Eighty-Four, George Orwell described a superstate called
Oceania, whose language of war inverted lies that "passed into
history and became truth. u2018Who controls the past’, ran the Party
slogan, u2018controls the future: who controls the present controls
Obama is the leader of a contemporary Oceania. In two speeches at
the close of the decade, the Nobel Peace Prize winner affirmed that
peace was no longer peace, but rather a permanent war that "extends
well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan" to "disorderly regions
and diffuse enemies." He called this "global security"
and invited our gratitude. To the people of Afghanistan, which America
has invaded and occupied, he said wittily: "We have no interest
in occupying your country."
Oceania, truth and lies are indivisible. According to Obama, the
American attack on Afghanistan in 2001 was authorized by the United
Nations Security Council. There was no UN authority. He said the
"the world" supported the invasion in the wake of 9/11
when, in truth, all but three of 37 countries surveyed by Gallup
expressed overwhelming opposition. He said that America invaded
Afghanistan "only after the Taliban refused to turn over [Osama]
bin Laden." In 2001, the Taliban tried three times to hand
over bin Laden for trial, reported Pakistan’s military regime, and
were ignored. Even Obama’s mystification of 9/11 as justification
for his war is false. More than two months before the Twin Towers
were attacked, the Pakistani foreign minister, Niaz Naik, was told
by the Bush administration that an American military assault would
take place by mid-October. The Taliban regime in Kabul, which the
Clinton administration had secretly supported, was no longer regarded
as "stable" enough to ensure America’s control over oil
and gas pipelines to the Caspian Sea. It had to go.
most audacious lie is that Afghanistan today is a "safe haven"
for al-Qaeda’s attacks on the West. His own national security adviser,
General James Jones, said in October that there were "fewer
than 100" al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. According to US intelligence,
90 per cent of the Taliban are hardly Taliban at all, but "a
tribal localized insurgency [who] see themselves as opposing the
US because it is an occupying power." The war is a fraud. Only
the terminally gormless
remain true to the Obama brand of "world peace."
the surface, however, there is serious purpose. Under the disturbing
General Stanley McCrystal, who gained distinction for his assassination
squads in Iraq, the occupation of one of the most impoverished countries
is a model for those "disorderly regions" of the world
still beyond Oceania’s reach. This is known as COIN, or counterinsurgency
network, which draws together the military, aid organizations, psychologists,
anthropologists, the media and public relations hirelings. Covered
in jargon about winning hearts and minds, its aim is to pit one
ethnic group against another and incite civil war: Tajiks and Uzbecks
Americans did this in Iraq and destroyed a multiethnic society.
They bribed and built walls between communities who had once intermarried,
ethnically cleansing the Sunni and driving millions out of the country.
The embedded media reported this as "peace," and American
academics bought by Washington and "security experts"
briefed by the Pentagon appeared on the BBC to spread the good news.
As in Nineteen Eighty-four, the opposite was true.
similar is planned for Afghanistan. People are to be forced into
"target areas" controlled by warlords bankrolled by the
Americans and the opium trade. That these warlords are infamous
for their barbarism is irrelevant. "We can live with that,"
a Clinton-era diplomat said of the persecution of women in a "stable"
Taliban-run Afghanistan. Favored western relief agencies, engineers
and agricultural specialists will attend to the "humanitarian
crisis" and so "secure" the subjugated tribal lands.
is the theory. It worked after a fashion in Yugoslavia where the
ethnic-sectarian partition wiped out a once peaceful society, but
it failed in Vietnam where the CIA’s "strategic hamlet program"
was designed to corral and divide the southern population and so
defeat the Viet Cong — the Americans’ catchall term for the resistance,
similar to "Taliban."
much of this are the Israelis, who have long advised the Americans
in both the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures. Ethnic-cleansing, wall-building,
checkpoints, collective punishment and constant surveillance — these
are claimed as Israeli innovations that have succeeded in stealing
most of Palestine from its native people. And yet for all their
suffering, the Palestinians have not been divided irrevocably and
they endure as a nation against all odds.
most telling forerunners of the Obama Plan, which the Nobel Peace
Prize winner and his strange general and his PR men prefer we forget,
are those that failed in Afghanistan itself. The British in the
19th century and the Soviets in the 20th century
attempted to conquer that wild country by ethnic cleansing and were
seen off, though after terrible bloodshed. Imperial cemeteries are
their memorials. People power, sometimes baffling, often heroic,
remains the seed beneath the snow, and invaders fear it.
was curious," wrote Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-four,
"to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia
or Eastasia as well as here. And the people under the sky were also
very much the same, everywhere, all over the world … people ignorant
of one another’s existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies,
and yet almost exactly the same people who … were storing up in
their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would one day
overturn the world."
Pilger 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 latest book is Freedom
Next Time: Resisting the Empire.