Public is a threat to democracy

The War You Don’t See
John Pilger
Watch: https://embeds.distrify.com/player/atB1C1


Revenge is not a solution. Do not react emotionally. Select peaceful protest of boycott.

Also reduce oil use as much as possible. Use public transport or electric vehicles.
Reduce use of chemical fertilizers, plastic and similar products from chemical industry.
Reduce eating food. Reject meat from factory farms. Use organic food.

Why America needed was “a new Pearl Harbor”

16 December 2002
The threat posed by US terrorism to the security of nations and individuals was outlined in prophetic detail in a document written more than two years ago and disclosed only recently. What was needed for America to dominate much of humanity and the world’s resources, it said, was “some catastrophic and catalysing event – like a new Pearl Harbor”.

The attacks of 11 September 2001 provided the “new Pearl Harbor”, described as “the opportunity of ages”. The extremists who have since exploited 11 September come from the era of Ronald Reagan, when far-right groups and “think-tanks” were established to avenge the American “defeat” in Vietnam. In the 1990s, there was an added agenda: to justify the denial of a “peace dividend” following the cold war. The Project for the New American Century was formed, along with the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute and others that have since merged the ambitions of the Reagan administration with those of the current Bush regime.

One of George W Bush’s “thinkers” is Richard Perle. I interviewed Perle when he was advising Reagan; and when he spoke about “total war”, I mistakenly dismissed him as mad. He recently used the term again in describing America’s “war on terror”. “No stages,” he said. “This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq . . . this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don’t try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war . . . our children will sing great songs about us years from now.”

Perle is one of the founders of the Project for the New American Century, the PNAC. Other founders include Dick Cheney, now vice-president, Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defence secretary, I Lewis Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff, William J Bennett, Reagan’s education secretary, and Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush’s ambassador to Afghanistan. These are the modern chartists of American terrorism.

The PNAC’s seminal report, Rebuilding America’s Defences: strategy, forces and resources for a new century, was a blueprint of American aims in all but name. Two years ago it recommended an increase in arms-spending by $48bn so that Washington could “fight and win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars”. This has happened. It said the United States should develop “bunker-buster” nuclear weapons and make “star wars” a national priority. This is happening. It said that, in the event of Bush taking power, Iraq should be a target. And so it is.

As for Iraq’s alleged “weapons of mass destruction”, these were dismissed, in so many words, as a convenient excuse, which it is. “While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification,” it says, “the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”

How has this grand strategy been implemented? A series of articles in the Washington Post, co-authored by Bob Woodward of Watergate fame and based on long interviews with senior members of the Bush administration, reveals how 11 September was manipulated.

On the morning of 12 September 2001, without any evidence of who the hijackers were, Rumsfeld demanded that the US attack Iraq. According to Woodward, Rumsfeld told a cabinet meeting that Iraq should be “a principal target of the first round in the war against terrorism”. Iraq was temporarily spared only because Colin Powell, the secretary of state, persuaded Bush that “public opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible”. Afghanistan was chosen as the softer option. If Jonathan Steele’s estimate in the Guardian is correct, some 20,000 people in Afghanistan paid the price of this debate with their lives.

Time and again, 11 September is described as an “opportunity”. In last April’s New Yorker, the investigative reporter Nicholas Lemann wrote that Bush’s most senior adviser, Condoleezza Rice, told him she had called together senior members of the National Security Council and asked them “to think about ‘how do you capitalise on these opportunities'”, which she compared with those of “1945 to 1947”: the start of the cold war.

Since 11 September, America has established bases at the gateways to all the major sources of fossil fuels, especially central Asia. The Unocal oil company is to build a pipeline across Afghanistan. Bush has scrapped the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, the war crimes provisions of the International Criminal Court and the anti-ballistic missile treaty. He has said he will use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states “if necessary”. Under cover of propaganda about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, the Bush regime is developing new weapons of mass destruction that undermine international treaties on biological and chemical warfare.

In the Los Angeles Times, the military analyst William Arkin describes a secret army set up by Donald Rumsfeld, similar to those run by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger and which Congress outlawed. This “super-intelligence support activity” will bring together the “CIA and military covert action, information warfare, and deception”. According to a classified document prepared for Rumsfeld, the new organisation, known by its Orwellian moniker as the Proactive Pre-emptive Operations Group, or P2OG, will provoke terrorist attacks which would then require “counter-attack” by the United States on countries “harbouring the terrorists”.

In other words, innocent people will be killed by the United States. This is reminiscent of Operation Northwoods, the plan put to President Kennedy by his military chiefs for a phoney terrorist campaign – complete with bombings, hijackings, plane crashes and dead Americans – as justification for an invasion of Cuba. Kennedy rejected it. He was assassinated a few months later. Now Rumsfeld has resurrected Northwoods, but with resources undreamt of in 1963 and with no global rival to invite caution.

You have to keep reminding yourself this is not fantasy: that truly dangerous men, such as Perle and Rumsfeld and Cheney, have power. The thread running through their ruminations is the importance of the media: “the prioritised task of bringing on board journalists of repute to accept our position”.

“Our position” is code for lying. Certainly, as a journalist, I have never known official lying to be more pervasive than today. We may laugh at the vacuities in Tony Blair’s “Iraq dossier” and Jack Straw’s inept lie that Iraq has developed a nuclear bomb (which his minions rushed to “explain”). But the more insidious lies, justifying an unprovoked attack on Iraq and linking it to would-be terrorists who are said to lurk in every Tube station, are routinely channelled as news. They are not news; they are black propaganda.

This corruption makes journalists and broadcasters mere ventriloquists’ dummies. An attack on a nation of 22 million suffering people is discussed by liberal commentators as if it were a subject at an academic seminar, at which pieces can be pushed around a map, as the old imperialists used to do.

The issue for these humanitarians is not primarily the brutality of modern imperial domination, but how “bad” Saddam Hussein is. There is no admission that their decision to join the war party further seals the fate of perhaps thousands of innocent Iraqis condemned to wait on America’s international death row. Their doublethink will not work. You cannot support murderous piracy in the name of humanitarianism. Moreover, the extremes of American fundamentalism that we now face have been staring at us for too long for those of good heart and sense not to recognise them.

With thanks to Norm Dixon and Chris Floyd

— source johnpilger.com

Tens of Thousands Fleeing Mosul Need Care

In Iraq, a medical aid group said Wednesday tens of thousands of civilians are fleeing fighting in western Mosul and are in urgent need of medical care. Doctors Without Borders, or MSF, described ambulance teams unable to cope with the number of trauma victims caught in the crossfire of a U.S.-backed assault on the city, which is partially controlled by ISIS. MSF said some children arriving in camps for the displaced arrived with acute symptoms of malnutrition.

— source democracynow.org

The great betrayal

3 February 2003

In its leaders supporting the war in Iraq, the Observer proves that it has truly buried its great liberal editor David Astor, and his principled, “freethinking” legacy.
The Palestinian writer Ghada Karmi has described “a deep and unconscious racism [that] imbues every aspect of western conduct toward Iraq”. She wrote: “I recall that a similar culture prevailed in the UK during the 1956 Suez crisis and the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, when Nasser was the arch-villain and all Arabs were crudely targeted. Today, in Britain, such overt anti-Arabness is unacceptable, so it takes subtler forms. Saddam-bashing, a sport officially sanctioned since 1991, has made him the perfect surrogate for anti-Arab abuse.”

Reading this, I turned up the Observer’s tribute to its great editor, David Astor, who died in 2001. In opposing the British attack on Suez in 1956, Astor, said the paper, “took the government to task for its bullying and in so doing defined the Observer as a freethinking paper prepared to swim against the tide”. In a famous editorial, Astor had described “an endeavour to reimpose 19th-century imperialism of the crudest kind”. He wrote: “Nations are said to have the governments they deserve. Let us show that we deserve better.” The present-day Observer commented that “the richness of [Astor’s] language and relevance of the sentiments resonate today”.

The absence of irony in this statement is bleak. Little more than a year later, in its editorial of 19 January 2003, the Observer finally buried David Astor and his principled “freethinking” legacy. Pretending to wring its hands, the paper announced it was for attacking Iraq: a position promoted by its news and feature pages for more than a year now, notably in its barren “investigations” seeking to link Iraq with both the anthrax scare and al-Qaeda. The paper that stood proudly against Eden on Suez is but a supplicant to the warmongering Blair, willing to support the very crime the judges at Nuremberg deemed the most serious of all: an unprovoked attack on a sovereign country offering no threat.

Not a word in the Observer’s editorial mentioned the great crime committed by the British and American governments against the ordinary people of Iraq. Withholding more than $5bn worth of humanitarian supplies approved by the Security Council, Washington, with Blair’s backing, maintains a medieval blockade against Iraq. Cancer treatment equipment, water treatment equipment, painkillers, children’s vaccines, to name a few of the life-giving essentials that are maliciously withheld, have resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of vulnerable people, mostly infants under the age of five. Extrapolating from the statistics, the American scholars John Mueller and Karl Mueller conclude that “economic sanctions have probably already taken the lives of more people in Iraq than have been killed by all weapons of mass destruction”.

When the Observer celebrates the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, with pictures of exhausted Iraqis “thanking” their liberators, will it explain to its readers that as many as a million people, mostly children, could not attend the festivities thanks to the barbaric policies of the British and American governments? No. A contortion of intellect and morality that urges participation in what has been described as “a firestorm of 800 missiles in two days” censors by omission.

We come back to Ghada Karmi’s references to the veiled racism that propels every western attack on Arabs, from Churchill’s preference in 1921 for “using poison gas on uncivilised tribes” to the use of depleted uranium in the 1991 Gulf slaughter. This racism applies, quintessentially, to her homeland, Palestine. While the Iraq pantomime plays, America’s proxy, Israel, has begun the next stage of its historic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. On 21 January, the town of Nazlat ‘Iza in the northern West Bank was invaded by a force of armoured personnel carriers, tanks and 60-ton, American-made Israeli bulldozers. Sixty-three shops were demolished, along with countless homes and olive groves. Little of this was reported outside the Arab world.

Some parts of the West Bank have been under curfew for a total of 214 days. Whole villages are under house arrest. People cannot get medical care; ambulances have been prevented from reaching hospitals; women have lost their newborn babies in agony and pools of blood at military checkpoints. Fresh water is permanently scarce, and food; in some areas, more than half the children are seriously undernourished. One image unforgettable to me is the sight of children’s kites flying from the windows and yards of their prison-homes.

Then there is the slaughter. During the month of November, more than 50 Palestinian civilians were killed by the Israelis – a record by one calculation. These included a 95-year-old woman, 14 young children and a British UN worker, shot in the back by an Israeli sniper. Human rights groups say the deaths occurred mostly in circumstances in which there was no exchange of gunfire. “The Israelis have killed 16 Palestinians within 48 hours,” said Dr Mustafa Barghouti in Ramallah on 27 January. “That’s an average of one Palestinian every three hours. The silence about this is simply unconscionable.”

While Blair damns Iraq for the chemical weapons that a swarm of inspectors cannot find, he has quietly approved the sale of chemical weapons to Israel, a terrorist and rogue state by any dictionary meaning of those words. While he accuses Iraq of defying the United Nations, he is silent about the 64 UN resolutions Israel has ignored – a world record.

The Israeli terrorists, who subjugate and brutalise a whole nation, demolishing homes and shops, expelling and killing and “systematically torturing” (Amnesty) day after day, are not mentioned in the Observer editorial. No “decisive action” (the Observer’s words) is required against the prima facie war criminals Ariel Sharon and General Shaul Mofaz, who, along with their predecessors, have caused a degree of suffering of which Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda can only dream. There is no suggestion that the British force heading for the Middle East should “intervene” in the “republic of fear” that Israel has created in Palestine in defiance of the world, and “displace” them. There is not a word about the weapons of mass destruction that Sharon repeatedly flaunts (“the Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches”).

To most people in Europe, and across the world, these double standards offend common decency. Overhear people on the bus and in the pub if you need to know why. This decency, combined with a critical public intelligence, is not understood by the suburban propagandists, whose fondness for and imagined closeness to power mark their servility to it. The same power and its court were defined succinctly by that distinguished scholar of international politics, the late Professor Hedley Bull. “Particular states or groups of states,” he wrote, “that set themselves up as the authoritative judges of the world common good, in disregard of the view of others, are in fact a menace.”

— source johnpilger.com

Importance of the march against Iraq attack

14 February 2003
It is not possible to overstate the significance and urgency of the march and demonstration against an unprovoked British and American attack on Iraq, a nation with whom we have no quarrel and who offer us no threat.

The urgency is the saving of lives. First, let us stop calling it a “war”. The last time “war” was used in the Gulf was in 1991 when the truth was buried with more than 200,000 people. Attacking a 70-mile line of trenches, three American brigades, operating at night, used 60-ton armoured earthmovers to bury alive teenage Iraqi conscripts, including the wounded and those surrendering and retreating. Survivors were slaughtered from the air. The helicopter gunship pilots called it a “turkey shoot”.

Of the 148 Americans who died, a quarter of them were killed by Americans. Most of the British were killed by Americans. This was known as “friendly fire”. The civilians who were killed, whose deaths were never recorded by the American military because it was “not policy”, were “collateral damage”.

Today, after 13 years of an economic blockade that has been compared with a medieval siege, Iraq is defenceless, no matter the discovery of an odd missile that can reach barely 90 miles. Its ragtag army is woefully under-equipped and awaiting its fate, along with a civilian population of whom 42 per cent are children. They are stricken. Even the export of British manufactured vaccines meant to protect Iraqi infants from diphtheria and yellow fever has been restricted. The vaccines, say the Blair government, are “capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction”.

This is the nation upon which the Bush gang says it will rain down 800 missiles within the space of two days. “Shock and awe” the Pentagon calls its “strategy”. Meanwhile the weapons inspectors and their morose Swedish leader go about their treasure hunt and a cartoon show is hosted in the UN by General Colin Powell (who rose to the top by covering up the notorious My Lai massacre in Vietnam).

It is all a charade. The Americans want Iraq because they want to control and reorder the Middle East. Their once-favourite dictator, Saddam Hussein, made the mistake of misreading the signals from Washington in 1990 and invading another favourite American oil tyranny, Kuwait. So belatedly, Saddam must be replaced, preferably by another Saddam, though more reliable and less uppity. There is no issue of “weapons of mass destruction”. That is a distraction for us and the media.

The wider significance of the promised attack is the rapacious nature of the American state. As Tony Blair has confirmed, North Korea is likely to be “next”. I think he is wrong and that Iran will be next. That is what the Israeli regime wants and Israel’s wishes are as important to influential members of the Bush gang as oil. Thereafter, there is China. Says Anatol Lieven of the Carnegie Institute in Washington: “What radical US nationalists have in mind is either to ‘contain’ China by overwhelming military force or to destroy the Chinese Communist state.”

ONE of the Bush gang’s planners, Richard Perle, has said: “If we let our vision of the world go forth and we embrace it entirely, and we don’t try to piece together clever diplomacy but just wage a total war … our children will sing great songs about us years from now.”

September 11 2001 was their big opportunity. On September 12 Donald Rumsfeld wanted to use the Twin Towers tragedy as an excuse to attack Iraq, which was temporarily spared only because Colin Powell argued that “public opinion has to be prepared”. Afghanistan was the easier option and they were planning to attack it anyway.

The subsequent American endeavour to encircle al-Qaeda in the eastern mountains of Afghanistan was a fiasco and more than 20,000 people, estimates Jonathan Steele in the Guardian, paid the price of that country’s “liberation”.

Since September 11 America has established bases at the gateways to all the major sources of fossil fuels. The Unocal oil company is to build a pipeline across Afghanistan. Bush has repudiated the Kyoto treaty on greenhouse gas emissions, with the war crimes provisions of the International Criminal Court and the anti-ballistic missile treaty. He has said he will use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states “if necessary” – incredibly Geoffrey Hoon, on Blair’s behalf, has said exactly the same.

Assassination is now legal. Virtually before our eyes, prisoners have been tortured to the point of suicide in an American concentration camp in Cuba. Under Donald Rumsfeld a secret group with the Orwellian name of the Proactive Pre-emptive Operations Group has the job of provoking terrorist attacks, which would then require “counter-attack” by the United States. You have to keep reminding yourself this is not fantasy: that the enemy to all our security is not a regional tyrant – there are plenty of those, many created by America and Britain.

And what of Blair? Do he and his craven Ministers understand any of this? It is difficult to know. Such is Blair’s evangelical obsession with Iraq, and perhaps his desperation in the face of overwhelming public opposition, that he is prepared to mislead and deceive not only the public but the armed forces he has sent to pursue his and the mad Perle’s “vision”.

Does anyone believe the Prime Minister any more? During his interview last Thursday with the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman, Blair lied once again that UN weapons inspectors were “thrown out” of Iraq by the regime in 1998. He knows the truth: that they were withdrawn when it was discovered the CIA had planted spies among them in order to gather intelligence for the subsequent Anglo-American bombing of Iraq in December 1998.

I MEAN,” said Blair last week, “(the threat of Iraq’s undiscovered weapons of mass destruction) is what our intelligence services are telling us and it’s difficult because, you know, either they’re simply making the whole thing up …”

Making it up, indeed. On February 7 Downing Street had to apologise when it was revealed that its latest dossier seeking to justify war – “Iraq: its infrastructure of concealment, deception and intimidation” – was lifted word for word, including the grammatical and spelling mistakes, from an article written by an American student 10 years ago. As David Edwards of Media Lens has pointed out, “the only changes involved the doctoring of passages to make the report more ominous: a claim that Iraq was ‘aiding opposition groups’ was changed to a claim that Iraq was ‘supporting terrorist organisations’.” Like Bush, Blair lies that “we do know of links between al-Qaeda and Iraq”. An investigation by America’s National Security Council, which advises Bush, “found no evidence of a noteworthy relationship” between Iraq and al-Qaeda. On February 5 a Ministry of Defence document, leaked to the BBC, revealed that British intelligence had told Blair there was “no current link” between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. Blair has even denied seeing this crucial report.

As a Christian, Blair says be is helping to build a “secure and hopeful world for all our children”.

The Labour MP Llew Smith recently asked the Education Secretary to explain “how we can find billions of pounds to increase our defence budget and go to war with Iraq but cannot find the money to scrap tuition fees?”

There was no intelligible reply.

LAST November a report by the School of Public Policy, University of College London, disclosed that “53 per cent of children in inner London are living in income poverty”. Yet Chancellor Gordon Brown puts aside “at least a billion pounds” as “a war chest” with which to attack not poverty but an impoverished people half a world away.

A peaceful solution in the Middle East is only possible when the threat of an attack is lifted and a total ban on so-called weapons of mass destruction and arms sales is imposed throughout the region, on Israel as well as Iraq. The economic blockade on the people of Iraq should end immediately and justice for the Palestinians become a priority.

The power of public opinion, both moral and political power, is far greater than many people realise. That’s why Blair fears it and why, through the inept Tessa Jowell, he tried to ban tomorrow’s demonstration. He fears it because if the voice of the people threatens the house of cards he has built on his obsession with Iraq and America, it may well threaten his political life and make mockery of the Anglo-American “coalition” and deny the Bush gang its fig leaf.

Should that happen, American public opinion, now stirring heroically after the most sustained brainwashing campaign for half a century, may even stop the Bush gang in its tracks. As of yesterday 42 American cities had passed resolutions condemning an attack.

Is all that a cause for optimism? Yes it is. Look at how this week’s French and German “rebellion” almost seemed to change everything; and remember that those governments are speaking out only because of overwhelming pressure from their people.

Now that has to happen in Britain. Tomorrow you can begin to make it happen.

— source johnpilger.com

Today is a day of shame for the British military

26 March 2003
Today is a day of shame for the British military as it declares the Iraqi city of Basra, with a stricken population of 600,000, a “military target”.

You will not read or hear those words in the establishment media that claims to speak for Britain.

But they are true. With Basra, shame is now our signature, forged by Blair and Bush.

Having destroyed its water and power supplies, cut off food supply routes and having failed to crack its human defences, they are now preparing to lay siege to Iraq’s second city which is more than 40 per cent children.

What an ignominious moment in British history. Here is an impoverished country under attack by a superpower, the United States, which has unimaginable wealth and the world’s most destructive weapons, and its “coalition” accomplice, Britain, which boasts one of the world’s best “professional” armies.

Believing their own propaganda, the military brass has been stunned by the Iraqi resistance.

They have tried to belittle the militia defending Basra with lurid stories that its fighters are killing each other.

The truth is that the Iraqis are fighting like lions to defend not a tyrant but their homeland. It is a truth the overwhelming majority of decent Britons will admire.

The historical comparison Tony Blair and his propagandists fear is that of the British defending themselves against invasion. That happened 60 years ago and now “we” are the rapacious invaders.

Yesterday, Blair said that 400,000 Iraqi children had died in the past five years from malnutrition and related causes. He said “huge stockpiles of humanitarian aid” and clean water awaited them in Kuwait, if only the Iraqi regime would allow safe passage.

In fact, voluminous evidence, including that published by the United Nations Children’s Fund, makes clear that the main reason these children have died is an enduring siege, a 12-year embargo driven by America and Britain.

As of last July, $5.4billion worth of humanitarian supplies, approved by the UN and paid for by the Iraqi government, were blocked by Washington, with the Blair government’s approval. The former assistant secretary general of the UN, Denis Halliday, who was sent to Iraq to set up the “oil for food programme”, described the effects of the embargo as “nothing less than genocide”. Similar words have been used by his successor, Hans Von Sponeck.

Both men resigned in protest, saying the embargo merely reinforced the power of Saddam.

Both called Blair a liar.

And now Blair’s troops are firing their wire-guided missiles to “soften up” Basra.

I have walked the city’s streets, along a road blown to pieces by a US missile. The casualties were children, of course, because children are everywhere. I held a handkerchief over my face as I stood in a school playground with a teacher and several hundred malnourished youngsters.

The dust blew in from the southern battlefields of the 1991 Gulf War, which have never been cleaned up because the US and British governments have denied Iraq the specialist equipment.

The dust, Dr Jawad Al-Ali told me, carries “the seeds of our death”. In the children’s wards of Basra’s main hospital, deaths from a range of hitherto unseen cancers are common and specialists have little doubt that up to half the population of southern Iraq will die from cancers linked to the use of a weapon of mass destruction used by the Americans and British – uranium tipped shells and missiles.

ONCE again, the Americans are deploying what Professor Doug Rokke, a former US Army physicist, calls “a form of nuclear weapon that contaminates everything and everyone”.

Today, each round fired by US tanks contains 4,500 grams of solid uranium, whose particles, breathed or ingested, can cause cancer.

This, and the use by both the Allies of new kinds of cluster bombs, is being covered up.

Once again, the British public is being denied the reality of war.

Images of bandaged children in hospital wards are appearing on TV but you do not see the result of a Tornado’s cluster bombing.

You are not being shown children scalped by shrapnel, with legs reduced to bloody pieces of string.

Such images are “not acceptable”, because they will disturb viewers – and the authorities do not want that. These “unseen” images are the truth. Iraqi parents have to look at their mutilated children, so why shouldn’t those of us, in whose name they were slaughtered, see what they see?

Why shouldn’t we share their pain? Why shouldn’t we see the true nature of this criminal invasion?

Other wars were sanitised, allowing them to be repeated.

If you have satellite TV, try to find the Al Jazeera channel, which has distinguished itself with its coverage. When the Americans bombed Afghanistan, one of their “smart” bombs destroyed the Al Jazeera office in Kabul. Few believe it was an accident. Rather, it was a testimony to the channel’s independent journalism.

Remember, it is not those who oppose this war who need to justify themselves, regardless of Blair’s calls to “support our troops”. There is only one way to support them – bring them home without delay.

In 1932, Iraqis threw out their British colonial rulers. In 1958, they got rid of the Hashemite monarchy.

Iraqis have shown they can overthrow dictators against the odds. So why have they not been able to throw out Saddam?

Because the US and Britain armed him and propped him up while it suited them, making sure that when they tired of him, they would be the only alternative to his rule and the profiteers of his nation’s resources. Imperialism has always functioned like that.

The “new Iraq”, as Blair calls it, will have many models, such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, all of them American conquests and American ruled until Washington allowed a vicious dictatorship to take over.

Saddam only came to power after the Americans helped install his Ba’ath Party in 1979. “That was my favourite coup,” said the CIA officer in charge.

Keep in mind the cynicism behind these truths when you next hear Blair’s impassioned insincerity – and when you glimpse, if you can, the “unacceptable” images of children killed and mangled in your name, and in the cause of what the Prime Minister calls “our simple patriotism”.

It’s the kind of patriotism, wrote Tolstoy, “that is nothing else but a means of obtaining for the rulers their ambitions and covetous desires, and for the ruled the abdication of human dignity, reason and conscience.”

— source johnpilger.com

“We dropped a few civilians”, said Sgt Eric Schrumpf of the US Marines

5 April 2003

“We had a great day,” said Sgt Eric Schrumpf of the US Marines last Saturday. “We killed a lot of people.”

He added: “We dropped a few civilians, but what do you do?” He said there were women standing near an Iraqi soldier, and one of them fell when he and other Marines opened fire. “I’m sorry,” said Sgt Schrumpf, “but the chick was in the way”.

For me, what is remarkable about this story is that I heard almost the same words 36 years ago when a US Marine sergeant told me he had killed a pregnant woman and a child because they had “got in the way”.

That was in Vietnam, another country invaded by the US military machine, which left up to two million people dead and many more maimed and otherwise ruined. President Reagan called this “a noble cause”. The other day, President Bush called the invasion of Iraq, another unprovoked and piratical act, “a noble cause”.

In the years since Vietnam, the Americans have invaded and caused, directly and through stooges, great suffering in many other countries, but none tells us more about the current war than their enduring atrocity in Vietnam, known as the first “media war”.

Like their attack on Iraq, their invasion of Vietnam was accompanied by a racist contempt for the people. The Vietnamese were “gooks” and “slits” who would never fight, who would be crushed within weeks. As in Iraq today, the uncensored evidence of America’s killing was not shown on TV but covered up.

General Colin Powell, Bush’s “liberal” Secretary of State, was promoted swiftly because he was given the job of covering up the infamous My Lai massacre. In the end, the Vietnamese defied the Hollywood script and expelled their invader, but at great cost.

The Iraqis, up against two western air forces and a Disneyworld of weapons of mass destruction, are unlikely to share the same honour. And yet they, too, are not keeping to the script; and their extraordinary resistance against such overwhelming odds has required intensified propaganda in Washington and London: aimed not at them, but at us.

Unlike in Vietnam, this propaganda, lying that is both crude and subtle, is now dispensed globally and marketed and controlled like a new niche product. Richard Gaisford, an “embedded” BBC reporter, said recently: “We have to check each story we have with (the military). And the captain, who’s our media liaison officer, will check with the colonel, and they will check with Brigade headquarters as well.”

David Miller, a media analyst at Stirling University, calls it “public relations genius”. It works like this. Once the official “line” is agreed and manufactured at the Coalition Press Information Centre in Kuwait and the $1million press centre in Qatar, it is submitted to the White House, to what is known as the Office of Global Communications. It is then polished for British consumption by Blair’s staff of propagandists in Downing Street.

Truth, above all, is redundant. There is only “good” news or no news. For example, the arrival in Iraq of the British ship Sir Galahad with a miserable few hundred tons of humanitarian aid was a “good” story given wide coverage. What was missing was the truth that the Blair government continues to back Washington’s deliberate denial of $5.4billion worth of humanitarian aid, including baby milk and medical supplies. This is “aid” which Iraq has paid for (from oil receipts) and the UN Security Council has approved.

What was also missing from such a moving tale of Britain-to-the-rescue was that, under pressure from Bush and Blair, the United Nations has been forced to close down its food distribution system in Iraq, which barely prevented famine in the pre-war period.

BLAIR’S lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and its alleged links with al-Qaeda have been exposed and rejected by the majority of the British people. He has since played his “conviction” card. Perhaps his last propaganda refuge is a call to support “our boys”.

On September 3, 1967, the Sunday Mirror published a dispatch of mine from Vietnam under the front page headline: “How can Britain approve a war like this?” Today’s Mirror asks the same question of the invasion of Iraq. The difference is that, unlike Blair, Prime Minister Harold Wilson denied an American president the use of British troops for his “coalition”. A poll in yesterday’s Mirror said that “78 per cent insist British forces must not be brought home until the war is over.” Polls themselves can make propaganda, with the question predetermining the answer. What if the question asked had been: “Do you support British forces being in Iraq given the absence of any ‘liberation’ and the rising number of civilian casualties?”

I doubt whether it would have been anywhere near 78 per cent. There is undoubtedly a traditional reserve of support for “the troops”, no matter the dirty work they are sent to carry out. Blair’s manipulation of this should not be allowed to succeed. British troops may be better trained than the Americans; but this does not alter the fact that they are part of, indeed essential to, a criminal invasion of a country offering us no threat.

Trained in media manipulation (“public relations”), British military spokesmen lie as frequently as the Americans; if anything, their nonsense about “uprisings” is too specious by half. The truth they don’t tell is that the British siege of Basra is strangling the civilian population, causing great suffering to innocent, men, women and children in their homeland.

Imagine if Iraqi troops were doing the same to Birmingham, a city of comparable size. Imagine the outrage: the popular resistance, regardless of who was in power in London. If we cannot imagine that, then we have fallen victim to a big lie that reverses right and wrong. If we cannot put ourselves in Iraqis’ shoes, in the shoes of the grieving family of the woman who was gunned down by Sgt Schrumpf, “the chick who got in the way”, then we have cause indeed to worry.

— source johnpilger.com