New Statesman

What now?
Cover story
John Pilger
Monday 17th March 2003

      Civil disobedience is the sole path left for those who cannot support the
Bush-Blair pact of aggression. Only then will politicians on both sides of the
Atlantic be forced to recognise the folly of their ways. By John Pilger

      How have we got to this point, where two western governments take us into
an illegal and immoral war against a stricken nation with whom we have no
quarrel and who offer us no threat: an act of aggression opposed by almost
everybody and whose charade is transparent?

      How can they attack, in our name, a country already crushed by more than
12 years of an embargo aimed mostly at the civilian population, of whom 42 per
cent are children - a medieval siege that has taken the lives of at least half
a million children and is described as genocidal by the former United Nations
humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq?

      How can those claiming to be "liberals" disguise their embarrassment, and
shame, while justifying their support for George Bush's proposed launch of 800
missiles in two days as a "liberation"? How can they ignore two United Nations
studies which reveal that some 500,000 people will be at risk? Do they not hear
their own echo in the words of the American general who said famously of a
Vietnamese town he had just levelled: "We had to destroy it in order to save

      "Few of us," Arthur Miller once wrote, "can easily surrender our belief
that society must somehow make sense. The thought that the State has lost its
mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the
evidence has to be internally denied."

      These days, Miller's astuteness applies to a minority of warmongers and
apologists. Since 11 September 2001, the consciousness of the majority has
soared. The word "imperialism" has been rescued from agitprop and returned to
common usage. America's and Britain's planned theft of the Iraqi oilfields,
following historical precedent, is well understood. The false choices of the
cold war are redundant, and people are once again stirring in their millions.
More and more of them now glimpse American power, as Mark Twain wrote, "with
its banner of the Prince of Peace in one hand and its loot-basket and its
butcher-knife in the other".

      What is heartening is the apparent demise of "anti-Americanism" as a
respectable means of stifling recognition and analysis of American imperialism.
Intellectual loyalty oaths, similar to those rife during the Third Reich, when
the abusive "anti-German" was enough to silence dissent, no longer work. In
America itself, there are too many anti-Americans filling the streets now:
those whom Martha Gellhorn called "that life-saving minority who judge their
government in moral terms, who are the people with a wakeful conscience and can
be counted upon".

      Perhaps for the first time since the late 1940s, Americanism as an
ideology is being identified in the same terms as any rapacious power
structure; and we can thank Bush and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and
Condoleezza Rice for that, even though their acts of international violence
have yet to exceed those of the "liberal" Bill Clinton.

      "My guess," wrote Norman Mailer recently, "is that, like it or not, or
want it or not, we are going to go to war because that is the only solution
Bush and his people can see. The dire prospect that opens, therefore, is that
America is going to become a mega-banana republic where the army will have more
and more importance in our lives. And, before it is all over, democracy, noble
and delicate as it is, may give way . . . Indeed, democracy is the special
condition that we will be called upon to defend in the coming years. That will
be enormously difficult because the combination of the corporation, the
military and the complete investiture of the flag with mass spectator sports
has set up a pre-fascist atmosphere in America already."

      In the military plutocracy that is the American state, with its unelected
president, venal Supreme Court, silent Congress, gutted Bill of Rights and
compliant media, Mailer's "pre-fascist atmosphere" makes common sense. The
dissident American writer William Rivers Pitt pursues this further. "Critics of
the Bush administration," he wrote, "like to bandy about the word 'fascist'
when speaking of George. The image that word conjures is of Nazi storm troopers
marching in unison towards Hitler's Final Solution. This does not at all fit.
It is better, in this matter, to view the Bush administration through the eyes
of Benito Mussolini. Dubbed 'the father of fascism', Mussolini defined the word
in a far more pertinent fashion. 'Fascism,' he said, 'should more properly be
called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power.' "

      Bush himself offered an understanding of this on 26 February when he
addressed the annual dinner of the American Enterprise Institute. He paid
tribute to "some of the finest minds of our nation [who] are at work on some of
the greatest challenges to our nation. You do such good work that my
administration has borrowed 20 such minds. I want to thank them for their

      The "20 such minds" are crypto-fascists who fit the definition of William
Pitt Rivers. The institute is America's biggest, most important and wealthiest
"think-tank". A typical member is John Bolton, under-secretary for arms
control, the Bush official most responsible for dismantling the 1972
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, arguably the most important arms control
agreement of the late 20th century. The institute's strongest ties are with
extreme Zionism and the regime of Ariel Sharon. Last month, Bolton was in Tel
Aviv to hear Sharon's view on which country in the region should be next after
Iraq. For the expansionists running Israel, the prize is not so much the
conquest of Iraq but Iran. A significant propor-tion of the Israeli air force
is already based in Turkey with Iran in its sights, waiting for an American

      Richard Perle is the institute's star. Perle is chairman of the powerful
Defence Policy Board at the Pentagon, the author of the insane policies of
"total war" and "creative destruction". The latter is designed to subjugate
finally the Middle East, beginning with the $90bn invasion of Iraq.

      Perle helped to set up another crypto-fascist group, the Project for the
New American Century. Other founders include Vice-President Cheney, the defence
secretary Rumsfeld and deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz. The institute's
"mission report", Rebuilding America's Defences: strategy, forces and resources
for a new century, is an unabashed blueprint for world conquest. Before Bush
came to power, it recommended an increase in arms spending by $48bn so that
America "can fight and win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars". This has
come true. It said that nuclear war-fighting should be given the priority it
deserved. This has come true. It said that Iraq should be a primary target. And
so it is. And it dismissed the issue of Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass
destruction" as a convenient excuse, which it is.

      Written by Wolfowitz, this guide to world domination puts the onus on the
Pentagon to establish a "new order" in the Middle East under unchallenged US
authority. A "liberated" Iraq, the centrepiece of the new order, will be
divided and ruled, probably by three American generals; and after a horrific
onslaught, known as Shock and Awe.

      Vladimir Slipchenko, one of the world's leading military analysts, says
the testing of new weapons is a "main purpose" of the attack on Iraq. "Nobody
is saying anything about it," he said last month. "In May 2001, in his first
presidential address, Bush spoke about the need for preparation for future
wars. He emphasised that the armed forces needed to be completely high-tech,
capable of conducting hostilities by the no-contact method. After a series of
live experiments - in Iraq in 1991, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan - many corporations
achieved huge profits. Now the bottom line is $50-60bn a year."

      He says that, apart from new types of cluster bombs and cruise missiles,
the Americans will use their untested pulse bomb, known also as a microwave
bomb. Each discharges two megawatts of radiation which instantly puts out of
action all communications, computers, radios, even hearing aids and heart
pacemakers. "Imagine, your heart explodes!" he said.

      In the future, this Pax Americana will be policed with nuclear,
biological and chemical weapons used "pre-emptively", even in conflicts that do
not directly engage US interests. In August, the Bush administration will
convene a secret meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, to discuss the construction of a
new generation of nuclear weapons, including "mini nukes", "bunker busters" and
neutron bombs. Generals, government officials and nuclear scientists will also
discuss the appropriate propaganda to convince the American public that the new
weapons are necessary.

      Such is Mailer's pre-fascist state. If appeasement has any meaning today,
it has little to do with a regional dictator and everything to do with the
demonstrably dangerous men in Washington. It is vitally important that we
understand their goals and the degree of their ruthlessness. One example:
General Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani dictator, was last year deliberately
allowed by Washington to come within an ace of starting a nuclear war with
India - and to continue supplying North Korea with nuclear technology - because
he agreed to hand over al-Qaeda operatives. The other day, John Howard, the
Australian prime minister and Washington mouthpiece, praised Musharraf, the man
who almost blew up west Asia, for his "personal courage and outstanding

      In 1946, Justice Robert Jackson, chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg
trials, said: "The very essence of the Nuremberg charter is that individuals
have international duties which transcend national obligations of obedience
imposed by the state."

      With an attack on Iraq almost a certainty, the millions who filled London
and other capitals on the weekend of 15-16 February, and the millions who
cheered them on, now have these transcendent duties. The Bush gang, and Tony
Blair, cannot be allowed to hold the rest of us captive to their obsessions and
war plans. Speculation on Blair's political future is trivia; he and the
robotic Jack Straw and Geoff Hoon must be stopped now, for the reasons long
argued in these pages and on hundreds of platforms.

      And, incidentally, no one should be distracted by the latest
opportunistic antics of Clare Short, whose routine hints of "rebellion",
followed by her predictable inaction, have helped to give Blair the time he
wants to subvert the UN.

      There is only one form of opposition now: it is civil disobedience
leading to what the police call civil unrest. The latter is feared by
undemocratic governments of all stripes.

      The revolt has already begun. In January, Scottish train drivers refused
to move munitions. In Italy, people have been blocking dozens of trains
carrying American weapons and personnel, and dockers have refused to load arms
shipments. US military bases have been blockaded in Germany, and thousands have
demonstrated at Shannon which, despite Ireland's neutrality, is being used by
the US military to refuel its planes en route to Iraq.

      "We have become a threat, but can we deliver?" asked Jessica Azulay and
Brian Dominick of the American resistance movement. "Policy-makers are debating
right now whether or not they have to heed our dissent. Now we must make it
clear to them that there will be political and economic consequences if they
decide to ignore us."

      My own view is that if the protest movement sees itself as a world power,
as an expression of true internationalism, then success need not be a dream.
That depends on how far people are prepared to go. The young female employee of
the Gloucestershire-based top-secret Government Communications Headquarters
(GCHQ), who was charged this month with leaking information about America's
dirty tricks operation on members of the Security Council, shows us the courage

      In the meantime, the new Mussolinis are on their balconies, with their
virtuoso rants and impassioned insincerity. Reduced to wagging their fingers in
a futile attempt to silence us, they see millions of us for the first time,
knowing and fearing that we cannot be silenced.

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