by John Pilger
Znet, March 21, 2003
When Bush and Blair begin their illegal
and immoral attack on a country that offers us no threat, we all
have a choice.
We can wring our hands and say there is
nothing we can do in the face of such powerful piracy - or we
can reclaim the democracy that has been so corrupted by an elected
dictatorship (in Bush's case, unelected).
There is only one responsible way to achieve
the second goal. The polite term is civil disobedience. The street
term is rebellion.
In 1946, Justice Robert Jackson, the chief
prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials of the Nazi leadership, said
that the "very essence" of international justice "is
that individuals have international duties which transcend national
obligations of obedience imposed by the state".
The British government is about to commit
a great criminal act. That is not rhetoric - it is true. Every
tenet of international law makes that clear, not least the United
Nations Charter itself. Indeed, the judges at Nuremberg were quite
clear about what they considered the gravest of all war crimes:
that of an unprovoked invasion of a sovereign territory.
In the face of this impending crime, the
"international duty which transcend national obligations
of obedience" now belongs to you, the millions of people
who have understood the nature of the crime. Now, you have both
the right and the duty to act.
Rebellion against a government committing
a crime in your name is now of vital importance. Silence and inaction
will only embolden Blair, this man who has taken this country
to war unnecessarily five times in his six years in office. Remember
his remark that North Korea, a nuclear power, is "next".
On the day of the attack on Iraq, leave
what you are doing if you can. Leave your home, work, college,
school. Join a demonstration. If you are unsure where to go, contact
the Stop the War Coalition on 07951 235915. Their website is www.stopwar.org.uk
Or get in touch with Globalise Resistance,
which is organising mass walkouts and street blockades in the
cities. Phone them on 020 7053 2071. Their website is www.resist.org.uk
Amnesty International is another source:
020 7814 6200. Their website is www.amnesty.org.uk
There will be non-violent protests by
Reclaim the Bases, which is organising gate blockades and peace
vigils at military bases. Contact 07887 585721. Their website
Be encouraged that the revolt is already
under way. In January, Scottish train drivers refused to move
munitions. In Italy, people have been blocking dozens of trains
carrying American military personnel and weapons, and dockers
have refused to load arms shipments. US military bases have been
blockaded in Germany, and thousands at Shannon in Ireland have
made it difficult for the US military to refuel its planes on
their way to Iraq.
Propaganda is a weapon almost as lethal
as any bomb. For months, "weapons of mass destruction"
has been a phoney news issue. As former chief UN weapons inspector
Scott Ritter has said constantly, Iraq is "90-95 per cent"
disarmed. The current head of the weapons inspection team, Hans
Blix, has all but called Blair and Bush knaves and liars. When
asked what secret arsenals there were in Iraq, one of his inspectors
And yet we have been forced to participate
in this charade: to debate and analyse its specious agenda. BBC
current affairs programmes, on radio and television, have consistently
promoted the government's warmongering as legitimate by channelling
and echoing its ever-changing deceptions.
A memorandum leaked last week, written
by Richard Sambrook, a senior BBC executive, warns programme makers
against broadcasting too much dissent and "attracting some
of the more extreme anti-war views (even though) there is no question
there is a majority public view which is against unilateral US
That he regards principled objection to
the killing of innocent people as "extreme" while saying
nothing about the murderous willingness of Blair and his apologists
reflects the distortion of intellect and morality that pervades
so much of BBC current affairs.
When a maverick BBC documentary dared
to investigate Israel's weapons of mass destruction and the use
of gas by the Israelis, thus showing the hypocrisy of Bush and
Blair, it was dropped from a prime slot on BBC2 at the last moment
and put out at 11.20 pm - when most people were asleep.
In the United States, where a recent survey
found that 75 per cent of current affairs interviews were with
either current or former government or military officials, censorship
is more entrenched. However, when the attack begins, watch how
politicians and former military brass and assorted "experts"
fill the small screen in this country.
Propaganda may well have made the difference
between war and peace, and life and death for untold numbers of
Iraqi men, women and children. Had the great broadcasting institutions
and the great newspapers, on both sides of the Atlantic, not channelled
and echoed the lies and the false agendas, but relentlessly exposed
them, the Bush gang, I believe, would not have been able to go
ahead with this outrage. Neither would Blair.
For this reason, journalists and broadcasters
now have a special duty to rebel. Wherever they are, they should
follow their conscience, not the demands of a propaganda machine,
however subtle and seductive, and materially rewarding.
They might compare their comfortable lives
with those of journalists in dangerous countries, like Turkey,
an American satellite, which, like Britain, has a population overwhelmingly
hostile to an attack on its neighbour, Iraq.
Many Turkish journalists have done their
job fearlessly and exposed the mendacious nature of what George
Orwell called "official truth". Some have gone to prison
and others have been murdered by the state; but their courageous
actions have provided millions of their compatriots with the truth.
Unlike in Britain, for example, a great
many Turks are aware of the deaths and suffering of Iraqis caused
by the American and British led embargo.
Winston Churchill, when he was colonial
secretary, said: "I do not understand this squeamishness
about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned
gas against uncivilised tribes." Nothing has changed. That
was 80 years ago. He was referring to Kurds and Iraqis.
When the Bush/Blair attack begins, the
insidious equivalent of Churchill's poison gas will be used by
the Americans and almost certainly by the British.
This is depleted uranium, a sinister component
of tank shells and airborne missiles. In truth, it is a form of
nuclear warfare, and all the evidence suggests that its use in
the Gulf War in 1991 has caused an epidemic of cancer in southern
Iraq: what the doctors there call "the Hiroshima effect",
especially among children.
America and Britain have denied Iraq equipment
with which to clean up its contaminated battlefields, and towns
and villages, which are about to be poisoned all over again, just
as they have denied cancer treatment equipment and drugs, just
as this week they caused the United Nations to dismantle an efficient
Iraqi food distribution system.
As the dissident reporter Robert Fisk
asked recently: Who will have the courage to describe the effects
of depleted uranium, a true weapon of mass destruction, a crime
against humanity, as part of the "liberation" that will
be the headlined propaganda?
By refusing to echo state lies, and by
recognising and rebelling against censorship by omission, no British
journalist risks jail, or worse, as in Turkey.
Instead, they begin to restore honour
to their craft and, along with millions of their readers, listeners
and viewers, the very best of people, reclaim democracy from its