Sunday, July 24, 2005

Rolling Thunder

Wise man John Pilger speaks in thunder: Blair's Bombs, in the New Statesman. An excerpt:

The gravity of the bombing of London, said a BBC commentator, "can be measured by the fact that it marks Britain's first suicide bombing". What about Iraq? There were no suicide bombers in Iraq until Blair and Bush invaded. What about Palestine? There were no suicide bombers in Palestine until Ariel Sharon, an accredited war criminal sponsored by Bush and Blair, came to power. In the 1991 Gulf "war", American and British forces left more than 200,000 Iraqis dead and injured, and the infrastructure of their country in "an apocalyptic state", according to the United Nations. The subsequent embargo, designed and promoted by zealots in Washington and Whitehall, was not unlike a medieval siege. Denis Halliday, the United Nations official assigned to administer the near-starvation food allowance, called it "genocidal".

I witnessed its consequences: tracts of southern Iraq contaminated with depleted uranium, and cluster bomblets waiting to explode. I watched dying children, some of the half a million infants whose deaths Unicef attributed to the embargo - deaths which the US secretary of state Madeleine Albright said were "worth it". In the west, this was hardly reported. Throughout the Muslim world, the bitterness was like a presence, its contagion reaching many young British-born Muslims.

In 2001, in revenge for the killing of 3,000 people in the twin towers, more than 20,000 Muslims died in the Anglo-American invasion of Afghanistan. This was revealed by Jonathan Steele in the Guardian but never became news, to my knowledge...Bush and Blair wanted a "war on terror" and they got it. Omitted from public discussion is that their state terror makes al-Qaeda's appear minuscule by comparison. More than 100,000 Iraqi men, woman and children have been killed not by suicide bombers, but by the Anglo-American "coalition", says a peer-reviewed study published in the Lancet, and largely ignored...

On 19 July, while the BBC governors were holding their annual general meeting at Television Centre, an inspired group of British documentary film-makers met outside the main gates and conducted a series of news reports of the kind you do not see on television. Actors played famous reporters doing their "pieces to camera". The "stories" they reported included the targeting of the civilian population of Iraq, the application of the Nuremberg Principles to Iraq, America's illegal rewriting of the laws of Iraq, and theft of its resources through privatisation, the everyday torture and humiliation of ordinary people and the failure to protect Iraqis' archaeological and cultural heritage.