by Finian Cunningham
July 15, 2012
Finian Cunningham is Global
Research’s Middle East and East Africa Correspondent
The London Olympics
are fast taking on the appearance and tone of a
full-scale land, sea and air military operation rather
than an international sporting event.
With surface-to-air missiles stationed on top of
residential apartment blocks, Royal Navy battleships on
alert and Royal Air Force fighter jets and helicopters
patrolling the skies over Britain’s capital there is a
foreboding sense of a nation at war instead of an
occasion of internationalist fraternity that the ancient
Games are supposed to embody.
The Games begin in just under two weeks.
The latest development is the announcement by
Britain’s Ministry of Defence that 3,500 extra troops are to be deployed to
ensure security at the 30 venues hosting sporting events. This is in
addition to the 13,500 military personnel already assigned to protect
members of the public and sports teams from the risk of terrorist attack.
British General Sir Nick Parker, overseeing the security
arrangements, has said that one of the contingencies being planned for is
dealing with a “9/11 type event”.
The total troop deployment in and around London represents 7,000 more
personnel than is currently on British operations in Afghanistan.
This figure is in addition to the 10,000 extra police officers and a
division of 10,000 private security guards. It was the disclosure that G45,
the private security firm with the Olympics contract, could not fulfill its
manpower requirements to cover the Games that prompted the latest enlisting
of additional soldiers.
The militarization of the Olympics was conveyed inadvertently by a spokesman
for the Ministry of Defence when he said:
“Many of the people whom the public will
meet at the point of entry to any Olympic event will now be a serving
member of the armed forces.”
Boris Johnson, the maverick Mayor of London,
said in a statement:
“The mayor takes the issue of Olympics
security extremely seriously, and having the finest and bravest service
men and woman in the world at our disposal during the Games should be a
source of great comfort.”
The Royal Navy’s largest battleship, HMS Ocean,
will be moored on the Thames at Greenwich, providing a logistical command
centre during the event.
It will also provide a base for Lynx helicopters
manned with snipers to make round-the-clock sorties over the capital.
Royal Marines on patrol boats and inflatable
dinghies are also assigned on the iconic river that snakes its way through
London’s historic landmarks.
The RAF will also be patrolling the skies over the capital with Puma
helicopters and Typhoon fighter jets operating out of RAF Northolt in West
London and Ilford in East London.
But the most controversial deployment has been the installation of
surface-to-air missile batteries in residential apartment blocks in the
impoverished, rundown East End of London.
Residents recently lost a court
battle to prevent the Rapier SAM batteries being installed.
Typhoon fighter Jet
Rapier SAM Battery to be installed on residential apartment blocks in
London's East End
The mainly working-class local communities
objected to the militarization of their neighborhoods. They also questioned
the safety for residents in the event of the weapons being used to bring
down aircraft suspected of carrying out terror attacks.
One local man said:
“What’s going to happen if our houses get
showered with debris?”
The military invasion of poor neighborhoods for
the four-week duration of Olympics has served to rankle already ill feeling
towards the colossal spectacle.
East London areas such as Tower Hamlets and
Waltham Forest lie in the shadow of some of the purpose-built venues. The
staging of the Olympics, including the massive security operation, is
reckoned to come to a total cost between $20 and $40 billion, much of which
will be footed by the taxpayer.
This is at time of swingeing austerity cuts
by the British government amounting to a total of $140 billion axed from
Socially deprived communities in London’s East End have borne the brunt of
government cutbacks required to balance Treasury books thrown into disarray
from lavishing billions of dollars on bailing out corrupt private banks.
With unemployment and deprivation being felt keenly in areas like London’s
East End, not many of the residents there will be able to afford the
admission to the Olympics, with tickets fetching as much as $3,000.
Given the juxtaposition of this glitzy event and its garish corporate
sponsorship alongside the sprawling grim poverty for many Londoners - amid
the backdrop of full-scale military operations and surveillance - there is
an eerie sense of George Orwell’s dystopian novel
Orwell’s classic story of an authoritarian police state was set mainly in
London, which had become the capital of Airstrip One, a province of the
American super-state, Oceania. The impoverished majority of the populace,
the “proles”, had to content themselves with seedy pubs and the faint hope
of winning a weekly lottery, while the “inner circle” lorded over the
The proles were kept in their place of servitude
by emergency powers and a permanent state of war.
There is also more than a suspicion in Orwell’s
1984 that the supposed state of war and incoming attacks from anonymous
enemies were a contrivance by the elite to instill fear in the masses.
The Ministry of Truth rising
over the slums of Airstrip One.
With the British government’s lead participation
in America’s "global
war on terror” (commonly referred to as GWOT) and evidence that
British intelligence colluded in the so-called 7/7 London underground terror
bombings in 2005, Orwell’s
1984 looks increasingly like life
The novel was published in 1949, one year after the last Olympics were
staged in London.
Those Games were held in the aftermath of World War II
when much of London’s skyline would have still shown the devastation of the
German Luftwaffe’s Blitzkrieg.
In 2012, London will also resemble a war zone,
owing to the spurious “war on terror” that the British government and its
American allies have embarked on in the pursuit of domestic and foreign