Two years ago a project set up by the men who now surround George W
Bush said what America needed was "a new Pearl Harbor". Its published aims
have, alarmingly, come true. : John Pilger :12 Dec 2002

     The threat posed by US terrorism to the security of nations and
individuals was outlined in prophetic detail in a document written more than
two years ago and disclosed only recently. What was needed for America to
dominate much of humanity and the world's resources, it said, was "some
catastrophic and catalysing event - like a new Pearl Harbor". The attacks of 11
September 2001 provided the "new Pearl Harbor", described as "the opportunity
of ages". The extremists who have since exploited 11 September come from the
era of Ronald Reagan, when far-right groups and "think-tanks" were established
to avenge the American "defeat" in Vietnam. In the 1990s, there was an added
agenda: to justify the denial of a "peace dividend" following the cold war. The
Project for the New American Century was formed, along with the American
Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute and others that have since merged
the ambitions of the Reagan administration with those of the current Bush

            One of George W Bush's "thinkers" is Richard Perle. I interviewed
Perle when he was advising Reagan; and when he spoke about "total war", I
mistakenly dismissed him as mad. He recently used the term again in describing
America's "war on terror". "No stages," he said. "This is total war. We are
fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk
about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq... this is
entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world
go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever
diplomacy, but just wage a total war... our children will sing great songs
about us years from now."

            Perle is one of the founders of the Project for the New American
Century, the PNAC. Other founders include Dick Cheney, now vice-president,
Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defence secretary, I
Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, William J Bennett, Reagan's education
secretary, and Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush's ambassador to Afghanistan. These are
the modern chartists of American terrorism. The PNAC's seminal report,
Rebuilding America's Defences: strategy, forces and resources for a new
century, was a blueprint of American aims in all but name. Two years ago it
recommended an increase in arms-spending by $48bn so that Washington could
"fight and win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars". This has happened.
It said the United States should develop "bunker-buster" nuclear weapons and
make "star wars" a national priority. This is happening. It said that, in the
event of Bush taking power, Iraq should be a target. And so it is.

            As for Iraq's alleged "weapons of mass destruction", these were
dismissed, in so many words, as a convenient excuse, which it is. "While the
unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification," it says,
"the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the
issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." How has this grand strategy been
implemented? A series of articles in the Washington Post, co-authored by Bob
Woodward of Watergate fame and based on long interviews with senior members of
the Bush administration, reveals how 11 September was manipulated.

            On the morning of 12 September 2001, without any evidence of who
the hijackers were, Rumsfeld demanded that the US attack Iraq. According to
Woodward, Rumsfeld told a cabinet meeting that Iraq should be "a principal
target of the first round in the war against terrorism". Iraq was temporarily
spared only because Colin Powell, the secretary of state, persuaded Bush that
"public opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible".
Afghanistan was chosen as the softer option. If Jonathan Steele's estimate in
the Guardian is correct, some 20,000 people in Afghanistan paid the price of
this debate with their lives.

            Time and again, 11 September is described as an "opportunity". In
last April's New Yorker, the investigative reporter Nicholas Lemann wrote that
Bush's most senior adviser, Condoleezza Rice, told him she had called together
senior members of the National Security Council and asked them "to think about
'how do you capitalise on these opportunities'", which she compared with those
of "1945 to 1947": the start of the cold war. Since 11 September, America has
established bases at the gateways to all the major sources of fossil fuels,
especially central Asia. The Unocal oil company is to build a pipeline across
Afghanistan. Bush has scrapped the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions,
the war crimes provisions of the International Criminal Court and the
anti-ballistic missile treaty. He has said he will use nuclear weapons against
non-nuclear states "if necessary". Under cover of propaganda about Iraq's
alleged weapons of mass destruction, the Bush regime is developing new weapons
of mass destruction that undermine international treaties on biological and
chemical warfare.

            In the Los Angeles Times, the military analyst William Arkin
describes a secret army set up by Donald Rumsfeld, similar to those run by
Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger and which Congress outlawed. This
"super-intelligence support activity" will bring together the "CIA and military
covert action, information warfare, and deception". According to a classified
document prepared for Rumsfeld, the new organisation, known by its Orwellian
moniker as the Proactive Pre-emptive Operations Group, or P2OG, will provoke
terrorist attacks which would then require "counter-attack" by the United
States on countries "harbouring the terrorists".

            In other words, innocent people will be killed by the United
States. This is reminiscent of Operation Northwoods, the plan put to President
Kennedy by his military chiefs for a phoney terrorist campaign - complete with
bombings, hijackings, plane crashes and dead Americans - as justification for
an invasion of Cuba. Kennedy rejected it. He was assassinated a few months
later. Now Rumsfeld has resurrected Northwoods, but with resources undreamt of
in 1963 and with no global rival to invite caution. You have to keep reminding
yourself this is not fantasy: that truly dangerous men, such as Perle and
Rumsfeld and Cheney, have power. The thread running through their ruminations
is the importance of the media: "the prioritised task of bringing on board
journalists of repute to accept our position".

            "Our position" is code for lying. Certainly, as a journalist, I
have never known official lying to be more pervasive than today. We may laugh
at the vacuities in Tony Blair's "Iraq dossier" and Jack Straw's inept lie that
Iraq has developed a nuclear bomb (which his minions rushed to "explain"). But
the more insidious lies, justifying an unprovoked attack on Iraq and linking it
to would-be terrorists who are said to lurk in every Tube station, are
routinely channelled as news. They are not news; they are black propaganda.

            This corruption makes journalists and broadcasters mere
ventriloquists' dummies. An attack on a nation of 22 million suffering people
is discussed by liberal commentators as if it were a subject at an academic
seminar, at which pieces can be pushed around a map, as the old imperialists
used to do.

            The issue for these humanitarians is not primarily the brutality of
modern imperial domination, but how "bad" Saddam Hussein is. There is no
admission that their decision to join the war party further seals the fate of
perhaps thousands of innocent Iraqis condemned to wait on America's
international death row. Their doublethink will not work. You cannot support
murderous piracy in the name of humanitarianism. Moreover, the extremes of
American fundamentalism that we now face have been staring at us for too long
for those of good heart and sense not to recognise them.

With thanks to Norm Dixon and Chris Floyd