London; a fortress or an Olympics host!?
Britain is girding itself for the biggest peacetime security operation in its history that runs counter to the spirit of Olympics Games both the ancient and modern ones.
The military shadow lurking in the background of hosting such a cultural and sports event shows that the London Olympics 2012 are no ordinary games.
A security force of nearly 50,000 military and civilian personnel, backed by a huge intelligence operation, will turn the British capital into a fortress to protect venues, athletes and visitors.
Not since World War II have Britain and the United States teamed up for such a massive security operation on British soil.
Londoners, spectators, tourists and athletes know that surface-to-air missile batteries will be nearby on the rooftops of people’s homes, with armed jets and helicopters in the skies, and a warship in the river Thames for this year’s Olympics Games.
The Olympics weren’t supposed to be like this. They began in ancient Greece to give the people a break from war. Furthermore a Truce from fighting was declared from 7 days before the games until 7 days after to allow athletes, artists and spectators to travel in safety.
When the modern Olympic Games were established in 1894 the principles of Olympism were incorporated into a Charter, including respect for ethical principles and promotion of a peaceful society.
Yet even recently, in 1993, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which committed member states to promote an Olympic Truce at the 1994 winter games. In fact this led to a brief truce in war-torn Sarajevo so that athletes could safely visit the Winter Olympics in Norway.
In 2000 the International Olympic Committee established the International Olympic Truce Foundation with the goal of reviving the ancient tradition of the Olympic Truce.
That year the UN General Assembly’s Millennium Declaration urged member states “to observe the Olympic Truce, individually and collectively, now and in the future.
It also urged member states to support the International Olympic Committee in its efforts to promote peace and human understanding through sport and the Olympic Ideal.”
However, now in 2012, a so-called western democracy is hosting the Games, with as many as 48,000 security forces, 13,500 of them, troops on the ground. 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 18-kilometre 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. But instead of being used in a war zone, 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 since the terror attacks of 7/7/05 been a city whose political leaders spare no expense to monitor its own citizens. But the Olympic operation goes above and beyond anything we’ve ever seen when a so-called western democracy hosts the Games.
Olympics aren’t about sport any more than the Iraq war was about democracy. The Olympics are not about athletes. And they’re definitely not about bringing together “the community of nations.” They are a neo-liberal Trojan Horse aimed at bringing in business and rolling back the most basic civil liberties.
The prospect of thousands of uniformed service personnel crawling over crowded London, along with an extra 9,500 police officers on peak days, has already raised hackles, particularly in the East End, site of the main venues. The neighborhood is home to a large minority population where heavy-handed police tactics have long been a source of friction, and some fear the Olympics could exacerbate that.
Residents of a London apartment tower have gone to court in a bid to stop their rooftop being used as a missile base during the Olympic Games. They say the unprecedented deployment could make the building a terrorist target.
Residents of the 17-story Fred Wigg Tower in Leytonstone, east London, say they were not consulted about the decision.
Their lawyer, Marc Willers, told the High Court that the residents had "a fully justified fear that installation or deployment of the missile system on the roof of the Fred Wigg Tower gives rise to the additional risk that the tower itself may become the focus of a terrorist attack."
They claim the missiles breach their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects an individual's "right to private life and peaceful enjoyment of their home."