By John Pilger Legendary Foreign Correspondent
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
Instead, one of the poorest, most stricken nations has been terrorised
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 - eight in one family
- has to do with Osama bin Laden.
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. Why?
None of those directly involved in the September 11 atrocity was
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
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
the profits of the oil and gas pumped through a pipeline that the Americans
wanted to build across Afghanistan.
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.
The deal fell through; but an urgent priority of the administration
of George W.
Bush, which is steeped in the oil industry, is to exploit the same 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
"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
mercenaries for Washington's imperial ambitions, not to mention the extraordinary
pretensions of Blair himself. Having made this country 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 50 years". The irresponsibility of this is
breathtaking, and comparable with Blair's messianic posturing that has made
Britain a terrorist target.
Having reported many wars, I am always struck by the absurdity of
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
"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
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 Blair government.
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 fibre 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
There are signs that Washington is about to extend its "war" on
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
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? £800million so far.
According to an internal UN report over 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
"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,
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 initiatives that require real political courage.
The other day, the parents of Greg Rodriguez, the 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 against us.
"It is not the way to go...not in our son's name."