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.

Lord Curzon, 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 democratisation."

Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 2001 [of the war on terrorism - after 9-11]

"This is World War Three."

Independent [newspaper, London] on Sunday during the Gulf War in 1991.

"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 the distinction?'

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 rubble.'

Today, having 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 amputation.

The president, 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 11, 2001.

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 United States.

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 developing country'.

Bush Senior
'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 Corps.'

'Governments are reduced to playing the role of servile lackeys to big business," wrote Noreena Hertz, the dissident London financier.

... 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 plutocracy.

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 world's population.

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'.)

Before the 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.

Two illustrations 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.

Historically, 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.

[Tony] Blair
'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 humanity.

The government's 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 Pentagon contracts.

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 the world'.

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.

Hijacking is 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 defendants.'

Former Guatemalan 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.'

General Prosper 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 graduates.

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 asked:

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.

The documentation 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 mortality.

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 workplaces.

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 organisation'.

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 of NATO.

The 'coverage' 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

from genocide', 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 nation.

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.

Those journalists 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 to justice.'

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 high.

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 Laden family.

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 happened.

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 attacked.

'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.'

The New Rulers of the World

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