The Great Charade
The Great Charade
It is 10 months since 11 September, and still the great charade plays on. Having appropriated our shocked response to that momentous day, the rulers of the world have since ground our language into a paean of cliches and lies about the 'war on terrorism' - when the most enduring menace, and source of terror, is them.
The fanatics who attacked
Following this 'stunning victory', hundreds of prisoners were shipped to an American concentration camp in
Meanwhile, the Blair government has made fools of the British Army by insisting they pursue warring tribesmen: exactly what squaddies in putties and pith helmets did over a century ago when Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, described Afghanistan as one of the 'pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world'.
There is no war on terrorism; it is the great game speeded up. The difference is the rampant nature of the superpower, ensuring infinite dangers for us all.
Having swept the Palestinians into the arms of the supreme terrorist
Ariel Sharon, the Christian Right fundamentalists running the
anyone need reminding,
American-led embargo every bit as barbaric as the dictatorship over which Iraqis have no control. Contrary to propaganda orchestrated from
The drum-beaters rarely mention this truth, and the people of
Iraqi intelligence. When the attack comes, these consorting
journalists will share responsibility for the crime.
It was Tony Blair who served notice that imperialism's return journey
to respectability was under way. Hark, the Christian
gentleman-bomber's vision of a better world for 'the starving, the wretched, the dispossessed, the ignorant, those living in want and squalor from the deserts of northern Africa to the slums of Gaza to the mountain ranges of Afghanistan.' Hark, his 'abiding' concern for the 'human rights of the suffering women of Afghanistan' as he colluded with Bush who, as the New York Times reported, 'demanded the elimination of truck convoys that provide much of the food and other supplies to Afghanistan's civilian population'. Hark his compassion for the 'dispossessed' in the 'slums of
As Frank Furedi reminds us in The New Ideology of Imperialism , it is not long ago 'that the moral claims of imperialism were seldom questioned in the West. Imperialism and the global expansion of the western powers were represented in unambiguously positive terms as a major contributor to human civilisation.' The quest went wrong when it was clear that fascism was imperialism, too, and the word vanished from academic discourse. In the best Stalinist tradition, imperialism no longer existed. Today, the preferred euphemism is 'civilisation'; or if an adjective is required, 'cultural'.
crypto-fascists, to impeccably liberal commentators, the new
imperialists share a concept whose true meaning relies on a xenophobic or racist comparison with those who are deemed uncivilised, culturally inferior and might challenge the 'values' of the West. Watch the 'debates' on Newsnight. The question is how best 'we' can deal with the problem of 'them'.
For much of the western media, especially those commentators in thrall to and neutered by the supercult of
screen [with] positive images of western values and innocence
portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted
Perhaps the most important taboo is the longevity of the
'In the war against terrorism,' said Bush from his bunker following 11 September, '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 and sanctuary in the
There is no terrorist sanctuary to compare with
General Jose Guillermo Garcia has lived comfortably in
Al-Qaeda's training camps in
In 1993, the UN Truth Commission on 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. In
In recent months, the Bush regime has torn up the Kyoto treaty, which would ease global warming, to which the United States is the greatest
contributor. It has threatened the use of nuclear weapons in
'pre-emptive' strikes (a threat echoed by Defence Minister Geoffrey Hoon). It has tried to abort the birth of an international criminal court. It has further undermined the United Nations by blocking a UN investigation of the Israeli assault on a Palestinian refugee camp; and it has ordered the Palestinians to replace their elected leader
with an American stooge. At summit conferences in Canada and
Indonesia, Bush's people have blocked hundreds of millions of dollars going to the most deprived people on earth, those without clean water and electricity.
These facts will no doubt beckon the inane slur of 'anti-Americanism'. This is the imperial prerogative: the last refuge of those whose contortion of intellect and morality demands a loyalty oath. As Noam Chomsky has pointed out, the Nazis silenced argument and criticism with 'anti German' slurs. Of course, the United States is not Germany; it is the home of some of history's greatest civil rights movements, such as the epic movement in the 1960s and 1970s.
I was in the US last week and glimpsed that other America, the one rarely seen among the media and Hollywood stereotypes, and what was clear was that it was stirring again. The other day, in an open letter to their compatriots and the world, almost 100 of America's most distinguished names in art, literature and education wrote this:
'Let it not be said that people in the United States did nothing when their government declared a war without limit and instituted stark new measures of repression. We believe that questioning, criticism and dissent must be valued and protected. Such rights are always contested and must be fought for. We, too, watched with shock the horrific events of September 11. But the mourning had barely begun when our leaders launched a spirit of revenge. The government now openly prepares to wage war on Iraq - a country that has no connection with September 11.
'We say this to the world. Too many times in history people have waited until it was too late to resist. We draw on the inspiration of those who fought slavery and all those other great causes of freedom that began with dissent. We call on all like-minded people around the world to join us.'
It is time we joined them.
This is a revised extract from The New Rulers of the World , by John Pilger, published by Verso. To order a copy, for £8 plus p&p (rrp £10), call the Observer Books Service on 0870 066 7989.