Our situation is like a football match. The superpower countries are the players, and we are just the ball to be kicked around.”
– A young Pakistani civilian, North Waziristan
The Great Game is indeed alive and kicking. This summer’s World Cup tournament is providing yet another way for the United States to project its power across the globe, though not as a result of the American national team’s action on the pitch.
Rather, this year, the subjugation will be televised…
…The only country in this year’s World Cup proceedings without any substantial or even token United States military presence is – surprise – North Korea…That would put American troops in every single one of the 32 countries currently competing in South Africa, along with over 140 others.
A press release distributed by U.S. Africa Command (US AFRICOM) this week reports, “Through the cooperation of a host of international television licensees, the American Forces Network Broadcast Center (AFN-BC) has been granted permission by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to distribute the full complement of matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.”
A recent article in Stars and Stripes, quotes Lt. Col. Steve Berger, an intelligence planner with U.S. Army Africa stationed in Vicenza, Italy, as saying, “It’s really great for the soldiers to see, especially for an emerging sport in the U.S.” (So that they can get a glimpse of the kinds of people they’ll be ordered to conquer and kill next?) Even more exciting is the fact that, “Because AFN doesn’t pay for programming, it was important that it receive the rights to the World Cup for free, AFN chief of affiliate relations Larry Sichter said.” Apparently, the military can invade your country and station troops there indefinitely, but it sure as hell won’t pay for television broadcasting! [This shows a hypocrisy of the US too, as a US State Department Undersecretary had slandered N. Korea for allegedly not paying for FIFA World Cup TV programming. – 左手]
…Perhaps FIFA had no choice but to comply with the requests of the U.S. military for fear of having their offices occupied or blown to pieces. What a relief a deal was struck! How global! How peaceful! How imperial! How obvious, unsurprising, and embarrassing.
“Having the most-watched sports event on the planet play out on AFN is a real feather in our cap,” notes Jeff White, Executive Director of AFN-BC, in the text of the military press release filed from Riverdale, CA via Stuttgart, Germany. “But more importantly,” White continues, “we’ll be able to deliver the entire compliment [sic] of matches to the side that means the most — our brave men and women in uniform serving their country overseas and in harm’s way. It doesn’t get any better than this.”
That, out of the planetary pride, representation, and unification that the World Cup is supposed to be all about, the U.S. military would be “the side that means the most” is in itself upsetting – but hey, it’s a military press release and the guy’s name is White after all.
But White is wholly wrong about “it” not getting “any better than this.” There is a very simple way for things to be much, much better. If the U.S. reduced its dominating and destructive presence and aggressive involvement around the world and dismantled the hundreds of foreign installations and imperial infrastructure that keep the rest of the world in submission and under American occupation, these brave men and women in uniform could – and should – be watching these 64 soccer games from the comfort of their own homes in the United States, on the couch with their families.
For the sake of the entire world, it truly wouldn’t get any better than that.
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