Have a Nice World War, Folks

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Here is news
of the Third World War. The United States has invaded Africa. US
troops have entered Somalia, extending their war front from Afghanistan
and Pakistan to Yemen and now the Horn of Africa. In preparation
for an attack on Iran, American missiles have been placed in four
Persian Gulf states, and "bunker-buster" bombs are said
to be arriving at the US base on the British island of Diego Garcia
in the Indian Ocean.

In Gaza, the
sick and abandoned population, mostly children, is being entombed
behind underground American-supplied walls in order to reinforce
a criminal siege. In Latin America, the Obama administration has
secured seven bases in Colombia, from which to wage a war of attrition
against the popular democracies in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and
Paraguay. Meanwhile, the secretary of "defense" Robert
Gates complains that "the general [European] public and the
political class" are so opposed to war they are an "impediment"
to peace. Remember this is the month of the March Hare.

According to
an American general, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan
is not so much a real war as a "war of perception." Thus,
the recent "liberation of the city of Marja" from the
Taliban’s "command and control structure" was pure Hollywood.
Marja is not a city; there was no Taliban command and control. The
heroic liberators killed the usual civilians, poorest of the poor.
Otherwise, it was fake. A war of perception is meant to provide
fake news for the folks back home, to make a failed colonial adventure
seem worthwhile and patriotic, as if The
Hurt Locker
were real and parades of flag-wrapped coffins
through the Wiltshire town of Wooten Basset were not a cynical propaganda

"War is
fun," the helmets in Vietnam used to say with bleakest irony,
meaning that if a war is revealed as having no purpose other than
to justify voracious power in the cause of lucrative fanaticisms
such as the weapons industry, the danger of truth beckons. This
danger can be illustrated by the liberal perception of Tony Blair
in 1997 as one "who wants to create a world [where] ideology
has surrendered entirely to values" (Hugo Young, the Guardian)
compared with today’s public reckoning of a liar and war criminal.

Western war-states
such as the US and Britain are not threatened by the Taliban or
any other introverted tribesmen in faraway places, but by the antiwar
instincts of their own citizens. Consider the draconian sentences
handed down in London to scores of young people who protested Israel’s
assault on Gaza in January last year. Following demonstrations in
which paramilitary police "kettled" (corralled) thousands,
first-offenders have received two and a half years in prison for
minor offenses that would not normally carry custodial sentences.
On both sides of the Atlantic, serious dissent exposing illegal
war has become a serious crime.

Silence in
other high places allows this moral travesty. Across the arts, literature,
journalism and the law, liberal elites, having hurried away from
the debris of Blair and now Obama, continue to fudge their indifference
to the barbarism and aims of western state crimes by promoting retrospectively
the evils of their convenient demons, like Saddam Hussein. With
Harold Pinter gone, try compiling a list of famous writers, artists
and advocates whose principles are not consumed by the "market"
or neutered by their celebrity. Who among them have spoken out about
the holocaust in Iraq during almost 20 years of lethal blockade
and assault? And all of it has been deliberate. On 22 January 1991,
the US Defense Intelligence Agency predicted in impressive detail
how a blockade would systematically destroy Iraq’s clean water system
and lead to "increased incidences, if not epidemics of disease."
So the US set about eliminating clean water for the Iraqi population:
one of the causes, noted UNICEF, of the deaths of half a million
Iraqi infants under the age of five. But this extremism apparently
has no name.

Norman Mailer
once said he believed the United States, in its endless pursuit
of war and domination, had entered a "pre-fascist era."
Mailer seemed tentative, as if trying to warn about something even
he could not quite define. "Fascism" is not right, for
it invokes lazy historical precedents, conjuring yet again the iconography
of German and Italian repression. On the other hand, American authoritarianism,
as the cultural critic Henry Giroux pointed out recently, is "more
nuance, less theatrical, more cunning, less concerned with repressive
modes of control than with manipulative modes of consent."

This is Americanism,
the only predatory ideology to deny that it is an ideology. The
rise of tentacular corporations that are dictatorships in their
own right and of a military that is now a state within the state,
set behind the façade of the best democracy 35,000 Washington
lobbyists can buy, and a popular culture programmed to divert and
stultify, is without precedent. More nuanced perhaps, but the results
are both unambiguous and familiar. Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck,
the senior United Nations officials in Iraq during the American
and British-led blockade, are in no doubt they witnessed genocide.
They saw no gas chambers. Insidious, undeclared, even presented
wittily as enlightenment on the march, the Third World War and its
genocide proceeded, human being by human being.

In the coming
election campaign in Britain, the candidates will refer to this
war only to laud "our boys." The candidates are almost
identical political mummies shrouded in the Union Jack and the Stars
and Stripes. As Blair demonstrated a mite too eagerly, the British
elite loves America because America allows it to barrack and bomb
the natives and call itself a "partner." We should interrupt
their fun.

13, 2010

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

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