Personnel Carrier, and walked into the church gardens. It was there they found the bodies. Whole families had been killed with their children, hacked by machetes. There were terrible wounds to the genitalia. Some people were not dead. There was a three-month-old baby, the mother raped and the baby killed with a terrible wound. There were children, some with their legs and feet cut off, and their throats cut. Most of the victims bled to death.’

Keane witnessed this genocide. We saw footage of children in the back of a truck fleeing and being stopped at checkpoints by murderers with machetes. They were waved on. The cameras and Keane’s presence probably saved them. He sought a reunion with a child refugee from that convey in London.  He should have perhaps asked her what she thinks of Boris Johnson’s latest publicity stunt—away from Ukrainian war washing of his reputation—of sending refugees to Rwanda.    

Keane admits booze helped him over the next hill and the hill after that. He had nightmares of being trapped under bodies. His body too was shot with anxiety; yet, the next high of war work was addictive as any drug. That was his job. That was who he was. Working for the BBC was a blessing and a curse. He was suicidal, but he was treated with dignity and courtesy. All of the middle-class job virtues we wish poor people were allowed. He met with his therapist in The Priory. Her treatment was unconventional and involved mimicking deep-sleep patterns by rubbing and tapping his hand. But then too so was Rivers in Pat Barker’s first-world-war trilogy (The Ghost Road). His therapist’s treatment worked for Keane, but he could never be cured, and only hope was to stay sober and grounded.

There was an interesting aside about stress patterns being inherited, from generation to generation. His grandmother taking to the bed as the Black and Tans committed murder in the name of preserving law and order.  Fergal Keane as a special correspondent was there when duty called. He’s put himself back in the line. For many others with PTSD the choices are narrower. And there are no easy answers that don’t involve investing more money in health care.

Anna Politkovskaya (1958-2006) Chechyna: A Dirty War (1999—2002)

Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist, author and critic of Vladimir Putin was murdered in her apartment in central Moscow 7th October 2006.

Ryszard Kapuscinski. Imperium: ‘All dictators, regardless of epoch or country have one common trail: they know everything, are experts on everything.’  

Chechnya: A Dirty War 4th November 1999.

‘You probably think I’m writing this to stir your pity. My fellow citizens have indeed proved a heard-hearted lot. You are enjoying your breakfast, listening to stirring reports in the North Caucasus in which the most terrible and disturbing facts are sanitised so that voters don’t choke on their food.

But my notes have a quite different purpose, they are written for the future.’

Vladimir Putin, the new Russian prime-minister had been head of the FSB, formerly the KGB. The breakup of the former Soviet Union had been relatively peaceful, unlike the genocidal wars in the former Yugoslavia. But when two Chechen warlords staged an armed rebellion against the former Soviet Union, Russian troops attacked two villages in Daghestan. Apartments in Moscow and other cities suffered bomb explosions. Around 300 Russian citizens were killed. Russian propaganda linked the attacks to Chechnya separatists and the international terrorism of Osama Bin Laden.

Alexander Litvinenko, a British naturalised Russian defector and former agent of the FSB, was poisoned with polonium in London and died 23rd November 2006. He helped coin the term Mafia State. He accused Putin and FSB agents of planting the bombs in Russian cities. Chechnya separatists denied any involvement. Putin’s goal was to become President of Russia. His war against Chechnya and uncompromising stance was widely supported by the Russian public.  

Claud Cockburn the maverick Irish journalist put it quite simply, ‘Never believe anything until it is officially denied’.

‘The [Chechnya] refugees are unanimous. They talk today of a slaughter of the civilian population and the death of children, of pregnant women and old men.’          

March 2000

‘In December 1999 I went with Galina Matafonova to Pavletsky Station in Moscow to meet her son Lyonya. All that remained of this young man over six-feet tall was some ashes in a little box no bigger than the palm of my hand.

My name is Galina Nikolayevna Matafonova, I’m the mother of three children. My eldest son Alexi was taken into the army on 15 May 1998. He went out of a sense of duty and served for a year and a half. Every night he wrote home. Suddenly there was silence for two months and I began to fret. I was afraid he was in Daghestan. But I was reassured by the words of [Prime Minster] Putin: our boys would not be sent to fight without their voluntary agreement.   

The letter arrived in September…The boys in Alexi’s regiment told us how they were forced to sign a formal declaration of their agreement to fight. They were brought to the banks of the Terek River and told: ‘If you don’t agree, hand back your weapons. You’re free to go. You can make your own way back. Your Russian soldiers wearing uniform and you won’t make your own way back alive…It’s that or sign up.’  

‘My Homeland’ 27th December 1999.

We are in Ingushetia on the outskirts of the village of Yandara, not far from the Chechen border at a refugee camp called Goskhooz. Tents, sheds and dugouts. Nothing to eat, nowhere to sleep, no clothes to wear and nowhere to wash, not even once a month…Yet the [tent] school is working. Many children cannot attend regularly, they have nothing to wear. As a rule one child attends the school today, and tomorrow a different child.

Abdlezim Makhauri: Composition for eight and nine-years-old.

I have only one homeland, Grozny. It was the most beautiful city in all the world. But my beautiful city was destroyed by Russia, and together with it all of Chechnya and the people living there. The people that Russia had not yet managed to destroy went to Ingushetia, as I did. But I miss my home. I so terribly want to go home although I know my house has already been bombed to pieces. All the same I want to go…LEAVE US ALONE, RUSSIA. WE’RE ALREADY FED UP WITH YOU…GO HOME.

Richard Powers, The Overstory.

‘There’s a Chinese saying. When is the best time to plant a tree?

Twenty years ago.’

Putin’s ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign destroyed Grozny. The Russian Prime Minister refused Western mediation. He pointed to NATOs bombing of Serbia. The Council of Europe had temporarily suspended the voting rights of the Russian deletion. But Tony Blair invited Putin to London. The British Prime Minister offered his support and that of Washington for the ‘terrorist insurrection’ in Chechnya.

The price of oil up over $100 a barrel.     

‘When’s the next best time to plant a tree?’

Now.’

America’s Mussolini: Donald J Trump.

benito with hair.jpg

Hyperbole: hyperbole

hʌɪˈpəːbəli/Submit

noun

exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.

synonyms: exaggeration, overstatement, magnification, amplification, embroidery, embellishment, overplaying, excess, overkill.

Pre-Trump becoming the 45th American President and post-Trump, taking up tenure of office and becoming United States President, is not will Donald J Trump, last the four-year term, but will the world? That may seem like an exaggeration, overkill, embellishment, exaggeration and other synonyms associated with the American Benito Mussolini. This is one of Gay Talese’s characters, an apologist, writing in his diary in Paris around 1937 and giving his description of Mussolini as a dictator, before the pact with Hitler, but could equally apply to Donald J Trump:

Mussolini…a man with more bark than bite, an egotist, with perhaps a neurotic need to gain other people’s attention; yet he thought the Duce could be reasoned with, must be reasoned with…only a dictator could have restored order.

Trump’s soundbites suggest that one of his strengths is his ‘unpredictability’.

Benito Mussolini, aged 39, was the youngest premier in Italy’s short history (as an independent nation) but like Trump, he had come out of nowhere to lead the party and lead the country. The tone of business leaders in Italy’s demands (listed below) has a very modern ring. They could have come from and most have been enacted by state governor and Tea Party supporter, Vice President, in waiting, Mike Pence, who some commentator’s see as a moderating influence on America’s Mussolini. Think about that, moderating influence.

  1. Smaller state bureaucracies
  2. Fewer strikes
  • More tax concessions
  1. Less zeal towards the breakup of large estates
  2. Termination of rent control
  3. Reduction in unemployment benefits
  • Fewer annoying enquires concerning surplus war profits
  • Fewer annoying enquires concerning tax evasion.

 

Reading this you’d think we’ve went backwards in time to the 1930s and world is no longer as safe as it was pre-Trumpeter, with shocks and aftershocks still to come. Ask yourself one question: What legacy do you think President Trump will leave the world?

Trump has ripped up political consensus and confounded the same pollsters that, state for state, confidently predicted Obama’s first and second term of office. How did Trump do it? One word, populism. ‘I put lipstick on a pig,’ said Tony Schwartz, Trump’s ghost-writer for the Art of the Deal.   http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/25/donald-trumps-ghostwriter-tells-all Here we are again talking about excess. Let’s throw in some other synonyms: overstatement, embroidery and the moth-eaten cliché, tapestry of lies, attention span of a gnat, the narcissism of well, Donald Trump. He bought the rights to Miss World and now he’s won the biggest beauty contest of them. When he says that something is true, he believes it too, Schwartz tells us.  Try on the term crooked Hilary—repeat ad nauseum, until it produces bumpers stickers and posters and then repeat again, until a lie becomes the truth and an association with Hitler— even although 95% of mainstream media backed Clinton to win this campaign it was not enough. Trump instead relied on digital leverage and the power of Facebook and Twitter. Donald Trump has double the number of Twitter followers compared to Hilary Clinton. And he had an army of Twitter followers he employed to tweet that he had won Presidential debates before, during and after the antagonists had finished debating. Newsfeeds about Trump being a misogynist groper and potential rapist were played down as simple dirty tricks from a propaganda machine aligned with an elite group led by crooked Hilary. Trumps other outbursts in Twitter land were understandable and supposedly taken out of context.  Trump, of course, questioned President Obama’s right to be President and famously followed the line of the Birther movement and asked him to produce his birth certificate. Black lives matter, but only to black people. The Irish famine brought millions of Irish to the new world. There were calls to ship them back in their coffin ships. Wops and Eyeties, particularly from the darker skinned natives of Southern Italy led to immigration restrictions in the 1930s. Build a wall with Mexico to keep out the rapists and thieves is a familiar tune. Do not ask how many millions the billionaire and President of the United States has stolen by avoiding tax payments. Only stupid and the poor pay tax. Feed into the disillusionment of globalization, job losses and wages rolled back to levels predating 1970; the tens of millions of Americans that start the day in debt and finish their day in more debt was, and remains, a powerful force for change. Fly the flag. Play the Trump card of nationalism. There’s nothing new here. Read any extract from Robert Tressell (Noonan’s) The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist  and remember the author’s contempt was not just for those who blamed society’s failings on anyone but themselves, but went to church and prayed away the degradations of the other. Ban abortion. Ban gays. Ban. Ban. Ban. Gun control. Forget that. This from a nation that jails a higher percentage of the population that any other nation including China, Russia and all other nations added together. Putin sent his congratulations to President Trump. Marine Le Penn called it right with her statement ‘their world is collapsing ours is being built’. The echo chambers of Twitter fed Facebook pages in which a digital nation relies on to frame its news. Most folk don’t leave the silos of their Facebook pages and makes the lie a truth others need. In simpler days, when everybody grew their own food in the back garden and read the bible for fun, bullshit wasn’t spun into gold, well not always.

 

coming soon trump house.jpgNow Trump has gone nuclear and has the codes, the panic room has been taken out of the White House and moved to the rest of the world. Hyperbolic, of course, but it would make good television and boost Trump’s ratings and make him seem like a strong leader. ‘I’d nuke Isis’, Trump told us.

Forget NATO, Trump has called it ‘obsolete’. Forget those outside of America, places like Ukraine and Georgia; they can take care of themselves. America has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world and can and will negotiate from a position of strength. Plan B. Nuke them.

Obama Care. It’s poor people so nobody really cares. The market will provide.

Forget the international trade deals, particularly those made with the new superpower in the block, China. America and Trump, the terms are interchangeable, will negotiate from a position of strength, which, of course, means, not negotiating and showing how unpredictable he can be.

Trade wars and the race to the bottom.  China now stands in the position that America did before the beginning of the first world war. Putin is Russia’s strong man. The EEC the world’s largest market. Winners and losers? Spin the globe. Place your bets.

The Paris Agreement and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control worked on the assumption they had an agreement global warming was taking place and globally we need to restrict our use of fossil fuels. Donald Trump doesn’t. Neither does his Vice President Mike Pence. Bought-and-paid-for fossil-fuel scientists have modeled a better world. A safer world.  It’s the equivalent of tobacco companies telling smokers another fag won’t kill him. Let’s not expect politicians, or people that have not read a book since forced to in the classroom, like Donald J Trump boasts, to  understand inconvenient facts. If he listened to inconvenient truths crooked Hilary Clinton would be sitting in the White House. The four horsemen of the apocalypse just saddled up. More hyperbole, I guess, I hope.