Will There Be a War Against the World After November 2?

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is a surreal quality about visiting the United States in the last
days of the presidential campaign. If George W Bush wins, according
to a scientist I met, who escaped Nazi-dominated Europe, America
will surrender many of its democratic trappings and succumb to its
totalitarian impulses. If John Kerry wins, according to most Democrat
voters, the only mandate he will have is that he is not Bush.

have so many liberal hands been wrung over a candidate whose only
memorable statements seek to out-Bush Bush. Take Iran. One of Kerry’s
national security advisers, Susan Rice, has accused Bush of u2018standing
on the sidelines while Iran’s nuclear programme has been advanced’.
There is not a shred of evidence that Iran is developing nuclear
weapons, yet Kerry is joining in the same orchestrated frenzy that
led to the invasion of Iraq. Having begun his campaign by promising
another 40,000 troops for Iraq, he is said to have a u2018secret plan
to end the war’ which foresees a withdrawal in four years. This
is an echo of Richard Nixon, who in the 1968 presidential campaign
promised a u2018secret plan’ to end the war in Vietnam. Once in office,
he accelerated the slaughter and the war dragged on for six and
a half years. For Kerry, like Nixon, the message is that he is not
a wimp. Nothing in his campaign or his career suggests he will not
continue, even escalate, the u2018war on terror’, which is now sanctified
as a crusade of Americanism like that against communism. No Democratic
president has shirked such a task: John Kennedy on the cold war,
Lyndon Johnson on Vietnam.

presents great danger for all of us, but none of it is allowed to
intrude upon the campaign or the media u2018coverage’. In a supposedly
free and open society, the degree of censorship by omission is staggering.
The New York Times, the country’s liberal standard-bearer,
having recovered from a mild bout of contrition over its abject
failure to challenge Bush’s lies about Iraq, has been running tombstones
of column inches about what-went-wrong in the u2018liberation’ of that
country. It blames mistakes: tactical oversights, faulty intelligence.
Not a word suggests that the invasion was a colonial conquest, deliberate
like any other, and that 60 years of international law make it u2018the
paramount war crime,’ to quote the Nuremberg judges. Not a word
suggests that the American onslaught on the population of Iraq was
and is systematically atrocious, of which the torture of prisoners
at Abu Ghraib was merely a glimpse.

coming atrocity in the city of Fallujah, in which British troops,
against the wishes of the British people, are to be accessories,
is a case in point. For American politicians and journalists —
there are a few honourable exceptions — the US marines are
preparing for another of their "battles." Their last attack
on Fallujah, in April, provides a preview. Forty-ton battle tanks
and helicopter gunships were used against slums. Aircraft dropped
500lb bombs: marine snipers killed old people, women and children;
ambulances were shot at. The marines closed the only hospital in
a city of 300,000 for more than two weeks, so they could use it
as a military position. When it was estimated they had slaughtered
600 people, there was no denial. This was more than all the victims
of the suicide bombs the previous year. Neither did they deny that
their barbarity was in revenge for the killing of four American
mercenaries in the city; led by avowed cowboys, they are specialists
in revenge. John Kerry said nothing; the media reported the atrocity
as u2018a military operation’, against u2018foreign militants’ and u2018insurgents’,
never against civilians and Iraqis defending their homes and homeland.
Moreover, the American people are almost totally unaware that the
marines were driven out of Fallujah by heroic street fighting. Americans
remain unaware, too, of the piracy that comes with their government’s
murderous adventure. Who in public life asks the whereabouts of
the 18.46 bn dollars which the US Congress approved for reconstruction
and humanitarian aid in Iraq? As Unicef reports, most hospitals
are bereft even of pain-killers, and acute malnutrition among children
has doubled since the u2018liberation’. In fact, less than 29m dollars
has been allocated, most of it on British security firms, with their
ex-SAS thugs and veterans of South African apartheid. Where is the
rest of this money that should be helping to save lives? Non-wimp
Kerry dares not ask. Neither does he nor anybody else with a public
profile ask why the people of Iraq have been forced to pay, since
the fall of Saddam, almost 80m dollars to America and Britain as
u2018reparations’. Even Israel has received an untold fortune in Iraqi
oil money as compensation for its u2018loss of tourism’ in the Golan
Heights — part of Syria it occupies illegally. As for oil,
the u2018o-word’ is unmentionable in the contest for the world’s most
powerful job. So successful is the resistance in its campaign of
economic sabotage that the vital pipeline carrying oil to the Turkish
Mediterranean has been blown up 37 times. Terminals in the south
are under constant attack, effectively shutting down all exports
of crude oil and threatening national economies. That the world
may have lost Iraqi oil is enveloped by the same silence that ensures
Americans have little idea of the nature and scale of the blood-letting
conducted in their name.

most enduring silence is that which guards the system that has produced
these catastrophic events. This is Americanism, though it dares
not speak its name, which is strange, as its opposite, anti-Americanism,
has long been successfully deployed as a pejorative, catch-all response
to critical analysis of an imperial system and its myths. Americanism,
the ideology, has meant democracy at home, for some, and a war on
democracy abroad. From Guatemala to Iran, from Chile to Nicaragua,
to the struggle for freedom in South Africa, to present-day Venezuela,
American state terrorism, licensed by both Republican and Democrat
administrations, has fought democrats and sponsored totalitarians.
Most societies attacked or otherwise subverted by American power
are weak and defenceless, and there is a logic to this. Should a
small country succeed in breaking free and establish its own way
of developing, then its good example to others becomes a threat
to Washington. And the serious purpose behind this? Madeleine Albright,
Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, once told the United Nations
that America had the right to u2018unilateral use of power’ to ensure
u2018uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies and strategic
resources.’ Or as Colin Powell, the Bush-ite laughably promoted
by the media as a liberal, put it more than a decade ago: "I
want to be the bully on the block." Britain’s imperialists
believed exactly that, and still do; only the language is discreet.

is why people all over the world, whose consciousness about these
matters has risen sharply in the past few years, are u2018anti-American’.
It has nothing to do with the ordinary people of the United States,
who now watch a Darwinian capitalism consume their real and fabled
freedoms and reduce the u2018free market’ to a fire-sale of public assets.
It is remarkable, if not inspiring, that so many reject the class
and race based brainwashing, begun in childhood, that such a class
and race based system is called u2018the American dream’. What will
happen if the nightmare in Iraq goes on? Perhaps those millions
of worried Americans, who are currently paralysed by wanting to
get rid of Bush at any price, will shake off their ambivalence,
regardless of who wins on 2 November. Then, will a giant awaken,
as it did during the civil rights campaign and the Vietnam war and
the great movement to freeze nuclear weapons? One must trust so;
the alternative is a war on the world.

27, 2004

was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He has been
a war correspondent, filmmaker and playwright. Based in London,
he has written from many countries and has twice won British journalism’s
highest award, that of "Journalist of the Year," for his
work in Vietnam and Cambodia. His new book, Tell
Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and Its Triumphs
, is
published by Jonathan Cape next month. This article was first published
in the New Statesman.

John Pilger 2004

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