by John Pilger
Znet, March 13, 2003
How have we got to this point, where
two western governments take us into an illegal and immoral war
against a stricken nation with whom we have no quarrel and who
offer us no threat: an act of aggression opposed by almost everybody
and whose charade is transparent?
How can they attack, in our name, a country
already crushed by more than 12 years of an embargo aimed mostly
at the civilian population, of whom 42 per cent are children -
a medieval siege that has taken the lives of at least half a million
children and is described as genocidal by the former United Nations
humanitarian coordinator for Iraq?
How can those claiming to be "liberals"
disguise their embarrassment, and shame, while justifying their
support for George Bush's proposed launch of 800 missiles in two
days as a "liberation"? How can they ignore two United
Nations studies which reveal that some 500,000 people will be
at risk? Do they not hear their own echo in the words of the American
general who said famously of a Vietnamese town he had just levelled:
"We had to destroy it in order to save it?"
"Few of us," Arthur Miller once
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."
These days, Miller's astuteness applies
to a minority of warmongers and apologists. Since 11 September
2001, the consciousness of the majority has soared. The word "imperialism"
has been rescued from agitprop and returned to common usage. America's
and Britain's planned theft of the Iraqi oilfields, following
historical precedent, is well understood. The false choices of
the cold war are redundant, and people are once again stirring
in their millions. More and more of them now glimpse American
power, as Mark Twain wrote, "with its banner of the Prince
of Peace in one hand and its loot-basket and its butcher-knife
in the other".
What is heartening is the apparent demise
of "anti-Americanism" as a respectable means of stifling
recognition and analysis of American Imperialism. Intellectual
loyalty oaths, similar to those rife during the Third Reich, when
the abusive "anti-German" was enough to silence dissent,
no longer work. In America itself, there are too many anti-Americans
filling the streets now: those whom Martha Gellhorn called "that
life-saving minority who judge their government in moral terms,
who are the people with a wakeful conscience and can be counted
Perhaps for the first time since the late
1940s, Americanism as an ideology is being identified in the same
terms as any rapacious power structure; and we can thank Bush
and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice for that,
even though their acts of international violence have yet to exceed
those of the "liberal" Bill Clinton.
"My guess," wrote Norman Mailer
recently, "is that, like it or not, or want it or not, we
are going to go to war because that is the only solution Bush
and his people can see. The dire prospect that opens, therefore,
is that America is going to become a mega-banana republic where
the army will have more and more importance in our lives. And,
before it is all over, democracy, noble and delicate as it is,
may give way . . . Indeed, democracy is the special condition
that we will be called upon to defend in the coming years. That
will be enormously difficult because the combination of the corporation,
the military and the complete investiture of the flag with mass
spectator sports has set up a pre-fascist atmosphere in America
In the military plutocracy that is the
American state, with its unelected president, venal Supreme Court,
silent Congress, gutted Bill of Rights and compliant media, Mailer's
"pre-fascist atmosphere" makes common sense. The dissident
American writer William Rivers Pitt pursues this further. "Critics
of the Bush administration," he wrote, "like to bandy
about the word 'fascist' when speaking of George. The image that
word conjures is of Nazi storm troopers marching in unison towards
Hitler's Final Solution. This does not at all fit. It is better,
in this matter, to view the Bush administration through the eyes
of Benito Mussolini. Dubbed 'the father of fascism', Mussolini
defined the word in a far more pertinent fashion. 'Fascism,' he
said, 'should more properly be called corporatism, since it is
the merger of state and corporate power.' "
Bush himself offered an understanding
of this on 26 February when he addressed the annual dinner of
the American Enterprise Institute. He paid tribute to "some
of the finest minds of our nation [who] are at work on some of
the greatest challenges to our nation. You do such good work that
my administration has borrowed 20 such minds. I want to thank
them for their service."
The "20 such minds" are crypto-fascists
who fit the definition of William Pitt Rivers. The institute is
America's biggest, most important and wealthiest "think-tank".
A typical member is John Bolton, under-secretary for arms control,
the Bush official most responsible for dismantling the 1972 Anti-Ballistic
Missile Treaty, arguably the most important arms control agreement
of the late 20th century. The institute's strongest ties are with
extreme Zionism and the regime of Ariel Sharon. Last month, Bolton
was in Tel Aviv to hear Sharon's view on which country in the
region should be next after Iraq. For the expansionists running
Israel, the prize is not so much the conquest of Iraq but Iran.
A significant proportion of the Israeli air force is already based
in Turkey with Iran in its sights, waiting for an American attack.
Richard Perle is the institute's star.
Perle is chairman of the powerful Defence Policy Board at the
Pentagon, the author of the insane policies of "total war"
and "creative destruction". The latter is designed to
subjugate finally the Middle East, beginning with the $90bn invasion
Perle helped to set up another crypto-fascist
group, the Project for the New American Century. Other founders
include Vice-President Cheney, the defence secretary Rumsfeld
and deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz. The institute's "mission
report", Rebuilding America's Defences: strategy, forces
and resources for a new century, is an unabashed blueprint for
world conquest. Before Bush came to power, it recommended an increase
in arms spending by $48bn so that America "can fight and
win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars". This has
come true. It said that nuclear war-fighting should be given the
priority it deserved. This has come true. It said that Iraq should
be a primary target. And so it is. And it dismissed the issue
of Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction" as
a convenient excuse, which it is.
Written by Wolfowitz, this guide to world
domination puts the onus on the Pentagon to establish a "new
order" in the Middle East under unchallenged US authority.
A "liberated" Iraq, the centrepiece of the new order,
will be divided and ruled, probably by three American generals;
and after a horrific onslaught, known as Shock and Awe.
Vladimir Slipchenko, one of the world's
leading military analysts, says the testing of new weapons is
a "main purpose" of the attack on Iraq. "Nobody
is saying anything about it," he said last month. "In
May 2001, in his first presidential address, Bush spoke about
the need for preparation for future wars. He emphasised that the
armed forces needed to be completely high-tech, capable of conducting
hostilities by the no-contact method. After a series of live experiments
- in Iraq in 1991, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan - many corporations
achieved huge profits. Now the bottom line is $50-60bn a year."
He says that, apart from new types of
cluster bombs and cruise missiles, the Americans will use their
untested pulse bomb, known also as a microwave bomb. Each discharges
two megawatts of radiation which instantly puts out of action
all communications, computers, radios, even hearing aids and heart
pacemakers. "Imagine, your heart explodes!" he said.
In the future, this Pax Americana will
be policed with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons used
"pre-emptively", even in conflicts that do not directly
engage US interests. In August, the Bush administration will convene
a secret meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, to discuss the construction
of a new generation of nuclear weapons, including "mini nukes",
"bunker busters" and neutron bombs. Generals, government
officials and nuclear scientists will also discuss the appropriate
propaganda to convince the American public that the new weapons
Such is Mailer's pre-fascist state. If
appeasement has any meaning today, it has little to do with a
regional dictator and everything to do with the demonstrably dangerous
men in Washington. It is vitally important that we understand
their goals and the degree of their ruthlessness. One example:
General Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani dictator, was last year
deliberately allowed by Washington to come within an ace of starting
a nuclear war with India - and to continue supplying North Korea
with nuclear technology - because he agreed to hand over al-Qaeda
operatives. The other day, John Howard, the Australian prime minister
and Washington mouthpiece, praised Musharraf, the man who almost
blew up west Asia, for his "personal courage and outstanding
In 1946, Justice Robert Jackson, chief
prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, said: "The very essence
of the Nuremberg charter is that individuals have international
duties which transcend national obligations of obedience imposed
by the state."
With an attack on Iraq almost a certainty,
the millions who filled London and other capitals on the weekend
of 15-16 February, and the millions who cheered them on, now have
these transcendent duties. The Bush gang, and Tony Blair, cannot
be allowed to hold the rest of us captive to their obsessions
and war plans. Speculation on Blair's political future is trivia;
he and the robotic Jack Straw and Geoff Hoon must be stopped now,
for the reasons long argued in these pages and on hundreds of
And, incidentally, no one should be distracted
by the latest opportunistic antics of Clare Short, whose routine
hints of "rebellion", followed by her predictable inaction,
have helped to give Blair the time he wants to subvert the UN.
There is only one form of opposition now:
it is civil disobedience leading to what the police call civil
unrest. The latter is feared by undemocratic governments of all
The revolt has already begun. In January,
Scottish train drivers refused to move munitions. In Italy, people
have been blocking dozens of trains carrying American weapons
and personnel, and dockers have refused to load arms shipments.
US military bases have been blockaded in Germany, and thousands
have demonstrated at Shannon which, despite Ireland's neutrality,
is being used by the US military to refuel its planes en route
"We have become a threat, but can
we deliver?" asked Jessica Azulay and Brian Dominick of the
American resistance movement. "Policy-makers are debating
right now whether or not they have to heed our dissent. Now we
must make it clear to them that there will be political and economic
consequences if they decide to ignore us."
My own view is that if the protest movement
sees itself as a world power, as an expression of true internationalism,
then success need not be a dream. That depends on how far people
are prepared to go. The young female employee of the Gloucestershire-based
top-secret Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), who
was charged this month with leaking information about America's
dirty tricks operation on members of the Security Council, shows
us the courage required.
In the meantime, the new Mussolinis are
on their balconies, with their virtuoso rants and impassioned
insincerity. Reduced to wagging their fingers in a futile attempt
to silence us, they see millions of us for the first time, knowing
and fearing that we cannot be silenced.