excerpts from the book
by John Pilger
The New Press, 1998, paper
In the media's 'global village', other nations do not exist unless
they are useful to 'US'
Who understands that the sanctions are aimed not at bringing down
Saddam Hussein, or deterring him from building some mythical nuclear
bomb, but at preventing the 'market' competition of Iraqi oil
from forcing down the price of oil produced by Saudi Arabia, the
West's most important Middle Eastern proxy, next to Israel, and
biggest arms customer?
an Indonesian activist
Truth is always subversive, otherwise why should governments spend
so much energy trying to suppress it?
Secretary of State Alexander Haig
You just give me the word and I'll turn that fucking little island
[Cuba] into a parking lot.
At times, orthodox opinion finds respectability and violence a
difficult union to celebrate. 'We must recognise', wrote Michael
Stohl, in Current Perspectives on International Terrorism, 'that
by convention- and it must be emphasised only by convention -
great power use and the threat of the use of force is normally
described as coercive diplomacy and not as a form of terrorism',
though it involves 'the threat and often the use of violence for
what would be described as terroristic purposes were it not great
powers who were pursuing the very same tactic'. (By 'great power',
he meant exclusively Western power.) 'From Machiavelli to Niebuhr,
Moorgenthau and Kissinger', wrote [Richard] Falk [Professor of
International Relations at Princeton], 'there has been inculcated
in public consciousness an ethos of violence that is regulated,
if at all, only by perceptions of effectiveness.
"A weapon or tactic is acceptable, and generally beyond
scrutiny, if it works in the sense of bringing the goals of the
state more closely toward realisation . . . Considerations of
innocence, of human suffering, of limits on the pursuit of state
policy are treated as irrelevant, [and to be] scorned." [Falk]
In other words, the Henry Kissinger rule. The 'statecraft'
that Kissinger personified in the 1970s is widely appreciated
in circles of 'post-modern' expertise. Presidents and governments
consult him. Douglas Hurd, when Foreign Secretary, arranged an
honorary knighthood for him. The BBC pays him $3,000 for less
than a minute's wisdom. That he secretly and illegally bombed
a neutral country, Cambodia, causing tens of thousands of deaths,
is immaterial. That he worked to overthrow the elected government
in Chile is irrelevant. That he defied Congress and clandestinely
supplied the Indonesian dictators with weapons with which they
pursued the genocide in East Timor is of no consequence. That
he encouraged the Kurds to fight for nationhood, then betrayed
them, is by the way.
The West itself is never terrorist.
American representatives on the United Nations Security Council
vetoed a resolution calling on all governments to observe international
It was in the arena of the Third World that the real Cold War
was fought by the Western powers - not against Russians, but against
expendable brown- and black-skinned people, often in places of
great poverty. It was not so much a war between East and West
as between North and South. rich and poor, big and small. Indeed,
the smaller the adversary, the greater the threat, because triumph
by the weak might produce such a successful example as to be contagious
- 'the threat of a good example', Oxfam once called it. Thus,
the weak are the true enemy, and they still are.
"Never before in history has one nation had more power
over more people in more spheres of life than does the United
States,' wrote the Nicaraguan scholar Alejandro Bendana. "For
us in Central America, the new looks pretty much like the old,
as the United States has been the dominant power in our region
for the past century and a half. Maybe we can now speak of the
Central Americanisation of the world [for] what we are witnessing
today is far more serious as it consists of a fully fledged attempt
by the United States to rebuild the international political and
economic system . . . to ( ensure an open door for its goods,
services and capital."
Drugs, wrote Gabriel Garcia Marquez, were a most convenient Satan
for US national security policies', which allowed yet another
invasion of Latin America.
... Meanwhile the United States remained the largest consumer
of illegal drugs in the world, with some twenty million addicts
After years of reviewing classified files, the chief investigator
to the Kerry Committee, Jack Blum, concluded 'If you ask: in the
process fighting a war against the Sandinistas, did people connected
with the US Government open channels which allowed drug traffickers
to move drugs to the United States, did they know the drug traffickers
were doing it and did they protect them from law enforcement?
The answer to all those questions is yes."
... 'Year Zero' was 1969, when President Nixon and his Secretary
of State, Henry Kissinger, launched their secret and illegal bombing
of neutral Cambodia, with American pilots' logs being falsified
to conceal the crime. Between 1969 and 1973, American bombers
killed three-quarters of a million Cambodian peasants in an attempt
to destroy North Vietnamese supply bases, many of which did not
exist. During one six-month period in 1973, B-52 aircraft dropped
more bombs on Cambodians, living mostly in straw huts, than were
dropped on Japan during all of the Second World War: the equivalent
of five Hiroshimas.
Under American pressure, the World Food Programme handed over
$12 millions' worth of food to the Thai Army to pass on to the
Khmer Rouge. '20,000 to 40,000 Pot guerrillas benefited, according
to former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke.
historian Frank Furedi
'Terrorists become any foreign people you don't like. Moreover,
terrorism is redefined to serve as an all-purpose metaphor for
the Third World, demanding concerted action from the West.'
[Professor Samuel Huntington, Director of Harvard's Institute
of Strategic Studies, in the book The Clash of Civilizations]
described NATO as 'the security organization of Western civilisation
[whose] primary purpose is to defend and preserve that civilization'.
NATO membership should be closed to 'countries ,that have historically
been primarily Muslim or Orthodox' or in any way non-Western in
their religion and culture' .. It is a vision of global apartheid.
'Like its role in the Gulf War' wrote Phyllis Bennis in her 1996
study of the United Nations, 'the UN's function ... has increasingly
become one of authorising and facilitating the unilateral interventionist
policies of its most powerful member states - especially those
of the US.', while its own power remains 'contingent on the scraps
and drops of resources bestowed on or denied it by Washington...'.
... Since 1996, 'peace operations' have passed quietly from
the United Nations to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (
(NATO), originally set up in Washington to fight the Russians.
Since the re-invasion of Russia by the forces of globilisation.
Russia's economy has halved and its Gross Domestic product has
been reduced to that of the Netherlands. The availability of food
has again become desperate and unemployment is at its highest
for sixty years. With male life expectancy down to fifty-eight,
Russia is the first country in history to experience such a sharp
fall in life expectancy. (It was sixty-nine in the late 1950s.)
'The objective in Somalia was noble, In fact, moral purpose has
motivated every American war this century . . . The new approach
[in Somalia] claims an extension in the reach of morality ...
"Humanitarian intervention" asserts that moral and humane
concerns are so much part of American life that not only treasure
but lives must be risked to vindicate them; in their absence,
American life would have lost some meaning. No other nation has
ever put forward such a set of propositions.'
Independent on Sunday, Feb 10, 1991
'... carpet bombing is undeniably terrible. But that does not
make it wrong.'
In a letter to the Security Council, Ramsey Clark, who has carried
out investigations in Iraq since 1991, wrote that most of the
deaths 'are from the effects of malnutrition including marasmus
and kwashiorkor, wasting or emaciation which has reached twelve
per cent of all children, stunted growth which affects twenty-eight
per cent, diarrhoea, dehydration from bad water or food, which
is ordinarily easily controlled and cured, common communicable
diseases preventable by vaccinations, and epidemics from deteriorating
sanitary conditions. There are no deaths crueler than these. They
are suffering slowly, helplessly, without simple remedial medication,
without simple sedation to relieve pain, without mercy.'
To report the real reasons why children are dying in Iraq, even
to recognise the extent of their suffering, is to bracket Western
governments with dictatorships and totalitarian regimes. ,Thus
the victims become unmentionable. They become, wrote the British
historian Mark Curtis, 'unpeople: human beings who impede the
pursuit of high policy and whose rights, often lives, therefore
become irrelevant'. As Unpeople, they are not news, and their
plight, as Kate Adie said of the slaughter on the Basra road,
is merely 'evidence of the horrific confusion'.
There was no burning desire to get rid of Saddam Hussein. He had
been the West's man, whom Reagan and Thatcher had armed and backed
against the mullahs in Iran; and the last thing the West wanted
was an Iraq run by socialists and democrats. For this reason,
as the 1991 slaughter got under way, the British Government imprisoned
as many Iraqi opposition leaders as it could round up. In 1996,
the New York Times reported that the administration longed for
the good old days when Saddam's 'iron fist held Iraq together,
much to the satisfaction of the American allies, Turkey and Saudi
The Americans also wanted to protect Saudi oil and the faltering
Saudi economy from the competition of cheaper Iraqi oil. That
remains Washington's real reason for opposing the lifting of sanctions.
'If Iraq were allowed to resume oil exports,' wrote Phyllis Bennis,
one of the most astute American commentators, 'analysts expect
it would soon be producing three million barrels a day and within
a decade, perhaps as many as six million. Oil prices would soon
drop . . . And Washington is determined to defend the kingdom's
economy, largely to safeguard the West's unfettered access to
the Saudis' 25 per cent of known oil reserves.'
An important factor in this is the arms trade. In 1993, almost
two-thirds of all American arms export agreements with developing
countries were with Saudi Arabia, whose dictatorship is every
bit as odious as the one in Baghdad. Since 1990 the Saudis have
contracted more than thirty billion dollars' worth of American
tanks, missiles and fighter aircraft. According to the authors,
Leslie and Andrew Cockburn, 'Every day, the Pentagon . . . disburses
an average of 10 million dollars - some days as much as 50 million
- to contractors at work on the Saudi shopping list.' As an insight
into the US-sponsored 'peace process' in the Middle East, they
wrote that a Pentagon officer had told them, 'If the Saudis had
cancelled their F-15 [fighter aircraft] program [as a result of
the fall in oil prices], Israel probably would not have bought
any. Basically, that's the only thing keeping the F-15 line open.'
'Have we grown more wary of instant response to disaster, more
indifferent to the stream of seemingly baffling conflicts which
flit past on the screen?' asked the BBC's Kate Adie in a reflective
article. 'Do the pictures of the displaced, the homeless and injured
mean less when they are so regularly available? Have we, in short,
begun to care less . . .?'
She did not explain the 'we'. 'What has not changed', she
wrote, 'is the need to choose news priorities, to judge the importance
and relevance of a story against all else that is happening in
the world. And the need endlessly to debate whether some stories
should be covered for a moral or humanitarian reason, even though
the majority of the audience expresses little desire to view them'.
She offered no evidence to support this last assertion. On
the contrary, the generosity of those who can least afford to
give is demonstrable, vivid and unending, as I know from personal
experience. It is compassion, as well as anger, that _ gives millions
of people the energy and tenacity to lobby governments for an
end to state crimes committed in their name in East Timor, Burma,
Turkey, Tibet, Iraq, to name but a few.
Far from not wanting to know, the 'majority of the audience'
consistently make clear, as the relevant surveys show, that they
want more current affairs and documentaries which attempt to make
sense of the news and which explain the 'why' of human events.
Everyone has the right to work, to just and favourable conditions
of work and to protection for himself and his family land] an
existence worthy of human dignity everyone has the right to a
standard of living adequate for the health and well being of himself
and his family, ~ including food, clothing, housing and medical
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
We have 50 per cent of the world's wealth, but only 6 per
cent of its population. In this situation, our real job in / the
coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which permit
us to maintain this position of disparity. To do so, we have to
dispense with all sentimentality . . . we should cease thinking
about human rights, the raising of living standards and democratisation.
George Kennan, US Cold War planner, 1948
Accidents in toy factories are endemic, as production is speeded
up to meet an apparently insatiable demand from Europe, North
America, Japan and Australia, which import 80 per cent of their
toys from Asia. The girls in the Kadar factory in Bangkok were
making Bart Simpson and Cabbage Patch dolls. In China, the popular
Barbie and Sindy dolls, Power Rangers and Fisher-Price toddlers'
toys are made by mostly rural girls working twelve to sixteen
hours a day for the legal minimum wage of £27 a month, if
they are lucky. Many will suffer from chronic industrial diseases,
caused by the effects of plastics, paints and glues used without
protection or ventilation.
Structural Adjustment Programmes or SAPs, were dreamt up in the
late 1970s when American, European and Japanese banks pressured
poor countries to borrow petro-dollars accumulated following the
boom in oil prices. There followed a rapid rise in interest rates,
which coincided with the fall in the world price of commodities
like coffee. As a consequence Third World governments found themselves
in grave difficulties.
Under a plan devised by President Reagan's Secretary to the
Treasury, James Baker, indebted countries were offered World Bank
and IMF 'servicing' loans in return for the 'structural adjustment'
of their economies. This meant that the economic direction of
each country would be planned, monitored and controlled in Washington.
'Liberal containment' was replaced by laissez-faire capitalism,
known as the 'free market'. Industry would be deregulated and
sold off; public services, such as health care and education,
would be diminished. Subsistence agriculture, which has kept human
beings alive for thousands of years, would be converted to the
production of foreign exchange-earning cash crops. 'Tax holidays'
and other 'incentives', such as sweated labour, I would be offered
to foreign 'investors'. It was the surrender _~J soverei nty,
and w thout a gunboat n sight.
Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Settled
in the nineteenth century by freed slaves, there has not been
a time when Haiti has not been dominated by the United States.
Along with the manufacture of baseballs, textiles, toys and cheap
electronics, Haiti's sugar, bauxite and sisal are all controlled
by American multinational companies. The exception is coffee,
which relies upon the American market.
As a direct result of the imposition of this 'free market',
half the children die before they reach the age of five. A child
of two is called in Creole youn to chape - a little escapee from
death. Life expectancy is about fifty-three years. Most American
companies pay as little as they can get away with.
More than 20,000 people work on assembly lines, a third of which
produce goods for that symbol of all-American wholesomeness, the
Walt Disney Company. Contractors making Mickey Mouse and Pocahontas
pyjamas for Disney in 1996 paid eight pence an hour. The workers
are all in debt knowing that if they lose their jobs they will
join those struggling against starvation.
True democracy needs no Jeffersonian imprimatur; Thomas Jefferson's
notion of liberty was not extended to his slaves. George Washington,
father of the American nation, set the tone for every president
save Franklin Roosevelt. 'Indians', he said, 'have nothing human
except the shape . . . the gradual extension of our settlements
will as certainly cause the savage, as the wolf, to retire; both
being beasts of prey though they differ in shape.' James Madison
was less crude, though noJ less honest, when, in addressing the
Constitutional Convention in 1787, he said the aim of the new
republic was 'tot protect the minority of the opulent against
True democracy is expressed ... in Articles 23 and 25 of the
1941 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These say that everybody
has the right to life and to a decent life: a right not only to
employment, but to decent pay, decent working conditions, 'the
right to form and join trade unions', the right to a proper home
and the right to feel secure, 'in sickness, disability, widowhood,
old age': the right to dignity. Nowadays, this is a subversive
document, to be perverted and circumvented.
New Democracy is now the way. 'First and foremost,' wrote
Peter Gowan, 'a New Democracy is run by strong capitalist proprietors
funding the political process and offering electors a choice of
leaders who share opinions on most things but have different styles
of leadership ... This guarantees that public policy stays politically
correct. At the same time New Democracy makes it easier for multinationals
to advance their influence and for the "global" [i.e.
Western] media to shape public opinion. [In this way] we get leaders
in the target country who "want what we want". Hence
there is no need to use the big stick ...
Victor Lebow, a leading retailing analyst
Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption
our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into
rituals, that we seek spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction,
in consumption. We need things, consumed, burned up, worn out,
replaced and discarded at an ever increasing rate.
At the end of the Reagan years, the top 20 per cent of the population
held the largest share of total income, while the bottom 60 per
cent had the lowest ever recorded. Wages have fallen below 1973
levels; the majority of workers are no longer in full-time employment.
Ordinary Americans have been so thoroughly 'downsized' that up
to 50 million live below the poverty line, most of them without
health care of any kind, and with more than half of them dependent
on charity so that they can eat.
... money laundering, much of it related to the international
'narco-trade', flows unimpeded through the Caribbean tax havens
cherished by US multinationals, banks and pension-fund managers.
The MAI 'negotiations' represent the most important imperial advance
for half a century, yet they do not qualify as headline news.
If formalised, they will remove the last restrictions on the free
movement of foreign capital anywhere in the world, while effectively
transferring development policy from national governments to multinational
corporations. At the same time, multinationals will be freed from
the obligation to observe minimum standards in public welfare,
the environment and business practices. .
Under the new rules, corporations will be able to challenge
local laws before an international tribunal - but governments
or their citizens will have no corresponding right to take action
against offending corporations.
Singapore's real achievement is social control and its attendant
fear, making democratic debate impossible and conversations with
educated, intelligent people routinely circumspect. Singaporeans
are turning to born-again Christianity for relief from the oppressive
uniformity, a trend the regime has responded to with characteristic
alacrity. A Racial Harmony Act now prohibits sermons on social
and political issues that are deemed 'non-relevant'.
'Really, if the lower orders don't set a good example, what on
earth is the use of them?'
Like Los Angeles, parts of London and other British cities now
belong to the Third World. The violence and menace are not the
same, but the roots of them are. 'Poverty', wrote Peter Townsend,
Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at Bristol University, a man
who has devoted most of his life to making people aware of its
causes, 'is not something people impose on themselves for want
of effort and community organisation. It is constructed by divisive
and discriminatory laws, inflexible organisations, acquisitive
ideologies of wealth, a deeply-rooted class system and policies
which serve privilege in the \` short term and destroy society
in the long term.'
... No modern ideological figure created more poor and more rich
so rapidly than Margaret Thatcher. The UN Human Development Report
for 1997 says that in no other country has poverty 'increased
as substantially' since the early 1980s, and that the number of
Britons in 'income poverty' leapt by nearly 60 per cent under
Dr Ian Banks, the British Medical Association spokesman on men
and health, that suicide is 'the big new killer of men and is
shockingly popular - it has doubled in the last ten years. The
one clear cause is uncertainty at work. short-term contracts are
a constant strain that makes men
Thatcher and her successors made Britain into a two-thirds society,
with the top third privileged, the middle third insecure and the
bottom third poor.
Like the United States, Britain has become a single-ideology state
with two principal, almost identical factions, so that the result
of any election has a minimal effect on the economy and social
policy. People have no choice but to vote for political choreographers,
not politicians. Gossip about them and their petty intrigues,
and an occasional scandal, are regarded as political news.
A Cultural Chernobyl
There is only one thing in this world, and that is to keep acquiring
money and more money, power and more power. All the rest is meaningless.
[Rupert] Murdoch lives by different rules. His companies use the
services that we provide, they use the roads to carry their newspapers
around, they use the health service for their employees to use
when they're ill. They benefit from all the things that our society
provides, but they feel no sense of obligation to make a contribution
to that. On the contrary, they see it as a challenge to avoid
paying taxes. They are a different class of people. They are the
over-class, the ones who want to rule the world, and they don't
want to pay us for the privilege of doing so.' It is the scale
of the hypocrisy that is difficult to grasp.
Davis Bowman, a former editor-in-chief of the Sydney Morning Herald
'The danger is that the media of the future, the channels
of mass communication, will be dominated locally and worldwide
by the values - social, cultural and political - of a few individuals
and their huge corporations. Democrats ought to fight to the last
ditch against what Murdoch and the other media giants represent.'
Reiner Luyken, the Die Zeit journalist who coined the expression
The laws of supply and demand worked well for Hitler. He no
doubt gave many people what they wanted.
Guardians of the Faith
Today, British television enjoys more credibility than television
in most countries. This is partly because in other countries institutional
bias in broadcasting is understood, if not always acknowledged.
In the former Soviet bloc, as m other totalitarian states, many
people regarded the bias of the state as implicit in all media
and made a conscious or unconscious adjustment.
Since the birth of the BBC, the bias of the British state
has operated through a 'consensus' created and fostered by a paternalistic
order. The public has been groomed, rather than brainwashed. George
Orwell, in his unpublished introduction to Animal Farm, described
how censorship in free societies was intimately more sophisticated
and thorough than in dictatorships because 'unpopular ideas can
be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without any need
for an official ban'
In the fifty years since he wrote that, much has changed,
but the essential message remains the same. This is not to suggest
a conspiracy, which in any case is unnecessary. Journalists and
broadcasters are no different from historians and teachers in
internalising the priorities and fashions of established power.
Like others with important establishment responsibilities, they
are trained to set aside serious doubts. If scepticism is encouraged,
it is directed not at the system but at the competence of its
managers, or at popular attitudes as journalists perceive them.
Ambitious young journalists are often persuaded that a certain
cynicism about ordinary people ordains them as journalists, while
obedience to higher authority and deference to 'experts' is the
correct career path. By this route, the myths and assumptions
of power routinely enter the 'mainstream' unnoticed and unchallenged.
'I am still hanging on to my idealism,' a young graduate journalist
wrote to me from Wales. 'But people I work with tend to think
my belief in real democracy and the media's responsibility to
question institutions and events is strange. I am repeatedly told
I will grow out of it.'
Those who do question the nature of the system risk being
eased out of the 'mainstream'...
Far from the independent 'fourth estate, much of serious journalism
in Britain, dominated by television, serves as a parallel arm
of government, testing or 'floating' establishment planning, restricting
political debate to the 'main centres of power', as outlined in
the BBC's commemorative booklet, and, above all, promoting Western
power in the wider world.
One of the most effective functions of 'communicators' is
to minimise the culpability of this power in war and terrorism,
the enforced impoverishment of large numbers of people and the
theft of resources and the repression of human rights This is
achieved by omission on a grand scale, by the repetition of received
truths and the obfuscation of causes.
In the respectable media, especially broadcasting, discussion
of widespread voluntary and subliminal censorship is a taboo subject.
Prime Minister Lloyd George confided to C.P. Scott the editor
of the Manchester Guardian
"If people really knew [the truth], the war [World War
I] would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know and
In 1997, the BBC Television showed the last of its acclaimed People's
Century series, which expertly marshalled archive film and interviews
with witnesses to and participants in the closing century's stirring
and apocalyptic events. A recurring technique was the merging
of government propaganda film, from Britain, France, the Soviet
Union and the United States, with documentary footage, all of
it accompanied by a narration. After a while, it became difficult
to tell one from the other.
... a Pax Americana under which, as the great American imperial
planner George Kennan put it, the United States had 'a moral right
to intervene' anywhere in the world - and did so relentlessly,
subverting and destroying governments which dared to demonstrate
independence, from Italy to Iran, Chile to Indonesia.
In helping to bring the Indonesian tyrant Suharto to power,
American imperial power ensured the deaths of more than half a
million 'communists'. In Indo-China, the same fundamentalism oversaw
at least five million dead and millions more dispossessed, their
lands ruined and poisoned. Then known as the 'free world', the
American empire rules today with ever-changing euphemisms. Perhaps
its most brilliant, if unsung, victory has been in the field of
media management, as the omission of its rapacity from People's
The Last Voice
First they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.
In the Third World, the selling of national public enterprises
is 'breaking up monopolies' 'Reconversion' is the euphemism for
the reversion to nineteenth-century conditions of labour stripped
of all social benefits. 'Restructuring' is the transfer of income
from production to speculation. 'Deregulation' is the shift of
power from the national welfare to the international banking [and]
The examples ... come from the same lexicon as 'work makes
you free' - Arbeit Macht Frei - the words over the gates at Auschwitz.
Alex Carey, Australian social scientist (1978)
The twentieth century has been characterised by three developments
of great political importance, the growth of democracy; the growth
of corporate power; and the growth of corporate propaganda against
The editor of Ozgur Gundem (Free Agenda) [Turkey], Ocak Isik Yurtcu
... it is impossible to have other freedoms in a country where
there is no freedom of the press.
[Freedom of the press] is a freedom we are in danger of losing
without even knowing it. For when there is no longer anyone speaking
out, who will be the last voice?
The Final Battle
In 1979, the new British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, persuaded
the European Community to halt its regular shipments of milk to
Vietnamese children. As a consequence, (the price of a kilo of
milk powder in Vietnam rose to ten times e price of a kilo of
meat. During visits in 1975 and 1978, I saw many children with
distended bellies and fragile limbs in the towns as well as the
countryside. According to World Health Organisation measurements,
a third of all infants under five so deteriorated following the
milk ban that the majority of them were stunted or likely to be,
and a disproportionate number of the very youngest were reportedly
going blind due to a lack of Vitamin A.
[Vietnam] Among Washington's demons, not even Cuba was subjected
to such a complete embargo. 'We have smashed the country to bits,'
wrote Telford Taylor, chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg
trials, 'and [we] will not even take the trouble to clean up the
blood and rubble. Somehow we have failed to learn the lessons
we undertook to teach at Nuremberg.'
Linda Mason and Roger Brown
'The US Government insisted that the Khmer Rouge be fed ...
the US preferred that the Khmer Rouge operation benefit from the
credibility of an internationally known relief operation.' Under
American pressure, the World Food Programme handed over $12 million
worth of food to the Thai Army to pass on to the Khmer Rouge.
'20,000 to 40,000 Pol Pot guerrillas benefited', according to
Assistant Secretary of State Holbrooke.
The Canadian economist Michel Chossudovsky, a specialist in Third
World issues, wrote [about Vietnam] in 1994
The achievements of past struggles and the aspirations of
an entire nation are [being] undone and erased ... No Agent Orange
or steel pellet bombs, no napalm, no toxic chemicals: a new phase
of economic and social (rather than physical) destruction has
unfolded. The seemingly neutral and scientific tools of macroeconomic
policy constitute a non-violent instrument of recolonisation and
The hidden agenda of the reforms is the destabilisation of
Vietnam's industrial base: heavy industry, oil and gas, natural
resources and mining, cement and steel production are to be reorganised
and taken over by foreign capital with the Japanese conglomerates
playing a decisive and dominant role ... the movement is towards
the reintegration of Vietnam into the Japanese sphere of influence,
a situation reminiscent of World War Two when Vietnam was part
of Japan's "Great East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere".
In 1995, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kenneth Clarke,
visited Hanoi with a group of British businessmen, who had been
given a briefing document by the Department of Trade and Industry.
This was candid, almost ecstatic about the cheapness of people.
'Labour rates', it said, 'are as low as $35 a month.' Moreover,
the Vietnamese 'can provide a new industrial home for ailing British
products'. 'Take the long view,' advised the British Government,
'use Vietnam's weaknesses selfishly. Vietnam's open door invites
you to take advantage of its low standard of living and low wages.'
If we affirm that development can only be achieved by sacrificing
these values, which have been long pursued by mankind and give
us hope for freedom, democracy and equality, it means that we
reject the most basic factors that link people together as a community.
It's an insult to our humanity to maintain that people only have
economic demands, and therefore economic development must be made
at all costs. To live is not enough. People must seek many things
to make their lives significant.'
If development was measured not by Gross National product,
but a society's success in meeting the basic needs of its people,
Vietnam would have been a model. That was its real threat'. From
the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu m 1954 to 1972, primary
and secondary school enrollment in the North increased sevenfold,
from 700,000 to almost five million. In 1980, UNESCO estimated
a literacy rate of 90 per cent and school enrollment among the
highest in Asia and throughout the Third World.
At a village in the Mekong Delta a woman and her twelve-year-old
daughter sit in the shade making straw beach mats for export.
A middle-man pays them a total of a dollar a day. They work from
five in the morning until five in the evening. Ten years ago,
the village had a co-operative that funded a primary school. Now
that co-operatives have been abolished, the girl must work such
grinding hours to pay for sporadic lessons at a nearby fee-paying
The Vietnamese health service was once famous. Primary care
where people lived and worked raised life expectancy to among
the highest in the developing world. Vaccination programmes reduced
the spread of infectious diseases; in contrast to most of the
Third World, preventable diseases were prevented. More babies
survived birth and their first precarious years than in most countries
in south-east Asia. Now, under the tutelage of the foreign 'donor
community', the government has abandoned direct support for all
health services. Drugs are available only to those who can afford
to buy them on the 'free market'. Diseases like malaria, dengue
and cholera have returned.
Lt. Robert O. Miller, US Marine Corps
You've got to understand that Vietnam was a lie. It was a
lie from the J beginning, throughout the war and even today as
they are trying to write it into the history books, it's a lie.
Three million US servicemen came over here and confronted, in
their own way, the lie. That was tragic.'
... the lessons of the Weimar Republic are writ large. Like the
upheavals of capitalism in the 1930s and the rise of fascism,
the crisis of the 'global economy' is set to become the most important
issue of the first half of the twenty-first century.
As labour is cheapened and cast aside; as social legislation is
eliminated and whole countries are transformed into one big plantation,
one big mining camp, one big 'free trade' zone stripped of rights,
sovereignty and wealth; as the rise of technology exacerbates
class differences rather than abolishing them, increasing the
vulnerability and tempo of work; as the guardians of this faith
reduce 'free speech' to esoteric jargon, the warnings now come
from within the new orthodoxy itself.
Beware 'the rumbling out there', says the President of the
Federal Reserve Bank. 'People are dangerously suffering from globophobia,'
says a senior floor trader in New York. 'The magnitude of change
in the world economy since the end of the Cold War,' wrote the
eminent American economist, David d Hale, 'has been so dramatic
it has given rise to a new political phenomenon ... voters now
view trade issues in terms of domestic class struggle.'