by John Pilger
In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell described a superstate, Oceania,
whose language of war inverted lies that "passed into history and became
truth. 'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future:
who controls the present controls the past'."
Barack Obama is the leader of a contemporary Oceania. In two speeches at the
close of the decade, the Nobel Peace Prize-winner affirmed that peace was no
longer peace, but rather a permanent war that "extends well beyond
Afghanistan and Pakistan" to "disorderly regions, failed states, diffuse
enemies". He called this "global security" and invited our gratitude. To the
people of Afghanistan, which the US has invaded and occupied, he said
wittily: "We have no interest in occupying your country."
In Oceania, truth and lies are indivisible. According to Obama, the American
attack on Afghanistan in 2001 was authorised by the United Nations Security
Council. There was no UN authority. He said that "the world" supported the
invasion in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks. In truth, all but
three of 37 countries surveyed by Gallup expressed overwhelming opposition.
He said that America invaded Afghanistan "only after the Taliban refused to
turn over Osama Bin Laden". In 2001, the Taliban tried three times to hand
over Bin Laden for trial, Pakistan's military regime reported, and they were
"Hearts and minds"
Even Obama's mystification of the 9/11 attacks as justification for his war
is false. More than two months before the twin towers were attacked, the
former Pakistani diplomat Niaz Naik was told by the Bush administration that
a US military assault would take place by mid-October. The Taliban regime in
Kabul, which the Clinton administration had secretly supported, was no
longer regarded as "stable" enough to ensure US control over oil and gas
pipelines to the Caspian Sea. It had to go.
Obama's most audacious lie is that Afghanistan today is a "safe haven" for
al-Qaeda's attacks on the west. His own national security adviser, James
Jones, said in October that there were "fewer than 100" al-Qaeda operatives
in Afghanistan. According to US intelligence, 90 per cent of the Taliban are
hardly Taliban at all, but "a tribal localised insurgency [who] see
themselves as opposing the US because it is an occupying power". The war is
a fraud. Only the terminally gormless remain true to the Obama brand of
Beneath the surface, however, there is serious purpose. Under the disturbing
General Stanley McChrystal, who gained distinction for his assassination
squads in Iraq, the occupation of Afghanistan is a model for those
"disorderly regions" of the world still beyond Oceania's reach. This is
known as Coin (counter- insurgency), and draws together the military, aid
organisations, psychologists, anthropologists, the media and public
relations hirelings. Covered in jargon about winning hearts and minds, it
aims to incite civil war: Tajiks and Uzbeks against Pashtuns.
The Americans did this in Iraq and destroyed a multi-ethnic society. They
built walls between communities which had once intermarried, ethnically
cleansing the Sunnis and driving millions out of the country. Embedded media
reported this as "peace"; American academics bought by Washington and
"security experts" briefed by the Pentagon appeared on the BBC to spread the
good news. As in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the opposite was true.
Something similar is planned for Afghanistan. People are to be forced into
"target areas" controlled by warlords, bankrolled by the CIA and the opium
trade. That these warlords are barbaric is irrelevant. "We can live with
that," a Clinton-era diplomat once said of the return of oppressive sharia
law in a "stable", Taliban-run Afghanistan. Favoured western relief
agencies, engineers and agricultural specialists will attend to the
"humanitarian crisis" and so "secure" the subjugated tribal lands.
That is the theory. It worked after a fashion in Yugoslavia, where
ethnic-sectarian partition wiped out a once-peaceful society, but it failed
in Vietnam, where the CIA's "Strategic Hamlet Program" was designed to
corral and divide the southern population and so defeat the Vietcong - the
Americans' catch-all term for the resistance, similar to "Taliban".
Behind much of this are the Israelis, who have long advised the Americans in
both the Iraq and the Afghanistan adventures. Ethnic cleansing,
wall-building, checkpoints, collective punishment and constant surveillance
- these are claimed as Israeli innovations that have succeeded in stealing
most of Palestine from its native people. And yet, for all their suffering,
the Palestinians have not been divided irrevocably and they endure as a
nation against all odds.
The most telling forerunners of the Obama Plan, which the Nobel Peace
Prize-winner and his general and his PR men prefer we forget, are those that
failed in Afghanistan itself. The British in the 19th century and the
Soviets in the 20th century attempted to conquer that wild country by ethnic
cleansing and were seen off, though after terrible bloodshed. Imperial
cemeteries are their memorials. People power, sometimes baffling, often
heroic, remains the seed beneath the snow, and invaders fear it.
"It was curious," wrote Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four, "to think that the
sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here. And
the people under the sky were also very much the same - everywhere, all over
the world . . . people ignorant of one another's existence, held apart by
walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the same - people who . . .
were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would
one day overturn the world."
[At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the question is not
whether we will preside over the creation of a New World Order, but whether
America's decline is irreversible.--Patrick J. Buchanan, "A Decade of Self-Delusion," Human
Events, December 29, 2009]
[Ever since 1945, the US has regarded itself as the leader of the "free
world". But the Obama administration is facing an unexpected and unwelcome
development in global politics. Four of the biggest and most strategically
important democracies in the developing world - Brazil, India, South Africa
and Turkey - are increasingly at odds with American foreign policy. Rather
than siding with the US on the big international issues, they are just as
likely to line up with authoritarian powers such as China and Iran.--Gideon
Rachman, "America is losing the free world," Financial Times, January 4,