Break The Silence: A World War Is Beckoning

Why do we ­tolerate the threat of ­another world war in our name? Why do we allow lies that justify this risk? The scale of our indoctrination, wrote Harold Pinter, is a “brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of ­hypnosis”, as if the truth “never happened even while it was happening”.

Every year the American historian William Blum publishes his “updated summary of the record of US foreign policy” which shows that, since 1945, the US has tried to ­overthrow more than 50 governments, many democratically elected; grossly interfered in elections in 30 countries; bombed the civilian populations of 30 countries; used chemical and biological weapons; and attempted to assassinate foreign leaders.

In many cases Britain has been a collaborator. The degree of human ­suffering, let alone criminality, is little acknowledged in the west, despite the presence of the world’s most advanced communications and nominally freest journalism. That the most numerous victims of terrorism – “our” terrorism – are Muslims, is unsayable. That extreme jihadism, which led to 9/11, was ­nurtured as a weapon of Anglo-American policy (Operation Cyclone in Afghanistan) is suppressed. In April the US state department noted that, following Nato’s campaign in 2011, “Libya has become a terrorist safe haven”.

The name of “our” enemy has changed over the years, from communism to Islamism, but generally it is any society independent of western power and occupying strategically useful or resource-rich territory. The leaders of these obstructive nations are usually violently shoved aside, such as the democrats Muhammad Mossedeq in Iran and Salvador Allende in Chile, or they are murdered like Patrice Lumumba in the Congo. All are subjected to a western media campaign of caricature and vilification – think Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez, now Vladimir Putin.

Washington’s role in Ukraine is ­different only in its implications for the rest of us. For the first time since the Reagan years, the US is ­threatening to take the world to war. With eastern Europe and the Balkans now military outposts of Nato, the last “buffer state” bordering Russia is being torn apart. We in the west are backing neo-Nazis in a country where Ukrainian Nazis backed Hitler.

Having masterminded the coup in February against the democratically elected government in Kiev, Washington’s planned seizure of Russia’s ­historic, legitimate warm-water naval base in Crimea failed. The Russians defended themselves, as they have done against every threat and invasion from the west for almost a century.

But Nato’s military encirclement has accelerated, along with US-orchestrated attacks on ethnic Russians in Ukraine. If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained “pariah” role will justify a Nato-run guerrilla war that is likely to spill into Russia itself.

Instead, Putin has confounded the war party by seeking an accommodation with Washington and the EU, by withdrawing troops from the Ukrainian border and urging ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine to abandon the weekend’s provocative referendum. These Russian-speaking and bilingual people – a third of Ukraine’s population – have long sought a democratic federation that reflects the country’s ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow. Most are neither “separatists” nor “rebels” but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland.

Like the ruins of Iraq and Afghanistan, Ukraine has been turned into a CIA theme park – run by CIA director John Brennan in Kiev, with “special units” from the CIA and FBI setting up a “security structure” that oversees savage attacks on those who opposed the February coup. Watch the videos, read the eye-witness reports from the massacre in Odessa this month. Bussed fascist thugs burned the trade union headquarters, killing 41 people trapped inside. Watch the police standing by. A doctor described trying to rescue people, “but I was stopped by pro-Ukrainian Nazi radicals. One of them pushed me away rudely, promising that soon me and other Jews of Odessa are going to meet the same fate … I wonder, why the whole world is keeping silent.”

Russian-speaking Ukrainians are fighting for survival. When Putin announced the withdrawal of Russian troops from the border, the Kiev junta’s defence secretary – a founding member of the fascist Svoboda party – boasted that the attacks on “insurgents” would continue. In Orwellian style, propaganda in the west has inverted this to Moscow “trying to orchestrate conflict and provocation”, according to William Hague. His cynicism is matched by Obama’s grotesque congratulations to the coup junta on its “remarkable restraint” following the Odessa massacre. Illegal and fascist-dominated, the junta is described by Obama as “duly elected”. What matters is not truth, Henry Kissinger once said, butbut what is perceived to be true.”

In the US media the Odessa atrocity has been played down as “murky” and a “tragedy” in which “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) attacked “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine). Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal damned the victims – “Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says”. ­Propaganda in Germany has been pure cold war, with the Frankfurter Allgemeine ­Zeitung warning its readers of Russia’s “undeclared war”. For Germans, it is an invidious irony that Putin is the only leader to condemn the rise of fascism in 21st-century Europe.

A popular truism is that “the world changed” following 9/11. But what has changed? According to the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, a silent coup has taken place in Washington and rampant militarism now rules. The Pentagon ­currently runs “special operations” – secret wars – in 124 countries. At home, rising poverty and hemorrhaging liberty are the historic corollary of a perpetual war state. Add the risk of nuclear war, and the question begs: why do we tolerate this?


  1. avatar
    jonpatterns May 27, 2014 7:32 pm 

    While I agree with most of the article, I think the role of the wider population of the Ukraine in bringing down the government is under played. Although they supported and gained from bringing down the government from it wasn’t just the neo-Nazi and the US that brought down the government.

    Russia can not be uncritically supported, they didn’t mere defend themselves, but are controlling the region.

  2. Markus Sandberg May 16, 2014 5:14 pm 

    Correction: “leftists”, in the plural, not singular. Pilger is not alone in his generation: regrattably many older leftists have turned into apologists of the new Russian security fascism. One wonders what was their motive in the old Soviet days: obviously not the Communist ideology, since the loss of it seems to have had no impact whatsoever on them.

  3. Markus Sandberg May 16, 2014 2:32 pm 

    JEEZ what pitiful crap from a writer I’ve learned to respect. If Mr. Pilger can’t turn off his anti-American auto-pilot and see the reality as it is, why write at all? Nobody needs to read FSB´s (former KGB) vulgar lies repeated here. Just go to the TV channel Russia Today if you want to amuse yourself whith that sort of stuff.

    What is that makes leftist over 65 still thinking in terms of the cold war era? West’s hypocrisy should by all means still be unmasked, as Mr. Pilgar has done so bravely in decades – but why in the world do they turn into Putin’s lackeys? Haven’t they even noticed that the ideological disguise for the former Soviet brutalism is thrown off: what’s left is pure KGB/FSB brutality. The “separatists” in Ukraine are FSB’s thugs or mobsters inspired and armed by them in Putin’s effort to restore a Russian – or rather Soviet – empire.

    Indeed, today’s Russia satisfies most of the classic criteria of fascism: a corporative economy led by gangster kings in collution with the ruling security service, nationalistic hysteria, forged history, paramilitary gangs (“Nashi”) beating up opponents in the street, practically all media turned into a goebbelsian propaganda factory, masculine bravery fetichism, pathetic speeches (“historical truth and glory” etc.), unvarnished lies … you name it.

    I have deeply respcted John Pilgers writings through the years and I’m grateful for them. After this column the time has come to say farewell.

    • avatar
      John Barkdull July 19, 2014 6:11 pm 

      Markus, I don’t think anyone is saying the current Russian government is the model of democracy. To the contrary, people on the left would mostly say that this government is not too far from what the West would have wanted in place of the Soviet regime. What objection could the foreign policy elite have to an authoritarian oligarchy? Precisely, none.

      Yet, the “problem” (from Washington’s POV) is that Russia remains outside the disciplinary structure of US-led imperialism. This wider concern transcends the Cold War. Thus, if Pilger sounds repetitive of themes from those days, it is because the broad intentions of US global policy remain much the same. No rival is to be allowed to challenge American global “leadership” nor is there to be any power able to challenge within a region. The ideology of the “rogue” (not under control) state is not pertinent. Pilger is simply noting that the design is still in place, despite the fall of the Berlin Wall and all the rest.

      This said, what follows? The effort to pull the Ukraine into the US and Western sphere of influence has been underway for many years. It would have proceeded regardless of the character of the Russian government or leadership. The current situation is a culmination of long-term plans and efforts, not a response to immediate circumstances. The US and its NATO allies fomented the unrest in the Ukraine, including backing a coup that removed an elected government from power and thwarted efforts at any kind of settlement short of Ukraine’s membership in NATO. To think that the installation of the pro-western government would be the end of it would be fantasy. Russia was bound to respond, and this thing is far from over.

      So, while Pilger’s analysis does indeed echo Cold War themes, there is good reason for that. I think he’s got it about right.

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