Posted by sakerfa on September 11, 2008
In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger (one of my favourite journalists) examines news as parody as those prominent in the British media seek to justify the official versions of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
By John Pilger
11/09/08 “ICH” — –
Try to laugh, please. The news is now officially parody and a game for all the family to play.
First question: Why are “we” in Afghanistan? Answer: “To try to help
in the country’s rebuilding programme.” Who says so? Huw Edwards, the
BBC’s principal newsreader. What wags the Welsh are.
Second question: Why are “we” in Iraq? Answer: To “plant a
western-style open democracy”. Who says so? Paul Wood, the former BBC
defence correspondent, and his boss Helen Boaden, director of BBC News.
To prove her point, Boaden supplied Medialens.org with 2,700 words of
quotations from Tony Blair and George W Bush. Irony? No, she meant it.
Take Andrew Martin, divisional adviser at BBC Complaints, who has
been researching Bush’s speeches for “evidence” of noble democratic
reasons for laying to waste an ancient civilisation. Says he: “The ‘D’
word is not there, but the phrase ‘united, stable and free’ [is]
clearly an allusion to it.” After all, he says, the invasion of Iraq
“was launched as ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’”. Moreover, says the BBC
man, “in Bush’s 1 May 2003 speech (the one on the aircraft carrier) he
talked repeatedly about freedom and explicitly about the Iraqi
transition to democracy . . . These examples show that these were on
Bush’s mind before, during and after the invasion.”
Try to laugh, please.
Laughing may be difficult, I agree, given the slaughter of civilians
in Afghanistan by “coalition” aircraft, including those directed by
British forces engaged in “the country’s rebuilding programme”. The
bombing of civilian areas has doubled, along with the deaths of
civilians, says Human Rights Watch. Last month, “our” aircraft
slaughtered nearly 100 civilians, two-thirds of them children between
the ages of three months and 16 years, while they slept, according to
eyewitnesses. BBC television news initially devoted nine seconds to the
Human Rights Watch report, and nothing to the fact that “less than
peanuts” (according to an aid worker) is being spent on rebuilding
anything in Afghanistan.
As for the notion of a “united, stable and free” Iraq, consider the
no-bid contracts handed to the major western oil companies for
ownership of Iraq’s oil. “Theft” is a more truthful word. Written by
the companies themselves and US officials, the contracts have been
signed off by Bush and Nouri al-Maliki, “prime minister” of Iraq’s
“democratic” government that resides in an air-conditioned American
fortress. This is not news.
Try to laugh, please, while you consider the devastation of Iraq’s
health, once the best in the Middle East, by the ubiquitous dust from
British and US depleted uranium weapons. A World Health Organisation
study reporting a cancer epidemic has been suppressed, says its
principal author. This has been reported in Britain only in the Glasgow
Sunday Herald and the Morning Star. According to a study last year by
Basra University Medical College, almost half of all deaths in the
contaminated southern provinces were caused by cancer.
Try to laugh, please, at the recent happy-clappy Nurembergs from
which will come the next president of the United States. Those paid to
keep the record straight have strained to present a spectacle of
choice. Barack Obama, the man of “change”, wants to “build a
21st-century military . . . to stay on the offensive everywhere”. Here
comes the new Cold War, with promises of more bombs, more of the
militarised society with its 730 bases worldwide, on which Americans
spend 42 cents of every tax dollar.
At home, Obama offers no authentic measure that might ease America’s
grotesque inequality, such as basic health care. John McCain, his
Republican opponent, may well be a media cartoon figure – the fake “war
hero” now joined with a Shakespeare-banning, gun-loving, religious
fanatic – yet his true significance is that he and Obama share
essentially the same dangerous prescriptions.
Thousands of decent Americans came to the two nominating conventions
to express the dissenting opinion of millions of their compatriots who
believe, with good cause, that their democracy is evaporating. They
were intimidated, arrested, beaten, pepper-gassed; and they were
patronised or ignored by those paid to keep the record straight.
In the meantime, Justin Webb, the BBC’s North America editor, has
launched a book about America, his “city on a hill”. It is a sort of
Mills & Boon view of the rapacious system he admires with such
obsequiousness. The book is called Have a Nice Day.
Try to laugh, please.