On this episode of Going Underground, Afshin Rattansi speaks to Australian journalist and filmmaker John Pilger about the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban. Pilger demonstrates a really solid grip on history here, rendering almost irrelevant most other discussions of recent events in Afghanistan. He describes the US military as a killing machine and discusses why the Afghanistan war must be viewed through the lens of Western imperialism, the scale of civilian casualties, and destruction of Afghanistan by NATO countries, how the US created today’s situation by supporting Afghan jihadist forces against the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War, the social progress and progressive reform lost to history with the fall of the Soviet-backed PDPA government in Afghanistan, and much more! Pilger also discusses the anniversary of the Pinochet coup in Chile and the trial of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
In this episode, Afshin Rattansi of Going Underground speaks to legendary journalist and filmmaker John Pilger about Julian Assange’s latest extradition hearing on Monday, which Pilger attended. Pilger discusses how Assange appeared at the trial, the bias of the judge against the journalist, the lack of mainstream media coverage of his persecution, his health and conditions in Belmarsh Prison, CIA spying on the WikiLeaks founder, and more. Next, Afshin Rattansi speaks to Chris Williamson MP about Assange’s extradition hearing, Williamson's motion in the House of Commons to condemn Assange's treatment, why his persecution is of international importance, the silence of mainstream media on Julian Assange, the lack of vocal outrage from Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour front bench over Assange’s treatment, and more!
At 1:00pm on Sunday 10 March originally, incorrectly the given date was 10 May - Ed) outside the State Library in Swanston Street Melbourne, supporters of investigative journalism, free speech and human rights will rally to demand that the Australian government act to free journalist Julian Assange from the arbitrary imprisonment he has faced inside the London Ecuadorian embassy since October 2012 when he sought asylum, that is more than 6 years ago.
Assange's living conditions inside the narrow confines of the Ecuadorian Embassy were already poor. They have been deliberately made worse by the new Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno. This is consistent with President Moreno's treatment of the Ecuadorian people to whom he made many promises in the election 19 February 2017, which he subsequently broke.
As described below by John Pilger in his address to the Sydney rally of last Sunday 3 March, Assange's health and even his life are now at risk. So, the need for the Australian government to act to protect one of its citizens is even more urgent.
Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy after the Swedish government requested that he be extradited to Sweden to be questioned by police over allegations that he had sexually assaulted two women. The women had initially made the allegations when he visited Sweden in August 2010, but Swedish police, who interviewed Assange closed the case and told him he could leave the country.
However the case was re-opened by a special prosecutor in November 2010. The prosecutor requested that Julian Assange be extradited from England for questioning, but failed to give him any assurance that he would not be extradited to the U.S. Assange then sought asylum in the Ecuadorian emabassy.
At this point, the Australian government could easily have acted to resolve the situation. They could have insisted that the Swedish government give Assange a guarantee against extradition to the U.S. or, failing that, expedite his return to Australia, if necessary, with an escort by members of the Australian Federal Police.
But the Australian government failed to act. In more than 8 years since then, it has either done either nothing or has acted to make Assange's circumstances worse.
Assange was granted asylum by Ecuador on 16 August 2012, but the UK government refused to allow him to leave the UK to go the Ecuador. As he has been threatened with arrest by the UK authorities for "skipping bail" should he step outside the embassy, Assange has been effectively imprisoned inside the embassy and, since February 2017 has faced additional hardships deliberately imposed upon him by the new Ecuadorian government, as described above.
On Sunday 3 March, the Socialist Equality Party, publishers of the World Socialist Web Site organised a rally in Sydney to support Julian Assange. The speech by John Pilger and the embedded video, previously published on their web site, is re-published below:
"Whenever I visit Julian Assange, we meet in a room he knows too well.
There is a bare table and pictures of Ecuador on the walls. There is a bookcase where the books never change. The curtains are always drawn and there is no natural light. The air is still and foetid.
This is Room 101.
Before I enter Room 101, I must surrender my passport and phone. My pockets and possessions are examined. The food I bring is inspected.
The man who guards Room 101 sits in what looks like an old-fashioned telephone box. He watches a screen, watching Julian. There are others unseen, agents of the state, watching and listening.
Cameras are everywhere in Room 101. To avoid them, Julian manoeuvres us both into a corner, side by side, flat up against the wall. This is how we catch up: whispering and writing to each other on a notepad, which he shields from the cameras. Sometimes we laugh.
I have my designated time slot. When that expires, the door in Room 101 bursts open and the guard says, “Time is up!” On New Year’s Eve, I was allowed an extra 30 minutes and the man in the phone box wished me a happy new year, but not Julian.
Of course, Room 101 is the room in George Orwell’s prophetic novel, 1984, where the thought police watched and tormented their prisoners, and worse, until people surrendered their humanity and principles and obeyed Big Brother.
Julian Assange will never obey Big Brother. His resilience and courage are astonishing, even though his physical health struggles to keep up.
Julian is a distinguished Australian who has changed the way many people think about duplicitous governments. For this, he is a political refugee subjected to what the United Nations calls “arbitrary detention.”
The UN says he has the right of free passage to freedom, but this is denied. He has the right to medical treatment without fear of arrest, but this is denied. He has the right to compensation, but this is denied.
As founder and editor of WikiLeaks, his crime has been to make sense of dark times. WikiLeaks has an impeccable record of accuracy and authenticity which no newspaper, no TV channel, no radio station, no BBC, no New York Times, no Washington Post, no Guardian can equal. Indeed, it shames them.
That explains why he is being punished.
For example: Last week, the International Court of Justice ruled that the British Government had no legal powers over the Chagos Islanders, who, in the 1960s and 70s, were expelled in secret from their homeland on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and sent into exile and poverty. Countless children died, many of them from sadness. It was an epic crime few knew about.
For almost 50 years, the British have denied the islanders’ the right to return to their homeland, which they had given to the Americans for a major military base.
In 2009, the British Foreign Office concocted a “marine reserve” around the Chagos archipelago.
This touching concern for the environment was exposed as a fraud when WikiLeaks published a secret cable from the British Government reassuring the Americans that “the former inhabitants would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pursue their claim for resettlement on the islands if the entire Chagos Archipelago were a marine reserve.”
The truth of the conspiracy clearly influenced the momentous decision of the International Court of Justice.
WikiLeaks has also revealed how the United States spies on its allies; how the CIA can watch you through your i-phone; how presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took vast sums of money from Wall Street for secret speeches that reassured the bankers that if she was elected, she would be their friend.
In 2016, WikiLeaks revealed a direct connection between Clinton and organised jihadism in the Middle East: terrorists, in other words. One email disclosed that when Clinton was US Secretary of State, she knew that Saudi Arabia and Qatar were funding Islamic State, yet she accepted huge donations for her foundation from both governments.
She then approved the world’s biggest ever arms sale to her Saudi benefactors: arms that are currently being used against the stricken people of Yemen.
That explains why he is being punished.
WikiLeaks has also published more than 800,000 secret files from Russia, including the Kremlin, telling us more about the machinations of power in that country than the specious hysterics of the “Russia-gate” pantomime in Washington.
This is real journalism—journalism of a kind now considered exotic: the antithesis of Vichy journalism, which speaks for the enemy of the people and takes its sobriquet from the Vichy government that occupied France on behalf of the Nazis.
Vichy journalism is censorship by omission, such as the untold scandal of the collusion between Australian governments and the United States to deny Julian Assange his rights as an Australian citizen and to silence him.
In 2010, Prime Minister Julia Gillard went as far as ordering the Australian Federal Police to investigate and hopefully prosecute Assange and WikiLeaks—until she was informed by the Australian Federal Police that no crime had been committed.
Last weekend, the Sydney Morning Herald published a lavish supplement promoting a celebration of “Me Too” at the Sydney Opera House on 10 March. Among the leading participants is the recently retired Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop.
Bishop has been on show in the local media lately, lauded as a loss to politics: an “icon,” someone called her, to be admired.
The elevation to celebrity feminism of one so politically primitive as Bishop tells us how much so-called identity politics have subverted an essential, objective truth: that what matters, above all, is not your gender but the class you serve.
Before she entered politics, Julie Bishop was a lawyer who served the notorious asbestos miner James Hardie, which fought claims by men and their families dying horribly with asbestosis.
Lawyer Peter Gordon recalls Bishop “rhetorically asking the court why workers should be entitled to jump court queues just because they were dying.”
Bishop says she “acted on instructions ... professionally and ethically.”
Perhaps she was merely “acting on instructions” when she flew to London and Washington last year with her ministerial chief of staff, who had indicated that the Australian Foreign Minister would raise Julian’s case and hopefully begin the diplomatic process of bringing him home.
Julian’s father had written a moving letter to the then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, asking the government to intervene diplomatically to free his son. He told Turnbull that he was worried Julian might not leave the embassy alive.
Julie Bishop had every opportunity in the UK and the US to present a diplomatic solution that would bring Julian home. But this required the courage of one proud to represent a sovereign, independent state, not a vassal.
Instead, she made no attempt to contradict the British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, when he said outrageously that Julian “faced serious charges.” What charges? There were no charges.
Australia’s Foreign Minister abandoned her duty to speak up for an Australian citizen, prosecuted with nothing, charged with nothing, guilty of nothing.
Will those feminists who fawn over this false icon at the Opera House next Sunday be reminded of her role in colluding with foreign forces to punish an Australian journalist, one whose work has revealed that rapacious militarism has smashed the lives of millions of ordinary women in many countries: in Iraq alone, the US-led invasion of that country, in which Australia participated, left 700,000 widows.
So what can be done? An Australian government that was prepared to act in response to a public campaign to rescue the refugee football player, Hakeem al-Araibi, from torture and persecution in Bahrain, is capable of bringing Julian Assange home.
The refusal by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra to honour the United Nations’ declaration that Julian is the victim of “arbitrary detention” and has a fundamental right to his freedom, is a shameful breach of the letter and spirit of international law.
Why has the Australian government made no serious attempt to free Assange? Why did Julie Bishop bow to the wishes of two foreign powers?
Why is this democracy traduced by its servile relationships, and integrated with lawless foreign power?
The persecution of Julian Assange is the conquest of us all: of our independence, our self-respect, our intellect, our compassion, our politics, our culture.
So stop scrolling. Organise. Occupy. Insist. Persist. Make a noise. Take direct action. Be brave and stay brave. Defy the thought police.
War is not peace, freedom is not slavery, ignorance is not strength. If Julian can stand up to Big Brother, so can you: so can all of us."
John Pilger reminds us of the 'journalists' who let down Julian Assange whilst profiting from the information he released. He reminds us how far down journalism has sunk. He uses the term 'Vichy-journalism' to good effect.
[Headings have been inserted by Candobetter.net editor.]
JOHN PILGER: Thank you for coming for Julian. And thank you to the SEP for organising this important rally. The persecution of Julian Assange must end. Or it will end in tragedy
The Australian government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have a historic opportunity to decide which it will be. They can remain silent, for which history will be unforgiving. Or they can act in the interests of justice and humanity and bring this remarkable Australian citizen home. Julian does not seek special treatment. The Australian Government has clear diplomatic and moral obligations to protect its citizens abroad from gross injustice.In Julian's case, from a gross miscarriage of justice and the extreme danger that awaits him, should he walk out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London unprotected.
We know from the Chelsea Manning case what you in can expect if a US extradition warrant is successful. The United Nations has called it torture.
I know Julian well. I regard him as a close friend, a person of extraordinary resilience and courage. I've watched the tsunami of lies and smear engulf him endlessly, predictably, perfidiously, and I know why they smear him.
In 2008 a plan to destroyed both WikiLeaks and Julian was laid out in a secret document dated 8th of March 2008. The authors were the cyber counterintelligence assessment branch of the US Defense Department. They described in detail how important it was to destroy - and I quote - "the feeling of trust that WikiLeaks that is WikiLeaks center-of-gravity." This would be achieved, they wrote, "with threats of exposure and criminal prosecution and an unrelenting assault on reputation."
The aim was to silence and criminalize WikiLeaks and its editor and publisher. It was as if they planned a war on a single human being and on the very principle of freedom of speech.
Their weapon would be personal sphere and their assassins would be journalists, the very people who are meant to keep the record straight and tell us the truth.
The irony! The irony is that no-one has told these journalists what to do.
I call them Vichy-journalists, after the journalists who served the German occupation of war-time France.
I've been a journalist for many years. I've never known such corruption of my craft. It is as if a world of illusions has consumed the last vestiges of honest media in the cause of decaying power, its wars and witch hunts. Let me give you one example. Last October, the ABC journalist, Sarah Ferguson, interviewed Hillary Clinton, over whom she fawned, and, as I quote, "the icon for your generation." This was the same Clinton who threatened to obliterate Iran and, as US Secretary of State in 2011, one of the instigators of the invasion and destruction of Libya as a modern state, with the loss of 40,000 lives. Like the invasion of Iraq, it was based on lies. When the Libyan president was murdered publicly and gruesomely with a knife, Clinton whooped and cheered. Thanks largely to her, Libya became a breeding ground for Isis and other jihadists.
Thanks largely to her, tens of thousands of refugees fled in peril across the Mediterranean and many of them drowned. In leaked emails, published by WikiLeaks , we know that Hillary Clinton's Foundation received millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the main backers of Isis and terrorism across the Middle East. From these disclosures we know that as Secretary of State, Clinton, approved the biggest arms deal ever, eighty billion dollars worth. Today Saudi Arabia is using these weapons to crush the starving and stricken people of Yemen.
Sarah Ferguson, the highly paid ABC reporter, raised not a word of this, with Hillary Clinton sitting in front of us. Instead she allowed Clinton to attack and smear Julian Assange as a lightweight, a tool of Russian intelligence, and a nihilistic opportunist who does the bidding of a dictator. Julian was offered no right of reply to this shocking interview, this orgy of defamation, broadcast by Australia's publicly funded state broadcaster.
As if this wasn't enough, Ferguson's executive producer, Sally Neighbor, followed the interview with a vicious retweet, "Assange is Putin's bitch."
We all know it. This is what I mean by corruption. This is what I mean by Vichy-journalism. It was an insult to the very meaning of journalism. There are many other examples.
The Guardian reputedly once a great liberal newspaper has conducted a vendetta against Julian Assange. Like a spurned lover, the Guardian has aimed its personal, petty, inhuman, and cowardly attacks at a man whose work it once published and profited from. It is as if Julian were fair game and too poor to sue for defamation. The former editor of the Guardian called the WikiLeaks, disclosures which his newspaper published in 2010, 'one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years'. Awards were lavished on the paper as if Julian did not exist.
Wikileaks revelations became part of the Guardian's marketing plan to raise the newspaper's cover price. They made money, often big money, while WikiLeaks and Julian struggle to survive. With not a penny going to WikiLeaks a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie deal. The book's authors, Luke Harding and David Lee, gratuitously abused Assange as a damaged personality and callous. They also revealed the secret password Julian had given the Guardian in confidence and which was designed to protect a digital file containing the US Embassy cables.
With Julian trapped in the Ecuadorian Embassy, Luke Hardy of the Guardian, who had made big backs big bucks on the backs of Julian and Edward Snowden, stood among the police outside the embassy and gloated in his blog that Scotland Yard may get the last laugh.
This is how far the craft of journalism has sunk - Vichy-journalism. The question is why. Julian Assange has committed no crime. He has never been charged with a crime. The swedish episode was bogus and farcical and he has been vindicated
Karen Axelson and Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape summed it up when they wrote - and I quote them - "The allegations against Assange are a smokescreen, behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations and their attendant rape, murder, and destruction. The authorities care so little about violence against women, but they manipulate rape allegations at will." Unquote. Most of this truth was lost or buried in a media witch hunt that disgracefully associated Julian with rape and misogyny. The witch hunt included voices who describe themselves as 'on the left' and as 'feminist'. Shame on them!
Throughout this fear campaign, the threat of Julian's extradition to a hellhole in the US was willfully ignored. Documents released by Edward Snowden showed Julian to be on what is called a 'manhunt target list'. One leaked official memo reads as follows, and I quote: "Assange is going to make a nice bride in prison. Screw the terrorists, you'll be eating cat food forever."
In Alexandra, Virginia, the suburban home of America's war-making elite, a secret grand jury, a throwback to the Middle Ages, has spent seven years trying to concoct a crime for which Julian Assange can be prosecuted. But this isn't easy because the US Constitution protects publishers, journalists, and whistleblowers.
Julian's crime is that he broke a silence. No investigative journalism in my lifetime can equal the importance of what WikiLeaks has done and the public service it has provided in calling rapacious Power to account. Julian and Wikileaks have pushed back a one-way moral screen to reveal that imperialism - our imperialism - the often disguised imperialism of liberal democracies is never benevolent or moral as it contrives to appear, as it is presented so often in the media, but committed to endless warfare to the conquest of our resources, our lives, our dignity, if we allow it.
When Harold Pinter, the great playwrite, accepted the Nobel Prize for literature in 2005, he referred to a vast tapestry of lies upon which we feed. He asked why, and I quote, "the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought of the Soviet Union was well known in the west, while American imperial crimes quote 'never happened' even while they were happening they never happened." He was referring to the great silence.
Julian and WikiLeaks have smashed this silence and exposed how the imperial game is played by those with liberal pretensions. Their revelations have lifted the masks of those who regard whole nations in terms of their usefulness or expendability and that is why his life is in danger.
Seven years ago, here in Sydney, I arranged to meet a prominent Liberal member of the Federal Parliament, Malcolm Turnbull. I asked him to deliver an urgent appeal from Julian's lawyer to the government of Julia Gillard. Turnbull and I talked for several hours about Julian and his right to justice. He seemed [inaudible] sympathetic. We also talked about Turnbull's famous victory in the 1980s, when as a young lawyer, he had fought the British government's attempted to suppress free speech and prevent the publication of the book Spy Catcher in a way a WikiLeaks of the time, for it revealed the crimes of great power.
When I met Turnbull, the Labour Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, had declared WikiLeaks illegal and wanted to cancel Julian's passport - in effect his birthright - until she was told she couldn't do it. She was told by the AFP she couldn't do it; that Julian had committed no crime, that WikiLeaks was a publisher; his work was protected under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Australia was one of the original signatories. In abandoning Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, and colluding in his persecution, Gillard's outrageous behavior forced the issue of Julian's recognition under international law as a political refugee. Tiny Ecuador invoked the 1951 convention and granted Julian refuge in the embassy. There was no question under international law that his life was in danger. Julia Gillard has recently been appearing with Hillary Clinton as 'pioneering feminist'. It is reassuring to know that political satire is back. In these gigs, Prime Minister Gillard has not referred to her distinction as the first Prime Minister on whose watch Australian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan. We know from WikiLeaks warlogs the atrocious nature of that imperial war in Afghanistan. If there's anything to remember Gillard by, it is a sychophantic embarassing speech she made to the US Congress soon after she demanded the the illegal cancellation of Julian's passport.
Is that how we will remember Malcolm Turnbull? Julian's father has written to Malcolm Turnbull just the other day. It is a moving letter in which he has appealed to the prime minister to bring Julian home. He refers to the real possibility of a tragedy.
I have watched Julian's health deteriorate in the years of confinement without sunlight. He has a relentless cough, but is denied safe passage to and from the hospital for even an x-ray.
The Australian Government has the diplomatic power to intervene.
For years the governments in Canberra offered no help, no help to Julian. Now the responsibility of the Trunbull government could not be clearer. It goes to the very heart the very heart of human justice and morality. Malcolm Turnbull can remain silent or he can seize the opportunity and fulfill his government's obligations and defend the life of a man who is a true Australian hero.
He can bring Julian Assange home. The choice is his.
John Pilger and Vanessa Beeley talk about the amazing growth in mass-media supported war propaganda in our times, including the grotesque fantasies manufactured about Russian intervention in US elections and the creation of a false cold war. Vanessa Beeley describes how, when she was in Aleppo, she was witness to the absolute fabrication of what was happening there. And now, the almost complete silence on what seems like American ethnic cleansing of Arabs in Raqqua - where the US is using depleted uranium, phosporos weapons and not providing any humanitarian corridors.
It is Mrs Hillary Clinton who should be in prison, not Julian Assange. For anyone who is still confused about what on earth Wikileaks has demonstrated about Hilary Clinton, watch this very clear interview by Australia's most famous independent Australian journalist, John Pilger and check the transcript below the video. Assange makes perfectly clear the association between Saudi Arabia and ISIS and Saudi Arabia and the Clinton Foundation. It shows that Hillary Clinton, whilst Secretary of State (!), knew and knows that the Saudi Arabian and Qatar governments were and are funding ISIS. This relationship with terrorism has been going on for years. The Australian Government and opposition must also know this. And, the Australian government, by not getting Assange safely back home is spectacularly failing its obligations to protect its own citizens from persecution. Our government is a cowardly lackey to the United States and the opposition and the Greens are just as bad because they say nothing about this. Our press protects this collusive silence. Assange is without doubt a courageous world figure and an Australian hero, but without Australia's intervention, Assange risks being thrown into a dungeon, like Chelsea Manning - with a mockery trial in the United States, should he step outside the Ecuadorian Embassy. Transcript inside, first published on RT at http://on.rt.com/7ty5 as "Assange: Clinton is a cog for Goldman Sachs & the Saudis (John Pilger exclusive video & transcript)"with multiple pictures and links which we have not published here.
Whistleblower Julian Assange has given one of his most incendiary interviews ever in a John Pilger Special, courtesy of Dartmouth Films, in which he summarizes what can be gleaned from the tens of thousands of Clinton emails released by WikiLeaks this year.
John Pilger, another Australian émigré, conducted the 25-minute interview at the Ecuadorian Embassy, where Assange has been trapped since 2012 for fear of extradition to the US. Last month, Assange had his internet access cut off for alleged “interference” in the American presidential election through the work of his website.
John Pilger:What's the significance of the FBI's intervention in this last week of the US election campaign in the case against Hillary Clinton?
Julian Assange: If you go to the history of the FBI, it has become effectively America's political police. And the FBI demonstrated with taking down the former head of the CIA over classified information given to his mistress [that] almost no one was untouchable. The FBI is always trying to demonstrate that, "No one can resist us." But Hillary Clinton very conspicuously resisted the FBI's investigation. So, there is anger within the FBI because it made the FBI look weak. Well, we have published quite a number of different sets of emails, so, about 33,000 of Clinton's emails while she was Secretary of State. They come from a batch of just over 60,000 emails. In those 60,000 emails, Clinton has kept about half, 30,000, to herself, and we have published about half. And then there are the Podesta emails we've been publishing. Podesta is Hillary Clinton's primary campaign manager. So, there's a thread that runs through all of these emails. There is quite a lot of "pay for play," as they call it – taking… giving access in exchange for money for many individual states, individuals and corporations – combined with the cover-up of Hillary Clinton's emails while she was Secretary of State has led to an environment where the pressure on the FBI increases.
JP: But the Clinton campaign has said that Russia is behind all of this. It says that Russia has manipulated the campaign and is the source for WikiLeaks and its emails.
JA: The Clinton camp has been able to project that kind of neo-McCarthyist hysteria that Russia is responsible for everything.
JA: Hillary Clinton stated multiple times – falsely – that 17 US intelligence agencies had assessed that Russia was the source of our publications. OK. That's false. We can say that the Russian government is not the source, yes. WikiLeaks has been publishing for 10 years. In that 10 years, we've published 10 million documents. Several thousand individual publications, several thousand different sources. And we have never got it wrong.
JP:All the emails that give evidence of access for money and how Hillary Clinton herself benefitted from this and how she is benefitting politically are quite extraordinary. I'm thinking of where the Qatari representative was given five minutes with Bill Clinton for a million-dollar check and many other examples. Can you…?
JA: …Or $12 million from Morocco.
JP:...$12 million from Morocco... yeah.
JA: ... for Hillary Clinton to attend.
JP:In terms of the foreign policy of the United States, that's where – for me, anyway – where the emails are most revealing, where they show the direct connection Hillary Clinton and the foundation of jihadism, of ISIL in the Middle East. Can you talk something about that? What the… how the emails demonstrate this connection between... those who are meant to be fighting the jihadist ISIL are actually those who have helped create it.
JA: There's an early 2014 email from Hillary Clinton, so not so long after she left [her job as] Secretary of State, to her campaign manager John Podesta. That email, it states that ISIL, ISIS is funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar – the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Now, this is a… I actually think this is the most significant email in the whole collection...
JA: …And perhaps because Saudi and Qatari money is spread all over the place, including into many media institutions, all serious analysts know, even the US government has mentioned or agreed with that some Saudi figures have been supporting ISIS, funding ISIS. But the dodge has always been, that's… what… it's just some rogue princes using their cut of the oil money to do what they like but actually the government disapproves. But that email says that no, it is the governments of Saudi and the government of Qatar that have been funding ISIS.
JP:The Saudis, the Qataris, the Moroccans, the Bahrainis – particularly the Saudis and the Qataris giving all this money to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and the State Department is approving massive arms sales, particularly to Saudi Arabia.
JA: Under Hillary Clinton, and Clinton emails reveal significant discussion about it, the largest ever arms deal in the world was made with Saudi Arabia – more than $80 billion. In fact, during her tenure as Secretary of State, total arms exports from United States in terms of the dollar value doubled.
JP:Doubled. And of course, the consequence of that is that this notorious terrorist jihadist group called ISIL, or ISIS, is created largely with money from the very people who are giving money to the Clinton Foundation.
JA: Look. Hillary Clinton is just a person. I actually feel quite sorry for Hillary Clinton as a person because I see someone who is eaten alive by their ambitions, tormented literally to the point where they become sick. You know, they faint as a result of going on and going on with their ambitions. But she represents a whole network of people, and a network of relationships also with particular states. The question is, how does Hillary Clinton fit in this broader network? She's this centralizing cog, so that you've got a lot of different gears in operation from the big banks like Goldman Sachs, and major elements of Wall Street, and intelligence, and people in the State Department, and the Saudis, and so on. She's is the, if you like, the centralizer that interconnects all these different cogs. She's smooth central representation of all that, and all that is more or less what is in power now in the United States. It's what you call the establishment, or the DC consensus, and its influences. In fact, one of the most significant Podesta emails that we released was about how the Obama cabinet was formed – and half the Obama cabinet was basically nominated by a representative from Citibank. It is quite amazing.
JP:Well, it is… Didn’t Citibank supply a list?
JP:…Which turned out to be...
JA: Which turned out to be...
JP:…to be mostly the Obama cabinet.
JP:So, Wall Street decides the cabinet of the president of the United States.
JA: If you were following the Obama campaign back then closely, you could see it had become very close to banking interests. It wasn't so close to oil interests but it was very close to banking interests.
JA: So, I think you can't properly understand Hillary Clinton's foreign policy without understanding Saudi Arabia. The connections with Saudi Arabia are so intimate.
JP:Why was she so demonstrably enthusiastic about the destruction of Libya? Can you talk a little about just what the emails have told us – told you – about what happened there? Because Libya is such a source for so much of the mayhem now in Syria: the ISIL, jihadism, and so on. And it was almost Hillary Clinton's invasion. What do the emails tell us about that?
JA: Libya more that anyone else's war was Hillary Clinton's war. Barack Obama initially opposed it. Who was the person who was championing it? Hillary Clinton. That's documented throughout her emails. She had… She put her favored agent in effect, Sidney Blumenthal, onto that. There's more than 1,700 emails out of the 33 thousand of Hillary Clinton's emails we published just about Libya. It's not about that Libya has cheap oil. She perceived the removal of Gaddafi and the overthrow of the Libyan state something that she would use to run in the general election for president. So late 2011, there's an internal document called the "Libya Tick Tock" that is produced for Hillary Clinton, and it's all the... it's a chronological description of how Hillary Clinton was the central figure in the destruction of the Libyan state. As a result, there are around 40,000 deaths within Libya. Jihadists moved in, ISIS moved in. That led to the European refugee and migrant crisis, because not only did you have people fleeing Libya, people then fleeing Syria, destabilization of other African countries as a result of arms flows. The Libyan state itself was no longer able to control movement of people through it. So, Libya faces on to the Mediterranean. So, it had been effectively the cork in the bottle of Africa. So, all problems, all economic problems, the civil war in Africa... Previously, the people fleeing those problems didn’t end up in Europe because Libya policed the Mediterranean. And that was said explicitly at the time, back in 2011, by Gaddafi: what do these Europeans think they are doing, trying to bomb and destroy the Libyan state? There’s going to be floods of migrants out of Africa, and jihadists into Europe. And that is exactly what happened.
JP:You get a lot of complaints from people saying, “What is WikiLeaks doing, are they trying to put Trump into White House?”
JA: My analysis is that Trump would not be permitted to win. Why do I say that? Because he’s had every establishment offside. Trump doesn’t have one establishment – maybe with the exception of the Evangelicals, if you can call them an establishment. But banks, intelligence, arms companies, big foreign money, etc. – it’s all united behind Hillary Clinton. And the media as well: so, media owners and even journalists themselves.
JP:The accusations that WikiLeaks is in league with the Russians and you hear people saying, “Well, why doesn’t WikiLeaks investigate and publish emails on Russia?”
JA: We have published over 800,000 documents of various kinds that relate to Russia. Most of those are critical. And… a great many books have come out of our publications about Russia, most of which are critical. And our documents have gone on to be used in quite a number of court cases, refugee cases of people fleeing some kinds of claimed political persecution in Russia, which they use our documents to back up.
JP:Do you take yourself a view of the US election? Do you have a preference for Clinton or Trump?
JA: Donald Trump – what does he represent in the American mind and in the European mind? He represents American “white trash,” deplorable and irredeemable. Basically, the same thing. It means, from a… establishment or educated, cosmopolitan, urbane perspective, these people are, you know, like the rednecks, and you can’t… like, they are just… you can never deal with them. And because he so clearly – through his words and actions and the type of people that turns up at his rallies – represents the people who are not the upper-middle-class-educated, there is a fear of seeming to be associated in any way with that, a social fear that lowers the class status of anyone who can be accused of somehow assisting in any way Trump, including criticizing Clinton. And if you look at how the middle class gains its economic and social power, it makes absolute sense.
JP:I’d like to talk about Ecuador, a small country that has given you refuge and has given you asylum in this embassy in London. Now, Ecuador cut off the Internet from here, where we’re doing this interview, in the embassy for the clearly obvious reason that they were concerned about appearing to intervene in the US election campaign. Can you talk about why they would take that action and your own views on Ecuador’s support for you?
JA: Let’s go back four years ago. I made an asylum application to Ecuador in this embassy because of the US extradition case. And the result was after a month, I was successful in my application, and then the embassy has been surrounded by the police. Quite an expensive police operation, which the British government admits they’re spending more than 12.6 million pounds – they’ve admitted that over a year ago. And now there’s undercover police and there’s robot surveillance cameras of various kinds. So, there has been a quite serious conflict right here in the heart of London between Ecuador – a country of 16 million people – and the United Kingdom. And the Americans, who’ve been helping on the side. So, that was a brave and principled thing for Ecuador to do. Now we have the US election afoot. The Ecuadorian election is in February next year. You have the White House feeling the political heat as a result of the true information that we have been publishing. WikiLeaks does not publish from the jurisdiction of Ecuador, from its embassy or the territory of Ecuador. We publish from France, we publish from Germany, we publish from the Netherlands and a number of other countries. So, the attempted squeeze on WikiLeaks is through my refugee status. And this is really intolerable: When you try and get at a publishing organization, to try and prevent it publishing true information that is of intense interest to the American people and others about an election.
JP:Tell us what would happen if you walked out of this embassy.
JA: So, I would be immediately arrested by the British police, and I would then be extradited, either immediately to the United States, or to Sweden. In Sweden, I am not charged, I’ve already been previously cleared, etc. So, we’re not certain exactly what would happen there, but then we know that the Swedish government has refused to say that they will not extradite me to the United States. And they have extradited 100 percent of people that the US has requested since at least 2000. So, over the last 15 years, every single person that the US has tried to extradite from Sweden has been extradited. And they refuse to provide the guarantees. So, it’s… yeah.
JP:People often ask how you cope with the isolation here.
JA: Look, one of the best attributes of human beings is that they are adaptable. One of the worst attributes of human beings is that they are adaptable. They adapt and start to tolerate abuses. They adapt to being involved themselves in abuses. They adapt to adversity and continue on. So, in my situation… frankly, I’m a bit institutionalized. This is the world – visually, this is the world.
JP:It’s a world without sunlight, for one thing…
JA: It’s a world without sunlight, but I haven’t seen sunlight in so long like I don’t remember it. So, yeah, you adapt. The one real irritant is that my young children – they also adapt. They adapt to being without their father. That’s a hard adaptation, which they didn’t ask for.
JP:Do you worry about them?
JA: Yeah, I worry about them, I worry about their mother.
JP:Some people would say, “Well, why don’t you end it and simply walk out the door and allow yourself to be extradited to Sweden?”
JA: The UN has looked into this whole situation. They spent 18 months in formal adversarial litigation: me, at the UN, versus Sweden and the UK – who is right? The UN made a conclusion – I’m being arbitrarily detained, illegally, deprived of my freedom. What has been… occurred, has not occurred within the laws that the United Kingdom and Sweden must obey. It is an illegal abuse. I mean, the United Nations formally asking what’s going on here, what’s your legal explanation for this. He says you should be… you should recognize his asylum. Sweden formally writing back to United Nations, says “No, we’re not going to,” leaving open their ability to extradite. I just find it absolutely amazing that the narrative about this situation is not put out publicly and in the press. Because it doesn’t suit the Western establishment narrative that, “Yes, the West has political prisoners.” It’s a reality. It’s not just me, there’s a bunch of other people as well. The West has political prisoners. No state accepts to call the people it is imprisoning or detaining for political reasons “political prisoners.” They don’t call them political prisoners in China, they don’t call them political prisoners in Azerbaijan, and they don’t call them political prisoners in the United States, the UK or Sweden. It’s absolutely intolerable to have that kind of self-perception. But here we have a case. Talking about the Swedish case, where I have never been charged with a crime, where I have already been cleared and found to be innocent, where the woman herself said that the police made it up, where the United Nations formally said the whole thing is illegal, where the state of Ecuador also investigated and found that I should be given asylum. Those are the facts. But what is the rhetoric?
JA: The rhetoric is pretending, constantly pretending that I have been charged with a crime, never mentioning that I have been already previously cleared, never mentioning that the woman herself says that the police made it up, trying to avoid that the UN formally found that the whole thing is illegal. Never even mentioning that Ecuador made a formal assessment through its formal processes and found that yes, I am subject to persecution by the United States.
"Propaganda is most effective when our consent is engineered by those with a fine education - Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Columbia -- and with careers on the BBC, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post. These organisations are known as the liberal media. They present themselves as enlightened, progressive tribunes of the moral zeitgeist. They are anti-racist, pro-feminist and pro-LGBT. And they love war. While they speak up for feminism, they support rapacious wars that deny the rights of countless women, including the right to life." John Pilger.
This article is republished with permission from John Pilger. It was first published at http://johnpilger.com/articles/inside-the-invisible-government-war-propaganda-clinton-trump
The American journalist, Edward Bernays, is often described as the man who invented modern propaganda.
The nephew of Sigmund Freud, the pioneer of psycho-analysis, it was Bernays who coined the term "public relations" as a euphemism for spin and its deceptions.
In 1929, he persuaded feminists to promote cigarettes for women by smoking in the New York Easter Parade - behaviour then considered outlandish. One feminist, Ruth Booth, declared, "Women! Light another torch of freedom! Fight another sex taboo!"
Bernays' influence extended far beyond advertising. His greatest success was his role in convincing the American public to join the slaughter of the First World War. The secret, he said, was "engineering the consent" of people in order to "control and regiment [them] according to our will without their knowing about it".
He described this as "the true ruling power in our society" and called it an "invisible government".
Today, the invisible government has never been more powerful and less understood. In my career as a journalist and film-maker, I have never known propaganda to insinuate our lives and as it does now and to go unchallenged.
Imagine two cities. Both are under siege by the forces of the government of that country. Both cities are occupied by fanatics, who commit terrible atrocities, such as beheading people.
But there is a vital difference. In one siege, the government soldiers are described as liberators by Western reporters embedded with them, who enthusiastically report their battles and air strikes. There are front page pictures of these heroic soldiers giving a V-sign for victory. There is scant mention of civilian casualties.
In the second city - in another country nearby - almost exactly the same is happening. Government forces are laying siege to a city controlled by the same breed of fanatics.
The difference is that these fanatics are supported, supplied and armed by "us" - by the United States and Britain. They even have a media centre that is funded by Britain and America.
Another difference is that the government soldiers laying siege to this city are the bad guys, condemned for assaulting and bombing the city - which is exactly what the good soldiers do in the first city.
Confusing? Not really. Such is the basic double standard that is the essence of propaganda. I am referring, of course, to the current siege of the city of Mosul by the government forces of Iraq, who are backed by the United States and Britain and to the siege of Aleppo by the government forces of Syria, backed by Russia. One is good; the other is bad.
What is seldom reported is that both cities would not be occupied by fanatics and ravaged by war if Britain and the United States had not invaded Iraq in 2003. That criminal enterprise was launched on lies strikingly similar to the propaganda that now distorts our understanding of the civil war in Syria.
Without this drumbeat of propaganda dressed up as news, the monstrous ISIS and Al-Qaida and al-Nusra and the rest of the jihadist gang might not exist, and the people of Syria might not be fighting for their lives today.
Some may remember in 2003 a succession of BBC reporters turning to the camera and telling us that Blair was "vindicated" for what turned out to be the crime of the century. The US television networks produced the same validation for George W. Bush. Fox News brought on Henry Kissinger to effuse over Colin Powell's fabrications.
The same year, soon after the invasion, I filmed an interview in Washington with Charles Lewis, the renowned American investigative journalist. I asked him, "What would have happened if the freest media in the world had seriously challenged what turned out to be crude propaganda?"
He replied that if journalists had done their job, "there is a very, very good chance we would not have gone to war in Iraq".
It was a shocking statement, and one supported by other famous journalists to whom I put the same question -- Dan Rather of CBS, David Rose of the Observer and journalists and producers in the BBC, who wished to remain anonymous.
In other words, had journalists done their job, had they challenged and investigated the propaganda instead of amplifying it, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children would be alive today, and there would be no ISIS and no siege of Aleppo or Mosul.
There would have been no atrocity on the London Underground on 7th July 2005. There would have been no flight of millions of refugees; there would be no miserable camps.
When the terrorist atrocity happened in Paris last November, President Francoise Hollande immediately sent planes to bomb Syria - and more terrorism followed, predictably, the product of Hollande's bombast about France being "at war" and "showing no mercy". That state violence and jihadist violence feed off each other is the truth that no national leader has the courage to speak.
"When the truth is replaced by silence," said the Soviet dissident Yevtushenko, "the silence is a lie."
The attack on Iraq, the attack on Libya, the attack on Syria happened because the leader in each of these countries was not a puppet of the West. The human rights record of a Saddam or a Gaddafi was irrelevant. They did not obey orders and surrender control of their country.
The same fate awaited Slobodan Milosevic once he had refused to sign an "agreement" that demanded the occupation of Serbia and its conversion to a market economy. His people were bombed, and he was prosecuted in The Hague. Independence of this kind is intolerable.
As WikLeaks has revealed, it was only when the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in 2009 rejected an oil pipeline, running through his country from Qatar to Europe, that he was attacked.
From that moment, the CIA planned to destroy the government of Syria with jihadist fanatics - the same fanatics currently holding the people of Mosul and eastern Aleppo hostage.
Why is this not news? The former British Foreign Office official Carne Ross, who was responsible for operating sanctions against Iraq, told me: "We would feed journalists factoids of sanitised intelligence, or we would freeze them out. That is how it worked."
The West's medieval client, Saudi Arabia - to which the US and Britain sell billions of dollars' worth of arms - is at present destroying Yemen, a country so poor that in the best of times, half the children are malnourished.
Look on YouTube and you will see the kind of massive bombs - "our" bombs - that the Saudis use against dirt-poor villages, and against weddings, and funerals.
The explosions look like small atomic bombs. The bomb aimers in Saudi Arabia work side-by-side with British officers. This fact is not on the evening news.
Propaganda is most effective when our consent is engineered by those with a fine education - Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Columbia -- and with careers on the BBC, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post.
These organisations are known as the liberal media. They present themselves as enlightened, progressive tribunes of the moral zeitgeist. They are anti-racist, pro-feminist and pro-LGBT.
And they love war.
While they speak up for feminism, they support rapacious wars that deny the rights of countless women, including the right to life.
In 2011, Libya, then a modern state, was destroyed on the pretext that Muammar Gaddafi was about to commit genocide on his own people. That was the incessant news; and there was no evidence. It was a lie.
In fact, Britain, Europe and the United States wanted what they like to call "regime change" in Libya, the biggest oil producer in Africa. Gaddafi's influence in the continent and, above all, his independence were intolerable.
So he was murdered with a knife in his rear by fanatics, backed by America, Britain and France. Hillary Clinton cheered his gruesome death for the camera, declaring, "We came, we saw, he died!"
The destruction of Libya was a media triumph. As the war drums were beaten, Jonathan Freedland wrote in the Guardian: "Though the risks are very real, the case for intervention remains strong."
Intervention - what a polite, benign, Guardian word, whose real meaning, for Libya, was death and destruction.
According to its own records, Nato launched 9,700 "strike sorties" against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. They included missiles with uranium warheads. Look at the photographs of the rubble of Misurata and Sirte, and the mass graves identified by the Red Cross. The Unicef report on the children killed says, "most [of them] under the age of ten".
As a direct consequence, Sirte became the capital of ISIS. Ukraine is another media triumph. Respectable liberal newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Guardian, and mainstream broadcasters such as the BBC, NBC, CBS, CNN have played a critical role in conditioning their viewers to accept a new and dangerous cold war.
All have misrepresented events in Ukraine as a malign act by Russia when, in fact, the coup in Ukraine in 2014 was the work of the United States, aided by Germany and Nato.
This inversion of reality is so pervasive that Washington's military intimidation of Russia is not news; it is suppressed behind a smear and scare campaign of the kind I grew up with during the first cold war. Once again, the Ruskies are coming to get us, led by another Stalin, whom The Economist depicts as the devil.
The suppression of the truth about Ukraine is one of the most complete news blackouts I can remember. The fascists who engineered the coup in Kiev are the same breed that backed the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Of all the scares about the rise of fascist anti-Semitism in Europe, no leader ever mentions the fascists in Ukraine - except Vladimir Putin, but he does not count.
Many in the Western media have worked hard to present the ethnic Russian-speaking population of Ukraine as outsiders in their own country, as agents of Moscow, almost never as Ukrainians seeking a federation within Ukraine and as Ukrainian citizens resisting a foreign-orchestrated coup against their elected government.
There is almost the joie d'esprit of a class reunion of warmongers. The drum-beaters of the Washington Post inciting war with Russia are the very same editorial writers who published the lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
To most of us, the American presidential campaign is a media freak show, in which Donald Trump is the arch villain. But Trump is loathed by those with power in the United States for reasons that have little to do with his obnoxious behaviour and opinions. To the invisible government in Washington, the unpredictable Trump is an obstacle to America's design for the 21st century.
This is to maintain the dominance of the United States and to subjugate Russia, and, if possible, China.
To the militarists in Washington, the real problem with Trump is that, in his lucid moments, he seems not to want a war with Russia; he wants to talk with the Russian president, not fight him; he says he wants to talk with the president of China.
In the first debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump promised not to be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into a conflict. He said, "I would certainly not do first strike. Once the nuclear alternative happens, it's over." That was not news.
Did he really mean it? Who knows? He often contradicts himself. But what is clear is that Trump is considered a serious threat to the status quo maintained by the vast national security machine that runs the United States, regardless of who is in the White House.
The CIA wants him beaten. The Pentagon wants him beaten. The media wants him beaten. Even his own party wants him beaten. He is a threat to the rulers of the world - unlike Clinton who has left no doubt she is prepared to go to war with nuclear-armed Russia and China.
Clinton has the form, as she often boasts. Indeed, her record is proven. As a senator, she backed the bloodbath in Iraq. When she ran against Obama in 2008, she threatened to "totally obliterate" Iran. As Secretary of State, she colluded in the destruction of governments in Libya and Honduras and set in train the baiting of China.
She has now pledged to support a No Fly Zone in Syria - a direct provocation for war with Russia. Clinton may well become the most dangerous president of the United States in my lifetime - a distinction for which the competition is fierce.
Without a shred of evidence, she has accused Russia of supporting Trump and hacking her emails. Released by WikiLeaks, these emails tell us that what Clinton says in private, in speeches to the rich and powerful, is the opposite of what she says in public.
That is why silencing and threatening Julian Assange is so important. As the editor of WikiLeaks, Assange knows the truth. And let me assure those who are concerned, he is well, and WikiLeaks is operating on all cylinders.
Today, the greatest build-up of American-led forces since World War Two is under way - in the Caucasus and eastern Europe, on the border with Russia, and in Asia and the Pacific, where China is the target.
Keep that in mind when the presidential election circus reaches its finale on November 8th, If the winner is Clinton, a Greek chorus of witless commentators will celebrate her coronation as a great step forward for women. None will mention Clinton's victims: the women of Syria, the women of Iraq, the women of Libya. None will mention the civil defence drills being conducted in Russia. None will recall Edward Bernays' "torches of freedom".
George Bush's press spokesman once called the media "complicit enablers".
Coming from a senior official in an administration whose lies, enabled by the media, caused such suffering, that description is a warning from history.
In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media: "Before every major aggression, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack. In the propaganda system, it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons."
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Following the ISIS outrages in Beirut and Paris, John Pilger updates this prescient essay on the root causes of terrorism and what we can do about it. In transmitting President Richard Nixon's orders for a "massive" bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger said, "Anything that flies on everything that moves". As Barack Obama wages his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and Francois Hollande promises a "merciless" attack on the rubble of Syria, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger's murderous honesty.
As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery - including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields - I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again. A telling example is the rise to power of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had much in common with today's Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They, too, were ruthless medievalists who began as a small sect. They, too, were the product of an American-made apocalypse, this time in Asia. Article first published on 16 November 2015 at http://johnpilger.com/articles/from-pol-pot-to-isis-the-blood-never-dried
According to Pol Pot, his movement had consisted of "fewer than 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas uncertain about their strategy, tactics, loyalty and leaders". Once Nixon's and Kissinger's B-52 bombers had gone to work as part of "Operation Menu", the west's ultimate demon could not believe his luck. The Americans dropped the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on rural Cambodia during 1969-73. They leveled village after village, returning to bomb the rubble and corpses. The craters left giant necklaces of carnage, still visible from the air. The terror was unimaginable. A former Khmer Rouge official described how the survivors "froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half-crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told... That was what made it so easy for the Khmer Rouge to win the people over." A Finnish Government Commission of Inquiry estimated that 600,000 Cambodians died in the ensuing civil war and described the bombing as the "first stage in a decade of genocide". What Nixon and Kissinger began, Pol Pot, their beneficiary, completed. Under their bombs, the Khmer Rouge grew to a formidable army of 200,000.
ISIS has a similar past and present. By most scholarly measure, Bush and Blair's invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to the deaths of at least 700,000 people - in a country that had no history of jihadism. The Kurds had done territorial and political deals; Sunni and Shia had class and sectarian differences, but they were at peace; intermarriage was common. Three years before the invasion, I drove the length of Iraq without fear. On the way I met people proud, above all, to be Iraqis, the heirs of a civilization that seemed, for them, a presence.
Bush and Blair blew all this to bits. Iraq is now a nest of jihadism. Al-Qaeda - like Pol Pot's "jihadists" - seized the opportunity provided by the onslaught of 'Shock and Awe' and the civil war that followed. "Rebel" Syria offered even greater rewards, with CIA and Gulf state ratlines of weapons, logistics and money running through Turkey. The arrival of foreign recruits was inevitable. A former British ambassador, Oliver Miles, wrote, "The [Cameron] government seems to be following the example of Tony Blair, who ignored consistent advice from the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6 that our Middle East policy - and in particular our Middle East wars - had been a principal driver in the recruitment of Muslims in Britain for terrorism here."
ISIS is the progeny of those in Washington, London and Paris who, in conspiring to destroy Iraq, Syria and Libya, committed an epic crime against humanity. Like Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, ISIS are the mutations of a western state terror dispensed by a venal imperial elite undeterred by the consequences of actions taken at great remove in distance and culture. Their culpability is unmentionable in "our" societies, making accomplices of those who suppress this critical truth.
It is 23 years since a holocaust enveloped Iraq, immediately after the first Gulf War, when the US and Britain hijacked the United Nations Security Council and imposed punitive "sanctions" on the Iraqi population - ironically, reinforcing the domestic authority of Saddam Hussein. It was like a medieval siege. Almost everything that sustained a modern state was, in the jargon, "blocked" - from chlorine for making the water supply safe to school pencils, parts for X-ray machines, common painkillers and drugs to combat previously unknown cancers carried in the dust from the southern battlefields contaminated with Depleted Uranium. Just before Christmas 1999, the Department of Trade and Industry in London restricted the export of vaccines meant to protect Iraqi children against diphtheria and yellow fever. Kim Howells, parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Blair government, explained why. "The children's vaccines", he said, "were capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction". The British Government could get away with such an outrage because media reporting of Iraq - much of it manipulated by the Foreign Office - blamed Saddam Hussein for everything.
Under a bogus "humanitarian" Oil for Food Programme, $100 was allotted for each Iraqi to live on for a year. This figure had to pay for the entire society's infrastructure and essential services, such as power and water. "Imagine," the UN Assistant Secretary General, Hans Von Sponeck, told me, "setting that pittance against the lack of clean water, and the fact that the majority of sick people cannot afford treatment, and the sheer trauma of getting from day to day, and you have a glimpse of the nightmare. And make no mistake, this is deliberate. I have not in the past wanted to use the word genocide, but now it is unavoidable." Disgusted, Von Sponeck resigned as UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq. His predecessor, Denis Halliday, an equally distinguished senior UN official, had also resigned. "I was instructed," Halliday said, "to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over a million individuals, children and adults."
A study by the United Nations Children's Fund, Unicef, found that between 1991 and 1998, the height of the blockade, there were 500,000 "excess" deaths of Iraqi infants under the age of five. An American TV reporter put this to Madeleine Albright, US Ambassador to the United Nations, asking her, "Is the price worth it?" Albright replied, "We think the price is worth it."
In 2007, the senior British official responsible for the sanctions, Carne Ross, known as "Mr. Iraq", told a parliamentary selection committee, "[The US and UK governments] effectively denied the entire population a means to live." When I interviewed Carne Ross three years later, he was consumed by regret and contrition. "I feel ashamed," he said. He is today a rare truth-teller of how governments deceive and how a compliant media plays a critical role in disseminating and maintaining the deception. "We would feed [journalists] factoids of sanitised intelligence," he said, "or we'd freeze them out." Last year, a not untypical headline in the Guardian read: "Faced with the horror of Isis we must act." The "we must act" is a ghost risen, a warning of the suppression of informed memory, facts, lessons learned and regrets or shame. The author of the article was Peter Hain, the former Foreign Office minister responsible for Iraq under Blair. In 1998, when Denis Halliday revealed the extent of the suffering in Iraq for which the Blair Government shared primary responsibility, Hain abused him on the BBC's Newsnight as an "apologist for Saddam". In 2003, Hain backed Blair's invasion of stricken Iraq on the basis of transparent lies. At a subsequent Labour Party conference, he dismissed the invasion as a "fringe issue".
Here was Hain demanding "air strikes, drones, military equipment and other support" for those "facing genocide" in Iraq and Syria. This will further "the imperative of a political solution". The day Hain's article appeared, Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck happened to be in London and came to visit me. They were not shocked by the lethal hypocrisy of a politician, but lamented the enduring, almost inexplicable absence of intelligent diplomacy in negotiating a semblance of truce. Across the world, from Northern Ireland to Nepal, those regarding each other as terrorists and heretics have faced each other across a table. Why not now in Iraq and Syria? Instead, there is a vapid, almost sociopathic verboseness from Cameron, Hollande, Obama and their "coalition of the willing" as they prescribe more violence delivered from 30,000 feet on places where the blood of previous adventures never dried. They seem to relish their own violence and stupidityso much they want it to overthrow their one potentially valuable ally, the government in Syria.
This is nothing new, as the following leaked UK-US intelligence file illustrates:
"In order to facilitate the action of liberative [sic] forces... a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals [and] to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria. CIA is prepared, and SIS (MI6) will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup de main [sic] incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals... a necessary degree of fear... frontier and [staged] border clashes [will] provide a pretext for intervention... the CIA and SIS should use... capabilities in both psychological and action fields to augment tension."
That was written in 1957, although it could have been written yesterday. In the imperial world, nothing essentially changes. In 2013, the former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas revealed that "two years before the Arab spring", he was told in London that a war on Syria was planned. "I am going to tell you something," he said in an interview with the French TV channel LPC, "I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business. I met top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria... Britain was organising an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister for Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate... This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned."
The only effective opponents of ISIS are accredited demons of the west - Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and now Russia. The obstacle is Turkey, an "ally" and a member of Nato, which has conspired with the CIA, MI6 and the Gulf medievalists to channel support to the Syrian "rebels", including those now calling themselves ISIS. Supporting Turkey in its long-held ambition for regional dominance by overthrowing the Assad government beckons a major conventional war and the horrific dismemberment of the most ethnically diverse state in the Middle East.
A truce - however difficult to negotiate and achieve - is the only way out of this maze; otherwise, the atrocities in Paris and Beirut will be repeated. Together with a truce, the leading perpetrators and overseers of violence in the Middle East - the Americans and Europeans - must themselves "de-radicalise" and demonstrate a good faith to alienated Muslim communities everywhere, including those at home. There should be an immediate cessation of all shipments of war materials to Israel and recognition of the State of Palestine. The issue of Palestine is the region's most festering open wound, and the oft-stated justification for the rise of Islamic extremism. Osama bin Laden made that clear. Palestine also offers hope. Give justice to the Palestinians and you begin to change the world around them.
More than 40 years ago, the Nixon-Kissinger bombing of Cambodia unleashed a torrent of suffering from which that country has never recovered. The same is true of the Blair-Bush crime in Iraq, and the Nato and "coalition" crimes in Libya and Syria. With impeccable timing, Henry Kissinger's latest self-serving tome has been released with its satirical title, "World Order". In one fawning review, Kissinger is described as a "key shaper of a world order that remained stable for a quarter of a century". Tell that to the people of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Chile, East Timor and all the other victims of his "statecraft". Only when "we" recognise the war criminals in our midst and stop denying ourselves the truth will the blood begin to dry.
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Video inside:One of NATO imperialism's greatest chroniclers, Australian award-winning journalist and filmmaker, John Pilger, tells us how Washington, London and Paris gave birth to ISIS.
"Today, the world's greatest single campaign of terror entails the execution of entire families, guests at weddings, mourners at funerals. These are Obama's victims. According to the New York Times, Obama makes his selection from a CIA "kill list" presented to him every Tuesday in the White House Situation Room. He then decides, without a shred of legal justification, who will live and who will die. His execution weapon is the Hellfire missile carried by a pilotless aircraft known as a drone; these roast their victims and festoon the area with their remains. Each "hit" is registered on a faraway console screen as a "bugsplat"." (John Pilger). Article republished with permission from author. First published 26 February 2015 at http://johnpilger.com/articles/why-the-rise-of-fascism-is-again-the-issue
The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism.
"To initiate a war of aggression...," said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in 1946, "is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."
Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened. Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery. They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.
Like the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and its virulent censorship by omission. Take the catastrophe in Libya.
In 2011, Nato launched 9,700 "strike sorties" against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that "most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten".
The public sodomising of the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi with a "rebel" bayonet was greeted by the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, with the words: "We came, we saw, he died." His murder, like the destruction of his country, was justified with a familiar big lie; he was planning "genocide" against his own people. "We knew... that if we waited one more day," said President Obama, "Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world."
This was the fabrication of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. They told Reuters there would be "a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda". Reported on March 14, 2011, the lie provided the first spark for Nato's inferno, described by David Cameron as a "humanitarian intervention".
Secretly supplied and trained by Britain's SAS, many of the "rebels" would become ISIS, whose latest video offering shows the beheading of 21 Coptic Christian workers seized in Sirte, the city destroyed on their behalf by Nato bombers.
For Obama, David Cameron and then French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Gaddafi's true crime was Libya's economic independence and his declared intention to stop selling Africa's greatest oil reserves in US dollars. The petrodollar is a pillar of American imperial power. Gaddafi audaciously planned to underwrite a common African currency backed by gold, establish an all-Africa bank and promote economic union among poor countries with prized resources. Whether or not this would happen, the very notion was intolerable to the US as it prepared to "enter" Africa and bribe African governments with military "partnerships".
Following Nato's attack under cover of a Security Council resolution, Obama, wrote Garikai Chengu, "confiscated $30 billion from Libya's Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold backed dinar currency".
The "humanitarian war" against Libya drew on a model close to western liberal hearts, especially in the media. In 1999, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair sent Nato to bomb Serbia, because, they lied, the Serbs were committing "genocide" against ethnic Albanians in the secessionist province of Kosovo. David Scheffer, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic], claimed that as many as "225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59" might have been murdered. Both Clinton and Blair evoked the Holocaust and "the spirit of the Second World War". The West's heroic allies were the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose criminal record was set aside. The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told them to call him any time on his mobile phone.
With the Nato bombing over, and much of Serbia's infrastructure in ruins, along with schools, hospitals, monasteries and the national TV station, international forensic teams descended upon Kosovo to exhume evidence of the "holocaust". The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing "a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines". A year later, a United Nations tribunal on Yugoslavia announced the final count of the dead in Kosovo: 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the KLA. There was no genocide. The "holocaust" was a lie. The Nato attack had been fraudulent.
Behind the lie, there was serious purpose. Yugoslavia was a uniquely independent, multi-ethnic federation that had stood as a political and economic bridge in the Cold War. Most of its utilities and major manufacturing was publicly owned. This was not acceptable to the expanding European Community, especially newly united Germany, which had begun a drive east to capture its "natural market" in the Yugoslav provinces of Croatia and Slovenia. By the time the Europeans met at Maastricht in 1991 to lay their plans for the disastrous eurozone, a secret deal had been struck; Germany would recognise Croatia. Yugoslavia was doomed.
In Washington, the US saw that the struggling Yugoslav economy was denied World Bank loans. Nato, then an almost defunct Cold War relic, was reinvented as imperial enforcer. At a 1999 Kosovo "peace" conference in Rambouillet, in France, the Serbs were subjected to the enforcer's duplicitous tactics. The Rambouillet accord included a secret Annex B, which the US delegation inserted on the last day. This demanded the military occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia - a country with bitter memories of the Nazi occupation - and the implementation of a "free-market economy" and the privatisation of all government assets. No sovereign state could sign this. Punishment followed swiftly; Nato bombs fell on a defenceless country. It was the precursor to the catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and Libya, and Ukraine.
Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the United Nations - 69 countries - have suffered some or all of the following at the hands of America's modern fascism. They have been invaded, their governments overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections subverted, their people bombed and their economies stripped of all protection, their societies subjected to a crippling siege known as "sanctions". The British historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in the millions. In every case, a big lie was deployed.
"Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over." These were opening words of Obama's 2015 State of the Union address. In fact, some 10,000 troops and 20,000 military contractors (mercenaries) remain in Afghanistan on indefinite assignment. "The longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion," said Obama. In fact, more civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2014 than in any year since the UN took records. The majority have been killed - civilians and soldiers - during Obama's time as president.
The tragedy of Afghanistan rivals the epic crime in Indochina. In his lauded and much quoted book 'The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives', Zbigniew Brzezinski, the godfather of US policies from Afghanistan to the present day, writes that if America is to control Eurasia and dominate the world, it cannot sustain a popular democracy, because "the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion... Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilisation." He is right. As WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden have revealed, a surveillance and police state is usurping democracy. In 1976, Brzezinski, then President Carter's National Security Advisor, demonstrated his point by dealing a death blow to Afghanistan's first and only democracy. Who knows this vital history?
In the 1960s, a popular revolution swept Afghanistan, the poorest country on earth, eventually overthrowing the vestiges of the aristocratic regime in 1978. The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) formed a government and declared a reform programme that included the abolition of feudalism, freedom for all religions, equal rights for women and social justice for the ethnic minorities. More than 13,000 political prisoners were freed and police files publicly burned.
The new government introduced free medical care for the poorest; peonage was abolished, a mass literacy programme was launched. For women, the gains were unheard of. By the late 1980s, half the university students were women, and women made up almost half of Afghanistan's doctors, a third of civil servants and the majority of teachers. "Every girl," recalled Saira Noorani, a female surgeon, "could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked. We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian film on a Friday and listen to the latest music. It all started to go wrong when the mujaheddin started winning. They used to kill teachers and burn schools. We were terrified. It was funny and sad to think these were the people the West supported."
The PDPA government was backed by the Soviet Union, even though, as former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance later admitted, "there was no evidence of any Soviet complicity [in the revolution]". Alarmed by the growing confidence of liberation movements throughout the world, Brzezinski decided that if Afghanistan was to succeed under the PDPA, its independence and progress would offer the "threat of a promising example".
On July 3, 1979, the White House secretly authorised support for tribal "fundamentalist" groups known as the mujaheddin, a program that grew to over $500 million a year in U.S. arms and other assistance. The aim was the overthrow of Afghanistan's first secular, reformist government. In August 1979, the US embassy in Kabul reported that "the United States' larger interests... would be served by the demise of [the PDPA government], despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan." The italics are mine.
The mujaheddin were the forebears of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. They included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who received tens of millions of dollars in cash from the CIA. Hekmatyar's specialty was trafficking in opium and throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. Invited to London, he was lauded by Prime Minister Thatcher as a "freedom fighter".
Such fanatics might have remained in their tribal world had Brzezinski not launched an international movement to promote Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and so undermine secular political liberation and "destabilise" the Soviet Union, creating, as he wrote in his autobiography, "a few stirred up Muslims". His grand plan coincided with the ambitions of the Pakistani dictator, General Zia ul-Haq, to dominate the region. In 1986, the CIA and Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, began to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. The Saudi multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden was one of them. Operatives who would eventually join the Taliban and al-Qaeda, were recruited at an Islamic college in Brooklyn, New York, and given paramilitary training at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called "Operation Cyclone". Its success was celebrated in 1996 when the last PDPA president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Najibullah - who had gone before the UN General Assembly to plead for help - was hanged from a streetlight by the Taliban.
The "blowback" of Operation Cyclone and its "few stirred up Muslims" was September 11, 2001. Operation Cyclone became the "war on terror", in which countless men, women and children would lose their lives across the Muslim world, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria. The enforcer's message was and remains: "You are with us or against us."
The common thread in fascism, past and present, is mass murder. The American invasion of Vietnam had its "free fire zones", "body counts" and "collateral damage". In the province of Quang Ngai, where I reported from, many thousands of civilians ("gooks") were murdered by the US; yet only one massacre, at My Lai, is remembered. In Laos and Cambodia, the greatest aerial bombardment in history produced an epoch of terror marked today by the spectacle of joined-up bomb craters which, from the air, resemble monstrous necklaces. The bombing gave Cambodia its own ISIS, led by Pol Pot.
Today, the world's greatest single campaign of terror entails the execution of entire families, guests at weddings, mourners at funerals. These are Obama's victims. According to the New York Times, Obama makes his selection from a CIA "kill list" presented to him every Tuesday in the White House Situation Room. He then decides, without a shred of legal justification, who will live and who will die. His execution weapon is the Hellfire missile carried by a pilotless aircraft known as a drone; these roast their victims and festoon the area with their remains. Each "hit" is registered on a faraway console screen as a "bugsplat".
"For goose-steppers," wrote the historian Norman Pollack, "substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while."
Uniting fascism old and new is the cult of superiority. "I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being," said Obama, evoking declarations of national fetishism from the 1930s. As the historian Alfred W. McCoy has pointed out, it was the Hitler devotee, Carl Schmitt, who said, "The sovereign is he who decides the exception." This sums up Americanism, the world's dominant ideology. That it remains unrecognised as a predatory ideology is the achievement of an equally unrecognised brainwashing. Insidious, undeclared, presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, its conceit insinuates western culture. I grew up on a cinematic diet of American glory, almost all of it a distortion. I had no idea that it was the Red Army that had destroyed most of the Nazi war machine, at a cost of as many as 13 million soldiers. By contrast, US losses, including in the Pacific, were 400,000. Hollywood reversed this.
The difference now is that cinema audiences are invited to wring their hands at the "tragedy" of American psychopaths having to kill people in distant places - just as the President himself kills them. The embodiment of Hollywood's violence, the actor and director Clint Eastwood, was nominated for an Oscar this year for his movie, 'American Sniper', which is about a licensed murderer and nutcase. The New York Times described it as a "patriotic, pro-family picture which broke all attendance records in its opening days".
There are no heroic movies about America's embrace of fascism. During the Second World War, America (and Britain) went to war against Greeks who had fought heroically against Nazism and were resisting the rise of Greek fascism. In 1967, the CIA helped bring to power a fascist military junta in Athens - as it did in Brazil and most of Latin America. Germans and east Europeans who had colluded with Nazi aggression and crimes against humanity were given safe haven in the US; many were pampered and their talents rewarded. Wernher von Braun was the "father" of both the Nazi V-2 terror bomb and the US space programme.
In the 1990s, as former Soviet republics, eastern Europe and the Balkans became military outposts of Nato, the heirs to a Nazi movement in Ukraine were given their opportunity. Responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews, Poles and Russians during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian fascism was rehabilitated and its "new wave" hailed by the enforcer as "nationalists".
This reached its apogee in 2014 when the Obama administration splashed out $5 billion on a coup against the elected government. The shock troops were neo-Nazis known as the Right Sector and Svoboda. Their leaders include Oleh Tyahnybok, who has called for a purge of the "Moscow-Jewish mafia" and "other scum", including gays, feminists and those on the political left.
These fascists are now integrated into the Kiev coup government. The first deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Andriy Parubiy, a leader of the governing party, is co-founder of Svoboda. On February 14, Parubiy announced he was flying to Washington get "the USA to give us highly precise modern weaponry". If he succeeds, it will be seen as an act of war by Russia.
No western leader has spoken up about the revival of fascism in the heart of Europe - with the exception of Vladimir Putin, whose people lost 22 million to a Nazi invasion that came through the borderland of Ukraine. At the recent Munich Security Conference, Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, ranted abuse about European leaders for opposing the US arming of the Kiev regime. She referred to the German Defence Minister as "the minister for defeatism". It was Nuland who masterminded the coup in Kiev. The wife of Robert D. Kagan, a leading "neo-con" luminary and co-founder of the extreme right wing Project for a New American Century, she was foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney.
Nuland's coup did not go to plan. Nato was prevented from seizing Russia's historic, legitimate, warm-water naval base in Crimea. The mostly Russian population of Crimea - illegally annexed to Ukraine by Nikita Krushchev in 1954 - voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, as they had done in the 1990s. The referendum was voluntary, popular and internationally observed. There was no invasion.
At the same time, the Kiev regime turned on the ethnic Russian population in the east with the ferocity of ethnic cleansing. Deploying neo-Nazi militias in the manner of the Waffen-SS, they bombed and laid to siege cities and towns. They used mass starvation as a weapon, cutting off electricity, freezing bank accounts, stopping social security and pensions. More than a million refugees fled across the border into Russia. In the western media, they became unpeople escaping "the violence" caused by the "Russian invasion". The Nato commander, General Breedlove - whose name and actions might have been inspired by Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove - announced that 40,000 Russian troops were "massing". In the age of forensic satellite evidence, he offered none.
These Russian-speaking and bilingual people of Ukraine - a third of the population - have long sought a federation that reflects the country's ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow. Most are not "separatists" but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland and oppose the power grab in Kiev. Their revolt and establishment of autonomous "states" are a reaction to Kiev's attacks on them. Little of this has been explained to western audiences.
On May 2, 2014, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by. The Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as "another bright day in our national history". In the American and British media, this was reported as a "murky tragedy" resulting from "clashes" between "nationalists" (neo-Nazis) and "separatists" (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine).
The New York Times buried the story, having dismissed as Russian propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic policies of Washington's new clients. The Wall Street Journal damned the victims - "Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says". Obama congratulated the junta for its "restraint".
If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained "pariah" role in the West will justify the lie that Russia is invading Ukraine. On January 29, Ukraine's top military commander, General Viktor Muzhemko, almost inadvertently dismissed the very basis for US and EU sanctions on Russia when he told a news conference emphatically: "The Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian Army". There were "individual citizens" who were members of "illegal armed groups", but there was no Russian invasion. This was not news. Vadym Prystaiko, Kiev's Deputy Foreign Minister, has called for "full scale war" with nuclear-armed Russia.
On February 21, US Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, introduced a bill that would authorise American arms for the Kiev regime. In his Senate presentation, Inhofe used photographs he claimed were of Russian troops crossing into Ukraine, which have long been exposed as fakes. It was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan's fake pictures of a Soviet installation in Nicaragua, and Colin Powell's fake evidence to the UN of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
The intensity of the smear campaign against Russia and the portrayal of its president as a pantomime villain is unlike anything I have known as a reporter. Robert Parry, one of America's most distinguished investigative journalists, who revealed the Iran-Contra scandal, wrote recently, "No European government, since Adolf Hitler's Germany, has seen fit to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly. Yet across the West's media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this reality even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established... If you wonder how the world could stumble into world war three - much as it did into world war one a century ago - all you need to do is look at the madness over Ukraine that has proved impervious to facts or reason."
In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media: "The use made by Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack... In the propaganda system of the Hitler State it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons." In the Guardian on February 2, Timothy Garton-Ash called, in effect, for a world war. "Putin must be stopped," said the headline. "And sometimes only guns can stop guns." He conceded that the threat of war might "nourish a Russian paranoia of encirclement"; but that was fine. He name-checked the military equipment needed for the job and advised his readers that "America has the best kit".
In 2003, Garton-Ash, an Oxford professor, repeated the propaganda that led to the slaughter in Iraq. Saddam Hussein, he wrote, "has, as [Colin] Powell documented, stockpiled large quantities of horrifying chemical and biological weapons, and is hiding what remains of them. He is still trying to get nuclear ones." He lauded Blair as a "Gladstonian, Christian liberal interventionist". In 2006, he wrote, "Now we face the next big test of the West after Iraq: Iran."
The outbursts - or as Garton-Ash prefers, his "tortured liberal ambivalence" - are not untypical of those in the transatlantic liberal elite who have struck a Faustian deal. The war criminal Blair is their lost leader. The Guardian, in which Garton-Ash's piece appeared, published a full-page advertisement for an American Stealth bomber. On a menacing image of the Lockheed Martin monster were the words: "The F-35. GREAT For Britain". This American "kit" will cost British taxpayers £1.3 billion, its F-model predecessors having slaughtered across the world. In tune with its advertiser, a Guardian editorial has demanded an increase in military spending.
Once again, there is serious purpose. The rulers of the world want Ukraine not only as a missile base; they want its economy. Kiev's new Finance Minister, Nataliwe Jaresko, is a former senior US State Department official in charge of US overseas "investment". She was hurriedly given Ukrainian citizenship. They want Ukraine for its abundant gas; Vice President Joe Biden's son is on the board of Ukraine's biggest oil, gas and fracking company. The manufacturers of GM seeds, companies such as the infamous Monsanto, want Ukraine's rich farming soil.
Above all, they want Ukraine's mighty neighbour, Russia. They want to Balkanise or dismember Russia and exploit the greatest source of natural gas on earth. As the Arctic ice melts, they want control of the Arctic Ocean and its energy riches, and Russia's long Arctic land border. Their man in Moscow used to be Boris Yeltsin, a drunk, who handed his country's economy to the West. His successor, Putin, has re-established Russia as a sovereign nation; that is his crime.
The responsibility of the rest of us is clear. It is to identify and expose the reckless lies of warmongers and never to collude with them. It is to re-awaken the great popular movements that brought a fragile civilisation to modern imperial states. Most important, it is to prevent the conquest of ourselves: our minds, our humanity, our self respect. If we remain silent, victory over us is assured, and a holocaust beckons.