War Comes Home To Britain
by John Pilger, The New Statesman
March 4, 2009
Freedom is being lost in Britain. The
land of Magna Carta is now the land of secret gagging orders,
secret trials and imprisonment. The government will soon know
about every phone call, every email, every text message. Police
can wilfully shoot to death an innocent man, lie and expect to
get away with it. Whole communities now fear the state. The foreign
secretary routinely covers up allegations of torture; the justice
secretary routinely prevents the release of critical cabinet minutes
taken when Iraq was illegally invaded. The litany is cursory;
there is much more.
Indeed, there is so much more that the
erosion of liberal freedoms is symptomatic of an evolved criminal
state. The haven for Russian oligarchs, together with corruption
of the tax and banking systems and of once-admired public services
such as the Post Office, is one side of the coin; the other is
the invisible carnage of failed colonial wars. Historically, the
pattern is familiar. As the colonial crimes in Algeria, Vietnam
and Afghanistan blew back to their perpetrators, France, the United
States and the Soviet Union, so the cancerous effects of Britain's
cynicism in Iraq and Afghanistan have come home.
The most obvious example is the bombing
atrocities in London on 7 July 2005; no one in the British intelligence
mandarinate doubts these were a gift of Blair. "Terrorism"
describes only the few acts of individuals and groups, not the
constant, industrial violence of great powers. Suppressing this
truth is left to the credible media. On 27 February, the Guardian's
Washington correspondent, Ewen MacAskill, in reporting President
Obama's statement that America was finally leaving Iraq, as if
it were fact, wrote: "For Iraq, the death toll is unknown,
in the tens of thousands, victims of the war, a nationalist uprising,
sectarian in-fighting and jihadists attracted by the US presence."
Thus, the Anglo-American invaders are merely a "presence"
and not directly responsible for the "unknown" number
of Iraqi deaths. Such contortion of intellect is impressive.
In January last year, a report by the
respected Opinion Research Business (ORB) revised an earlier assessment
of deaths in Iraq to 1,033,000. This followed an exhaustive, peer-reviewed
study in 2006 by the world-renowned John Hopkins School of Public
Health in the US, published in The Lancet, which found that 655,000
Iraqis had died as a result of the invasion. US and British officialks
immediately dismissed the report as "flawed" - a deliberate
deception. Foreign Office papers obtained under Freedom of Information
disclose a memo written by the government's chief scientific adviser,
Sir Roy Anderson, in which he praised The Lancet report, describing
it as "robust and employs methods that are regarded as close
to 'best practice' given [the conditions] in Iraq." An adviser
to the prime minister commented: "The survey methodology
used here cannot be rubbished, it is a tried and tested way of
measuring mortality in conflict zones". Speaking a few days
later, a Foreign Office minister, Lord Triesman, said, "The
way in which data are extrapolated from samples to a general outcome
is a matter of deep concern."
The episode exemplifies the scale and
deception of this state crime. Les Roberts, co-author of the Lancet
study, has since argued that Britain and America might have caused
in Iraq "an episode more deadly than the Rwandan genocide".
This is not news. Neither is it a critical reference in the freedoms
campaign organised by the Observer columnist Henry Porter. At
a conference in London on 28 February, Lord Goldsmith, Blair's
attorney-general, who notoriously changed his mind and advised
the government the invasion was legal, when it wasn't, was a speaker
for freedom. So was Timothy Garton Ash, a "liberal interventionist".
On 9 April, 2003, shortly after the slaughter had begun in Iraq,
a euphoric Garton Ash wrote in the Guardian: "America has
never been the Great Satan. It has sometimes been the Great Gatsby:
'They were careless people, Tom and Daisy - they smashed up things...'.
One of Britain's jobs "is to keep reminding Tom and Daisy
that they now have promises to keep". Less frivolously, he
lauded Blair for his "strong Gladstonian instincts for humanitarian
intervention" and repeated the government's propaganda about
Saddam Hussein. In 2006, he wrote: "Now we face the next
big test of the west after Iraq: Iran." (I have italicized
we). This also adheres precisely to the propaganda; David Milliband
has declared Iran a "threat" in preparation for possibly
the next war.
Like so many of New Labour's Tonier-than-thou
squad, Henry Porter celebrated Blair as an almost mystical politician
who "presents himself as a harmoniser for all the opposing
interests in British life, a conciliator of class differences
and tribal antipathies, synthesiser of opposing beliefs".
Porter dismissed as "demonic nonsense" all analysis
of the 9/11 attacks that suggested there were specific causes:
the consequences of violent actions taken by the powerful in the
Middle East. Such thinking, he wrote, "exactly matches the
views of Osma bin Laden... with America's haters, that's all there
is - hatred". This, of course, was Blair's view.
Freedoms are being lost in Britain because
of the rapid growth of the "national security state".
This form of militarism was imported from the United States by
New Labour. Totalitarian in essence, it relies upon fear mongering
to entrench the executive with venal legal mechanisms that progressively
diminish democracy and justice. "Security" is all, as
is propaganda promoting rapacious colonial wars, even as honest
mistakes. Take away this propaganda, and the wars are exposed
for what they are, and fear evaporates. Take away the obeisance
of many in Britain's liberal elite to American power and you demote
a profound colonial and crusader mentality that covers for epic
criminals like Blair. Prosecute these criminals and change the
system that breeds them and you have freedom.