[News] "Drones, Missiles, and Gunships, Oh My!" Welcome to the 2012 London Olympics
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Wed May 16 10:49:41 EDT 2012
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Zirin » "Drones, Missiles, and Gunships, Oh My!"
Welcome to the 2012 London Olympics
"Drones, Missiles, and Gunships, Oh My!" Welcome to the 2012 London Olympics
By <http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/davezirin>Dave Zirin
As many as 48,000 security forces. 13,500 troops.
Surface to air missiles stationed on top of
residential apartment buildings. A sonic weapon
that disperses crowds by creating "head splitting
pain." Unmanned drones peering down from the
skies. A safe-zone, cordoned off by an 11 mile,
electrified fence, ringed with trained agents and 55 teams of attack dogs.
One would be forgiven for thinking that these
were the counter-insurgency tactics used by U.S.
army bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, or perhaps
the military methods taught to third world
despots at the School of the Americas in Ft.
Benning Georgia. But instead of being used in a
war zone or the theater of occupation, they in
fact make up the very visible security apparatus
in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
London, which has the most street cameras per
capita of any city on earth, has for the last
seven years since the terror attacks of 7/7/05,
been a city whose political leaders would spare
no expense to monitor its own citizens. But the
Olympic operation goes above and beyond anything
weve ever seen when a Western democracy hosts
the games. Not even China in 2008 used drone
planes or ringed the proceedings with a massive,
high-voltage fence. But here is London, preparing
a counter insurgency, and parking an aircraft
carrier right in the Thames. Here is London
adding scanners, biometric ID cards,
number-plate and facial-recognition CCTV systems,
disease tracking systems, new police control centres and checkpoints.
Stephen Graham at the Guardian refers to the
entire state of affairs as Lockdown London as
well as the UK's biggest mobilisation of
military and security forces since the second
world war. He is not exaggerating in the
slightest. The number of troops will exceed the
forces the UK has had in Afghanistan.
Its not just the costs or the incredible
invasion into peoples privacy. Its the powers
being given to police under the 2006 London
Olympic Games Act which empowers not only the
army and police, but also private security forces
to deal with security issues using physical
force. These security issues have been broadly
defined to include everything from terrorism to
peaceful protesters, to labor unions, to people
selling boot-leg Olympic products on the streets,
to taking down any corporate presence that
doesnt have the Olympic seal of approval. To
help them with the last part, there will be
brand protection teams set loose around the
city. These teams will also operate inside
Olympic venues to make sure no one wears clothes
or accessories with commercial messages other
than the manufacturers who are official sponsors.
The security operation also means the kind of
street harassment of working class youth that
will sound familiar here in the United States. As
the Guardian reported, Officers have powers to
move on anyone considered to be engaged in
antisocial behaviour, whether they are hanging
around the train station, begging, soliciting,
loitering in hoodies or deemed in any way to be causing a nuisance.
There is no reason that the Olympics have to be
this way. There is no reason that an
international celebration of sports
particularly sports more diverse than our typical
high-carb diet of football, baseball, basketball,
and more football cant take place without
drones and aircraft carriers. There is no reason
athletes from across the globe cant join
together and showcase their physical potential.
But the Olympics arent about sport any more than
the Iraq War was about democracy. The Olympics
are not about athletes. And theyre definitely
not about bringing together the community of
Nations. They are a neoliberal Trojan Horse
aimed at bringing in business and rolling back the most basic civil liberties.
Not to shock anyone, but there are no signs that
any of the security apparatus will be dismantled
once the Olympics are over. Local police forces
have just been given an inordinate number of new
toys and the boxes have been opened, the receipts tossed away.
In many ways, this is what the games have always
been. From Hitlers Berlin Olympics in 1936, to
the slaughter of students in 1968 in Mexico City,
to the Gang Sweeps in Los Angeles in 1984, to
Beijing's mass displacement of citizens in 2008,
the crackdown has always been a part of the
Olympic games. But in the post 9/11 world, the
stakes are even higher to expose this for what it
is. The Olympics have become the spoonful of
sugar to help the medicine go down, and the
medicine is that our elected leaders have seen the enemy, and it is all of us.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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