Sunday, 22 July 2012
The Police State Shows Off it's Hardware.
The highlight of the day is a military parade. I attended this year with my son, and a good friend whose own son and father were with him. The father was a lovely chap, with a great story to tell. As a young seaman, he was a crewman on board one of the ships that took the Soviet missiles into Cuba in 1962.
The military parade also had a story to tell. It is, I must say, remarkable for its lack of music. It is more like a funeral than a national celebration. But most telling is the equipment on display. This is not military hardware, this police kit. Lots of soft-skinned and lightly armoured vehicles with smaller calibre weapons - 7.62, 20mm, what looked like a 30mm Rarden, and a few close range AA missiles of a certain age. This army does not exist to deter an invader, or to take part in a major conflict with its NATO allies, it exists to control its own population. The vehicles themselves remind me of more heavily armed versions of the 'Pigs' we used to ride around Belfast in during the late 70s, or the police armoured vehicles that were a familiar sight in South Africa during the Apartheid era. Nowhere else will you see water cannon on a military parade, but we saw it with our own eyes yesterday in the centre of Brussels.
Belgium displays many of the characteristics of a police state, and even some that I would associate with a fascist state. Its army has a strange appearance. A somewhat theatrical US inspired uniform, complete with cravattes, and a weird slow motion form of drill that makes them look like a cross between Audie Murphy and Billy Elliot. But there were not so many troops on display yesterday, just lots of police vehicles painted green, and water cannon.
I witnessed a civil disturbance last year which saw burning barricades just yards from my home. The police adopted a 'stand-off' approach until the demonstrators approached the Belgian Parliament and the Royal Palace. Then it was a different story. Then it was Robocop style riot police with batons drawn, and water cannon. This was a fascist state defending itself against its own people. It was not a pretty sight.