By William Bowles
BBC news coverage of the famine in Somalia has been saturating the airwaves and it’s always like this whenever ‘natural disasters’ strike. Fundamentally it’s little more than a fund-raising promo paid for with our taxes as endlessly repeated shots of emaciated babies and dying people serves no informative purpose except to tug covetously at our purse strings. And of course it has the added benefit of distracting us from our own condition – until the next crisis comes our way.
News coverage is further complicated by the fact that the disaster is taking place in a Western-originated and maintained ‘war on terror’. Thus the ban on aid entering the region controlled by al-Shabab, the ‘terrorists’ is made play of by the BBC, though it presents us with conflicting stories on the subject.
On 6 July the BBC carried a story titled, ‘Somalia Islamists lift aid ban to help drought victims‘ but then on 22 July we read that somehow al- Shabab had managed to maintain a ban that it had supposedly lifted, ‘Somali Islamists maintain aid ban‘. Methinks the BBC speaks with forked tongue.
But what of the US sanctions in place on Somalia? The BBC carries one story on the subject of the sanctions put in place by Obama in April 2010 that banned any US aid to areas controlled by al-Shabab (which is pretty much the entire country apart from a few streets in what’s left of Mogadishu, the capital) and now revised with the following proviso made by the deputy administrator of USAID:
In other words, so far no aid is being sent by the US, thus the reality betrays the claims of the headline.
The BBC is less effusive on death by drone attack. Shots of the the uncounted victims of the Empire’s drone attacks are also somewhat thinner on the ground (ie. zero) with a total of just six stories between the 27 May 2011 and today and no closeups of ‘bug splats’. But every time one of the Empire’s soldier’s dies somewhere, the BBC not only notifies us of the death but we a get a photo and short bio thrown in. No such tribute to the people of Pakistan wiped out so casually by somebody sitting in a room in North Carolina playing real death video games.
Just how coy the BBC is about the Empire’s reign of death from the sky is summed up thus:
The BBC has even given up inserting the word ‘alleged’ before ‘militants’ as the only source is apparently the US military for the claims of ‘dead militants’ and one wonders just how many ‘many civilians’ really is as no one is bothering to count the ‘bug splats’.
The IMF as a ‘natural disaster’
The disjuncture is complete. On the one hand endless video footage of emaciated Somalis trudging through a parched (or flooded) landscape, and on the other – nothing except a PR handout by the Empire.
The reality behind the ‘natural disaster’ in Somalia is altogether different than the Western media’s portrayal of events in the Horn of Africa and extends back to the transformation of Somalia by the IMF into a ‘failed state’ in 1991.
Between 5 July and 3 August, the BBC ran 30 stories on the famine in Somalia but without exception not a single story recounts the history of Somalia or the role of of the West in creating the conditions that have led to the unfolding disaster.
So, far from being a ‘natural disaster’ events in Somalia can be traced directly to Western intervention, an intervention carried out in at least one hundred indebted economies the world over in the name of ‘structural adjustment’.