May Be The Greatest
Crisis Of Modern Times
By John Pilger
14 April, 2007
Israeli journalist Amira Hass describes the moment her mother, Hannah,
was marched from a cattle train to the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen.
"They were sick and some were dying," she says. "Then
my mother saw these German women looking at the prisoners, just looking.
This image became very formative in my upbringing, this despicable 'looking
from the side'."
It is time we in Britain
and other Western countries stopped looking from the side. We are being
led towards perhaps the most serious crisis in modern history as the
Bush-Cheney-Blair "long war" edges closer to Iran for no reason
other than that nation's independence from rapacious America. The safe
delivery of the 15 British sailors into the hands of Rupert Murdoch
and his rivals (with tales of their "ordeal" almost certainly
authored by the Ministry of Defence – until it got the wind up)
is both a farce and a distraction. The Bush administration, in secret
connivance with Blair, has spent four years preparing for "Operation
Iranian Freedom". Forty-five cruise missiles are primed to strike.
According to Russia's leading strategic thinker General Leonid Ivashov:
"Nuclear facilities will be secondary targets... at least 20 such
facilities need to be destroyed. Combat nuclear weapons may be used.
This will result in the radioactive contamination of all the Iranian
territory, and beyond."
And yet there is a surreal
silence, save for the noise of "news" in which our powerful
broadcasters gesture cryptically at the obvious but dare not make sense
of it, lest the one-way moral screen erected between us and the consequences
of an imperial foreign policy collapse and the truth be revealed. John
Bolton, formerly Bush's man at the United Nations, recently spelled
out the truth: that the Bush-Cheney-Blair plan for the Middle East is
an agenda to maintain division and instability. In other words, bloodshed
and chaos equals control. He was referring to Iraq, but he also meant
One million Iraqis fill the
streets of Najaf demanding that Bush and Blair get out of their homeland
– that is the real news: not our nabbed sailor-spies, nor the
political danse macabre of the pretenders to Blair's Duce delusions.
Whether it is treasurer Gordon Brown, the paymaster of the Iraq bloodbath,
or John Reid, who sent British troops to pointless deaths in Afghanistan,
or any of the others who sat through cabinet meetings knowing that Blair
and his acolytes were lying through their teeth, only mutual distrust
separates them now. They knew about Blair's plotting with Bush. They
knew about the fake 45-minute "warning". They knew about the
fitting up of Iran as the next "enemy".
Declared Brown to the Daily
Mail: "The days of Britain having to apologise for its colonial
history are over. We should celebrate much of our past rather than apologise
for it." In Late Victorian Holocausts, the historian Mike Davis
documents that as many as 21 million Indians died unnecessarily in famines
criminally imposed by British colonial policies. Moreover, since the
formal demise of that glorious imperium, declassified files make it
clear that British governments have borne "significant responsibility"
for the direct or indirect deaths of between 8.6 million and 13.5 million
people throughout the world from military interventions and at the hands
of regimes strongly supported by Britain. The historian Mark Curtis
calls these victims "unpeople". Rejoice! said Margaret Thatcher.
Celebrate! says Brown. Spot the difference.
Brown is no different from
Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and the other warmongering Democrats he
admires and who support an unprovoked attack on Iran and the subjugation
of the Middle East to "our interests" – and Israel's,
of course. Nothing has changed since the US and Britain destroyed Iran's
democratic government in 1953 and installed Reza Shah Pahlavi, whose
regime had "the highest rate of death penalties in the world, no
valid system of civilian courts and a history of torture" that
was "beyond belief" (Amnesty).
Look behind the one-way moral
screen and you will distinguish the Blairite elite by its loathing of
the humane principles that mark a real democracy. They used to be discreet
about this, but no more. Two examples spring to mind. In 2004, Blair
used the secretive "royal prerogative" to overturn a high
court judgment that had restored the very principle of human rights
set out in Magna Carta to the people of the Chagos Islands, a British
colony in the Indian Ocean. There was no debate. As ruthless as any
dictator, Blair dealt his coup de grâce with the lawless expulsion
of the islanders from their homeland, now a US military base, from which
Bush has bombed Iraq and Afghanistan and will bomb Iran.
In the second example, only
the degree of suffering is different. Last October, the Lancet published
research by Johns Hopkins University in the US and al-Mustansiriya University
in Baghdad which calculated that 655,000 Iraqis had died as a direct
result of the Anglo-American invasion. Downing Street officials derided
the study as "flawed". They were lying. They knew that the
chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defence, Sir Roy Anderson,
had backed the survey, describing its methods as "robust"
and "close to best practice", and other government officials
had secretly approved the "tried and tested way of measuring mortality
in conflict zones". The figure for Iraqi deaths is now estimated
at close to a million – carnage equivalent to that caused by the
Anglo-American economic siege of Iraq in the 1990s, which produced the
deaths of half a million infants under the age of five, verified by
Unicef. That, too, was dismissed contemptuously by Blair.
"This Labour government,
which includes Gordon Brown as much as it does Tony Blair," wrote
Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, "is party to a war crime
of monstrous proportions. Yet our political consensus prevents any judicial
or civil society response. Britain is paralysed by its own indifference."
Such is the scale of the
crime and of our "looking from the side". According to the
Observer of 8 April, the voters' "damning verdict" on the
Blair regime is expressed by a majority who have "lost faith"
in their government. No surprise there. Polls have long shown a widespread
revulsion to Blair, demonstrated at the last general election, which
produced the second lowest turnout since the franchise. No mention was
made of the Observer's own contribution to this national loss of faith.
Once celebrated as a bastion of liberalism that stood against Anthony
Eden's lawless attack on Egypt in 1956, the new right-wing, lifestyle
Observer enthusiastically backed Blair's lawless attack on Iraq, having
helped lay the ground with major articles falsely linking Iraq with
the 9/11 attacks – claims now regarded even by the Pentagon as
As hysteria is again fabricated,
for Iraq, read Iran. According to the former US treasury secretary Paul
O'Neill, the Bush cabal decided to attack Iraq on "day one"
of Bush's administration, long before 11 September 2001. The main reason
was oil. O'Neill was shown a Pentagon document entitled "Foreign
Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts", which outlined the carve-up
of Iraq's oil wealth among the major Anglo-American companies. Under
a law written by US and British officials, the Iraqi puppet regime is
about to hand over the extraction of the largest concentration of oil
on earth to Anglo-American companies.
Nothing like this piracy
has happened before in the modern Middle East, where Opec has ensured
that oil business is conducted between states. Across the Shatt al-Arab
waterway is another prize: Iran's vast oilfields. Just as non-existent
weapons of mass destruction or facile concerns for democracy had nothing
to do with the invasion of Iraq, so non-existent nuclear weapons have
nothing to do with the coming American onslaught on Iran. Unlike Israel
and the United States, Iran has abided by the rules of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty, of which it was an original signatory, and has allowed routine
inspections under its legal obligations. The International Atomic Energy
Agency has never cited Iran for diverting its civilian programme to
military use. For the past three years, IAEA inspectors have said they
have been allowed to "go anywhere". The recent UN Security
Council sanctions against Iran are the result of Washington's bribery.
Until recently, the British
were unaware that their government was one of the world's most consistent
abusers of human rights and backers of state terrorism. Few Britons
knew that the Muslim Brotherhood, the forerunner of al-Qaeda, was sponsored
by British intelligence as a means of systematically destroying secular
Arab nationalism, or that MI6 recruited young British Muslims in the
1980s as part of a $4bn Anglo-American-backed jihad against the Soviet
Union known as "Operation Cyclone". In 2001, few Britons knew
that 3,000 innocent Afghan civilians were bombed to death as revenge
for the attacks of 11 September. No Afghans brought down the twin towers.
Thanks to Bush and Blair, awareness in Britain and all over the world
has risen as never before. When home-grown terrorists struck London
in July 2005, few doubted that the attack on Iraq had provoked the atrocity
and that the bombs which killed 52 Londoners were, in effect, Blair's
In my experience, most people
do not indulge the absurdity and cruelty of the "rules" of
rampant power. They do not contort their morality and intellect to comply
with double standards and the notion of approved evil, of worthy and
unworthy victims. They would, if they knew, grieve for all the lives,
families, careers, hopes and dreams destroyed by Blair and Bush. The
sure evidence is the British public's wholehearted response to the 2004
tsunami, shaming that of the government.
Certainly, they would agree wholeheartedly with Robert H Jackson, chief
of counsel for the United States at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders
at the end of the Second World War. "Crimes are crimes," he
said, "whether the United States does them or whether Germany does
them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct
which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."
As with Henry Kissinger and
Donald Rumsfeld, who dare not travel to certain countries for fear of
being prosecuted as war criminals, Blair as a private citizen may no
longer be untouchable. On 20 March, Baltasar Garzón, the tenacious
Spanish judge who pursued Augusto Pinochet, called for indictments against
those responsible for "one of the most sordid and unjustifiable
episodes in recent human history" – Iraq. Five days later,
the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, to which Britain
is a signatory, said that Blair could one day face war-crimes charges.
These are critical changes
in the way the sane world thinks – again, thanks to the Reich
of Blair and Bush. However, we live in the most dangerous of times.
On 6 April, Blair accused "elements of the Iranian regime"
of "backing, financing, arming and supporting terrorism in Iraq".
He offered no evidence, and the Ministry of Defence has none. This is
the same Goebbels-like refrain with which he and his coterie, Gordon
Brown included, brought an epic bloodletting to Iraq. How long will
the rest of us continue looking from the side?
First published in the New
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