The Biggest Lie
by JOHN PILGER
On my wall is the front page of Daily Express of September 5, 1945 and the words: â€œI write this as a warning to the world.â€ So began Wilfred Burchettâ€™s report from Hiroshima. It was the scoop of the century. For his lone, perilous journey that defied the US occupation authorities, Burchett was pilloried, not least by his embedded colleagues. He warned that an act of premeditated mass murder on an epic scale had launched a new era of terror.
Almost every day now, he is vindicated. The intrinsic criminality of the atomic bombing is borne out in the US National Archives and by the subsequent decades of militarism camouflaged as democracy. The Syria psychodrama exemplifies this. Yet again, we are held hostage to the prospect of a terrorism whose nature and history even the most liberal critics still deny. The great unmentionable is that humanityâ€™s most dangerous enemy resides across the Atlantic.
John Kerryâ€™s farce and Barack Obamaâ€™s pirouettes are temporary. Russiaâ€™s peace deal over chemical weapons will, in time, be treated with the contempt that all militarists reserve for diplomacy. With Al-Qaida now among its allies, and US-armed coupmasters secure in Cairo, the US intends to crush the last independent states in the Middle East: Syria first, then Iran. â€œThis operation [in Syria],â€ said the former French foreign minister Roland Dumas in June, â€œgoes way back. It was prepared, pre-conceived and planned.â€
When the public is â€œpsychologically scarredâ€, as the Channel 4 reporter Jonathan Rugman described the British peopleâ€™s overwhelming hostility to an attack on Syria, reinforcing the unmentionable is made urgent. Whether or not Bashar al-Assad or the â€œrebelsâ€ used gas in the suburbs of Damascus, it is the US not Syria that is the worldâ€™s most prolific user of these terrible weapons. In 1970, the Senate reported, â€œThe US has dumped on Vietnam a quantity of toxic chemical (dioxin) amounting to six pounds per head of populationâ€. This was Operation Hades, later renamed the friendlier Operation Rand Hand: the source of what Vietnamese doctors call a â€œcycle of foetal catastropheâ€. I have seen generations of young children with their familiar, monstrous deformities. John Kerry, with his own blood-soaked war record, will remember them. I have seen them in Iraq, too, where the US used depleted uranium and white phosphorous, as did the Israelis in Gaza, raining it down on UN schools and hospitals. No Obama â€œred lineâ€ for them. No showdown psychodrama for them.
The repetitive debate about whether â€œweâ€ should â€œtake actionâ€ against selected dictators (i.e. cheer on the US and its acolytes in yet another aerial killing spree) is part of our brainwashing. Richard Falk, emeritus professor of international law and UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, describes it as â€œa self-righteous, one-way, legal/moral screen [with] positive images of Western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted political violenceâ€. This â€œis so widely accepted as to be virtually unchallengeableâ€.
It is the biggest lie: the product of â€œliberal realistsâ€ in Anglo-American politics, scholarship and the media who ordain themselves as the worldâ€™s crisis managers, rather than the cause of a crisis. Stripping humanity from the study of nations and congealing it with jargon that serves western power designs, they mark â€œfailedâ€, â€œrogueâ€ or â€œevilâ€ states for â€œhumanitarian interventionâ€.
An attack on Syria or Iran or any other US â€œdemonâ€ would draw on a fashionable variant, â€œResponsibility to Protectâ€, or R2P, whose lectern-trotting zealot is the former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, co-chair of a â€œGlobal Centreâ€, based in New York. Evans and his generously funded lobbyists play a vital propaganda role in urging the â€œinternational communityâ€ to attack countries where â€œthe Security Council rejects a proposal or fails to deal with it in a reasonable timeâ€.
Evans has form. He appears in my 1994 film Death of a Nation, which revealed the scale of genocide in East Timor. Canberraâ€™s smiling man is raising his champagne glass in a toast to his Indonesian equivalent as they fly over East Timor in an Australian aircraft, having just signed a treaty that pirated the oil and gas of the stricken country below where Indonesiaâ€™s tyrant, Suharto, killed or starved a third of the population.
Under the â€œweakâ€ Obama, militarism has risen perhaps as never before. With not a single tank on the White House lawn, a military coup has taken place in Washington. In 2008, while his liberal devotees dried their eyes, Obama accepted the entire Pentagon of his predecessor, George Bush: its wars and war crimes. As the constitution is replaced by an emerging police state, those who destroyed Iraq with shock and awe, and piled up the rubble in Afghanistan and reduced Libya to a Hobbesian nightmare, are ascendant across the US administration. Behind their beribboned faÃ§ade, more former US soldiers are killing themselves than are dying on battlefields. Last year, 6,500 veterans took their own lives. Put out more flags.
The historian Norman Pollack calls this â€œliberal fascismâ€. â€œFor goose-steppers,â€ he wrote, â€œsubstitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manquÃ©, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.â€ Every Tuesday, the â€œhumanitarianâ€ Obama personally oversees a worldwide terror network of drones that â€œbugsplatâ€ people, their rescuers and mourners. In the westâ€™s comfort zones, the first black leader of the land of slavery still feels good, as if his very existence represents a social advance, regardless of his trail of blood. This obeisance to a symbol has all but destroyed the US anti-war movement: Obamaâ€™s singular achievement.
In Britain, the distractions of the fakery of image and identity politics have not quite succeeded. A stirring has begun, though people of conscience should hurry. The judges at Nuremberg were succinct: â€œIndividual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity.â€ The ordinary people of Syria, and countless others, and our own self respect, deserve nothing less now.
John Pilgerâ€™s film on Australia