Civil disobedience is the sole
path left for those who cannot support the Bush-Blair pact of aggression. Only
then will politicians on both sides of the Atlantic be forced to recognise the
folly of their ways. : John Pilger :13 Mar 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 co-ordinator 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 upon".
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
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
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 are necessary.
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
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 stripes.
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 to
"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.