Inevitable ring to the unimaginable

If the attacks

on America have their source in the Islamic world, who can really be


Two days

earlier, eight people were killed in southern Iraq when British and American

planes bombed civilian areas. To my knowledge, not a word appeared in the

mainstream media in Britain.

An estimated

200,000 Iraqis, according to the Health Education Trust in London, died during

and in the immediate aftermath of the slaughter known as the Gulf War.

This was never

news that touched public consciousness in the west.

At least a

million civilians, half of them children, have since died in Iraq as a result

of a medieval embargo imposed by the United States and Britain.

In Pakistan and

Afghanistan, the Mujadeen, which gave birth to the fanatical Taliban, was

largely the creation of the CIA.

The terrorist

training camps where Osama bin Laden, now "America’s most wanted man",

allegedly planned his attacks, were built with American money and backing.

In Palestine,

the enduring illegal occupation by Israel would have collapsed long ago were

it not for US backing.

Far from being

the terrorists of the world, the Islamic peoples have been its victims –

principally the victims of US fundamentalism, whose power, in all its forms,

military, strategic and economic, is the greatest source of terrorism on


This fact is

censored from the Western media, whose "coverage" at best minimises the

culpability of imperial powers. Richard Falk, professor of international

relations at Princeton, put it this way: "Western foreign policy is presented

almost exclusively through a self-righteous, one-way legal/moral screen (with)

positive images of Western values and innocence portrayed as threatened,

validating a campaign of unrestricted political violence."

That Tony

Blair, whose government sells lethal weapons to Israel and has sprayed Iraq

and Yugoslavia with cluster bombs and depleted uranium and was the greatest

arms supplier to the genocidists in Indonesia, can be taken seriously when he

now speaks about the "shame" of the "new evil of mass terrorism" says much

about the censorship of our collective sense of how the world is managed.

One of Blair’s

favourite words – "fatuous" – comes to mind. Alas, it is no comfort to the

families of thousands of ordinary Americans who have died so terribly that the

perpetrators of their suffering may be the product of Western policies. Did

the American establishment believe that it could bankroll and manipulate

events in the Middle East without cost to itself, or rather its own innocent


The attacks on

Tuesday come at the end of a long history of betrayal of the Islamic and Arab

peoples: the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the foundation of the state of

Israel, four Arab-Israeli wars and 34 years of Israel’s brutal occupation of

an Arab nation: all, it seems, obliterated within hours by Tuesday’s acts of

awesome cruelty by those who say they represent the victims of the West’s

intervention in their homelands.

"America, which

has never known modern war, now has her own terrible league table: perhaps as

many as 20,000 victims."

As Robert Fisk

points out, in the Middle East, people will grieve the loss of innocent life,

but they will ask if the newspapers and television networks of the west ever

devoted a fraction of the present coverage to the half-a-million dead children

of Iraq, and the 17,500 civilians killed in Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon.

The answer is no. There are deeper roots to the atrocities in the US, which

made them almost inevitable.

It is not only

the rage and grievance in the Middle East and south Asia. Since the end of the

cold war, the US and its sidekicks, principally Britain, have exercised,

flaunted, and abused their wealth and power while the divisions imposed on

human beings by them and their agents have grown as never before.

An elite group

of less than a billion people now take more than 80 per cent of the world’s


In defence of

this power and privilege, known by the euphemisms "free market" and "free

trade", the injustices are legion: from the illegal blockade of Cuba, to the

murderous arms trade, dominated by the US, to its trashing of basic

environmental decencies, to the assault on fragile economies by institutions

such as the World Trade Organisation that are little more than agents of the

US Treasury and the European central banks, and the demands of the World Bank

and the International Monetary Fund in forcing the poorest nations to repay

unrepayable debts; to a new US "Vietnam" in Colombia and the sabotage of peace

talks between North and South Korea (in order to shore up North Korea’s "rogue

nation" status).

Western terror

is part of the recent history of imperialism, a word that journalists dare not

speak or write.

The expulsion

of the population of Diego Darcia in the 1960s by the Wilson government

received almost no press coverage.

Their homeland

is now an American nuclear arms dump and base from which US bombers patrol the

Middle East.

In Indonesia,

in 1965/6, a million people were killed with the complicity of the US and

British governments: the Americans supplying General Suharto with

assassination lists, then ticking off names as people were killed.


British companies and the World Bank back in there was part of the deal", says

Roland Challis, who was the BBC’s south east Asia correspondent.


behaviour in Malaya was no different from the American record in Vietnam, for

which it proved inspirational: the withholding of food, villages turned into

concentration camps and more than half a million people forcibly dispossessed.

In Vietnam, the

dispossession, maiming and poisoning of an entire nation was apocalyptic, yet

diminished in our memory by Hollywood movies and by what Edward Said rightly

calls cultural imperialism.

In Operation

Phoenix, in Vietnam, the CIA arranged the homicide of around 50,000 people. As

official documents now reveal, this was the model for the terror in Chile that

climaxed with the murder of the democratically elected leader Salvador Allende,

and within 10 years, the crushing of Nicaragua.

All of it was

lawless. The list is too long for this piece.

Now imperialism

is being rehabilitated. American forces currently operate with impunity from

bases in 50 countries.

"Full spectrum

dominance" is Washington’s clearly stated aim.

Read the

documents of the US Space Command, which leaves us in no doubt.

In this

country, the eager Blair government has embarked on four violent adventures,

in pursuit of "British interests" (dressed up as "peacekeeping"), and which

have little or no basis in international law: a record matched by no other

British government for half a century.

What has this

to do with this week’s atrocities in America? If you travel among the

impoverished majority of humanity, you understand that it has everything to do

with it.

People are

neither still, nor stupid. They see their independence compromised, their

resources and land and the lives of their children taken away, and their

accusing fingers increasingly point north: to the great enclaves of plunder

and privilege. Inevitably, terror breeds terror and more fanaticism.

But how patient

the oppressed have been.

It is only a

few years ago that the Islamic fundamentalist groups, willing to blow

themselves up in Israel and New York, were formed, and only after Israel and

the US had rejected outright the hope of a Palestinian state, and justice for

a people scarred by imperialism.

Their distant

voices of rage are now heard; the daily horrors in faraway brutalised places

have at last come home.

John Pilger is an

award-winning, campaigning journalist.

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