The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] ZNet Commentary: Who Are The Extremists?

ZNet Commentary

Who Are The Extremists?

August 23, 2003

By John Pilger

The "liberation" of Iraq is a cruel joke on a stricken
people. The Americans and British, partners in a great
recognized crime, have brought down on the Middle East, and
much of the rest of the world, the prospect of terrorism and
suffering on a scale that al-Qaeda could only imagine.

That is what this week's bloody bombing of the United
Nations headquarters in Baghdad tells us.

It is a "wake-up call", according to Mary Robinson, the
former UN Humanitarian Commissioner.

She is right, of course, but it is a call that millions of
people sounded on the streets of London and all over the
world more than seven months ago - before the killing began.

And yet the Anglo-American spin machine, whose minor cogs
are currently being exposed by the Hutton Inquiry, is still
in production.

According to the Bush and Blair governments, those
responsible for the UN outrage are "extremists from
outside": Al-Qaeda terrorists or Iranian militants, or both.

Whether or not outsiders are involved, the aim of this
propaganda is to distract from the truth that America and
Britain are now immersed in a classic guerrilla war, a war
of resistance and self-determination of the kind waged
against foreign aggressors and colonial masters since
history began.

For America, it is another Vietnam. For Britain it is
another Kenya, or indeed another Iraq.

In 1921, Lieutenant-General Sir Stanley Maude said in
Baghdad: "Our armies do not come as conquerors, but as

Within three years 10,000 had died in an uprising against
the British, who gassed and bombed the "terrorists".

Nothing has changed, only the names and the fine print of
the lies.

As for the "extremists from outside", simply turn the
meaning around and you have a succinct description of the
current occupiers who, unprovoked, attacked a defenseless
sovereign country, defying the United Nations and the
opposition of most of humanity.

Using weapons designed to cause the maximum human
suffering - cluster bombs, uranium-tipped shells and
firebombs (napalm) - these extremists from outside caused
the deaths of at least 8,000 civilians and as many as 30,000
troops, most conscripted teenagers. Consider the waves of
grief in any society from that carnage.

AT their moment of "victory", these extremists from
outside - having already destroyed Iraq's infrastructure
with a 12-year bombing campaign and embargo - murdered
journalists, toppled statues and encouraged wholesale
looting while refusing to make the most basic humanitarian
repairs to the damage they had caused to the supply of power
and clean water.

This means that today sick children are dying from thirst
and gastro-enteritis, that hospitals frequently run out of
oxygen and that those who might be saved can not be saved.

How many have died like this?

"We count every screwdriver," said an American colonel
during the first Gulf war, "but counting civilians who die
along the way is just not our policy."

The biggest military machine on earth, said to be spending
up to $5 billion-a-month on its occupation of Iraq,
apparently can not find the resources and manpower to bring
generators to a people enduring temperatures of well over
the century - almost half of them children, of whom eight
per cent, says UNICEF, are suffering extreme malnutrition.

When Iraqis have protested about this, the extremists from
outside have shot them dead.

They have shot them in crowds, or individually, and they
boast about it.

The other day, Task Force 20, an "elite" American unit
murdered at least five people as they drove down a street.

The next day they murdered a woman and her three children as
they drove down a street.

They are no different from the death squads the Americans
trained in Latin America.

These extremists from outside have been allowed to get away
with much of this - partly because of the web of deceptions
in London and Washington, and partly because of those who
voluntarily echo and amplify their lies.

In the current brawl between the Blair government and the
BBC a new myth has emerged: It is that the BBC was and is

This is what George Orwell called an "official truth".
Again, just turn it around and you have the real truth; that
the BBC supported Blair's war, that day after day it
broadcast and "debated" and legitimised the charade of
weapons of mass destruction, as well as nonsense such as
that which cast Blair as a "moderating influence" on Bush -
when, as we now know, they are almost identical warmongers.

Who can forget the BBC's exultant Chief Political
Correspondent Andrew Marr, at the moment of "coalition"
triumph. Tony Blair, he declared, "said that they would take
Baghdad without a blood bath, and that in the end the Iraqis
would be celebrating. And on both those points he has been
conclusively proved right."

If you replace "right" with "wrong", you have the truth. To
the BBC's man in Downing Street, up to 40,000 deaths
apparently does not constitute a "blood bath".

According to the independent American survey organisation
Media Tenor, the BBC allowed less dissent against the war
than all the leading international broadcasters surveyed,
including the American networks.

Andrew Gilligan, the BBC reporter who revealed Dr David
Kelly's concerns about the government's "dodgy dossier" on
Iraq, is one of the very few mavericks, an inconvenient
breed who challenge official truth.

One of the most important lies was linking the regime of
Saddam Hussein with al-Qaeda.

As we now know, both Bush and Blair ignored the advice of
their intelligence agencies and made the connection public.

It worked. When the attack on Iraq began, polls showed that
most Americans believed Saddam Hussein was behind September

The opposite was true. Monstrous though it was, Saddam
Hussein's regime was a veritable bastion against al-Qaeda
and its Islamic fanaticism. Saddam was the West's man, who
was armed to the teeth by America and Britain in the 1980s
because he had oil and a lot of money and because he was an
enemy of anti-Western mullahs in Iran and elsewhere in the
region. Saddam and Osama bin Laden loathed each other. His
grave mistake was invading Kuwait in 1990; Kuwait is an
Anglo-American protectorate, part of the Western oil empire
in the Middle East.

The killings in the UN compound in Baghdad this week, like
the killing of thousands of others in Iraq, form a trail of
blood that leads to Bush and Blair and their courtiers.

It was obvious to millions of people all over the world that
if the Americans and British attacked Iraq, then the
fictional link between Iraq and Islamic terrorism could well
become fact.

The brutality of the occupation of Iraq - in which children
are shot or arrested by the Americans, and countless people
have "disappeared" in concentration camps - is an open
invitation to those who now see Iraq as part of a holy

When I traveled the length of Iraq several years ago, I felt
completely safe. I was received everywhere with generosity
and grace, even though I was from a country whose government
was bombing and besieging my hosts.

Bush's and Blair's court suppressed the truth that most
Iraqis both opposed Saddam Hussein and the invasion of their

The thousands of exiles, from Jordan to Britain, said this

But who listened to them? When did the BBC interrupt its
anti-Christ drumbeat about Saddam Hussein and report this
vital news?

Nor are the United Nations merely the "peacemakers" and
"nationbuilders" that this week's headlines say they are.

There were dedicated humanitarians among the dead in Baghdad
but for more than 12 years, the UN Security Council allowed
itself to be manipulated so that Washington and London could
impose on the people of Iraq, under a UN flag, an embargo
that resembled a mediaeval siege.


It was this that crippled Iraq and, ironically, concentrated
all domestic power in the hands of the regime, thus ending
all hope of a successful uprising.

The other day I sat with Dennis Halliday, former Assistant
Secretary General of the United Nations, and the UN in New
York. Halliday was the senior UN official in Iraq in the
mid-1990s, who resigned rather than administer the blockade.

"These sanctions," he said, "represented ongoing warfare
against the people of Iraq. They became, in my view,
genocidal in their impact over the years, and the Security
Council maintained them, despite its full knowledge of their
impact, particularly on the children of Iraq.

"We disregarded our own charter, international law, and we
probably killed over a million people.

"It's a tragedy that will not be forgotten... I'm confident
that the Iraqis will throw out the occupying forces. I don't
know how long it will take, but they'll throw them out based
on a nationalistic drive.

"They will not tolerate any foreign troops' presence in
their country, dictating their lifestyle, their culture,
their future, their politics.

"This is a very proud people, very conscious of a great

"It's grossly unacceptable. Every country that is now
threatened by Mr Bush, which is his habit, presents an
outrage to all of us.

"Should we stand by and merely watch while a man so
dangerous he is willing to sacrifice Americans lives and,
worse, the lives of others."

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]