If the attacks
on America have their source in the Islamic world, who can really be
earlier, eight people were killed in southern Iraq when British and American
planes bombed civilian areas. To my knowledge, not a word appeared in the
mainstream media in Britain.
200,000 Iraqis, according to the Health Education Trust in London, died during
and in the immediate aftermath of the slaughter known as the Gulf War.
This was never
news that touched public consciousness in the west.
At least a
million civilians, half of them children, have since died in Iraq as a result
of a medieval embargo imposed by the United States and Britain.
In Pakistan and
Afghanistan, the Mujadeen, which gave birth to the fanatical Taliban, was
largely the creation of the CIA.
training camps where Osama bin Laden, now "America’s most wanted man",
allegedly planned his attacks, were built with American money and backing.
the enduring illegal occupation by Israel would have collapsed long ago were
it not for US backing.
Far from being
the terrorists of the world, the Islamic peoples have been its victims –
principally the victims of US fundamentalism, whose power, in all its forms,
military, strategic and economic, is the greatest source of terrorism on
This fact is
censored from the Western media, whose "coverage" at best minimises the
culpability of imperial powers. Richard Falk, professor of international
relations at Princeton, put it this way: "Western foreign policy is presented
almost exclusively through a self-righteous, one-way legal/moral screen (with)
positive images of Western values and innocence portrayed as threatened,
validating a campaign of unrestricted political violence."
Blair, whose government sells lethal weapons to Israel and has sprayed Iraq
and Yugoslavia with cluster bombs and depleted uranium and was the greatest
arms supplier to the genocidists in Indonesia, can be taken seriously when he
now speaks about the "shame" of the "new evil of mass terrorism" says much
about the censorship of our collective sense of how the world is managed.
One of Blair’s
favourite words – "fatuous" – comes to mind. Alas, it is no comfort to the
families of thousands of ordinary Americans who have died so terribly that the
perpetrators of their suffering may be the product of Western policies. Did
the American establishment believe that it could bankroll and manipulate
events in the Middle East without cost to itself, or rather its own innocent
The attacks on
Tuesday come at the end of a long history of betrayal of the Islamic and Arab
peoples: the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the foundation of the state of
Israel, four Arab-Israeli wars and 34 years of Israel’s brutal occupation of
an Arab nation: all, it seems, obliterated within hours by Tuesday’s acts of
awesome cruelty by those who say they represent the victims of the West’s
intervention in their homelands.
has never known modern war, now has her own terrible league table: perhaps as
many as 20,000 victims."
As Robert Fisk
points out, in the Middle East, people will grieve the loss of innocent life,
but they will ask if the newspapers and television networks of the west ever
devoted a fraction of the present coverage to the half-a-million dead children
of Iraq, and the 17,500 civilians killed in Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon.
The answer is no. There are deeper roots to the atrocities in the US, which
made them almost inevitable.
It is not only
the rage and grievance in the Middle East and south Asia. Since the end of the
cold war, the US and its sidekicks, principally Britain, have exercised,
flaunted, and abused their wealth and power while the divisions imposed on
human beings by them and their agents have grown as never before.
An elite group
of less than a billion people now take more than 80 per cent of the world’s
In defence of
this power and privilege, known by the euphemisms "free market" and "free
trade", the injustices are legion: from the illegal blockade of Cuba, to the
murderous arms trade, dominated by the US, to its trashing of basic
environmental decencies, to the assault on fragile economies by institutions
such as the World Trade Organisation that are little more than agents of the
US Treasury and the European central banks, and the demands of the World Bank
and the International Monetary Fund in forcing the poorest nations to repay
unrepayable debts; to a new US "Vietnam" in Colombia and the sabotage of peace
talks between North and South Korea (in order to shore up North Korea’s "rogue
is part of the recent history of imperialism, a word that journalists dare not
speak or write.
of the population of Diego Darcia in the 1960s by the Wilson government
received almost no press coverage.
is now an American nuclear arms dump and base from which US bombers patrol the
in 1965/6, a million people were killed with the complicity of the US and
British governments: the Americans supplying General Suharto with
assassination lists, then ticking off names as people were killed.
British companies and the World Bank back in there was part of the deal", says
Roland Challis, who was the BBC’s south east Asia correspondent.
behaviour in Malaya was no different from the American record in Vietnam, for
which it proved inspirational: the withholding of food, villages turned into
concentration camps and more than half a million people forcibly dispossessed.
In Vietnam, the
dispossession, maiming and poisoning of an entire nation was apocalyptic, yet
diminished in our memory by Hollywood movies and by what Edward Said rightly
calls cultural imperialism.
Phoenix, in Vietnam, the CIA arranged the homicide of around 50,000 people. As
official documents now reveal, this was the model for the terror in Chile that
climaxed with the murder of the democratically elected leader Salvador Allende,
and within 10 years, the crushing of Nicaragua.
All of it was
lawless. The list is too long for this piece.
is being rehabilitated. American forces currently operate with impunity from
bases in 50 countries.
dominance" is Washington’s clearly stated aim.
documents of the US Space Command, which leaves us in no doubt.
country, the eager Blair government has embarked on four violent adventures,
in pursuit of "British interests" (dressed up as "peacekeeping"), and which
have little or no basis in international law: a record matched by no other
British government for half a century.
What has this
to do with this week’s atrocities in America? If you travel among the
impoverished majority of humanity, you understand that it has everything to do
neither still, nor stupid. They see their independence compromised, their
resources and land and the lives of their children taken away, and their
accusing fingers increasingly point north: to the great enclaves of plunder
and privilege. Inevitably, terror breeds terror and more fanaticism.
But how patient
the oppressed have been.
It is only a
few years ago that the Islamic fundamentalist groups, willing to blow
themselves up in Israel and New York, were formed, and only after Israel and
the US had rejected outright the hope of a Palestinian state, and justice for
a people scarred by imperialism.
voices of rage are now heard; the daily horrors in faraway brutalised places
have at last come home.
John Pilger is an
award-winning, campaigning journalist.