Inevitable Ring to
By John Pilger
If the attacks on America have their source in the Islamic world, who
can really be surprised?
Two days 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.
An estimated 200,000 Iraqis, according to the Health Education Trust
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
Iraq as a result of a medieval embargo imposed by the United States and
In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Mujadeen, which gave birth to the
fanatical Taliban, was largely the creation of the CIA.
The terrorist training camps where Osama bin Laden, now "America's
wanted man", allegedly planned his attacks, were built with
money and backing.
In Palestine, 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 earth.
This fact is censored from the Western media, whose "coverage" at
minimizes the culpability of imperial powers. Richard Falk, professor
international relations at Princeton, put it this way: "Western
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
That Tony Blair, whose government sells lethal weapons to Israel and
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
mass terrorism" says much about the censorship of our collective
of how the world is managed.
One of Blair's favorite 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 people?
The attacks on Tuesday come at the end of a long history of betrayal
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
"America, which has never known modern war, now has her own
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
There are deeper roots to the atrocities in the US, which made them
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 wealth.
In defense 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 Organization 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
US "Vietnam" in Colombia and the sabotage of peace talks
and South Korea (in order to shore up North Korea's "rogue nation"
Western terror is part of the recent history of imperialism, a word that
journalists dare not speak or write.
The expulsion of the population of Diego Darcia in the 1960s by the
Wilson government received almost no press coverage.
Their homeland is now an American nuclear arms dump and base from which
US bombers patrol the Middle East.
In Indonesia, 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.
"Getting British companies and the World Bank back in there
was part of
the deal", says Roland Challis, who was the BBC's south east
British behavior in Malaya was no different from the American record
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
what Edward Said rightly calls cultural imperialism.
In Operation 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,
crushing of Nicaragua.
All of it was lawless. The list is too long for this piece.
Now imperialism is being rehabilitated. American forces currently
operate with impunity from bases in 50 countries.
"Full spectrum dominance" is Washington's clearly stated
Read the documents of the US Space Command, which leaves us in no doubt.
In this country, [the UK] the eager Blair government has
embarked on four violent
adventures, in pursuit of "British interests" (dressed
"peacekeeping"), and which have little or no basis in international
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 with it.
People are 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.
Their distant voices of rage are now heard; the daily horrors in faraway
brutalized places have at last come home.
John Pilger is an award-winning, campaigning journalist.
September 13, 2001