The Colder War
by John Pilger
International Socialist Review, March / April
Last week, the U.S. government announced that it was building
the biggest-ever war machine. Military pending will rise to $379
billion, of which $50 billion will pay for its "war on terrorism."
There will be special funding for new, refined weapons of mass
slaughter and for "military operations"-invasions of
Of all the extraordinary news since September 11, this is
the most alarming. It is time to break our silence. That is to
say, it is time for other governments to break their silence,
especially the Blair government, whose complicity in the American
rampage in Afghanistan has not denied its understanding of the
Bush administration's true plans and ambitions.
The recent statements of British ministers about the "vindication"
of the "outstanding success" in Afghanistan would be
comical if the price of their "success" had not been
paid with the lives of more than 5,000 innocent Afghan civilians
and the failure to catch Osama bin Laden and anyone else of importance
in the al-Qaeda network.
The Pentagon's release of deliberately provocative pictures
of prisoners at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay was meant to conceal
this failure from the American public, who are being conditioned,
along with the rest of us, to accept a permanent war footing similar
to the paranoia that sustained and prolonged the Cold War.
The threat of "terrorism," some of it real, most
of it invented, is the new Red Scare. The parallels are striking.
In America in the 1 950s, the Red Scare was used to justify
the growth of war industries, the suspension of democratic rights,
and the silencing of dissenters. That is happening now.
Above all, the American industrial-complex has a new enemy
with which to justify its gargantuan appetite for public resources-the
new military budget is enough to end all primary causes of poverty
in the world.
Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary, says he has told the
Pentagon to "think the unthinkable."
Vice President Dick Cheney, the voice of Bush, has said the
U.S. is considering military or other action against "40
to 50 countries" and warns that the new war may last 50 years
A Bush adviser, Richard Perle, explained, "[There will
be] no stages." He said,
This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies.
There are lots of them out there.... If we just let our own vision
of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely, and we don't
try to piece together clever diplomacy...but just wage a total
war...our children will sing great songs about us years from now.
Their words evoke George Orwell's great prophetic work, Nineteen
Eighty-Four. In the novel, three slogans dominate society: War
IS peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength. Today's
slogan, war on terrorism, also reverses meaning. The war is terrorism.
The next American attack is likely to be against Somalia,
a deeply impoverished country in the Horn of Africa. Washington
claims there are al-Qaeda terrorist cells there. This is almost
certainly a fiction spread by Somalia's overbearing neighbor,
Ethiopia, in order to ingratiate itself with Washington. Certainly,
there are vast oil fields off the coast of Somalia.
For the Americans, there is the added attraction of "settling
a score." In 1993, in the last days of George Bush Senior's
presidency, 18 American soldiers were killed in Somalia after
the U.S. Marines had invaded to "restore hope," as they
A current Hollywood movie, Black Hawk Down, glamorizes and
lies about this episode. It leaves out the fact that the invading
Americans left behind between 7,000 and 10,000 Somalis killed.
Like the victims of American bombing in Afghanistan, and Iraq,
and Cambodia, and Vietnam, and many other stricken countries,
the Somalis are unpeople, whose deaths have no political and media
value in the West.
When Bush Junior's heroic Marines return in their Black Hawk
gun ships, loaded with technology, looking for "terrorists,"
their victims will once again be nameless. We can then expect
the release of Black Hawk Down II.
Breaking our silence means not allowing the history of our
lifetimes to be written this way, with lies and the blood of innocent
people. To understand the lie of what Blair/Straw/Hoon [Britain's
prime minister, foreign secretary, and secretary of state for
defense] call the "outstanding success" in Afghanistan,
read the work of the original author of "Total War,"
a man called Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was President Carter's National
Security Adviser and is still a powerful force in Washington.
Brzezinski not long ago revealed that on July 3, 1979, unknown
to the American public and Congress, President Jimmy Carter secretly
authorized $500 million to create an international terrorist movement
that would spread Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and "destabilize"
the Soviet Union.
The CIA called this Operation Cyclone and in the following
years poured $4 billion into setting up Islamic training schools
in Pakistan (Taliban means "student").
Young zealots were sent to the CIA's spy training camp in
Virginia, where future members of al-Qaeda were taught "sabotage
skills"-terrorism. Others were recruited at an Islamic school
in Brooklyn, New York, within sight of the fated Twin Towers.
In Pakistan, they were directed by British MI6 [Britain's
foreign intelligence agency] officers and trained by the SAS [Britain's
elite Special Air Services].
The result, quipped Brzezinski, was "a few stirred up
Muslims'-meaning the Taliban.
At that time, the late 1970s, the American goal was to overthrow
Afghanistan's first progressive, secular government, which had
granted equal rights to women, established health care and literacy
programs, and set out to break feudalism.
When the Taliban seized power in 1996, they hanged the former
president from a lamppost in Kabul. His body was still a public
spectacle when Clinton administration officials and oil company
executives were entertaining Taliban leaders in Washington and
The Wall Street Journal declared: "The Taliban are the
players most capable of achieving peace. Moreover, they were crucial
to secure the country as a prime transshipment route for the export
of Central Asia's vast oil, gas, and other natural resources."
No American newspaper dares suggest that the prisoners in
Camp X-Ray are the product of this policy, nor that it was one
of the factors that led to the attacks of September 11. Nor do
they ask: Who were the real winners of September 117
The day the Wall Street stock market opened after the destruction
of the Twin Towers, the few companies showing increased value
were the giant military contractors Alliant Tech Systems, Northrop
Grumman, Raytheon (a contributor to New Labor) and Lockheed Martin.
As the U.S. military's biggest supplier, Lockheed Martin's share
value rose by a staggering 30 percent.
Within six weeks of September 11, the company (with its main
plant in Texas, George Bush's home state) had secured the biggest
military order in history, a $200 billion contract to develop
a new fighter aircraft. The greatest taboo of all, which Orwell
would surely recognize, is the record of the United States as
a terrorist state and haven for terrorists. This truth is virtually
unknown by the American public and makes a mockery of Bush's (and
Blair's) statements about "tracking down terrorists wherever
They don't have to look far. Florida, currently governed by
the president's brother, Jeb Bush, has given refuge to terrorists
who, like the September 11 gang, have hijacked aircraft and boats
with guns and knives. Most have never had criminal charges brought
Why? All of them are anti-Castro Cubans. Former Guatemalan
Defense Minister Gramajo Morales, who was accused of "devising
and directing an indiscriminate campaign of terror against civilians,"
including the torture of an American nun and the massacre of eight
people from one family, studied at Harvard University on a U.S.
During the 1980s, thousands of people were murdered by death
squads connected to the army of El Salvador, whose former chief
now lives comfortably in Florida. The former Haitian dictator,
General Prosper Avril, liked to display the bloodied victims of
his torture on television. When he was overthrown, he was flown
to Florida by the U.S. government, and granted political asylum.
A leading member of the Chilean military during the reign
of General Pinochet, whose special responsibility was executions
and torture, lives in Miami. The Iranian general who ran Iran's
notorious prisons is a wealthy exile in the U.S. One of Pol Pot's
senior henchmen, who enticed Cambodian exiles back to their certain
death, lives in Mount Vernon, New York.
What all these people have in common, apart from their history
of terrorism, is that they either worked directly for the U.S.
government or carried out the dirty work of U.S. policies.
The al-Qaeda training camps are kindergartens compared with
the world's leading university of terrorism at Fort Benning in
Georgia. Known until recently as the School of the Americas, its
graduates include almost half the cabinet ministers of the genocidal
regime in Guatemala, two-thirds of the El Salvadoran army officers
who committed-according to the United Nations-the worst atrocities
of that country's civil war, and the head of Pinochet's secret
police, who ran Chile's concentration camps.
There is terrible irony at work here. The humane response
of people all over the world to the terrorism of September 11
has long been hijacked by those running a rapacious great power
with a history of terrorism second to none. Global supremacy,
not the defeat of terrorism, is the goal; only the politically
blind believe otherwise.
The "widening gap between the world's 'haves' and 'have
nots,"' says a remarkably candid document of the U.S. Space
Command, presents "new challenges" to the world's superpower
which can only be met by "Full Spectrum Dominance"-dominance
of land, sea, air, and space.
Why should we accept this, and the great dangers that accompany
it? We cannot say we have not been warned.
John Pilger is a filmmaker, journalist, and author of several
books, including the forthcoming The New Rulers of the World.
This article first appeared in the January 29 London Mirror newspaper.