by John Pilger
How does thought control work in societies that call themselves free? Why
are famous journalists so eager, almost as a reflex, to minimize the
culpability of political leaders such as Bush and Blair who share
responsibility for the unprovoked attack on a defenseless people, for laying
to waste their land, and for killing at least 100,000 people, most of them
civilians, having sought to justify this epic crime with demonstrable lies?
Why does a BBC reporter describe the invasion of Iraq as "a vindication for
Blair"? Why have broadcasters never associated the British or American state
with terrorism? Why have such privileged communicators, with unlimited
access to the facts, lined up to describe an unobserved, unverified,
illegitimate, cynically manipulated election, held under a brutal
occupation, as "democratic" with the pristine aim of being "free and fair"?
Do they not read history? Or is the history they know, or choose to know,
subject to such amnesia and omission that it produces a world view as seen
only through a one-way moral mirror? There is no suggestion of conspiracy.
This one-way mirror ensures that most of humanity is regarded in terms of
its usefulness to "us," its desirability or expendability, its worthiness or
unworthiness: for example, the notion of "good" Kurds in Iraq and "bad"
Kurds in Turkey. The unerring assumption is that "we" in the dominant West
have moral standards superior to "them." One of "their" dictators (often a
former client of ours, like Saddam Hussein) kills thousands of people and he
is declared a monster, a second Hitler. When one of our leaders does the
same, he is viewed, at worst like Blair, in Shakespearean terms. Those who
kill people with car bombs are "terrorists"; those who kill far more people
with cluster bombs are the noble occupants of a "quagmire."
Historical amnesia can spread quickly. Only 10 years after the Vietnam war,
which I reported, an opinion poll in the United States found that a third of
Americans could not remember which side their government had supported. This
demonstrated the insidious power of the dominant propaganda, that the war
was essentially a conflict of "good" Vietnamese against "bad" Vietnamese, in
which the Americans became "involved," bringing democracy to the people of
southern Vietnam faced with a "communist threat." Such a false and dishonest
assumption permeated the media coverage, with honorable exceptions. The
truth is that the longest war of the 20th century was a war waged against
Vietnam, north and south, communist and noncommunist, by America. It was an
unprovoked invasion of their homeland and their lives, just like the
invasion of Iraq. Amnesia ensures that, while the relatively few deaths of
the invaders are constantly acknowledged, the deaths of up to 5 million
Vietnamese are consigned to oblivion.
. . . the British empire did not happen; there is nothing about the atrocious
colonial wars that were models for the successor power, America, in
Indonesia, Vietnam, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, to name but a few along
modern history's imperial trail of blood, of which Iraq is the latest.
And now Iran? The drumbeat has already begun. How many more innocent people
have to die before those who filter the past and the present wake up to
their moral responsibility to protect our memory and the lives of human
[CNN's Eason Jordan, was brought down after he spoke out of school during a
panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in January. In a rare moment of
candor, Jordan reportedly said that the US military had targeted a dozen
journalists who had been killed in Iraq. . . .
The controversy ought to be over the unconscionable silence in the United
States about the military's repeated killing of journalists in Iraq.--Jeremy
the Messenger," The Nation, February 17, 2005]
[. . . with an estimated 500,000 objects in the museum and thieves having
the run of the place for 36 hours, the wonder is the loss was not far closer
to the original, inaccurate, reports of 170,000 items. And the efforts of
Iraqi, US and Italian officials, plus police and customs worldwide, have so
far led to the recovery of 5,400 items, nearly 700 from inside the US and
Britain.--David Randall, "How
the US army's Indiana Jones went after Baghdad's raiders of the
antiquities," Independent, November 13, 2005]