JOHN PILGER on what we can all do to fight this illegal and immoral attack on Iraq
Daily Mirror - March 20, 2003
WHEN Bush and Blair begin their illegal and immoral attack
on a country that offers us no threat, we all have a
We can wring our hands and say there is nothing we can do
in the face of such powerful piracy - or we can reclaim
the democracy that has been so corrupted by an elected
dictatorship (in Bush's case, unelected).
There is only one responsible way to achieve the second
goal. The polite term is civil disobedience. The street
term is rebellion.
In 1946, Justice Robert Jackson, the chief prosecutor at
the Nuremberg trials of the Nazi leadership, said that the
"very essence" of international justice "is that
individuals have international duties which transcend
national obligations of obedience imposed by the state".
The British government is about to commit a great criminal
act. That is not rhetoric - it is true. Every tenet of
international law makes that clear, not least the United
Nations Charter itself. Indeed, the judges at Nuremberg
were quite clear about what they considered the gravest of
all war crimes: that of an unprovoked invasion of a
In the face of this impending crime, the "international
duty which transcend national obligations of obedience"
now belongs to you, the millions of people who have
understood the nature of the crime. Now, you have both the
right and the duty to act.
Rebellion against a government committing a crime in your
name is now of vital importance. Silence and inaction will
only embolden Blair, this man who has taken this country
to war unnecessarily five times in his six years in
office. Remember his remark that North Korea, a nuclear
power, is "next".
On the day of the attack on Iraq, leave what you are doing
if you can. Leave your home, work, college, school. Join a
demonstration. If you are unsure where to go, contact the
Stop the War Coalition on 07951 235915. Their website is
Or get in touch with Globalise Resistance, which is
organising mass walkouts and street blockades in the
cities. Phone them on 020 7053 2071. Their website is
www.resist.org.uk. Amnesty International is another
source: 020 7814 6200.
Their website is www. amnesty.org.uk
There will be non-violent protests by Reclaim the Bases,
which is organising gate blockades and peace vigils at
military bases. Contact 07887 585721. Their website is
Be encouraged that the revolt is already under way. In
January, Scottish train drivers refused to move munitions.
In Italy, people have been blocking dozens of trains
carrying American military personnel and weapons, and
dockers have refused to load arms shipments. US military
bases have been blockaded in Germany, and thousands at
Shannon in Ireland have made it difficult for the US
military to refuel its planes on their way to Iraq.
Propaganda is a weapon almost as lethal as any bomb. For
months, "weapons of mass destruction" has been a phoney
news issue. As former chief UN weapons inspector Scott
Ritter has said constantly, Iraq is "90-95 per cent"
disarmed. The current head of the weapons inspection team,
Hans Blix, has all but called Blair and Bush knaves and
liars. When asked what secret arsenals there were in Iraq,
one of his inspectors said: "Zilch".
And yet we have been forced to participate in this
charade: to debate and analyse its specious agenda. BBC
current affairs programmes, on radio and television, have
consistently promoted the government's warmongering as
legitimate by channelling and echoing its ever-changing
A memorandum leaked last week, written by Richard
Sambrook, a senior BBC executive, warns programme makers
against broadcasting too much dissent and "attracting some
of the more extreme anti-war views (even though) there is
no question there is a majority public view which is
against unilateral US action."
That he regards principled objection to the killing of
innocent people as "extreme" while saying nothing about
the murderous willingness of Blair and his apologists
reflects the distortion of intellect and morality that
pervades so much of BBC current affairs.
When a maverick BBC documentary dared to investigate
Israel's weapons of mass destruction and the use of gas by
the Israelis, thus showing the hypocrisy of Bush and
Blair, it was dropped from a prime slot on BBC2 at the
last moment and put out at 11.20 pm - when most people
In the United States, where a recent survey found that 75
per cent of current affairs interviews were with either
current or former government or military officials,
censorship is more entrenched. However, when the attack
begins, watch how politicians and former military brass
and assorted "experts" fill the small screen in this
Propaganda may well have made the difference between war
and peace, and life and death for untold numbers of Iraqi
men, woman and children. Had the great broadcasting
institutions and the great newspapers, on both sides of
the Atlantic, not channelled and echoed the lies and the
false agendas, but relentlessly exposed them, the Bush
gang, I believe, would not have been able to go ahead with
this outrage. Neither would Blair.
For this reason, journalists and broadcasters now have a
special duty to rebel. Wherever they are, they should
follow their conscience, not the demands of a propaganda
machine, however subtle and seductive, and materially
They might compare their comfortable lives with those of
journalists in dangerous countries, like Turkey, an
American satellite, which, like Britain, has a population
overwhelmingly hostile to an attack on its neighbour,
Many Turkish journalists have done their job fearlessly
and exposed the mendacious nature of what George Orwell
called "official truth". Some have gone to prison and
others have been murdered by the state; but their
courageous actions have provided millions of their
compatriots with the truth.
Unlike in Britain, for example, a great many Turks are
aware of the deaths and suffering of Iraqis caused by the
American and British led embargo.
Winston Churchill, when he was colonial secretary, said:
"I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of
gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against
uncivilised tribes." Nothing has changed. That was 80
years ago. He was referring to Kurds and Iraqis.
When the Bush/Blair attack begins, the insidious
equivalent of Churchill's poison gas will be used by the
Americans and almost certainly by the British.
This is depleted uranium, a sinister component of tank
shells and airborne missiles. In truth, it is a form of
nuclear warfare, and all the evidence suggests that its
use in the Gulf War in 1991 has caused an epidemic of
cancer in southern Iraq: what the doctors there call "the
Hiroshima effect", especially among children.
America and Britain have denied Iraq equipment with which
to clean up its contaminated battlefields, and towns and
villages, which are about to be poisoned all over again,
just as they have denied cancer treatment equipment and
drugs, just as this week they caused the United Nations to
dismantle an efficient Iraqi food distribution system.
As the dissident reporter Robert Fisk asked recently: Who
will have the courage to describe the effects of depleted
uranium, a true weapon of mass destruction, a crime
against humanity, as part of the "liberation" that will be
the headlined propaganda?
By refusing to echo state lies, and by recognising and
rebelling against censorship by omission, no British
journalist risks jail, or worse, as in Turkey.
Instead, they begin to restore honour to their craft and,
along with millions of their readers, listeners and
viewers, the very best of people, reclaim democracy from
its powerful thieves.