The Rise Of
By John Pilger
19 August, 2005
Friedman is a famous columnist on the New York Times. He has been described
as "a guard dog of US foreign policy". Whatever America's
warlords have in mind for the rest of humanity, Friedman will bark it.
He boasts that "the hidden hand of the market will never work without
a hidden fist". He promotes bombing countries and says world war
three has begun.
Friedman's latest bark is about free speech, which his country's constitution
is said to safeguard. He wants the State Department to draw up a blacklist
of those who make "wrong" political statements. He is referring
not only to those who advocate violence, but those who believe American
actions are the root cause of the current terrorism. The latter group,
which he describes as "just one notch less despicable than the
terrorists", includes most Americans and Britons, according to
the latest polls.
Friedman wants a "War of Ideas report" which names those who
try to understand and explain, for example, why London was bombed. These
are "excuse makers" who "deserve to be exposed".
He borrows the term "excuse makers" from James Rubin, who
was Madeleine Albright's chief apologist at the State Department. Albright,
who rose to secretary of state under President Clinton, said that the
death of half a million Iraqi infants as a result of an American-driven
blockade was a "price" that was "worth it". Of all
the interviews I have filmed in official Washington, Rubin's defence
of this mass killing is unforgettable.
Farce is never far away in these matters. The "excuse makers"
would also include the CIA, which has warned that "Iraq [since
the invasion] has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the
next generation of 'professionalised terrorists'." On to
the Friedman/Rubin blacklist go the spooks!
Like so much else during the Blair era, this McCarthyite rubbish has
floated across the Atlantic and is now being recycled by the prime minister
as proposed police-state legislation, little different from the fascist
yearnings of Friedman and other extremists. For Friedman's blacklist,
read Tony Blair's proposed database of proscribed opinions, bookshops,
The British human rights lawyer Linda Christian asks: "Are those
who feel a huge sense of injustice about the same causes as the terrorists
- Iraq, Afghanistan, the war on terrorism, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib
- to be stopped from speaking forthrightly about their anger? Because
terrorism is now defined in our law as actions abroad, will those who
support liberation movements in, for example, Kashmir or Chechnya be
denied freedom of expression?" Any definition of terrorism, she
points out, should "encompass the actions of terrorist states engaged
in unlawful wars."
Of course, Blair is silent on western state terrorism in the Middle
East and elsewhere; and for him to moralise about "our values"
insults the fact of his blood-crime in Iraq. His budding police state
will, he hopes, have the totalitarian powers he has longed for since
2001 when he suspended habeas corpus and introduced unlimited house
arrest without trial. The Law Lords, Britain's highest judiciary, have
tried to stop this. Last December, Lord Hoffmann said that Blair's attacks
on human rights were a greater threat to freedom than terrorism. On
26 July, Blair emoted that the entire British nation was under threat
and abused the judiciary in terms, as Simon Jenkins noted, "that
would do credit to his friend Vladimir Putin". What we are seeing
in Britain is the rise of the democratic police state.
Should you be tempted to dismiss all this as esoteric or merely mad,
travel to any Muslim community in Britain, especially in the north west
and sense the state of siege and fear. On 15 July, Blair's Britain of
the future was glimpsed when the police raided the Iqra Learning Centre
and book store near Leeds. The Iqra Trust is a well-known charity that
promotes Islam worldwide as "a peaceful religion which covers every
walk of life." The police smashed down the door, wrecked the shop
and took away anti-war literature which they described as "anti-western".
Among this was, reportedly, a DVD of the Respect Party MP George Galloway
addressing the US Senate and a New Statesman article of mine illustrated
by a much-published photograph of a Palestinian man in Gaza attempting
to shield his son from Israeli bullets before the boy was shot to death.
The photograph was said to be "working people up", meaning
Muslim people. Clearly, David Gibbons, this journal's esteemed art director,
who chose this illustration, will be called before the Blair Incitement
Tribunal. One of my books, The New Rulers of the World, was also apparently
confiscated. It is not known whether the police have yet read the chapter
that documents how the Americans, with help from MI6 and the SAS, created,
armed and bankrolled the terrorists of the Islamic Mujahideen, not least
Osama Bin Laden.
The raid was deliberately theatrical, with the media tipped off. Two
of the alleged 7 July bombers had been volunteers in the shop almost
four years ago. "When they became hardliners", said a community
youth worker. "They left and have never been back and theyve
had nothing to do with the shop." The raid was watched by horrified
local people. who are now scared, angry and bitter. I spoke to Muserat
Sujawal, who has lived in the area for 31 years and is respected widely
for her management of the nearby Hamara Community Centre. She told me,
"There was no justification for the raid. The whole point of the
shop is to teach how Islam is a community-based religion. My family
has used the shop for years, buying, for example, the Arabic equivalent
of Sesame Street. They did it to put fear in our hearts." James
Dean, a Bradford secondary school teacher, said, "I am teaching
myself Urdu because I have multi-ethnic classes, and the shop has been
very helpful with tapes."
The police have the right to pursue every lead in their hunt for bombers,
but scaremongering is not their right. Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan
Police Commissioner who understands how the media can be used and spends
a lot of time in television studios, has yet to explain why he announced
that the killing in the London Underground of the Brazilian Jean Charles
de Menezes was "directly linked" to terrorism, when he must
have known the truth. Muslim people all over Britain report the presence
of police "video vans" cruising their streets, filming everyone.
"We have become like ghettoes under siege," said one man too
frightened to be named. "Do they know what this is doing to our
The other day Blair said, "We are not having any of this nonsense
about [the bombings having anything] to do with what the British are
doing in Iraq or Afghanistan, or support for Israel, or support for
America, or any of the rest of it. It is nonsense and we have to confront
it as that." This "raving", as the American writer Mike
Whitney observed, "is part of a broader strategy to dismiss the
obvious facts about terror and blame the victims of American-British
aggression. It's a tactic that was minted in Tel Aviv and perfected
over 37 years of occupation. It is predicated on the assumption that
terrorism emerges from an amorphous, religious-based ideology that transforms
its adherents into ruthless butchers."
Professor Robert Pape of the University of Chicago has examined every
act of suicide terrorism over the past 25 years. He refutes the assumption
that suicide bombers are mainly driven by "an evil ideology independent
of other circumstances." He said, "The facts are that since
1980, half the attacks have been secular. Few of the terrorists fit
the standard stereotype... Half of them are not religious fanatics at
all. In fact, over 95 per cent of suicide attacks around the world [are
not about] religion, but a specific strategic purpose - to compel the
United States and other western countries to abandon military commitments
on the Arabian Peninsula and in countries they view as their homeland
or prize greatly... The link between anger over American, British and
western military [action] and al-Qaeda's ability to recruit suicide
terrorists to kill us could not be tighter."
So we have been warned, yet again. Terrorism is the logical consquence
of American and British "foreign policy" whose infinitely
greater terrorism we need to recognise, and debate, as a matter of urgency.