Highlights

 
Quotable
How does one prevail in war? Both sides have already lost.
Logan Kodysz
Original Letters Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
September 11, 2008

A Murderous Theater of the Absurd


by John Pilger


Try to laugh, please. The news is now officially parody and a game for all the family to play.

First question: Why are "we" in Afghanistan? Answer: "To try to help in the country's rebuilding program." Who says so? Huw Edwards, the BBC's principal newsreader. What wags the Welsh are.

Second question: Why are "we" in Iraq? Answer: To "plant a western-style open democracy." Who says so? Paul Wood, the former BBC defense correspondent, and his boss Helen Boaden, director of BBC News. To prove her point, Boaden supplied Medialens.org with 2,700 words of quotations from Tony Blair and George W Bush. Irony? No, she meant it.

Take Andrew Martin, divisional adviser at BBC Complaints, who has been researching Bush's speeches for "evidence" of noble democratic reasons for laying to waste an ancient civilization. Says he: "The 'D' word is not there, but the phrase 'united, stable and free' [is] clearly an allusion to it." After all, he says, the invasion of Iraq "was launched as 'Operation Iraqi Freedom'." Moreover, says the BBC man, "in Bush's 1 May 2003 speech (the one on the aircraft carrier) he talked repeatedly about freedom and explicitly about the Iraqi transition to democracy ... These examples show that these were on Bush's mind before, during and after the invasion."

Try to laugh, please.

Laughing may be difficult, I agree, given the slaughter of civilians in Afghanistan by "coalition" aircraft, including those directed by British forces engaged in "the country's rebuilding program." The bombing of civilian areas has doubled, along with the deaths of civilians, says Human Rights Watch. Last month, "our" aircraft slaughtered nearly 100 civilians, two-thirds of them children between the ages of three months and 16 years, while they slept, according to eyewitnesses. BBC television news initially devoted nine seconds to the Human Rights Watch report, and nothing to the fact that "less than peanuts" (according to an aid worker) is being spent on rebuilding anything in Afghanistan.

As for the notion of a "united, stable and free" Iraq, consider the no-bid contracts handed to the major western oil companies for ownership of Iraq's oil. "Theft" is a more truthful word. Written by the companies themselves and US officials, the contracts have been signed off by Bush and Nouri al-Maliki, "prime minister" of Iraq's "democratic" government that resides in an air-conditioned American fortress. This is not news.

Try to laugh, please, while you consider the devastation of Iraq's health, once the best in the Middle East, by the ubiquitous dust from British and US depleted uranium weapons. A World Health Organization study reporting a cancer epidemic has been suppressed, says its principal author. This has been reported in Britain only in the Glasgow Sunday Herald and the Morning Star. According to a study last year by Basra University Medical College, almost half of all deaths in the contaminated southern provinces were caused by cancer.

Try to laugh, please, at the recent happy-clappy Nurembergs from which will come the next president of the United States. Those paid to keep the record straight have strained to present a spectacle of choice. Barack Obama, the man of "change," wants to "build a 21st-century military... to stay on the offensive everywhere." Here comes the new Cold War, with promises of more bombs, more of the militarized society with its 730 bases worldwide, on which Americans spend 42 cents of every tax dollar.

At home, Obama offers no authentic measure that might ease America's grotesque inequality, such as basic health care. John McCain, his Republican opponent, may well be a media cartoon figure – the fake "war hero" now joined with a Shakespeare-banning, gun-loving, religious fanatic – yet his true significance is that he and Obama share essentially the same dangerous prescriptions.

Thousands of decent Americans came to the two nominating conventions to express the dissenting opinion of millions of their compatriots who believe, with good cause, that their democracy is evaporating. They were intimidated, arrested, beaten, pepper-gassed; and they were patronized or ignored by those paid to keep the record straight.

In the meantime, Justin Webb, the BBC's North America editor, has launched a book about America, his "city on a hill." It is a sort of Mills & Boon view of the rapacious system he admires with such obsequiousness. The book is called Have a Nice Day.

Try to laugh, please.


comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • War Comes Home to Britain
    3/5/2009

  • Cambodia's Missing Accused
    2/23/2009

  • Hollywood's New Censors
    2/19/2009

  • Obama and the Politics of Bollocks
    2/6/2009

  • Come On Down for Your Freedom Medals
    1/22/2009

  • Holocaust Denied
    1/8/2009

  • The Good News for the New Year Is asFollows
    12/21/2008

  • Beware of Obama's Groundhog Day
    12/12/2008

  • Kafka Has a Rival the British Foreign Office Lectures Us On Human Rights
    12/3/2008

  • The Making of an Unpeople
    11/28/2008

  • Beware of the Obama Hype
    11/24/2008

  • The Diplomacy of Lying
    10/27/2008

  • Truth and War Mean Nothing at the Party Conferences
    9/26/2008

  • A Murderous Theater of the Absurd
    9/11/2008

  • Don't Forget Yugoslavia
    8/16/2008

  • Obama, the Prince of Bait-and-Switch
    7/25/2008

  • How Britain Wages War
    7/12/2008

  • From Triumph to Torture
    7/3/2008

  • Britain's War in the Cause of Fear and Ignorance
    6/26/2008

  • Obama Is a Truly Democratic Expansionist
    6/13/2008

  • Philip Jones Griffiths, Who Understood War and Peace, and People
    3/26/2008

  • The Quiet Rendition of Moudud Ahmed
    3/13/2008

  • Australia's Hidden Empire
    3/6/2008

  • Bringing Down the New Berlin Walls
    2/14/2008

  • Suharto, the Model Killer, and His Friends in High Places
    1/28/2008

  • The Danse Macabre of US-Style Democracy
    1/24/2008

  • The 'Good War' Is a Bad War
    1/10/2008

  • 'The Values We Share'
    12/17/2007

  • Exposing the Guardians of Power
    11/30/2007

  • No Remembrance, No Remorse for the Fallen of Iraq
    11/15/2007

  • The Hypocrites Who Say They Back Democracy in Burma
    10/27/2007

  • A Conversation With Aung San Suu Kyi
    10/4/2007

  • Good Ol' Bill, the Liberal Hero
    8/9/2007

  • How Truth Slips Down the Memory Hole
    7/26/2007

  • London Bombs Also
    Belong to Brown
    7/6/2007

  • Rebellion in the British Army
    6/7/2007

  • Imprisoning a Whole Nation
    5/24/2007

  • The Kennedy Myth Rises Again
    5/11/2007

  • Iran May be the Greatest Crisis of Modern Times
    4/13/2007

  • Iran: A War Is Coming
    2/3/2007

  • Silent About Gaza
    1/18/2007

  • Setting the Limits of
    Invasion Journalism
    12/8/2006

  • Let's Now Charge the Accomplices
    11/10/2006

  • Busy Fondling Their Self-Esteem
    10/12/2006

  • No News Is Slow News
    9/15/2006

  • The Real Threat We Face in Britain Is Blair
    8/18/2006

  • The US Empire Makes Its Move to Take Over the Middle East
    7/27/2006

  • East Timor: The Coup the World Missed
    6/22/2006

  • In Palestine, a War on Children
    6/15/2006

  • Contentment in Caracas
    5/15/2006

  • The Return of the Death Squads
    5/5/2006

  • The Real First Casualty of War
    4/20/2006

  • The Death of British Freedom
    4/14/2006

  • The War Lovers
    3/23/2006

  • The Secret War Against the Defenseless People of West Papua
    3/11/2006

  • Iran: The Next War
    2/13/2006

  • Blair Criminalizes His Critics
    1/6/2006

  • A News Revolution Has Begun
    11/25/2005

  • UK Refusenik Deserves Our Support
    10/28/2005

  • Sinister Events in a Cynical War
    9/28/2005

  • The Rise of the Democratic Police State
    8/19/2005

  • Blair's Bombs
    7/25/2005

  • UK Press Under Blair's Thumb
    5/18/2005

  • Britain's Absurd Election
    4/22/2005

  • The Fall of Saigon 1975: An Eyewitness Report
    4/16/2005


  • John Pilger was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He has been a war correspondent, film-maker 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.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2003 Antiwar.com