Agenda of the War on Terror
By John Pilger
The war against terrorism is a fraud. After three weeks' bombing,
not a single terrorist implicated in the attacks on America has
been caught or killed in Afghanistan.
Instead, one of the poorest, most stricken nations has been terrorized
by the most powerful - to the point where American pilots have run
out of dubious "military" targets and are now destroying
mud houses, a hospital, Red Cross warehouses, lorries carrying refugees.
Unlike the relentless pictures from New York, we are seeing almost
nothing of this. Tony Blair has yet to tell us what the violent
death of children - seven in one family - has to do with Osama bin
And why are cluster bombs being used? The British public should
know about these bombs, which the RAF also uses. They spray hundreds
of bomblets that have only one purpose; to kill and maim people.
Those that do not explode lie on the ground like landmines, waiting
for people to step on them.
If ever a weapon was designed specifically for acts of terrorism,
this is it. I have seen the victims of American cluster weapons
in other countries, such as the Laotian toddler who picked one up
and had her right leg and face blown off. Be assured this is now
happening in Afghanistan, in your name.
None of those directly involved in the September 11 atrocity was
Afghani. Most were Saudis, who apparently did their planning and
training in Germany and the United States.
The camps which the Taliban allowed bin Laden to use were emptied
weeks ago. Moreover, the Taliban itself is a creation of the Americans
and the British. In the 1980s, the tribal army that produced them
was funded by the CIA and trained by the SAS to fight the Russians.
The hypocrisy does not stop there. When the Taliban took Kabul in
1996, Washington said nothing. Why? Because Taliban leaders were
soon on their way to Houston, Texas, to be entertained by executives
of the oil company, Unocal.
With secret US government approval, the company offered them a generous
cut of the profits of the oil and gas pumped through a pipeline
that the Americans wanted to build from Soviet central Asia through
A US diplomat said: "The Taliban will probably develop like
the Saudis did." He explained that Afghanistan would become
an American oil colony, there would be huge profits for the West,
no democracy and the legal persecution of women. "We can live
with that," he said.
Although the deal fell through, it remains an urgent priority of
the administration of George W. Bush, which is steeped in the oil
industry. Bush's concealed agenda is to exploit the oil and gas
reserves in the Caspian basin, the greatest source of untapped fossil
fuel on earth and enough, according to one estimate, to meet America's
voracious energy needs for a generation. Only if the pipeline runs
through Afghanistan can the Americans hope to control it.
So, not surprisingly, US Secretary of State Colin Powell is now
referring to "moderate" Taliban, who will join an American-sponsored
"loose federation" to run Afghanistan. The "war on
terrorism" is a cover for this: a means of achieving American
strategic aims that lie behind the flag-waving facade of great power.
The Royal Marines, who will do the real dirty work, will be little
more than mercenaries for Washington's imperial ambitions, not to
mention the extraordinary pretensions of Blair himself. Having made
Britain a target for terrorism with his bellicose "shoulder
to shoulder" with Bush nonsense, he is now prepared to send
troops to a battlefield where the goals are so uncertain that even
the Chief of the Defence Staff says the conflict "could last
The irresponsibility of this is breathtaking; the pressure on Pakistan
alone could ignite an unprecedented crisis across the Indian sub-continent.
Having reported many wars, I am always struck by the absurdity of
effete politicians eager to wave farewell to young soldiers, but
who themselves would not say boo to a Taliban goose.
In the days of gunboats, our imperial leaders covered their violence
in the "morality" of their actions. Blair is no different.
Like them, his selective moralising omits the most basic truth.
Nothing justified the killing of innocent people in America on September
11, and nothing justifies the killing of innocent people anywhere
By killing innocents in Afghanistan, Blair and Bush stoop to the
level of the criminal outrage in New York. Once you cluster bomb,
"mistakes" and "blunders" are a pretence. Murder
is murder, regardless of whether you crash a plane into a building
or order and collude with it from the Oval Office and Downing Street.
If Blair was really opposed to all forms of terrorism, he would
get Britain out of the arms trade. On the day of the twin towers
attack, an "arms fair", selling weapons of terror (like
cluster bombs and missiles) to assorted tyrants and human rights
abusers, opened in London's Docklands with the full backing of the
Britain's biggest arms customer is the medieval Saudi regime, which
beheads heretics and spawned the religious fanaticism of the Taliban.
If he really wanted to demonstrate "the moral fiber of Britain",
Blair would do everything in his power to lift the threat of violence
in those parts of the world where there is great and justifiable
grievance and anger.
He would do more than make gestures; he would demand that Israel
ends its illegal occupation of Palestine and withdraw to its borders
prior to the 1967 war, as ordered by the Security Council, of which
Britain is a permanent member.
He would call for an end to the genocidal blockade which the UN
- in reality, America and Britain - has imposed on the suffering
people of Iraq for more than a decade, causing the deaths of half
a million children under the age of five.
That's more deaths of infants every month than the number killed
in the World Trade Center.
There are signs that Washington is about to extend its current "war"
to Iraq; yet unknown to most of us, almost every day RAF and American
aircraft already bomb Iraq. There are no headlines. There is nothing
on the TV news. This terror is the longest-running Anglo-American
bombing campaign since World War Two.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the US and Britain faced a
"dilemma" in Iraq, because "few targets remain".
"We're down to the last outhouse," said a US official.
That was two years ago, and they're still bombing. The cost to the
British taxpayer? 800 Lbs million so far.
According to an internal UN report, covering a five-month period,
41 per cent of the casualties are civilians. In northern Iraq, I
met a woman whose husband and four children were among the deaths
listed in the report. He was a shepherd, who was tending his sheep
with his elderly father and his children when two planes attacked
them, each making a sweep. It was an open valley; there were no
military targets nearby.
"I want to see the pilot who did this," said the widow
at the graveside of her entire family. For them, there was no service
in St Paul's Cathedral with the Queen in attendance; no rock concert
with Paul McCartney.
The tragedy of the Iraqis, and the Palestinians, and the Afghanis
is a truth that is the very opposite of their caricatures in much
of the Western media.
Far from being the terrorists of the world, the overwhelming majority
of the Islamic peoples of the Middle East and south Asia have been
its victims - victims largely of the West's exploitation of precious
natural resources in or near their countries.
There is no war on terrorism. If there was, the Royal Marines and
the SAS would be storming the beaches of Florida, where more CIA-funded
terrorists, ex-Latin American dictators and torturers, are given
refuge than anywhere on earth.
There is, however, a continuing war of the powerful against the
powerless, with new excuses, new hidden agendas, new lies. Before
another child dies violently, or quietly from starvation, before
new fanatics are created in both the east and the west, it is time
for the people of Britain to make their voices heard and to stop
this fraudulent war - and to demand the kind of bold, imaginative
non-violent initiatives that require real political courage.
The other day, the parents of Greg Rodriguez, a young man who died
in the World Trade Center, said this: "We read enough of the
news to sense that our government is heading in the direction of
violent revenge, with the prospect of sons, daughters, parents,
friends in distant lands dying, suffering, and nursing further grievances
"It is not the way to go...not in our son's name."
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