foreign correspondent JOHN PILGER on America's bid to control the
4 July 2002
FOR 101 days, Royal Marines have been engaged in a farcical operation
as mercenaries of the United States whose lawlessness now qualifies
it as the world's leading rogue state.
Shooting at shadows, and the occasional tribesman, blowing up mounds
of dirt and displaying "captured" arms for the media,
all have been part of the Marines' humiliating role in Afghanistan
- a role foisted upon them by the Blair government, whose deference
to and collusion with the Bush gang has become a parody of the imperial
Gang is not an exaggeration. The word, in my dictionary, means
"a group of people working together for criminal, disreputable
ends". That describes accurately George W Bush and those who
write his speeches and make his decisions and who, since their rise
to power, have undermined the very basis of international law.
BOMB FIRST, FIND OUT LATER:
George Bush announced the start of
indiscriminate bombing of Afghanistan
In Afghanistan, their record is beyond question. The killing on
Monday of some 40 guests at a wedding was not a "blunder"
but the direct result of a policy of shoot and bomb first and find
out later, as announced by George W Bush in the weeks following
The capacity of the American military machine to smash impoverished
countries was never in dispute - conditional, that is, on the absence
of American ground troops and their substitution by "allied"
forces, like the Royal Marines. (During the heyday of the British
Empire, Indian and other colonial troops were used in a similar
role, although the British, unlike the Americans, were also prepared
to sacrifice their own soldiers).
Since last October, Afghan leaders have reported American aircraft
destroying villages "too small to be marked on any map"
with "more than 300 people killed" in one night. In a
family of 40, only a small boy and his grandmother survived, reported
Richard Lloyd Parry of the Independent.
Out of sight of the television cameras "at least 3,767 civilians
were killed by US bombs between October 7 and December 10...an average
of 62 innocent deaths a day", according to a study carried
out at the University of New Hampshire in the US. This is now estimated
to have passed 5,000 civilian deaths: almost double the number killed
on September 11.
There is no evidence that a single leader of al-Qaeda has been
captured or, to anyone's knowledge, killed. Neither has the leader
of the Taliban. The change in Afghanistan is minimal compared with
the murderous feudalism that ruled during the 1990s, and before
the Taliban came to power.
FOR all the cosmetic changes in Kabul, the capital, women still
dare not go unveiled. "The Taliban used to hang the victim's
body in public for four days," quipped the new American-installed
regime's Minister of Justice. "We will only hang the body for
a short time, say fifteen minutes, after a public execution."
Describing this as a "triumph of good over evil", as
Bush has said, with an echo from Blair, is like lauding the superiority
of the German war machine in 1940 as a vindication of Nazism.
Not only the Marines but the British public ought to feel duped.
Both Washington and Whitehall knew long ago al-Qaeda was finished
in Afghanistan. Apart from the element of revenge, for home gratification,
the Americans have set out to reassert the control of their favourite
warlords: people responsible for thousands of deaths in their stricken
POODLE: Tony Blair does George Bush's bidding for
In October, the US planned to install a regime dominated by members
of the Pashtun tribe, who, they predicted, would desert the Taliban.
But the split in the Taliban never happened and the Americans have
since changed tack and tried to put together a "coalition"
of Tajik and Uzbek warlords. The current "interim president",
Hamid Karzai, although a Pashtun, has neither a tribal nor military
powerbase. He is simply America's man.
The presence of the Royal Marines, leading the so-called "International
Security Assistance Force", is for reasons straight out of
the nineteenth century. At the Americans' bidding, the Marines were
meant to keep the favoured warlords from each other's throats until
the region could be "stabilised" for American oil and
other strategic interests.
Potential vast energy sources in Central Asia have become critical
for the deeply troubled US economy, and for the Bush administration,
which is dominated by oil industry interests, notably the Bush family
itself. An investigation by the Hong Kong-based Asia Times in January
found that the US was frantically developing "a network of
multiple Caspian pipelines".
THE disgraced Enron Corporation, one of Bush's biggest campaign
backers, conducted a feasibility study for a $2.5billion oil pipeline
being built across the Caspian Sea. Top current and former American
officials, including Vice President Cheney, "have all closed
major deals directly and indirectly on behalf of the oil companies",
says the Asia Times.
If there was a map of American military bases established in the
region to fight "the war on terrorism" what would be immediately
striking is that it would follow almost exactly the route of the
projected oil pipeline to the Indian Ocean.
Blair and the voluble Geoffrey Hoon have, of course, offered none
of this vital information to the British people, let alone to the
British soldiers sent to play America's imperial game. Fortunately,
the troops suffered only gastric flu. The Afghan people have not
been as lucky.
Any doubt about the systematic murderous way the US military has
operated in Afghanistan is dispelled by a report in the American
press in May of children gunned down in wheat fields and as they
slept. For four hours, American helicopter gunships saturated the
fields and a village with bullets and rockets before landing to
disgorge US troops who shot survivors and detained other "suspects".
In fact, the area was renowned for its opposition to the Taliban
and the governor of Oruzgan province confirmed that those murdered
"were ordinary people. There were no al-Qaeda or Taliban here."
SLAUGHTER: An Afghan farmer mourns for his
dead children, killed by American bombing
In recent months, the American rogue state has torn up the Kyoto
treaty, which would decrease global warming and the probability
of environmental disaster. It has threatened to use nuclear weapons
in "pre-emptive strikes" (a threat echoed by Hoon). It
has tried to sabotage the setting up of an international criminal
court, understandably, because its generals and leading politicians
might be summoned as defendants.
It has further undermined the authority of the United Nations by
allowing Israel to block a UN committee's investigation of the Israeli
assault on the Palestinian refugee camp at Jenin; and it has ordered
the Palestinians to get rid of their elected leader in favour of
an American stooge.
It ignored the World Food Summit in Italy; and at summit conferences
in Canada and Indonesia it has blocked genuine aid, such as clean
water and electricity, to the most deprived people on earth. Proposals
to increase American food subsidies by 80 per cent are designed
to secure American domination of the world foodgrains market.
("When we get up from the breakfast table every morning,"
said the chief executive of the Cargill corporation, the world's
biggest food company, "much of what we have eaten - cereals,
bread, coffee, sugar and so on - has passed through the lands of
my company." Cargill's goal is to double in size every five
to seven years).
There is a desperate edge to most of America's rogue actions. The
Christian "free market" fundamentalists running Washington
are worried. The US current account deficit is running at a record
$34billion. Foreign purchases of the huge US debt are falling rapidly.
The US stockmarket is heavily over-valued, and the dollar is uncertain.
As one commentator has put it, the "Bush doctrine" looks
like "one last attempt to order the world entirely around the
requirements of US monopoly capital, before it can long hope to
IN other words this may well be the last throw of the dice before
the US economy goes into serious decline - as yesterday's dramatic
fall in the stock markets indicated.
This means controlling the oil and fossil fuel riches in Central
Asia. It means attacking Iraq, installing a replacement Saddam Hussein
and taking over the world's second-largest source of oil. It means
surrounding a new economic challenger, China, with bases, and intimidating
the leaders of its principal economic rival, Europe, by undermining
NATO, and setting off a trade war.
I have just visited the United States, and it is clear many people
there are worried. And many dare not say so. Their views are seldom
reported in the American mainstream media, which is self-censored
and controlled, perhaps as never before.
Instead, the air is thick with the views of the likes of Charles
Krauthammer, of the Washington Post. "Unilateralism is the
key to our success," he wrote, in describing the world of the
next fifty years: a world without protection from nuclear attack
or environmental damage for the citizens of any country except the
United States; a world where "democracy" means nothing
if its benefits are at odds with American "interests";
a world in which to express dissent against these "interests"
brands one a terrorist and justifies surveillance and repression.
There is only one way such rogue power can be resisted. It is by
speaking out and urgently. If our government won't, we must.
*John Pilger's new book, The New Rulers of the World, is published
but so true
July 8 2002
I FOUND John Pilger's article on America very depressing. Because
I am afraid he is right.
The USA is becoming a danger to the whole world with its arrogance,
refusal to comply with the norms of civilised behaviour and its
support for other rogue regimes like Israel.