The New Rulers of the World
By John Pilger
Excerpted from the book - The New Rulers of the World
By John Pilger
Verso, 2002, paper
When American Vice-President Dick Cheney said that the 'war on
terrorism' could last for fifty years or more, his words evoked
George Orwell's great prophetic work, Nineteen Eighty-four. We
are to live with the threat and illusion of endless war, it
seems, in order to justify increased social control and state
repression, while great power pursues its goal of global
supremacy. Washington is transformed into 'chief city of
Airstrip One' and every problem is blamed on the 'enemy', the
evil Goldstein, as Orwell called him.' He could be Osama bin
Laden, or his successors, the 'axis of evil'.
In the novel , three slogans dominate society: war is
peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength. Today's
slogan, 'war on terrorism' also reverses meaning. The war is
terrorism. The most potent weapon in this 'war' is
pseudo-information, different only in form from that Orwell
described, consigning to oblivion unacceptable truths and
historical sense. Dissent is permissible within 'consensual'
boundaries, reinforcing the illusion that information and speech
The attacks of September 11, 2001 did not 'change everything',
but accelerated the continuity of events, providing an
extraordinary pretext for destroying social democracy. The
undermining of the Bill of Rights in the United States and the
further dismantling of trial by jury in Britain and a plethora
of related civil liberties are part of the reduction of
democracy to electoral ritual: that is, competition between
indistinguishable parties for the management of a
Central to the growth of this 'business state' are the media
conglomerates, which have unprecedented power, owning press and
television, book publishing, film production and databases. They
provide a virtual world of the 'eternal present', as Time
magazine called it: politics by media, war by media, justice by
media, even grief by media (Princess Diana).
The 'global economy' is their most important media enterprise.
'Global economy' is a modern Orwellian term. On the surface, it
is instant financial trading, mobile phones, McDonald's,
Starbucks, holidays booked on the net. Beneath this gloss, it is
the globalisation of poverty, a world where most human beings
never make a phone call and live on less than two dollars a day,
where 6,000 children die every day from diarrhea because most
have no access to clean water.
In this world, unseen by most of us in the global north, a
sophisticated system of plunder has forced more than ninety
countries into 'structural adjustment' programmes since the
eighties, widening the divide between rich and poor as never
before. This is known as 'nation building' and 'good governance'
by the 'quad' dominating the World Trade Organisation (the
United States, Europe, Canada and Japan) and the Washington
triumvirate (the World Bank, the IMF and the US Treasury) that
controls even minute aspects of government policy in developing
countries. Their power derives largely from an unrepayable debt
that forces the poorest countries to pay $100 million to western
creditors every day. The result is a world where an elite of
fewer than a billion people controls 80 per cent of humanity's
Promoting this are the transnational media corporations,
American and European, that own or manage the world's principal
sources of news and information. They have transformed much of
the 'information society' into a media age where extraordinary
technology allows the incessant repetition of politically 'safe'
information that is acceptable to the 'nation builders' . In the
West, we are trained to view other societies in terms of their
usefulness or threat to 'us' and to regard 'cultural'
differences as more important than the political and economic
forces by which we judge ourselves. Those with unprecedented
resources to understand this, including many who teach and
research in the great universities, suppress their knowledge
publicly; perhaps never before has there been such a silence.
Russian dissident economist Boris Kagarlitsky
'Globalisation does not mean the impotence of the state, but the
rejection by the state of its social functions, in favour of
repressive ones, and the ending of democratic freedoms.'
... compare the actions of politicians inn western democracies
with those of criminal tyrants. In cause and effect, the crucial
difference is distance from the carnage, and the dissemination
of an insidious propaganda that says a crime is not a crime if
we commit it. It was not a crime to murder more than half a
million peasants with bombs dropped secretly and illegally on
Cambodia, igniting an Asian holocaust. It was not a crime for
Bill Clinton and George W Bush, Tony Blair and his Tory
predecessors to have caused the deaths in Iraq of 'more people
than have been killed by all weapons of mass destruction in
history', to quote the conclusion of an American study.
Their medieval blockade against twenty-two million people, now
in its thirteenth year ... A report by the United Nations
Secretary-General in October 2001 says that the obstruction of
$4 billion of humanitarian supplies by the US and British
governments is by far the main cause of the extreme suffering
and deaths in Iraq. The United Nations Children's Fund, Unicef,
says that the death-rate for under-fives has almost trebled
since 1990, before the imposition of sanctions, and every month
up to 6,000 children die mostly as a result of the blockade.'
This is twice the total number of deaths in the Twin Towers and
another vivid reminder of the different value of different
lives. The Twin Towers victims are people. The Iraqi children
However, the Iraqi 'threat' is central to the Bush
administration's post-September 11 strategy of 'total war'.
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's instructions to the Pentagon
to 'think the unthinkable' may well cause non-Americans, at
least, to worry that the world's only superpower has been taken
over by fundamentalists whose fanaticism promises human carnage
on a scale that dwarfs the non-state terrorism of those who fly
aircraft into skyscrapers and plant bombs in nightclubs in Bali.
In Washington, the 'oil and gas junta' is increasingly
influenced by the Defense Policy Board (DPB), a semi-official
panel that advises Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz.
Known in Washington as the 'Wolfowitz cabal', the group draws
together the extreme right of American political life and is
responsible for the inspiration behind the 'war on terrorism',
principally a concept of 'total war'.
One of the group's 'thinkers', Richard Perle, a cold war planner
in the Reagan administration, offered this explanation. '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, then we take a look around and see how things stand. 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."
interviewed Perle in 1987 when he was an adviser to President
Reagan. I thought then he was simply mad. I was mistaken; for
there is a perfectly understandable logic to the American
enterprise of world conquest, of which he and the other
Bush-ites are merely the latest promoters and executors. The
'war on terrorism' (or, as former Python Terry Jones put it,
'the bombing of an abstract noun') is part of the logic. It is
the long-sought-after replacement for the 'red scare',
justifying a permanent war footing and paranoia, and
construction of the greatest military machine ever: the
'National Defense Missile Programme'. This, says the US Space
Command, will ensure the 'full spectrum dominance' of the world.
This means complete military mastery, which is likened in
Pentagon literature to the European navies' dominance of both
the northern and eastern hemispheres in the nineteenth century.
It does not end there. These words are already applied in other
areas, notably the control of all economic life, the
composition, or 'internal wiring', as the New York Times put it,
of foreign governments and the redefinition of dissent as an
'international security concern'.
This is expressed more openly and crudely than ever before,
notably by a select group of literate oafs in the American
press. In an article entitled 'Unilateralism is the key to our
success', Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post described
the world in the next fifty years as one without protection
against nuclear attack or environmental damage for the citizens
of any country except the United States; a world where
'democracy' means nothing if its benefits are at odds with
American 'interests'; a world in which to express dissent
against these 'interests' brands one a terrorist and justifies
surveillance, repression and death. As Drew Whitworth pointed
out, these beliefs are indistinguishable from those of Osama bin
Laden, 'carried forward by a few men without a mandate'.
There is an echo of the 'Thousand Year Reich' about this, first
promoted in an American context by Henry Luce's bellicose
proclamation, in 1941 in Time, of an 'American Century'. In the
United States, academic-populists once again dispense a Reader's
Digest view of the world, such as Samuel Huntington's Clash of
Civilisations and, more recently, Victor Davis Hanson's Why the
West Has Won, with its call to 'civic militarism'. In none of
these texts, which emphasise 'cultural' supremacy, is there
recognition that the imperialist imperatives of the American
Century have undermined the greatest western achievement, that
of secular, redistributive politics, and allowed the maelstrom
stemming from American violence, along with introspective,
revengeful religion, to fill the gaps.
This book argues that we urgently need antidotes to a propaganda
that beckons dangers no less than those of the cold war.
We need an awareness of lethal double standards: that
'international law' and 'international community' are often
merely the preserves of great power, not the expression of the
majority. The United States can mount a posse with Britain and
one or two bribed hangers-on and call it a 'coalition', for the
purposes of a wholly piratical attack on other countries, while
more than 400 United Nations resolutions calling for justice in
Palestine are not worth the paper they are written on. We also
need to examine the common use of 'we' and its appropriation by
great power. If 'we' are to fight terrorism, then 'we' must call
on the United States to end its terror in the Middle East,
Colombia and elsewhere. Only then can 'we' make the world a
One of my oldest friends, Charlie Perkins, Australia's Martin
Luther King, lived past the age of sixty, an amazing achievement
for one whose people more often than not die in their thirties
and forties. It was Charlie who led the 'freedom rides' of the
sixties into Australia's equivalent of the American Deep South,
chaining himself to the turnstiles of swimming pools that
refused to admit black children. On our first visit to Alice
Springs together, in 1969, Charlie's mother, Hetti, who was a
queen of the Arrente people, suggested we gain entry to an
Aboriginal 'reserve', a concentration camp in the bush, by
revving the car and ramming the gate, which we did. His last,
long interview with me is published here. This book is a tribute
to those, like Charlie and Hetti, whose actions shame the silent
and defy the myth of apathy.
They belong to what the great American reporter Martha Gellhorn
called 'an old and unending worldwide company, the men and women
of conscience and struggle'. Some are famous like Tom Paine and
Wilberforce and Mandela, but most are little known in the West.
In India, there is the 300,000-strong, all-female Self-Employed
Women's Association (SEWA); in Brazil the Landless People's
Movement; in Mexico the Zapatistas. Their victories, usually
unrecognised in the West, are often epic. Not long before I
wrote this, in Bolivia's third city, Cochabamba, ordinary people
took back their water from a corporate conglomerate, after the
World Bank had pressurised the Bolivian government into
privatising the public water supply. Having refused credit to
the public water company, the bank demanded that a monopoly be
given to Aguas del Tunari, part of International Water Limited,
a British-based company half-owned by the American engineering
Granted a forty-year concession, the company immediately raised
the price of water. In a country where the minimum wage is less
than $100 a month, people faced increases in their water bills
of $20 a month-more than water users pay each month in the
wealthy suburbs of Washington, home to many World Bank
economists. In Cochabamba, even collecting rainwater without a
permit was now illegal.
So they organised. Marcelo Rojas, who became one of the leaders,
said, 'I had never taken an interest in politics before. My
father is a politician, and I thought it was all about cutting
deals. But to see people fighting for their water, their rights.
made me realise there was a common good to defend, that the
country can't be left in the hands of the politicians.' He was
arrested and tortured by the police, as were many young people
who built barricades and protected the old when the authorities
attacked. They took over their city and they won. The government
tore up the contract, and the company cleared its desks.
Victories of that kind are not acknowledged in the West.
Argentina is reported as chaos, not as a struggle with
connections to our own lives. The epic struggle of journalists
in Turkey for a free press, of trade unionists in Colombia and
the new 'tiger' unions in East Asia are of no concern to 'us'.
In Indonesia, the IMF may have delivered an expedient coup de
grace to the genocidist Suharto, but it was brave people, like
Dita Sari and Daniel Indra Kusuma ... who broke the long silence
and faced guns and armoured vehicles supplied by the dictator's
friends, notably the British government.
In South Africa, it was young people, like those at Soweto in
1976, who faced the 'Hippos', the hideous armoured vehicles from
which the police killed and wounded indiscriminately. Study Paul
Weinberg's historic photograph of a lone woman standing defiant
between two of these monsters, as they rolled into her township;
her arms are raised, her fists are clenched. The negotiators
played a part, but it was those like her who defeated apartheid.
The list is endless. Contrary to myth, people are seldom
compliant. In a survey of thirty countries, Gallup found that
the majority opposed the bombing of Afghanistan and military
violence as a means of bringing terrorists to justice. Most
understand that the real terror is poverty, from which some
24,000 people die every day.
Following September 11, Robin Theurkauf, a lecturer in national
law at Yale University, wrote, 'Terrorist impulses ferment in
poverty, oppression and ignorance. The elimination of these
conditions and the active promotion of a universal respect for
human rights must become a priority.'
'To be corrupted by totalitarianism', warned George Orwell, |
'one does not need to live in a totalitarian country.' In the
United States, where a military plutocracy rules, another
generation now marches in streets that some of the most
tenacious peace and democracy movements once filled. In Europe,
the energy and organisation are well ahead of the 1960s, rather
like the blossoming political awareness of all sorts of people,
especially the young. They no longer confuse the distractions of
elective oligarchies with true politics. Under many banners,
this new 'endless company', drawing millions from across the
world, may well be the greatest.
The Model Pupil
excerpted from the
book - The New Rulers of the World
by John Pilger
Verso, 2002, paper
Flying into Jakarta, it is not difficult to imagine the city
below fitting the World Bank's description of Indonesia. A
'model pupil of globalisation' was the last of many laurels the
bank bestowed. That was almost five years ago. Within weeks,
short-term global capital had fled the country, the stock market
and currency had crashed, and the number of people living in
absolute poverty had reached almost 70 million. The next year,
1998, General Suharto was forced to resign after thirty years as
dictator, taking with him severance pay estimated at $15
billion, the equivalent of almost 13 percent of his country's
foreign debt, much of it owed to the World Bank.'
Nike workers get about 4 per cent of the retail price of the
shoes they make, which is not enough to buy the laces.
The workers I met later, secretly, told me: 'If Gap trousers
have to be finished, we don't leave. We stay till the order is
full, no matter the time. If you want to go to the toilet, you
have to be lucky. If the supervisor says no, you shit in your
pants . . . we are treated like animals because we have to work
hard all the time | without saying a word.'
I told them the Gap company
boasted about a 'code of conduct' that protected workers' basic
'We've never seen it,' they
said. 'Foreigners from Gap come to the factory, but they are
interested only in quality control and the rate of production.
They never ask about working conditions. They don't even look at
Agribusiness in the West, especially the United States and
Europe, has produced its famous surpluses and export power only
because of high tariff walls and massive domestic subsidies. The
result has been a monopoly on humanity's staples
... according to a CIA memorandum, Prime Minister Harold
Macmillan and President John Kennedy had agreed to 'liquidate
President Sukarno, depending on the situation and available
opportunities'. The CIA author added, 'It is not clear to me
whether murder or overthrow is intended by the word liquidate.'
Sukarno was a populist, the
founder of modern Indonesia and of the non-aligned movement of
developing countries, which he hoped would forge a genuine
'third way' between the spheres of the two superpowers. In 1955,
he convened the 'Asia-Africa Conference' in the Javanese hill
city of Bandung. It was the first time the leaders of the
developing world, the majority of humanity, had met to forge
common interests: a prospect that alarmed the western powers,
especially as the vision and idealism of nonalignment
represented a potentially popular force that might seriously
challenge neo-colonialism. The hopes invested in such an
unprecedented meeting are glimpsed in the faded tableaux and
black-and-white photographs in the museum at Bandung and in the
forecourt of the splendid art deco Savoy Hotel, where the
following Bandung Principles are displayed:
I - Respect for fundamental
human rights and the principles of the United Nations Charter.
2 - Respect for the sovereignty
and territorial integrity of all nations.
3 - The recognition of the
equality of all peoples.
4 - The settlement of disputes
by peaceful means.
Sukarno could be a democrat and
a demagogue. For a time, Indonesia was a parliamentary
democracy, then became what he called a 'guided democracy'. He
encouraged mass trade unions and peasant, women's and cultural
movements. Between 1959 and 1965, more than 15 million people
joined political parties or affiliated mass organisations that
were encouraged to challenge British and American influence in
the region. With 3 million members, the PKI was the largest
communist party in the world outside the Soviet Union and China.
According to the Australian historian Harold Crouch, 'the PKI
had won widespread support not as a revolutionary party but as
an organisation defending the interests of 'the poor within the
existing system'. It was this popularity, rather than any armed
insurgency, that alarmed the Americans. Like Vietnam to the
north, Indonesia might 'go communist' .
In 1990, the American
investigative journalist Kathy Kadane revealed the extent of
secret American collaboration in the massacres of 1965-66 which
allowed Suharto to seize the presidency. Following a series of
interviews with former US officials, she wrote, 'They
systematically compiled comprehensive lists of communist
operatives. As many as 5,000 names were furnished to the
Indonesian army, and the Americans later checked off the names
of those who had been killed or captured.' One of those
interviewed was Robert J Martens, a political officer in the US
embassy in Jakarta. 'It was a big help to the army,' he said.
'They probably killed a lot of people and I probably have a lot
of blood on my hands, but that's not all bad. There's a time
when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment.' Joseph
Lazarsky, the deputy CIA station chief in Jakarta, said that
confirmation of the killings came straight from Suharto's
headquarters. 'We were getting a good account in Jakarta of who
was being picked up,' he said. 'The army had a "shooting list"
of about 4,000 or 5,000 people. They didn't have enough goon
squads to zap them all, and some individuals were valuable for
interrogation. The infrastructure [of the PKI] was zapped almost
immediately. We knew what they were doing . . . Suharto and his
advisers said, if you keep them alive you have to feed them.'
Having already armed and
equipped much of the army, Washington secretly supplied
Suharto's troops with a field communications network as the
killings got under way. Flown in at night by US air force planes
based in the Philippines, this was state-of-the-art equipment,
whose high frequencies were known to the CIA and the National
Security Agency advising President Johnson. Not only did this
allow Suharto's generals to co-ordinate the killings, it meant
that the highest echelons of the US administration were
listening in and that Suharto could seal off large areas of the
country. Although there is archive film of people being herded
into trucks and driven away, a single fuzzy photograph of a
massacre is, to my knowledge, the only pictorial record of what
was Asia's holocaust
The American Ambassador in
Jakarta was Marshall Green, known in the State Department as
'the coupmaster'. Green had arrived in Jakarta only months
earlier, bringing with him a reputation for having masterminded
the overthrow of the Korean leader Syngman Rhee, who had fallen
out with the Americans. When the killings got under way in
Indonesia, manuals on student organising, written in Korean and
English, were distributed by the US embassy to the Indonesian
Student Action Command (KAMI), whose leaders were sponsored by
On October 5, 1965, Green cabled
Washington on how the United States could 'shape developments to
our advantage'. The plan was to blacken the name of the PKI and
its 'protector', Sukarno. The propaganda should be based on
'[spreading] the story of the PKI's guilt, treachery and
brutality'. At the height of the bloodbath, Green assured
General Suharto: 'The US is generally sympathetic with and
admiring of what the army is doing.'' As for the numbers killed,
Howard Federspiel, the Indonesia expert at the State
Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research in 1965, said,
'No one cared, as long as they were communists, that they were
being butchered. No one was getting very worked up about it.'
The Americans worked closely
with the British, the reputed masters and inventors of the
'black' propaganda admired and adapted by Joseph Goebbels in the
1930s. Sir Andrew Gilchrist, the Ambassador in Jakarta, made his
position clear in a cable to the Foreign Office: 'I have never
concealed from you my belief that a little shooting in Indonesia
would be an essential preliminary to effective change.' With
more than 'a little shooting' under way, and with no evidence of
the PKI's guilt, the embassy advised British intelligence
headquarters in Singapore on the line to be taken, with the aim
of 'weakening the PKI permanently' .
Suitable propaganda themes might
be: PKI brutality in murdering Generals and [Foreign Minister]
Nasution's daughter . . . PKI subverting Indonesia as agents of
foreign Communists . . . But treatment will need to be subtle,
e.g. (a) all activities should be strictly unattributable, (b)
British participation or co-operation should be carefully
Within two weeks, an office of
the Foreign Office's Information Research Department (IRD) had
opened in Singapore. The IRD was a top-secret, cold war
propaganda unit headed by Norman Reddaway, one of Her Majesty's
most experienced liars. It would be salutary for journalists
these days to study the critical role western propaganda played
then, as it does now, in shaping the news. Indeed, Reddaway and
his colleagues manipulated the press so expertly that he boasted
to Gilchrist in a letter marked 'secret and personal' that the
story he had promoted - that Sukarno's continued rule would lead
to a communist takeover - 'went all over the world and back
again' . He described how an experienced Fleet Street journalist
agreed 'to give exactly your angle on events in his article ...
. i.e. that this was a kid glove coup without butchery.'
Roland Challis, the BBC's
South-East Asia correspondent, was a particular target of
Reddaway, who claimed that the official version of events could
be 'put almost instantly back to Indonesia via the BBC'.
Prevented from entering Indonesia along with other foreign
journalists, Challis was unaware of the extent of the slaughter.
'It was a triumph for western propaganda,' he told me. 'My
British sources purported not to know what was going on, but
they knew what the American plan was. There were bodies being
washed up on the lawns of the British consulate in Surabaya, and
British warships escorted a ship full of Indonesian troops down
the Malacca Straits so that they could take part in this
terrible holocaust. It was only much later that we learned the
American embassy was supplying names and ticking them off as
they were killed. There was a deal, you see. In establishing the
Suharto regime, the involvement of the IMF and the World Bank
was part of it. Sukarno had kicked them out; now Suharto would
bring them back. That was the deal.'
With Sukarno now virtually
powerless and ill, and Suharto about to appoint himself acting
president, the American press reported the Washington-backed
coup not as a great human catastrophe, but in terms of the new
economic advantages. The massacres were described by Time as
'The West's Best News in Asia'. A headline in US News and World
Report read: 'Indonesia: Hope . . . where there was once none'.
The renowned New York Times columnist James Reston celebrated 'A
gleam of light in Asia' and wrote a kid-glove version that he
had clearly been given. The Australian Prime Minister Harold
Holt, who was visiting the US, offered a striking example of his
sense of humour: 'With 500,000 to a million communist
sympathisers knocked off,' he said approvingly, 'I think it's
safe to assume a reorientation has taken place.'
Holt's remark was an accurate
reflection of the complicity of the Australian foreign affairs
and political establishment in the agony of its closest
neighbour. The Australian embassy in Jakarta described the
massacres as a 'cleansing operation'. The Australian Ambassador,
KCO Shann, enthused to Canberra that the Indonesian army was
'refreshingly determined to do over the PKI', adding that the
generals had spoken approvingly of the reporting on Radio
Australia, which he described as 'a bit dishonest'.' In the
Prime Minister's Department, officials considered supporting
'any measures to assist the Indonesian army ... cope with the
In February 1966, [British]
Ambassador Gilchrist wrote a report on the scale of the
massacres based on the findings of the Swedish Ambassador, who
had toured central and eastern Java with his Indonesian wife and
had been able to speak to people out of earshot of government
officials. Gilchrist wrote to the Foreign Office: 'The
Ambassador and I had discussed the killings before he left [on
the tour] and he had found my suggested figure of 400,000 quite
incredible. His enquiries have led him to reconsider it a very
serious under-estimate. A bank manager in Surabaya with twenty
employees said that four had been removed one night and beheaded
. . . A third of a spinning factory's technicians, being members
of a Communist union, had been killed ... The killings in Bali
had been particularly monstrous. In certain areas, it was felt
that not enough people [emphasis in the original] had been
On the island of Bali, the
'reorientation' described by Prime Minister Holt meant the
violent deaths of at least 80,000 people, although this is
generally regarded as a conservative figure. The many western,
mostly Australian, tourists who have since taken advantage of
cheap package holidays to the island might reflect that beneath
the car parks of several of the major tourist hotels are buried
The distinguished campaigner and
author Carmel Budiardjo, an Englishwoman married to a tapol and
herself a former political prisoner, returned to Indonesia in
2000 and found 'the trauma left by the killings thirty-five
years ago still gripping many communities on the island'. She
described meeting, in Denpasar, fifty people who had never
spoken about their experiences before in public. 'One witness,'
she wrote, 'who was 20 years old at the time calmly told us how
he had been arrested and held in a large cell by the military,
52 people in all, mostly members of mass organisations from
nearby villages. Every few days, a batch of men was taken out,
their hands tied behind their backs and driven off to be shot.
Only two of the prisoners survived . . . Another witness, an
ethnic Chinese Indonesian, gave testimony about the killing of
103 people, some as young as 15. In this case, the people were
not arrested but simply taken from their homes and killed, as
their names were ticked off a list.'
'In the early sixties,' he said, 'the pressure on Indonesia to
do what the Americans wanted was intense. Sukarno wanted good
relations with them, but he didn't want their economic system.
With America, that is never possible. So he became an enemy. All
of us who wanted an independent country, free to make our own
mistakes, were made the enemy. They didn't call it globalisation
then; but it was the same thing. If you accepted it, you were
America's friend. If you chose another way, you were given
warnings, and if you didn't comply, hell was visited on you. But
I am back; I am well; I have my family. They didn't win.'
Ralph McGehee, a senior CIA
operations officer in the 1960s, described the terror in
Indonesia from 1965 - 66 as a 'model operation' for the
American-run coup that got rid of Salvador Allende in Chile
seven years later. 'The CIA forged a document purporting to
reveal a leftist plot to murder Chilean military leaders,' he
wrote, '[just like] what happened in Indonesia in 1965.' He says
Indonesia was also the model for Operation Phoenix in Vietnam,
where American-directed death squads assassinated up to 50,000
people. 'You can trace back all the major, bloody events run
from Washington to the way Suharto came to power,' he told me.
'The success of that meant that it would be repeated, again and
Indonesia, once owing nothing but having been plundered of its
gold, precious stones, wood, spices and other natural riches by
its colonial masters, the Dutch, today has a total indebtedness
estimated at $262 billion, which is 170 per cent of its gross
domestic product. There is no debt like it on earth. It can
never be repaid. It is a bottomless hole.
Today, in rebellious West Papua, the army openly supports an
Islamic group, Lashkar Jihad, while playing its traditional role
of terrorising the local population in order to 'protect' the
vast multinational Freeport copper and gold mine, the world's
largest. In Aceh, where the American Exxon company has holdings
in oil drilling and liquefied natural gas, human rights
violations by the army are well documented.
The United States and Australia, in the meantime, have quietly
resumed training the officer corps of a military that has never
repudiated its genocidal past. In the name of the 'war on
terror', the state terrorism that the West backed for forty
years is making a comeback.
Paying the Price
excerpted from the
book - The New Rulers of the World
by John Pilger
Verso, 2002, paper
They know we own their country ... we dictate the way they live
and talk. And that's what's great about America right now. It's
a good thing, especially when there's a lot of oil out there we
William Looney, US airforce, _ director of the bombing of Iraq
Wherever you go in Iraq's southern city of Basra, there is dust.
It rolls down the long roads that are the desert's fingers. It
gets in your eyes and nose and throat; it swirls in markets and
school playgrounds, consuming children kicking a plastic ball;
and it carries, according to Dr Tawad Al-Ali, 'the seeds of our
death'. Dr Al-Ali is a cancer specialist at the city hospital
and a member of Britain's Royal College of Physicians. He has a
neat moustache and a kindly, furrowed face. His starched white
coat, like the collar of his shirt, is frayed.
'Before the Gulf
War, we had only three or four deaths in a month from cancer,'
he said. 'Now it's thirty to thirty-five patients dying every
month, and that's just in my department. That is twelve times
the increase in the cancer mortality. Our studies indicate that
40 to 48 per cent of the population in this area will get
cancer: in five years' time to begin with, then long afterwards.
That's almost half the population. Most of my own family now
have cancer, and we have no history of the disease. It has
spread to the medical staff of this hospital; yesterday, the son
of the medical director died. We don't know the precise source
of the contamination, because we are not allowed to get the
equipment to conduct a proper survey, or even test the excess
level of radiation in our bodies. We strongly suspect depleted
uranium, which was used by the Americans and British in the Gulf
War right across the southern battlefields. Whatever the cause,
it is like Chernobyl here; the genetic effects are new to us.
The mushrooms grow huge, and the fish in what was once a
beautiful river are inedible. Even the grapes in my garden have
mutated and can't be eaten.''
Along the corridor,
I met Dr Ginan Ghalib Hassen, a paediatrician. At another time,
she might have been described as an effervescent personality;
now she, too, has a melancholy expression that does not change;
it is the face of Iraq. 'This is Ali Raffa Asswadi,' she said,
stopping to take the hand of a wasted boy I guessed to be about
four years old. 'He is nine years,' she said. 'He has leukaemia.
Now we can't treat him. Only some of the drugs are available. We
get drugs for two or three weeks, and then they stop when the
shipments stop. Unless you continue a course, the treatment is
useless. We can't even give blood transfusions, because there
are not enough blood bags . . .'
In the next bed, a
child lay in his shrouded mother's arms. One side of his head
was severely swollen. 'This is neuroblastoma,' said Dr Hassen.
'It is a very unusual tumour. Before 1991, we saw only one case
of this tumour in two years. Now we have many cases.' Another
child had his eyes fixed on me and I asked what would happen to
him. She said, 'He has an abdominal mass. We have operated on
him, but unless the tumour receives treatment, it will recur. We
have only some drugs. We are waiting for the full course. He has
renal failure now, so his future is bad. All the futures here
Dr Hassen keeps a
photo album of the children she is trying to save and has been
unable to save. 'This is Talum Saleh,' she said, turning to a
photograph of a boy in a blue pullover and with sparkling eyes.
'He is five-and-a-half years old. This is a case of Hodgkin's
Disease. Normally, with Hodgkin's, a patient can expect to live
and the cure can be 95 per cent. But if the drugs are not
available, complications set in, and death follows. This boy had
a beautiful nature. He died.'
I said, 'As we were
walking, I noticed you stop and put your face to the wall.'
Yes, I was
emotional ... I am a doctor; I am not supposed to cry, but I cry
every day, because this is torture. These children could live;
they could live and grow up; and when you see your son and
daughter in front of you, dying, what happens to you?'
I said, 'What do
you say to those in the West who deny the connection between
depleted uranium and the deformities of these children?'
'That is not true.
How much proof do they want? There is every relation between
congenital malformation and depleted uranium. Before 1991, we
saw nothing like this at all. If there is no connection, why
have these things not happened before? Most of these children
have no family history of cancer. I have studied what happened
in Hiroshima. It is almost exactly the same here; we have an
increased percentage of congenital malformation, an increase of
malignancy, leukaemia, brain tumours: the same.
Under the economic
embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council in 1990
and upgraded the following year, Iraq is denied equipment and
expertise to decontaminate its battlefields, in contrast to how
Kuwait was cleaned up after the Gulf War. The US army physicist
responsible for cleaning up Kuwait was Professor Doug Rokke,
whom I met in London. Today, he himself is a victim. 'I am like
many people in southern Iraq,' he said. 'I have 5,000 times the
recommended level of radiation in my body. The contamination was
right throughout Iraq and Kuwait. With the munitions testing and
preparation in Saudi Arabia, uranium contamination covers the
entire region. The effect depends on whether a person inhaled it
or ingested it by eating and drinking, or if they got it in an
open wound. What we're seeing now, respiratory problems, kidney
problems, cancers, are the direct result of the use of this
highly toxic material. The controversy over whether or not it's
the cause is a manufactured one; my own ill-health is testament
says there are two urgent issues to be confronted by people in
the West, 'those with a sense of right and wrong': first, the
decision by the United States and Britain to use a 'weapon of
mass destruction', such as depleted uranium. He said, 'In the
Gulf War, well over 300 tons were fired. An A-10 Warthog attack
aircraft fired over 900,000 rounds. Each individual round was
300 grams of solid uranium 238. When a tank fired its shells,
each round carried over 4,500 grams of solid uranium. These
rounds are not coated, they're not tipped; they're solid
uranium. Moreover, we have evidence to suggest that they were
mixed with plutonium. What happened in the Gulf was a form of
The second issue is
the denial of medical care to American and British and other
allied soldiers, and the tens of thousands of Iraqis
contaminated. At international symposiums, I have watched Iraqi
officials approach their counterparts from the Department of
Defence and the Ministry of Defence and ask, plead, for help
with decontamination. The Iraqis didn't use depleted uranium; it
was not their weapon. They simply don't know how to get rid of
it from their environment. I watched them put their case,
describing the deaths and the horrific deformities that are
showing up; and I watched them rebuffed. It was pathetic.
The United Nations
Sanctions Committee in New York, dominated by the Americans and
British, has vetoed or delayed a range of vital medical
equipment, chemotherapy drugs, even pain-killers. (In the jargon
of denial, 'blocked' equals vetoed, and 'on hold' means delayed,
or maybe blocked.) In Baghdad, I sat in a clinic as doctors
received parents and their children, many of them grey-skinned
and bald, some of them dying. After every second or third
examination, Dr Lekaa Fasseh Ozeer, the young oncologist, wrote
in English: 'No drugs available.' I asked her to jot down in my
notebook a list of drugs the hospital had ordered, but had not
received, or had received intermittently. She filled a page.
I had been filming
in Iraq for my documentary Paying the Price: Killing the
Children of Iraq. Back in London, I showed Dr Ozeer's list to
Professor Karol Sikora who, as chief of the cancer programme of
the World Health Organisation (WHO), wrote in the British
Medical Journal: 'Requested radiotherapy equipment, chemotherapy
drugs and analgesics are consistently blocked by United States
and British advisers [to the Sanctions Committee]. There seems
to be a rather ludicrous notion that such agents could be
converted into chemical and other weapons. He told me, 'Nearly
all these drugs are available in every British hospital. They're
very standard. When I came back from Iraq last year, with a
group of experts I drew up a list of seventeen drugs that are
deemed essential for cancer treatment. We informed the UN that
there was no possibility of converting these drugs into chemical
warfare agents. We heard nothing more. The saddest thing I saw
in Iraq was children dying because there was no chemotherapy and
no pain control. It seemed crazy they couldn't have morphine,
because for everybody with cancer pain, it is the best drug.
When I was there, they had a little bottle of aspirin pills to
go round 200 patients in pain. They would receive a particular
anti-cancer drug, but then get only little bits of drugs here
and there, and so you can't have any planning. It's bizarre.'
Denis Halliday had resigned after thirty-four years with the UN.
He was then Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations,
with a long and distinguished career in development, 'attempting
to help people, not harm them' . His was the first public
expression of an unprecedented rebellion within the UN
bureaucracy. 'I am resigning,' he wrote, 'because the policy of
economic sanctions is totally bankrupt. We are in the process of
destroying an entire society. It is as simple as that . . . Five
thousand children are dying every month . . . I don't want to
administer a programme that results in figures like these.'
Since I met
Halliday, I have been struck by the principle behind this
carefully chosen, uncompromising words. 'I had been instructed,'
he said, 'to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of
genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well
over a million individuals, children and adults. We all know
that the regime, Saddam Hussein, is not paying the price for
economic sanctions; on the contrary, he has been strengthened by
them. It is the little people who are losing their children or
their parents for lack of untreated water. What is clear is that
the Security Council is now out of control, for its actions here
undermine its own Charter, and the Declaration of Human Rights
and the Geneva Convention. History will slaughter those
Dr Eric Herring, of Bristol University, a sanctions specialist
who backed the [Iraq] sanctions cannot say that they did not
know what was going to happen. Whatever the political purpose,
it was a conscious and callous choice to deny an entire society
the means necessary to survive.
The cost in lives is staggering. A study by the United Nations
Children's Fund, Unicef, found that between 1991 and 1998, there
were 500,000 deaths above the anticipated rate among Iraqi
children under five years of age. This, on average, is 5,200
preventable under five deaths per month. Hans Von Sponeck said,
'Some 167 Iraqi children are dying every day. Denis Halliday
said, 'If you include adults, the figure is now almost certainly
well over a million.'
In 1999, a
humanitarian panel set up by the Security Council reported that
Iraq had slipped from 'relative affluence' prior to 1991 into
'massive poverty' . The panel criticised the Oil for Food
Programme as 'inadequate' to remedy a 'dire' humanitarian
situation 'that cannot be overstated'. The panel's members took
the remarkable step of attacking their sponsor, charging that
'the Iraqi people would not be undergoing such deprivations in
the absence of the prolonged measures imposed by the Security
Council'. Once again, children were found to be the main
victims, with the infant mortality rate soaring from one of the
lowest in the world in 1990 to the highest.
In a separate
study, Richard Garfield, a renowned epidemiologist at Columbia
University in New York, says that, in tripling since 1990, the
death rate of children in Iraq is unique. There is almost no
documented case,' he wrote, 'of rising mortality for children
under five years in the modern world.' Extrapolating from these
statistics, American researchers 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 in history.'
In 1999, seventy
members of the US Congress signed an unusually blunt letter to
President Clinton, appealing to him to lift the embargo and end
what they called 'infanticide masquerading as policy' . The
Clinton administration had already given them their reply. In
1996, in an infamous interview on the American current affairs
programme 60 Minutes, Madeleine Albright, then US Ambassador to
the United Nations, had been asked: 'We have heard that half a
million children have died . . . is the price worth it?'
Albright replied, 'I think this is a very hard choice, but the
price-we think the price is worth it.'
The Al Rasheed Hotel is where Saddam Hussein's people are
glimpsed. Dark glasses, large dyed moustaches and spooks
proliferate. You enter by way of an icon of dark Iraqi humour,
crossing a large floor portrait, set in tiles, of George Bush
Senior, a good likeness, and the words: 'George Bush is a war
A 1994 Senate report documented the transfer to Iraq of the
ingredients of biological weapons: botulism developed at a
company in Maryland, licensed by the Commerce Department and
approved by the State Department. Anthrax was also supplied by
the Porton Down laboratories in Britain, a government
establishment. A Congressional investigator said, 'It was all
money, it was all greed. The US Government knew, the British
Government knew. Did they care? No. It was a competition with
the Germans. That's how the arms trade works.'
During the parallel
Scott Inquiry in London into the arms-to-Iraq scandal, Tim
Laxton, a City of London auditor, was brought in to examine the
books of the British arms company Astra, which the Thatcher
Government covertly and illegally used as a channel for arms to
Iraq. Laxton was one of the few observers to sit through the
entire inquiry. He believes that if Sir Richard Scott's
brief had been open
and unlimited, and Thatcher's senior aides and civil servants
had been compelled to give evidence under oath, as well as
numerous other vital witnesses who were not called, the outcome
would have been very different from the temporary embarrassment
meted out to a few ministers. 'Hundreds,' he said, 'would have
faced criminal investigation, including top political figures,
very senior civil servants from the Foreign Office, the Ministry
of Defence, the Department of Trade . . . the top echelon of
Dr Anupama Rao Singh, Unicef's senior representative in Iraq,
about the effect of the US sanctions
In 1989, the
literacy rate was more than 90 per cent; parents were fined for
failing to send their children to | school. The phenomenon of
street children was unheard of. Iraq | had reached a stage where
the basic indicators we use to measure the overall well-being of
human beings, including children, were some of the best in the
world. Now it is among the bottom 20 per cent.
Just before Christmas 1999, the Department of Trade and Industry
in London restricted the export of vaccines meant to protect
Iraqi children against diphtheria and yellow fever. Dr Kim
Howells told Parliament why. His title of Parliamentary
UnderSecretary of State for Competition and Consumer Affairs
perfectly suited his Orwellian reply. The children's vaccines
were, he said, 'capable of being used in weapons of mass
'Perhaps the most repulsive thing about the whole policy,' wrote
Eric Herring 'is that US and British decision-makers have
exploited popular humanitarian sentiment for the most crucial
realpolitik reasons. They have no desire for the Shi'ite
majority to take control or for the Kurds to gain independence.
Their policy is to keep them strong enough to cause trouble for
Saddam Hussein while ensuring that Saddam Hussein is strong
enough to keep repressing them. This is a direct descendant of
British imperial policy from the First World War onwards [and is
about the control]
'Most Americans,' wrote Roger Normand, 'are unaware that
sanctions against Iraq have killed more people than the two
atomic bombs dropped on Japan, because the media have focused
exclusively on the demonised figure of Saddam Hussein and
presented Iraq as a country of military targets rather than
The playwright Arthur Miller was more charitable. 'Few of us,'
he wrote, can easily surrender our belief that society must
somehow make sense. The thought that the State has lost its mind
and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so
the evidence has to be internally denied.'
A report for the UN Secretary-General, written by Professor Marc
Bossuyt, a respected authority on international law, says that
the 'sanctions regime against Iraq is unequivocally illegal
under existing human rights law' and 'could raise questions
under the Genocide Convention' . His subtext is that if the new
court [ICC] is to have authority, it cannot merely dispense the
justice of the powerful.
A growing body of
legal opinion agrees that the court has a duty, as Eric Herring
wrote, to investigate 'not only the regime, but also the UN
bombing and sanctions which have violated the human rights of
Iraqi civilians on a vast scale . . . It should also investigate
those who assisted [Saddam Hussein's] programmes of now
prohibited weapons, including western governments and
In 2000, Hain
blocked a parliamentary request to publish the full list of
law-breaking British companies. A prosecutor might ask why, then
ask who has killed the most innocent people in Iraq: Saddam
Hussein, or British and American policy-makers? The answer may
well put the murderous tyrant in second place: a crime
compounded by a military assault that will kill and maim
civilians and destroy the United Nations Charter.
Denis Halliday ... in the General Assembly at the United
Nations, where he had been Assistant Secretary-General.
This is where the
real world is represented,' he said. 'This is where democracy
applies: one state, one vote. By contrast, the Security Council
has five permanent members which have veto rights. There is no
democracy there; it does not in any way represent the real
world. Had the issue of sanctions on Iraq gone to the General
Assembly, it would have been overturned by a very large
majority. We have to change the United Nations, to reclaim what
is ours. The genocide in Iraq is the test of our will. All of us
have to break the silence: to make those responsible, in
Washington and London, aware that history will slaughter them.
The Great Game
[for Middle East Oil]
excerpted from the
book - The New Rulers of the World
by John Pilger
Verso, 2002, paper
To me, I confess that [countries] are pieces on a chessboard )
upon which is being played out a great game for the domination
of the world.
Viceroy of India, 1898
George Kennan, US strategic planner, 1948
"We have 50 per
cent of the world's wealth but only 6.3 percent of its
population. In this situation, our real job in the coming period
. . . is to maintain this position of disparity. To do so, we
have to dispense with all sentimentality . . . we should cease
thinking about human rights, the raising of living standards and
Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 2001 [of the war on terrorism -
"This is World War
Independent [newspaper, London] on Sunday during the Gulf War in
"War is never
pleasant. There are certain actions that a civilised society can
never contemplate. This carpet bombing is undeniably terrible.
But that does not make it wrong."
... cluster bombs are landmines. The crucial difference from
those banned under international treaty is that they are dropped
from aircraft. At the time of writing, an estimated 70,000
American cluster 'bomblets' lie unexploded in Afghanistan,
already the most landmined country in the world.
This is the nature
of the 'war against terrorism'.
'Surely, the point about civilisation,' wrote a Guardian
columnist, Isobel Hilton, 'is that it does not descend lightly
into terror - and barbarism? . . . The Afghans, we hear, have a
bent for savagery and it would be absurd to expect a war in
Afghanistan to be fought by Queensberry rules. But whose war is
this? . . . Were [the Americans and British] fighting by
Dostum's rules or by their own? Or do we no longer bother with
Nothing has changed. Not the clusters, which were tested in
Vietnam. Not the shock to the liberal conscience when forced to
acknowledge the truth that mass murder, 'terror and barbarism'
are standard practice on 'our' side: only the technology is
different. Not the concealment of true objectives in moral
illusions by the richest country on earth using its terrifying
military might against the poorest, and in the name of 'civilisation'.
Neither has the
disregard for peaceful resolution changed. In 1954, US Secretary
of State John Foster Dulles walked out of a Geneva conference
because the majority had agreed on democratic elections in
Vietnam that would unify the north and south of the country. His
action ignited a war that took as many as five million lives.
In the spirit of Lord Curzon's 'great game', the bombing of
Afghanistan replaced unwanted tribes with preferred tribes. That
both groups, in the vernacular of the modern game, are
'terrorists' is beside the point. The difference is that
President Bush calls the present occupiers of Kabul, the
Northern Alliance, 'our friends'. These are the same people
welcomed with kite-flying in 1992, who then killed an estimated
50,000 in four years of internecine feuding. 'In 1994 alone,'
reported New York-based Human Rights Watch, 'an estimated 25,000
people were killed in Kabul, most of them civilians, in rocket
and artillery attacks. One-third of the city was reduced to
tortured and executed hundreds of prisoners-of-war, as well as
looted foreign aid warehouses, the new heroes have quietly
re-established their monopoly over the affairs of the nation, as
well as the heroin trade. Life is meant to be easier for Afghan
women, but the burqa remains, along with most of the Taliban's
laws. Only a third of children are educated; of these, less than
three per cent are girls. Sexual policing thrives; and the
much-trumpeted Women's Affairs Minister, Dr Sima Samar, has been
disposed of and charged with blasphemy. Fazul Hadi Shinwari, the
new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, has said the Taliban's
Sharia punishments will continue, including stoning and
Hamid Karzai, installed by Washington, rules over a tribal
council that is seen by most Afghans as an unrepresentative
sham. Karzai is guarded by 46 American Special Forces soldiers
and has survived one assassination attempt. His country is
stricken, with the arrival of only a fraction of the money
promised by its 'liberators' with which, they pledged, to build
a civilian infrastructure. The Americans dropped 10,000 tonnes
of bombs. The United Nations estimates that between 50 and 100
people are killed or injured every week by unexploded bombs and
The greater sham is
the 'war on terrorism' itself. The search for Osama bin Laden
and his cohorts in the mountains of Afghanistan was a circus
spectacle. The American goal is, and always was, the control,
through vassals, of former Soviet Central Asia, a region rich in
oil and minerals and of great strategic importance to competing
powers, Russia and China. By February 2002, the United States
had established permanent military bases in all the Central
Asian republics, and in Afghanistan, whose post-Taliban
government is American approved. 'America will have a continuing
interest and presence in Central Asia of a kind that we could
not have dreamed of before [September 11],' said Secretary of
State Colin Powell. This is just a beginning. The ultimate goal
is a far wider American conquest, military and economic, which
was planned during the Second World War and which, as Vice
President Cheney says, 'may not end in our lifetimes', or until
the United States has positioned itself as gatekeeper of the
world's remaining oil and gas.
| Since the end of the cold war, a new opportunity has arisen.
The economic and political crises in the developing world,
largely the result of post-colonialism, such as the
blood-letting in the Middle East and the destruction of
commodity markets in Africa, now serve as retrospective
justification for imperialism. Although the word remains
unspeakable, the western intelligentsia, conservatives and
liberals alike, boldly echo the preferred euphemism, 'civilisation'.
From Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, an ally of
crypto-fascists, to the former British liberal editor Harold
Evans, the new imperialists share a concept whose true meaning
relies on an unexpressed contrast with those who are 'uncivilised',
i.e. inferior, and might challenge the 'values' of the West,
specifically its God-given right to control and plunder.
There are many
blueprints for the new imperialism, but none as cogent as that
of Zbigniew Brzezinski, adviser to several presidents and one of
the most influential gurus in Washington, whose 1997 book is
said to have biblical authority among the Bush gang and its
intelligentsia. In The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and
its Geostrategic Imperatives, Brzezinski writes, 'Ever since the
continents started interacting politically, some 500 years ago,
Eurasia has been the center of world power.'
He defines Eurasia
as all the territory east of Germany and Poland, stretching
through Russia and China to the Pacific Ocean and including the
Middle East and most of the Indian sub-continent. The key to
controlling this vast area of the world is Central Asia.
Dominance of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan
ensures not only new sources of energy and mineral wealth, but a
'guardpost' over American control of the oil of the Persian
Gulf. 'What is most important to the history of the world?'
wrote Brzezinski. 'The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet
empire? Some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of central
Europe . . . ?' The 'stirred-up Muslims' replied on September
The first priority
has been achieved, says Brzezinski. This is the economic
subjugation of the former superpower. Once the Soviet Union had
collapsed, he writes, the United States looted some $300 billion
in Russian assets, destabilising the currency and ensuring that
a weakened Russia would have no choice but to look westward to
Europe for economic and political revival, rather than south to
Central Asia. Brzezinski's analysis dismisses the notion of
'local wars as responses to terrorism'. Rather, they are the
beginning of a final conflict leading inexorably to the
dissolution of national governments and world domination by the
Nation states will
be incorporated in the 'new order', controlled solely by
economic interests as dictated by international banks,
corporations and ruling elites concerned with the maintenance
(by manipulation and war) of their power. 'To put it in a
terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient
empires,' he writes, 'the three grand imperatives of imperial
geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security
dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and
protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.'
In 2001 ... US Council on Foreign Relations and the Baker
Institute for Public Policy described the significance of this
decline for American power. 'The world,' it said, 'is perilously
close to utilising all its available global oil production
capacity.' If the global demand for oil continues to rise, world
shortages could reduce the status of the US to that of 'a poor
'The American way of life is not up for negotiation.'
'The hidden hand of the market,' wrote Thomas Friedman, the
guardian of American foreign policy in the New York Times, 'will
never work without a hidden fist. McDonald's cannot flourish
without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the
hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's
technologies is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine
'Governments are reduced to playing the role of servile lackeys
to big business," wrote Noreena Hertz, the dissident London
... an elite of fewer than a billion people controls 80 percent
of the world's riches.
'Globalisation does not mean the impotence of the state,' wrote
the Russian economist and dissident Boris Kagarlitsky, 'but the
rejection by the state of its social functions, in favour of
repressive ones, irresponsibility on the part of governments and
the ending of democratic freedoms.' Since Thatcher and Reagan in
the eighties, social democratic states have looked to America
and progressively shed their 'social functions'. Repression has
become a corollary.
Following September 11, 2001, Congress enacted the so-called
Patriot Act, which lays the foundation of a police state.
'The atmosphere is such,' wrote Andrew Stephen, the New
Statesman's Washington correspondent, 'that supposedly liberal
columnists debate the pros and cons of torturing prisoners, and
then finally conclude that, yes, torture is OK in these
extraordinary times.' This evokes the McCarthy period of the
fifties when a state-promoted paranoia consumed much of American
life, suspending the Bill of Rights and dictating foreign
policy. Obeying the totalitarian impulses that are as American
as the Fourth of July, the United States has become a
The unelected Bush
cabal consists of authentic fundamentalists, the heirs of John
Foster Dulles and his brother Alan, the Baptist fanatics who ran
the State Department and the CIA respectively, smashing
reforming governments in country after country-Iran, Iraq,
Guatemala-tearing up international agreements, such as the 1954
Geneva accords on Indochina.
The World Bank now admits that few of the poorest countries will
meet its 'poverty reduction targets' by 2015. In other words,
'structural adjustment programmes', consisting of privatisation,
indebtedness and the destruction of public services, have
further impoverished and disaffected a large proportion of the
This was illustrated at the fourth annual meeting of the World
Trade Organisation at Doha, in the Gulf state of Qatar, in
November 2001. Although the WTO has 143 members, only twenty-one
governments, the richest, are permitted to draft policy, most of
which has already been written by the 'quad': the United States,
Europe, Canada and Japan. These rich nations demanded a new
'round' of what they call 'trade liberalisation', which is the
power to intervene in the economies of poor countries, to demand
privatisation and the destruction of public services. Only they
are permitted to protect their home industries and agriculture;
only they have the right to subsidise exports of meat, grain and
sugar and to dump them in poor countries at artificially low
prices, thereby destroying the livelihoods of small farmers. (In
India, says the environmentalist Vandana Shiva, suicides among
poor farmers are 'an epidemic'.)
conference opened, the US trade representative Robert Zoellick
invoked the 'war on terrorism'. He said, 'The United States is
committed to global leadership of openness and understands that
the staying power of our new coalition depends on economic
growth . . .'4' The implication could not be clearer. 'Economic
growth' (rich elite, poor majority) equals antiterrorism. Mark
Curtis, the historian and Christian Aid's head of policy, who
attended Doha, described 'an emerging pattern of threats and
intimidation of poor countries' that amounted to 'economic
gunboat diplomacy'. He said, 'It was utterly outrageous. Wealthy
countries exploited their power to spin the agenda of big
business. The issue of multinational corporations as a cause of
poverty was not even on the agenda; it was like a conference on
malaria that does not even discuss the mosquito.' 'If I speak
out too strongly,' said an African delegate, 'the US will phone
my minister. They will say that I am embarrassing the United
States. My government will not even ask, "What did he say?" They
will just send me a ticket tomorrow . . . so I don't speak, for
fear of upsetting the master.' Haiti and the Dominican Republic
were threatened with the withdrawal of their special trade
preferences with the United States if they objected-to the new
'round' of 'free trade'.
The truth about the West's various claims to furthering the
'development' of the poor world, 'forgiving' its debt and
generally promoting 'poverty reduction', can be found in the
statistics on foreign aid. Although members of the United
Nations have agreed that the rich countries should give a
minimum of 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Product in
genuine aid to the poor world, Britain gives just 0.34 per cent
and the United States barely registers, with 0.19.
tell the story. One of Clare Short's enterprises is in Ghana
where, according to internal documents, British officials have
made clear that aid money for a clean water project is
conditional on the privatisation of the country's water supply.
This would reap profits for at least one British multinational
company, while ensuring the doubling of water bills for the
poorest. In the last Foreign Aid bill passed by the US Senate in
2000, a pittance of $75 million went to the poorest countries, a
tenth of the cost of one B-52 bomber. The same bill approved $1
.3 billion for the Colombian military, one of the world's worst
human rights violators.
US Space Command - Vision for 2020.
military forces have evolved to protect national interests and
investments-both military and economic. During the rise of
commerce, nations built navies to protect and enhance their
commercial interests. During the westward expansion of the
continental United States, military outposts and the cavalry
emerged to protect our wagon trains, settlements and railroads.
The emergence of space power follows both of these models . . .
Although unlikely to be challenged by a global peer competitor,
the United States will continue to be challenged regionally. The
globalisation of the world economy will continue, with a
widening gap between 'haves' and 'have-nots' . . .
Shortly before Christmas 1991, the Medical Educational Trust in
London published a comprehensive study of casualties. Up to a
quarter of a million men, women and children were killed or died
as a direct result of the American-led attack on Iraq.
'Whatever faults we have,' he said, 'Britain is a very moral
nation with a strong sense of right and wrong...
With an arms business second only in size to that of the United
States, Britain continued to sell two-thirds of its lethal
weapons and military equipment to governments with appalling
human rights records. Its biggest customer is Saudi Arabia, the
most extreme Islamic regime on earth, tutors of the Taliban and
home to most of the alleged September 11 hijackers. An
investigation by the National Audit Office into the £20 billion
'Al Yamamah' (The Dove) arms deal, whose report both
Conservative and Labour governments refused to release,
describes 'commissions' paid on Tornado fighters - £15 million
on one aircraft is said to be the going rate.
Britain is a major
arms supplier to at least five countries with internal conflict,
where the combined death toll runs to almost a million people.
Countries on the verge of war with each other are also clients:
for example, India and Pakistan. For twenty years, Britain armed
the Indonesian genocidists in East Timor.
When the Blair
Government came to power, and Cook made his 'mission statement'
at the Foreign Office, he met the two 1997 Nobel Peace
Prize-winners, Bishop Carlos Belo and Jose Ramos Horta, of East
Timor He assured them Britain would not license weapons that
might be used for internal repression in their occupied country.
At a public meeting in London soon afterwards, I listened to
Bishop Belo make an emotional appeal to the government. 'Please,
I beg you,' he said, 'do not sustain any longer a conflict which
without these sales could never have been pursued in the first
place, nor for so long.' He might have been speaking for much of
response was to increase arms shipments to Indonesia under cover
of the Official Secrets Act.
In the United States, the world's supermarket of weapons, the
making and selling of arms is central to any economic 'boom'.
The American 'military-industrial complex' is held aloft by arms
and other military-related contracts. Forty cents in every tax
dollar ends up with the Pentagon, which, in the financial year
2001/2, spent more than $400 billion. War ensures the industry's
prosperity. Following the Gulf War, American arms sales
increased by 64 per cent. The NATO attack on Yugoslavia resulted
in an extra $17 billion in sales. Following September 11, a
'boom' is already evident in the weapons business.
The day the stock
markets re-opened after the attacks, the few companies showing
increased value were the military contractors Raytheon, Alliant
Tech Systems, Northrop Gruman and Lockheed Martin. As the US
military's biggest supplier, Lockheed Martin's share value rose
by 30 per cent. The company's main plant is in George W Bush's
home state of Texas. As governor, Bush tried unsuccessfully to
sell the Texas welfare system to Lockheed Martin-owned
companies. In 1999, the company had record arms sales of more
than $ 25 billion, and received more than $12 billion in
Within six weeks of
the Twin Towers attacks, Lockheed Martin had secured the biggest
military order in history: a $200 billion contract to develop a
fighter aircraft. The aircraft will be built in Fort Worth,
Texas, creating 32,000 new jobs. 'Amidst all the bad news these
days,' said a company executive, 'what's happening to our stake
in America is good news.'
The British arms
industry has also boomed since September 11. At the time of
writing, BAE Systems is selling a $40 million air defence system
to Tanzania, one of the world's poorest countries. With a per
capita income of $250 a year, half the population has no clean
running water, and one in four children dies before their fifth
birthday. Even though the World Bank has opposed the sale, Tony
Blair has given it his personal backing, no doubt in the spirit
of his evangelical speech to the Labour Party Conference in
which he called Africa's poverty 'a scar on the conscience of
That the US is the only nation on record to have been condemned
by the World Court for international terrorism (in Nicaragua),
and has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling on
governments to observe international law, is unmentionable.
There is no conspiracy to keep this beyond public gaze.
Compliance to institutional and corporate needs is internalised
early in a journalist's career. The difference, in authoritarian
societies, is that the state makes these demands directly.
Self-censorship and censorship by omission are rarely pointed
out to practising journalists and students in media colleges.
Much of it is subliminal, giving it pervasive influence.
Minimising the culpability of western power, indeed reporting
countries in terms of their usefulness to the West, becomes
almost an act of professional faith.
In 1998, President Clinton went before the United Nations to
speak on terrorism. 'What are our global obligations?' he asked.
'To give terrorists no support, no sanctuary.' Following
September 11, 2001, President George W Bush said almost the same
words. 'In the war against terrorism,' he said, 'we're going to
hunt down these evil-doers wherever they are, no matter how long
it takes.' Strictly speaking, it should not take long, as more
terrorists are given 'training, support and sanctuary' in the
United States than anywhere on earth. They include mass
murderers, torturers, former and future tyrants and assorted
international criminals who fit the President's description.
This is virtually unknown by the American public.
generally regarded as the gravest of crimes, especially since
September 11. As William Blum points out in Rogue State,
'although there have been numerous air and boat hijackings over
the years from Cuba to the US, at gunpoint, knifepoint and/or
with the use of physical force, including at least one murder,
it's difficult to find more than a single instance where the
United States brought criminal charges against the hijackers.'
All the hijackers were anti-Castro.
As for sanctuaries,
there is none to compare with Florida, currently governed by the
President's brother, Jeb Bush. Blum describes a typical Florida
trial of three terrorists, who hijacked a plane to Miami at
knifepoint. 'This is like trying someone for gambling in a
Nevada court,' he noted. 'Even though the kidnapped pilot was
brought back from Cuba to testify against the men, the defence
simply told the jurors the man was Iying, and the jury
deliberated for less than an hour before acquitting the
Defence Minister Hector Gramajo Morales was ordered by a US
court to pay $47.5 million in damages for his responsibility for
the torture of an American nun and the massacre of eight
Guatemalans from one family. The evidence suggests,' said the
judge, 'that Gramajo devised and directed the implementation of
an indiscriminate campaign of terror against civilians.' Gramajo
graduated from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard,
where he had studied on a US government scholarship. He was
never arrested, and eventually returned home, saying he had
merely carried out 'a more humanitarian' way of dealing with
opponents of the regime.
Former general Jose
Guillermo Garcia has lived in Florida since the 1990s. As head
of El Salvador's military during the eighties, Garcia oversaw
the murder of thousands of people by death squads connected to
the army. Garcia's successor, General Carlos Vides Casanova, who
ran the feared National Guard, is another resident of Jeb Bush's
Sunshine State. 'According to the UN Truth Commission for El
Salvador,' writes Blum, 'Vides covered up and protected those
who raped and murdered three American nuns and a lay worker in
1980. He was physically present on at least two occasions when
Dr Juan Romagoza was tortured; in the end, the injuries
inflicted on Arce left him unable to perform surgery.'
Avril, the Haitian dictator, liked to display the bloodied
victims of his torture on television. When he was overthrown, he
was flown to Florida by the US government. The notorious Haitian
death squad leader Emanuel Constant, whose thugs terrorised
Haiti, mutilating people with machetes, lives in New York.
Armando Fernandez Larios, a member of a Chilean military squad
responsible for torture and executions following the overthrow
of Salvador Allende in 1973, lives in Miami. Argentine Admiral
Jorge Enrico, who was associated with the infamous 'Dirty War'
of torture and 'disappearances' in the 1970s, lives in Hawaii.
Thiounn Prasith, Pol Pot's henchman and apologist at the United
Nations, lives in Mount Vernon, New York.
In California, in
the eighties, I met four Vietnamese who had been assassins in
America's Operation Phoenix; one of them ran a fast food
drive-in. He seemed a contented man. What all these people have
in common, apart from their history of terrorism, is that they
were either working directly for the US government or carrying
out the dirty work of American policies. Operation Phoenix, for
example, devised, funded and run by the CIA, was responsible for
up to 50,000 murders.
Much was made of
al-Qa'ida's training camps in Afghanistan, the target of
American bombers. But these were kindergartens compared with the
world's leading university of terrorism at Fort Benning in
Georgia. Known until recently as the School of the Americas, it
trained some 60,000 Latin American soldiers, policemen,
paramilitaries and intelligence agents. Forty per cent of the
Cabinet ministers who served in the genocidal regimes of Lucas
Garcia, Rios Montt and Mejia Victores in Guatemala are
In 1993, the UN
Truth Commission for El Salvador named the army officers who had
committed the worst atrocities of the civil war; two-thirds of
them had been trained at Fort Benning. They included Roberto
D'Aubuisson, the leader of the death squads and the murderers of
Archbishop Oscar Romero and a group of Jesuit priests. In Chile,
the school's graduates ran Pinochet's secret police and three
principal concentration camps. In 1996, the US government was
forced to release copies of the school's training manuals. For
aspiring terrorists, these recommended blackmail, torture,
execution and the arrest of witnesses relatives.
Renamed the Western
Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, or Whisc, the
school's website is missing its 'History' pages. George Monbiot
Given that the
evidence linking the school to continuing atrocities in Latin
America is rather stronger than the evidence linking al-Qa'ida
training camps to the attack on New York, what should we do
about the 'evil-doers' in Fort Benning, Georgia? Well, we could
urge our governments to apply full diplomatic pressure and to
seek extradition of the school's commanders for trial on charges
of complicity in crimes against humanity. Alternatively, we
could demand that our governments attack the United States,
bombing its military installations, cities and airports in the
hope of overthrowing its unelected government and replacing it
with a new administration administered by the UN. In case this
proposal proves unpopular with the American people, we could win
their hearts and minds by dropping naan bread and dried curry in
plastic bags stamped with the Afghan flag.
Putting aside his
mockery, Monbiot pointed out that the only moral difference
between America's terrorism and that of al Qa'ida is that the
latter was puny by comparison.
The trail of blood
is endless: from the subjugation of the Philippines and Central
America, to the greatest terrorist acts of all, the bombing of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki; from the devastation of Indochina, such
as the murder of 600,000 peasants in neutral Cambodia, and the
use of chemicals and starvation against civilian populations, to
the shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane and the bombing
of prisoners-of-war in a mud fort in Afghanistan.
of American terrorism is voluminous, and because such truths
cannot be rationally rebutted, those who mention them, drawing
the obvious connections between them, are often abused as
'anti-American', regardless of whether or not they themselves
are American. During the 1930s, the term 'anti-German' was
deployed against critics the Third Reich wished to silence.
When President Clinton ordered that missiles be fired at the Al
Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan in 1998, claiming it was a
'chemical weapons facility', it was, by any measure, a major act
of terrorism. The plant was well known as the only source of 90
per cent of the basic medicines of one of the poorest countries.
It was the only
factory producing chloroquine, the most effective treatment for
malaria, and anti-tuberculosis drugs that were lifelines to more
than 100,000 patients at a cost of about £1 a month. Nowhere
else produced veterinary drugs that killed the parasites passed
from cattle to people, one of Sudan's main causes of infant
As a result of the
American attack, wrote Jonathan Belke of the Near East
Foundation, a respected humanitarian organisation, 'tens of
thousands of people-many of them children - have suffered and
died from malaria, tuberculosis and other treatable diseases . .
. [American] sanctions against Sudan make it impossible to
import adequate amounts of medicines to cover the serious gap
left by the plant's destruction.'
How many Sudanese
have since died as a result of Clinton's bombing? According to
Germany's Ambassador to Sudan, 'several tens of thousands seems
a reasonable guess.' A United Nations investigation, requested
by the Sudanese government, was blocked by Washington. None of
this has been reported as news.
It is rarely reported that of the hundreds killed and thousands
wounded in the second intifada, 90 per cent have been
Palestinian civilians, 45 per cent have been under eighteen, and
60 per cent were shot while in | their homes, schools and
Unlike the Palestinians, the ethnic Albanian population of
Kosovo was given an almost immediate right of return by the
United States and its NATO partners. The western media
overwhelmingly supported the NATO action. Yet this was a civil
war, and NATO did not dispute Yugoslav sovereignty. While the
Kosovars were being repatriated, 250,000 Serbs and Roma were
expelled or fled in fear from the province. NATO's 40,000
occupying troops stood by as this ethnic cleansing took place
and did virtually nothing to prevent the Kosovo Liberation Army
from murdering, torturing, abducting, desecrating churches and
generally living up to its previous description by Secretary of
State Albright and Foreign Secretary Cook as 'a terrorist
During the Kosovo
'war', the list of civilian targets in Yugoslavia was published
on the internet, but no newspaper carried it. Code-named 'Stage
Three', these targets included public transport, non-military
factories, telephone exchanges, food processing ~ plants,
fertiliser depots, hospitals, schools, museums, churches,
heritage-listed monasteries and farms.
'They ran out of
military targets in the first couple of weeks,' said James
Bissell, the Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia. 'It was common
knowledge that NATO then went to Stage Three: civilian targets.
Otherwise, they would not have been bombing bridges on Sunday
afternoons and market places.' Admiral Elmar Schmahling, head of
German Military Intelligence, said, 'The plan was to first put
pressure on the civilian population and second to destroy the
Yugoslav economy so deeply it would not recover.'
During the latter
weeks of the bombing, I watched the BBC's Kirsty Wark
interviewing General Wesley Clark, the NATO commander, on
Newsnight. She asked not one question about the targeting of
civilians, even though the city of Nis had been recently sprayed
with cluster bombs, killing women, old people and children
caught in the open. That only 2 per cent of NATO's
precision-guided missiles hit military targets was fleeting
news. The headlines spoke of 'mistakes' and 'blunders'; barely a
handful of journalists, notably Robert Fisk, exposed them as
deliberate. The overall 'coverage' was exemplified by the work
of Mark Laity, the BBC's correspondent in Brussels, soon
afterwards appointed Personal Adviser to the Secretary-General
became a series of official justifications, or lies, beginning
with US Defence Secretary William Cohen's claim that 'we've now
seen about 100,000 military-aged [Albanian] men missing . . .
they may have been murdered' . Two weeks later, David Scheffer,
the US Ambassador at Large for war crimes, announced that as
many as '225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59' may
have been killed. The British press took their cue. 'Flight
said the Daily Mail. 'Echoes of the Holocaust', chorused the Sun
and The Mirror. Tony Blair also invoked the Holocaust and 'the
spirit of the Second World War', apparently unaware of the
irony. The Serbs, in their epic resistance to the Nazi invasion,
lost more people, proportionally, than any other European
By June 1999, with
the bombardment over, international forensic teams began
subjecting Kosovo to minute examination. The American FBI
arrived to investigate what was called 'the largest crime scene
in the FBI's forensic history'. Several weeks later, having not
found a single mass grave, the FBI went home. The Spanish
forensic team also returned home, its leader complaining angrily
that he and his colleagues had become part of 'a semantic
pirouette by the war propaganda machines, because we did not
find one-not one-mass grave.'
In November 1999,
the Wall Street Journal published the results of its own
investigation, dismissing 'the mass grave obsession'. Instead of
'the huge killing fields some investigators were led to expect .
. . the pattern is of scattered killings [mostly] in areas where
the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army had been active.' The
paper concluded that NATO stepped up its claims about Serb
killing fields when it 'saw a fatigued press corps drifting
toward the contrarian story: civilians killed by Nato's bombs.'
Many of the claims of numbers killed could be traced back to the
KLA. 'The war in Kosovo was cruel, bitter, savage,' said the
Journal. 'Genocide it wasn't.'
NATO had bombed,
according to British Defence Secretary George Robertson, 'to
prevent a humanitarian catastrophe' of mass expulsion and
killing. In December 1999, the Organisation for Security and
Co-operation in Europe, whose monitors were in Kosovo just
before the bombing, released its report, which went virtually
unreported. It disclosed that most of the crimes against the
Albanian population had taken place after the bombing began:
that is, they were not a cause, but a consequence, of the
bombing. 'While Serb forces were clearly the instrument of the
unfolding "humanitarian disaster",' wrote former senior NATO
planner Michael McGwire, 'Nato's long-trailered urge to war was
undoubtedly a primary cause [and description of the] bombing as
"humanitarian intervention" [is] really grotesque.'
In the summer of
2000, the International War Crimes Tribunal, a body effectively
set up by NATO, announced that the final count of bodies found
in Kosovo's 'mass graves' was 2,788. This included Serbs, Roma
and combatants. It meant that the figures used by the British
and US governments and most of the media were inventions. Little
of this was reported.
who had swallowed Nato's lies were the loudest in their abuse of
the few who had questioned the bombing and exposed the charade
of the 'breakdown' of the Rambouillet talks that were
manipulated to justify the bombing. The tactic of their abuse
was to equate objections to the killing of civilians with
support for Milosevic. This was the same propaganda that equated
humane concern for the Iraqi and Afghan peoples with support for
Saddam Hussein and the Taliban respectively. It is a
time-honoured intellectual dishonesty. In the wake of September
11, 2001, the proponents of the 'war on terrorism' fortified
themselves with the cry, 'We were right over Kosovo, we are
right now' as the cluster bombs rained down again, with only a
change of terrain.
Writing in the Washington Post, the columnist Michael Kelly
spoke for the consensus in the media when he wrote, 'The
American pacifists . . . are on the side of future mass murders
of Americans. They are objectively proterrorist . . . that is
the pacifists' position, and it is evil.'
On September 11, 2001, George W Bush told America: 'I have
directed the full resources of our intelligence and law
enforcement communities to find those responsible and bring them
Well over a year
later, the 'full resources' of America's thirteen intelligence
agencies have failed to secure the conviction of a single person
in connection with September 11.. Not one of the 22 men on the
'Terrorists Wanted' poster has been sighted; not a cent of the
$500 million reward money has been claimed. As failures go, the
enormity of this has few historical equals. Yet, the heads of
the two principal agencies, the CIA and the FBI, have not been
dismissed or forced to resign, or shamed by Congress. For a
while, George W Bush's popularity rating was at an all-time
What Bush never
explained to his fellow Americans was that his and the previous
Clinton administration had been warned that al Qa'ida, or 'the
Base', a network spawned in an American client state, Saudi
Arabia, was planning audacious attacks on New York and
Washington. Hidden from the public was the CIA's long
relationship with Osama bin Laden during the majaheddin war
against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and that the President's
father still worked as a consultant to the immensely rich bin
In July 2001, a briefing paper was prepared for Bush. It began:
'We [the CIA and FBI] believe that OBL [Osama bin Laden] will
launch a significant terrorist attack against US and/or Israeli
interests in the coming weeks. The attack will be spectacular
and designed to inflict mass casualties against US facilities or
interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur
with little or no warning.'
And that is what
Within days of the
hijackers taking off from Boston for the Twin Towers, reported
the BBC, 'a special charter flight out of the same airport
whisked 11 members of Osama's family off to Saudi Arabia. That
did not concern the White House, whose official line is that the
bin Ladens are above suspicion.'
In January 2002, CNN reported that 'Bush personally asked Senate
majority leader Tom Daschle to limit the Congressional
investigation into the events of September 11 . . . The request
was made at a private meeting with Congressional leaders . . .
Sources said Bush initiated the conversation . . . He asked that
only the House and Senate intelligence committees look into the
potential breakdowns among federal agencies that could have
allowed the terrorist attacks to occur, rather than a broader
enquiry . . . Tuesday's discussion followed a rare call from
Vice-President Dick Cheney last Friday to make the same request
. . .' The excuse given was that 'resources and personnel would
be taken' away from the 'war on terrorism'.
The study of post-war international politics, 'liberal realism',
was invented in the United States, largely with the sponsorship
of those who designed and have policed modern American economic
power. They included the Ford, Carnegie and Rockefeller
Foundations, the OSS (the forerunner of the CIA) and the Council
on Foreign Relations, effectively a branch of government. Thus,
in the great American universities, learned voices justified the
cold war and its great risks.
In Britain, this
'transatlantic' view found its clearest echo. With honourable
exceptions, scholars have taken the humanity out of the study of
nations and congealed it with a jargon that serves the dominant
power. Laying out whole societies for autopsy, they identify
'failed states' and 'rogue states', requiring 'humanitarian
intervention'. As Noam Chomsky points out, imperial Japan
described its invasion of Manchuria as a 'humanitarian
intervention' and Mussolini used the term to justify seizing
Ethiopia, as did Hitler when the Nazis drove into Sudetenland.
In academic literature and the media, Bill Clinton was described
as 'centre left', a denial of the historical record. During the
Clinton years, the principal welfare safety nets were taken away
and poverty in America increased, an aggressive missile 'defence'
system known as 'Star Wars 2' was instigated, the biggest war
and arms budget in history was approved, biological weapons
verification was rejected, along with a comprehensive nuclear
test ban treaty, the establishment of an international criminal
court, a worldwide ban on landmines and proposals to curb money
laundering. Contrary to myth, which blames his successor, the
Clinton administration effectively destroyed the movement to
combat global warming. In addition, Haiti was invaded; the
blockade of Cuba was reinforced; Iraq, Yugoslavia and Sudan were
'It's a nice and
convenient myth that liberals are the peacemakers and
conservatives the war-mongers,' wrote Hywel Williams, 'but the
imperialism of the liberal may be more dangerous because of its
open-ended nature-its conviction that it represents a superior
form of life."
There is no conspiracy, and that should be emphasised. It is
simply the way the system works, ensuring 'access' and
'credibility' in an academic hierarchy always eager to credit
more ethical intent to government policy-makers than the
policy-makers themselves. In politics departments, the task of
liberal realists is to ensure that western imperialism is
interpreted as crisis management, rather than the cause of the
crisis and its escalation. By never recognising western state
terrorism, their complicity is assured. To state this simple
truth is deemed unscholarly; better to say nothing.
Martin Luther King
'The time has come when silence is betrayal.'