John Pilger investigates the media’s role in war, tracing the history of ’embedded’ and independent reporting from the carnage of the First World War through to the destruction of Hiroshima, the invasion of Vietnam and the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As the nature of war has changed, who is the real enemy today? Is it the people at home watching TV? And is the journalist’s job to normalise the unthinkable? The film contains shocking, never before seen footage from Iraq and Afghanistan and revealing interviews with former BBC reporter Rageh Omaar, former CBS anchor Dan Rather and Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks.
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Unreported Apache gunship attack
Footage of a US Apache gunship attack on a group of civilians in Iraq in 2007. It starts with a black-and-white view of a street in Baghdad. ‘See all those people standing down there, er ’bout there one o’clock,’ a male American voice can be heard. ‘Once you get on ’em just open ’em up. Light ’em all up.’ The camera crosshairs centre on a group of men on a street corner. ‘Come on fire!’ A burst of machinegun fire can be heard and the men fall to the ground in a cloud of dust. The voice continues: ‘Keep shoot’n, keep shoot’n. Keep shoot’n.’ The gunfire resumes. Two young children are among the 19 people killed.
This was the slaughter known as the First World War. 16 millions die and 21 million were wounded. At the height of the carnage the Prime Minister of Great Britain David Lloyd George had a private chat withe the editor of the Guardian C.P. Scott; “If people really knew the truth,” said the Prime Minister, “the war would be stopped tomorrow, but of course they don’t know, and can’t know.”
The British public were desperate for real news, more than half the nation flocked to see an official propaganda film the Battle of the Somme. Cameras were so unusual that young troops would shout hello mum as they marched to the front and they were heard crying for their mothers as they died on the battlefield. This was almost never reported.
John Pilger: These days we have 24-hour news the sound bites never stop and the Wars never stop Iraq Afghanistan Palestine this film is about the war you don’t see drawing on my own experience as a war correspondent it will look mainly a television concentrating on the most popular channels in America and Britain. The film will ask what is the role of the media in rapacious wars like Iraq and Afghanistan; why do many journalists beat the drums of war regardless of the lies of governments; and how are the crimes of war reported and justified when there are crimes.
A pioneer of modern propaganda was this man Edward Bernays. Bernays invented the term public relations. He wrote “the intelligent manipulation of the masses is an invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country.” He was part of a secretive group called the U.S. Committee on Public Information, set up in 1917 to persuade reluctant Americans to join the war in Europe.
Professor Stuart Ewen, Media Historian: Edward Bernays and Waterloo man go to Woodrow Wilson and say look man if you’re going to enter into this war we are going to need to sell this war to the American people. And so Wilson Institute’s and creates the first modern propaganda machinery. It was actually quite brilliant in its conceptualization so that the best way to persuade people is to grab them by their emotions, by their unconscious and instinctual urges ,let’s not bother with pumping out facts let’s scare the hell out of people. A picture of the Statue of Liberty in tatters, crumbled into the New York Harbor with German planes flying around it; a picture of the world being gobbled up by the bloody hands of a gorilla wearing a German helmet; so you know it’s not about facts anymore, the facts don’t matter.
For Edward Bernays public relations was like a war on people unbending their will. He persuaded women to smoke at a time when smoking in public was not considered ladylike. He convinced a group of debutantes to parade along Fifth Avenue holding up Lucky Strike cigarettes as symbols of women’s liberation. To his delight the press call these “torches of freedom.”
Ewen: What he was interested in doing was creating an association between a product in this case cigarettes and the desire for women’s liberation it worked in the sense that it got lots of news coverage it worked in the sense that women started smoking publicly and in fact smoking became a symbol of the new woman of the emancipated woman like a you know your hell my heart of the law.
Iraq, March the 20th 2003. The creation of illusions and the selling of war had come a long way since Edward Bernays. The selling of this invasion depended on the news media to promote a series of illusions. Like the link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.
Ewen: The vision of the world war 1 poster of the Statue of Liberty in a shambles in New York Harbor is not that different from the image of the World Trade Center. A burning symbol that sort of entered into the stock footage of people’s dreams. So immediately you have these associations between the image of the World Trade Center and Saddam Hussein and Iraq.
Pilger: But Saddam Hussein had absolutely nothing to do with it
Ewen: Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with it but that didn’t matter because when you start using symbols that have been separated from their meaning, and have sort of taken on a life of their own. The facts don’t matter anymore.
This is the Pentagon which spends almost a billion dollars a year just on advertising recruiting propaganda. The selling of war.
Professor Melvin Goodman, former CIA analyst: Their Pentagon contracts with news organizations in terms of how to manipulate the news their Pentagon officials involved in press releases that go to the media in which tell intelligence is used to manipulate public opinion which is a violation of the charter of any intelligence organization then you have retired generals who serve as press spokesman for all the networks and there it’s never revealed which military-industrial firms they work for.
Central to this is the co-opting and spinning of a media regarded as the freest in the world.
Showdown Iraq if America goes turned to MSNBC and the experts.
If we journalists including myself it might from the get-go from the opening pot it started asking the kind of tough digging aggressive questions we should have been asking and doing our reporting rather than just being kind of stenographers go to a briefing heaven officials say something print in the paper next day if we had done a job I do think a strong argument can be made that perhaps we would not have gone to war.
The attack on Iraq was sold by these two men the blueprint for the invasion was this military doctrine called shock and awe designed to paralyze the country and destroy food production water supply and other civilian infrastructure. the effect would be similar to the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan. this was terrorizing people on a grand scale and it will be covered up by deception in massive amounts. but this was not how it was reported at the time.
Scores of American reporters have now joined US military units in Kuwait as part of the Pentagon’s effort to make any war with Iraq but the Pentagon calls a media friendly campaign.
A new word embedding entered media language and the planning to the invasion most of the reports that viewers saw came from within a system in which media organizations agreed to certain conditions laid down by the Ministry of Defense in London and the Pentagon in Washington.
At the time that our forces crossed into Iraq we had some 700 reporters embedded throughout our military formations. embedding was important for that conflict for a number of reasons. one being that we knew we were going up against an enemy that was somewhat masterful at misinformation disinformation.
We have a number of correspondents in bed with our troops across the region.
Very deeply embedded in a personal way with the Marines that he’s traveling with.
I love this expression for the Iraq war the embedded journalists well too many journalists have been in debt with the administration on a variety of issues I would say 80 to 90% of what you read a newspaper is officially inspired. if they’re covering the intelligence community for example and they become critical of the CIA or a major intelligence organization they’re going to lose their sources. if they become critical of the Pentagon it’s going to be very difficult to get into the Pentagon to deal with official military sources. so I think journalists like to be part of the game part of the inside crowd and therefore the conventional wisdom is the best wisdom.
24-hour news in particular is a system that is the most easy to manipulate 24-hour news is a giant echo chamber. so that’s why for example Basra was reported as having fallen 17 times before it actually fell and yet within 24-hour news when you’re reporting it for the seventh time in that chain of 17 times when the city has fallen falsely the fact that it’s been wrong the previous seven times just doesn’t matter.
American Armour is moving at will across whole swathe of Baghdad this is.
This is radio MA reporting for the BBC from Baghdad he described the arrival of the Americans as a liberation people have come out welcoming them holding up be signs this is an image taking place across the whole of the Iraqi capital today but it was not happening across the rest of Iraq this was another illusion. the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein was seized upon by the invading force as a target of opportunity. what was not news was a US Army investigation describing how they exploited what they called a media circus they’re almost as many reporters as Iraqis says the report it was an American psyops officer who ordered the statue brought down the resulting TV pictures gave no sense of the bloody conquest of Iraq that was already well underway.
You know I didn’t really do my job properly I think I’d hold my hand up and say that one didn’t press the most uncomfortable buttons hard enough.
As you describe the arrival of the Americans you didn’t tell us the story of how that whole statue was itself manipulated what why not.
The entire live cameras of the world’s press were on the balcony of the Palestine hotel and that was really the only events that they saw about Iraq is coming out so it was a sort of made-for-tv moment. and the most telling moment in that whole day was when an American soldier climbed up a crane and put the American flag over the statues face because in fact that was a true iconic moment of what had happened that America had taken ownership.
In Britain Blair and Bush’s invasion was applauded as a vindication of them and their strategy.
He said that they would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath and that in the end the Iraqis would be celebrating and on both of those points he has been proved conclusively right and it the entirely ungracious even for his critics not to acknowledge that tonight he stands as a larger man and a stronger Prime Minister as a result.
It is absolutely without a doubt a vindication of the strategy.
As a vindication for him those who said…
As a result of the invasion of Iraq:
740,000 women are widows
4.5 million people forced
from their homes
Sources UN MIT NY Times
Should they you know use a Moab the mother of all bombs Daisy cutters and you know let’s not just stop at a couple of cruise missile.
I fallen almost in love with the f-18 Super Hornet because it’s it’s quite a versatile plane.
I got to tell you my favorite aircraft the a-10 warthog I love the warthogs.
The war we don’t see in Iraq is largely the massive toll on civilians in Iraq where daily even now people are being killed and wounded because of this occupation.
Seeing what I see contrasting that with what has been reported by most of the mainstream it’s it’s like two completely different worlds.
In 2004 American marines twice assaulted the city of Fallujah the second time with British forces a nightmare unfolded. the Americans made the city of free fire zone. the UN reported that 70% of the houses were destroyed and those standing were riddled with bullets. thousands of civilians were killed. little of this was shown on the majority TV networks in Britain and America. that the Americans met courageous resistance was not news at all. viewers did not get a sense of the sheer scale of the suffering of ordinary people. this remarkable film from inside Fallujah was made by an American Mark Manning with Ron or allelú be and Iraqi. it has never been shown on television in the Wars of today it’s often daring independent filmmakers like these who give the victims a voice.
However man have a baggage as well let them chew and chefs you are and now Joe I have the garden Tina okay giddap are not resistant I would you like them really funny yeah okay I wouldn’t now I’m not working now-stop.
American journalist – Jamal also entered Fallujah independently and revealed that the Americans had used white phosphorus and attack civilians. his eyewitness dispatches and photographs contradicted the version many people saw and read but were not published in the mainstream media.
I have photos of trenches being dug and I watched them burying people there and put little makeshift gravestones writing anything to try to identify the people and I walked the rows of these stones after the April siege with Mona my interpreters while she read a old man in tracksuit with a key in his hand. mother and two children. these were the identifying markers and these are these are clearly civilians.
What does embedding do to journalists themselves.
An important distinction between embedded journalists and independent journalists is that when you choose to embed you’re giving the military that the full power to control where you go how you get there what you see and when you see it and in a lot of instances even how you’re going to report that.
Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to evacuate the city refugees in their own land they were given nowhere to go many are still unable to return.
Enemy said you check up on my shirt Dickerman name Ethan Dolan Mujahideen we wouldn’t hate it huh bitch horse warning may go to an end huh boom and early come on it he jumped me a good fellow Molina McGriff initial a Manhattan dish whoa let me open here.
Evidence that the invaders had terrorized civilians was provided by Al Jazeera and other Arab TV networks who’s fearless unembarrassed amaura crews became a threat to military propaganda they gave voice to people who refused to be betrayed simply as victim’s.
Father Leo boys so Fadi mercy told ability enter to the beat children talk when docking Sanya yonder concern yet to take their shoes to fill up well you see mama Baba why did I fannia why did mommy.
I happened to be I think the only journalist in the world that has seen the bombing of Al Jazeera Arabic Spiros in both Kabul in 2001 and in Baghdad in 2003. the case of the bombing of the al jazeera office in Kabul was without doubt and categorically a direct targeting of those journalists to shut them up and possibly kill them.
Al Jazeera inform Washington.
Every news organization provides Western military commanders with exact coordinates of where their journalist side, but the point about the bombing of the al Jazeera Arabic office in Kabul was that they were given a warning to get out so that was a clear targeting of a journalistic organization and per Annelle to get them off the air.
Journalist who refused to go along with the military are often those who report the real news in August 1945 a public relations spectacle was staged on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay in which General Douglas MacArthur ostentatiously took the surrender of the Japanese. the embedded media were told to attend. an Australian reporter Wilfred Burchard of the London Daily Express refused and set out on a perilous journey for the ruins of Hiroshima. the official truth of the atomic bombing was presented in this new of Times report which claimed that radiation sickness did not exist the reporter who wrote the story was later revealed to have been secretly on the payroll of the US War Department. Burchard cyst or xscape had exposed the lie there was he reported an atomic plague. I interviewed Wilfred Burchard in 1983 shortly before he died.
It was I think as I’ve described it was like a city not a bomb severe but I guess Sicilia chairs steamrollers you like I flattened everything out of existence what I was seeing them this feelings are ruined Emil I walked around I looked at people here this is the last minute what happened from last minute of World War 2 it would be the fate of cities all over the world if they were in the first hours of a world war 3.
What happened to you personally in Japan after that was published.
I went back to Tokyo by train and arrived just as there was a press conference being held to deny my story because the official line was that there was no such thing as atomic radiation and that’s that the denial of that story has gone on for decades it’s always together.
The media consensus was that the atomic bombs have brought the war to an end but official files told another story.
A nuclear race had begun and the cold war followed. based on the propaganda of fear it was a war we never saw but was always threatening. and we never knew how close America came to using nuclear weapons again. what follows is a secret conversation in 1972 between President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger taped in the White House.
Thinking big was what the Bush administration did in February 2003. this is US Secretary of State Colin Powell at the United Nations promoting the invasion of Iraq with an extraordinary theater of the absurd.
Iraq declared 8,500 liters of anthrax but unscanned estimates that Saddam Hussein could have produced 25,000 litres if.
Nothing of what he claimed was true all these pictures were meaningless.
Saddam Hussein’s intentions have never changed he is not developing the missiles for self-defense these are missiles that Iraq wants in order to project power to threaten and to deliver chemical biological and if we let him nuclear warheads.
This irrefutable undeniable incontrovertible evidence today Colin Powell brilliantly delivered that smoking gun today.
Was devastating I mean and overwhelming overwhelming abundance of the evidence point after point after point with he just flooded the terrain with with with data.
Did Colin Powell close the deal today in your mind for anyone who has yet objectively to make up their mind?
I think for anybody who analyzes the situation he has closed the deal.
Colin Powell’s incredible performance was never seriously challenged in the American broadcast media of which Rupert Murdoch’s Fox television is the biggest network. like the rest of the Murdoch Empire it backed the invasion.
We expect every American to support our military and if they can’t do that – shut up how do you steer this Thiemann there’s no I mean you have a stick is that right sure we are the.
But the cartoon journalism of Fox can often overshadow the fact that the respectable media has played a critical part in promoting war like Fox the celebrated New York Times published the false claims that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. the paper apologized to its readers one year later. in Britain the observer another respected liberal newspaper published the same false claims.
David you’ve written about your articles in The Observer in the build-up to the Iraq invasion that you feel and I quote you nauseated angry and ashamed about what you wrote. what did you mean exactly?
It’s now and has been for a number of years very painfully apparent that the facts that I believe to be true in those articles were not true they were a pack of lies fed to me by a fairly sophisticated disinformation campaign.
But didn’t it occur to you that these people were professional liars?
I overcame what should have been stronger doubts I I can make I can make no excuses III I read you I should have been more skeptical.
I mean you’ve finished off one of your articles by expressing almost a little editorial at the end which you wrote that for the West Iraq was my quote an ideal place to establish a bridgehead there are occasions in history you wrote when the use of force is both right and sensible this is one of them. I mean in essence you were advocating an attack.
On a defenseless country that’s quite something is that?
What has happened the enormity of what has happened in Iraq is far bigger than you know my own embarrassment my own feelings and what happened was a crime it was a crime on on a very large scale.
I like make a journalist accomplices.
Yeah broadly unwitting perhaps but but yes.
This CBS News special report is part of our continuing coverage of America at war here is Dan Rather.
For 24 years the most famous news anchor on American television was Dan Rather your own career is remarkable for many things but one of them in that you you have stood up to power your questioning Nixon which I remember and back in 74 and also your interview over on gate with Bush senior but then later on you appeared on the famously on the David Letterman Show which I happen to see and you said George Bush’s the president he makes the decisions and you know as just one American wherever he wants me to line up just tell me where and he’ll make the call well why did you say that.
This was in the almost immediate wake of 9/11 and that’s the way I genuinely felt I was responding as an American citizen in a personal way and I have said that whether those of us in journalism want to admit it or not then at least in some small way fear is present in every newsroom in the country a fear of losing your job fear of your the institution the company you work for going out of business the fear of being stuck with some label unpatriotic or otherwise that you will have with you to your grave and beyond; the fear that there’s so much at stake for the country that by doing what you deeply feel is your job or sometimes we invariances; all of these things go into the mix but it’s very important for you say because I firmly believe it I’m not the vice president in charge of excuses that we shouldn’t have excuses what we should do is take a really good look at that period and learn from it and you know suck up a courage.
Charles Hanley who won Pulitzer Prize for reporting was in Iraq in January of 2003 and he went to all the sites that had been named by Bush officials as suspicious sites melt away the in Fallujah he went every site that had been named by George Bush Cheney Rice Colin Powell and he found that in every case they were still sealed since 1991 by when they had been sealed by UN inspectors he filed a report on January 18th it went to every major newsroom in the United States because it’s the AP which goes to every major newsroom in the United States got no pick up it no unpublished ripped it didn’t fit the script he got virtually no pick up it didn’t fit the script we were going to war no matter what. I think that if the good media coverage good journalism that tells truth to power can make a huge huge difference. so do I think that we would have gone to war if the media had done their job and it challenged not just the lies about weapons of mass destruction but the lies about how Saddam kicked the inspectors out in 1998 and the whole the whole litany of propaganda that led up to yep March 20th 2003 the launch of the war I think if the media had been challenging that there’s no that I think we would not have gone to war.
Jeremy Paxman said last year he and the rest of the media had been hoodwinked in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. is that something that you would agree with?
And well what I think I would say about that is that clearly we did not realize until much later in the day that the weapons of mass destruction were not there and of course there was the so-called dodgy dossier as well so there is quite a body of evidence to build-up to suggest that the media certainly were taken in by the claims that were coming from government at that point yes.
Why didn’t the media get it why didn’t the BBC get it.
I think that we didn’t get it partly because of lack of access if you want to find out what’s happening then you really need to go there and do some firsthand reporting which wasn’t possible in the run-up to the war in Iraq.
But the crucial facts were available. the chief United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq Scott Ritter gave me this interview four years before the invasion in 1991 Iraq had significant capability in the area of chemical weapons biological weapons nuclear weapons production capability and long-range ballistic missile manufacturing capability. By 1998 the chemical weapons infrastructure had been completely dismantled or destroyed by unschool or by Iraq in compliance with on scums mandate the biological weapons program had been declared in its totality late in the game but it was gone all the major facilities eliminated the nuclear weapons program again completely eliminated. the long-range ballistic missile program completely eliminated all that was left was the research and development and manufacturing capability for missiles with a range less than 150 kilometers a permitted activity. everything that we set out to destroy in 1991 the physical infrastructure had been eliminated. so if I had to quantify Iraq’s threat in terms of weapons of mass destruction the real threat is zero none.
The former chief weapons inspector scott ritter was saying as early as 1998 that Saddam Hussein was completely disarmed scott ritter I think appeared in 2003 twice and once at 3:00 in the morning on BBC 24 News. He was a vital expert witness and there were others.
Well I don’t know why Scott Ritter didn’t appear more but it clearly didn’t ask a question for the BBC.
Why weren’t those who were voices heard?
Well, because there were also other voices that we were putting on the air under skom Mohamed ElBaradei Hans Blix so we were actually listening to to those voices but yeah I think you’ve got a good point you know why why didn’t we it’s a question that we asked ourselves afterwards why was it that we didn’t discover this first II didn’t discover the state of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.
I think what what critics of that would say is that the broadcaster’s–notably the BBC–echoed or amplified the lies told in the run-up to the invasion, rather than investigating itself.
What the BBC though have a duty to do is to report what governments and their representatives are saying, which we of course did. We were just reporting quite legitimately the claims that people at the time were making.
They weren’t legitimate claims though.
They were in the mouths of legitimate leaders though and were therefore we had a duty to report that.
But those leaders both of them you mentioned Blair and Bush have long been discredited I mean isn’t it the BBC’s role as well as reporting what politicians say to hold power to account.
Of course it is it’s always it’s up it’s the BBC’s duty to scrutinize what it is that people say we’re not there to accuse them of lying though because that’s a judgments.
No no no that’s not being suggested that you make a judgement the point is that it appears now that those important journalistic challenges were never made.
It’s not up to me to make a judgement we’re there to report what their claims are and hold them up to scrutiny and and investigate.
In August 2002 ITV reported a warning by Vice President Cheney that Iraq would soon have a nuclear weapon and that was nonsense. but it was presented uncritically as news. would you say that that contributed to the invasion that happened the following March.
Well murder them but with respect not our fault I mean I don’t believe that you’re suggesting are you that we should completely dismiss the words of arguably the second most powerful man in the Western world? a reporter we didn’t necessarily agree with it we reported it and and allowed our viewers to make up their minds as to whether this was a man telling the truth or not no.
But that but that’s not fair on viewers is it because they may not know what we as journalists know or ought to know that this was an extremely dodgy politician but if it was making is making extraordinary claims.
If we knew it we should have said so if we didn’t know it we can’t and that applies across everything but you’re absolutely right in one regard we shouldn’t take things at face value we should do our best to investigate and when we do know we should tell our viewers of course we should that’s part of the process of being a journalistically based organization.
I mean I was thinking of Blair’s many statements one on the 29th of January 2003 ITV News reporter Blair is saying we do know of link between al-Qaeda and Iraq. his links as you know didn’t exist.
I mean we’re getting into the realms of sort of semantics now but if…
They’re very important so.
You use the word links between the two your quotation not mine.
Well that was a quotation from ITV News…
Yes yeah from Tony Blair… but links… now links can mean a thousand things it doesn’t necessarily mean a bond of support of their words at.
There were no links.
Well I I’m sitting here across you you’re telling me that I would say the you will show me that there were no links show me that they’d never show me that they never knows claiming they said there when only any communications of any kind between those two organizations cannot seem possible to do that and he chose his words carefully and of course.
Well they’re not careful we do know of leaks between al Qaeda and Iraq.
But the word links yeah could mean a thousand things is the point I’m saying here and you’re not suggesting I’m sure that we should have reported what the Prime Minister was said.
You were talking about semantics that’ll work yeah.
Well I find it virtually impossible to believe that Britain could have got away with the invasion of Iraq if the media had been doing its job. when Blair was standing up and saying our policy in the region was to bolta bolster the forces of democracy I mean really the proper reaction to that would have been to burst out laughing I mean there’s simply no history of that at all. Britain’s has been on the side of authoritarian repressive regimes they are our allies the emani’s the Saudis the Egyptians they are allies not the the more democratic more liberal forces in the region. and I think that if journalists had even had a slight interest in looking at the history and in looking at the what the government was actually saying at the time or the evidence was at the time they would have reported things in such a manner that the government just would not have been able to have got away with what they did.
Oh morning Vietnam welcome to the dine Buster.
This was the Vietnam War which I reported. a new military jargon collateral damage was designed for the media and to cover up the scale of the industrial killing of up to three million people and the terror of indiscriminate bombing often known as turkey shoots. the longest bombing campaign in history happened here in North Vietnam, mostly unseen from outside. this is a photograph of the town of ham long in the north not a building remained, only bomb craters. pictures like this was seldom published Vietnam was the blueprint for the Wars of today murder and destruction replaced military tactics almost every man woman and child became the enemy.
Right the back for the rocket Raj got lucky again it’s time that we recognized ours was in truth a noble cause.
As in previous Wars public memory of the Vietnam War was greatly influenced by Hollywood The Deer Hunter platoon good morning Vietnam, the Green Berets. all these films perpetuated an illusion turning fiction into truth the theme was fake heroism and self-pity the invader is victim purged of all crime. today a series of Iraq war movies follows the tradition. the current Oscar winner The Hurt Locker is the familiar story of the psychopath high on violence in somebody else’s country where the suffering of its people barely exists.
He’s going on missions what I saw was a film that was a complete of celebration of the lone lunatic but who ultimately you know is the quintessential American hero because lone lunatics are very big in this country we even elect them president sometimes this film is a film about killing in which killing is completely incidental and this is a war that was orchestrated purely for profit and for oil and for ownership of other people’s resources and for control of global resources.
This is another war we don’t see in Britain. in this video British soldiers are abusing Iraqi civilians. a public inquiry into the killing of Baha Moosa an Iraqi hotel worker has been told that British soldiers have tortured and killed prisoners.
Fill China is the lawyer acting for more than a hundred Iraqi families.
Modern democracies don’t leave marks so stealth torture so the things that we developed and we weren’t alone the Americans did the same obviously a much more subtle it leaving someone hooded putting someone to have war standing position deprive them food water etc. my clients complain of every type of threat that your women will be brought here and raped in front of you that you know death threat you will be transferred to Guantanamo Bay and frankly people should be prosecuted for a lot of the things that I’m talking about in criminal courts not militia courts you can’t have soldiers prosecuting other soldiers being tried by a panel of soldiers. the court-martial system in my views utterly failed that’s that’s got to go. you need the people who are complicit in it all you need them prosecuted.
What role do you think embedding plays in this?
Well the problem with embedded journalism is always seeing is the point of view of the troops we’re not seeing or hearing from the civilians who are on the wrong end of of their tactics so let’s take detention it seems clear that British forces in Iraq killed many people maybe hundreds of civilians when they had custody of them, and did the most extraordinary brutal things involving sexual acts etc. Embedded journalism is never ever going to get close to hearing the story of those Iraqis.
During World War One 10% of all casualties were civilians
During World War Two the number of civilian deaths rose to 50%
During the Vietnam War 70% of all casualties were civilians
In the war in Iraq, civilians account for up to 90% of all deaths
The killing of civilians and wilfully causing great suffering is a war crime
—Fourth Geneva Convention 1949
This is the b-1 lancer bomber which cost the American taxpayer two hundred and eighty three million dollars each and this is what it did on may the 4th 2009 in Farah province Afghanistan following false intelligence of Taliban in a village. its victims were some of the poorest people on earth. guy smallman is an independent photojournalist and the first Westerner to arrive in the village following the bombing.
The first strike happened outside the village mosque which was the first place that I was taken to was just a massive craters and several bombs had fall in that area. then after that the women and children were evacuated to a compound in the far north of the village and again their heat signatures were picked up by the bomber crew and a 2,000 pound bomb was dropped into the middle of them and that was where the majority of the people died. the first thing that struck me when I was going in there was that was the silence. I mean the Afghan countryside is usually a symphony of birdsong and it was absolutely dead quiet and the locals had done their best to collect all the bodies and the body parts but they were still flies swarming all around the area and there was still a very pungent smell of death very heavy in the air. I think the thing that struck me more than anything else was the children it was almost as if all their energy and emotions have been drained out of them and they would stare right through me and my translator into the middle distance. they didn’t laugh they barely spoke at all and that I think left the most lasting impression. and I was given quite a grim tour of where people were buried in a lot of cases entire families were buried in the same grave. I think I counted just over 70 new graves fresh graves and then one far end of the cemetery there’s an enormous mass grave which is around 30 metres across and in that grave or the remains of 55 people and they had to be buried there together because they were quite literally blown into pieces and it was impossible to tell who was who so they had to bury them together in one long trench. and then there was the difference about the casualties. you know the local people insisted that over 140 civilians had died and NATO said there was 25.
So the deaths of 147 people including 93 children became a dispute over…
Became dispute over a body count and nothing more now I know for a fact that the pictures taken by the Afghan radio journalist were out there I know that string is on the ground were filing those pictures and that I mean a lot of those pictures were very graphic but a lot of them you know did show people digging bodies out of the out of the rubble it did show those bodies lined up for burial.
Why do you think pretty short answers and other Western audiences have no real sense of an atrocity of this scale?
I think people become desensitized to it. When they when they’re told in the news a wedding party has been attacked by accident, a compound has been bombed by accident, a farmer and his family have been killed by accident they don’t really connect with it because they don’t actually get to see those bodies.
Faces the names and.
The faces, the names it’s just a number whether they’re Afghans or Iraqis or Lebanese civilians they’re just numbers and it’s perhaps easy to understand why British Muslims feel completely disenfranchised from our domestic news services.
I think the press really conspires to play down the carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan. this gets to what the great American writer and academic Ed Herman called worthy and unworthy victims. the Iraqis are not worthy victims so we can play down their deaths because if we accept the reality that there are more than a million dead it’s largely our fault and so for instance the U.S. press will talk about 200,000 to 400,000 dead in Somalia those victims are worthy victims because they were killed by people that we don’t like. and in one bizarre case which talked about the cultural peculiarities of Afghan society because they actually got wrangled when you killed their family members their civilian family members and in another case they said that they argued that Afghan society was peculiar because they didn’t like people breaking into their houses in the middle of the night you know and this caused them to get angry and sometimes sometimes carry out vendetta’s.
This is the British Armed Forces memorial in Staffordshire it’s not as well-known as the great cenotaphs and it holds many secrets. there are 16,000 names here every year since 1948 British forces have been in action somewhere in the world and there’s space for another 15,000 names of young servicemen and women waiting to die.
What’s extraordinary about this memorial is its record of constant war during so-called peacetime as if revealing the secret of Britain’s enduring imperial role what’s missing is any record of the victims of these wars the countless men women and children killed mostly in their own countries in our name and glimpsed only now and then on the TV news. At least a million people have died as a result of the invasion of Iraq they are not part of our remembrance because they’re not allowed in our memory.
Mark Curtis is Nestorian who writes on British foreign policy his specialty is revealing long forgotten official files.
I’ve certainly uncovered a lot of episodes where Britain has been either involved in Coos or has been involved in military interventions that have appalling impacts on people’s lives that simply never get mentioned and they’re never referred to in the in the newspapers they never get on TV histories of Britain, they’re just taken out basically they’re deleted from from our historical memory.
Why does the public in Britain have such little idea of the sheer scale of this?
Well, a very large reason for that is that if you look at every war or every coup or every regime the Britain is supporting who’ve been involved in, it’s usually accompanied by an increasingly sophisticated public relations operation by the government. We’re told that British foreign policy is based on promoting democracy on spreading development and promoting human rights. Well, if you read the actual government planning files planners are saying to themselves that their policy is not based on that it’s based on the control loyal it’s based on creating an international economy that works in the interests of British corporations and it’s based on maintaining their great power status. This culture of impunity is deeply embedded within British society I mean if you go back say say in the 1960s a time when Britain was covertly supporting an Indonesian military that was killing up to a million people where Britain was responsible for depopulating the Chagos Islands and where Britain was arming the Nigerian government that was killing hundreds of thousands of Biafrans in the civil war in Nigeria, all of that was taking place under the Labour government in the 1960s, and none of those ministers have ever been questioned and yet those decisions cost literally millions of lives.
The attack on Iraq did not begin with shock and awe during the first Gulf War in 1991 Britain and America deliberately bombed Iraq modern infrastructure. And when the war was over the bombing continued. This was seldon reported during this period of the 1990s the UN imposed an economic blockade led by Britain America essentials like clean water and vital drugs were denied. In 1998 the United Nations Children’s Fund reported the deaths of half a million children under the age of five a direct result of the sanctions imposed by the blockade. This is Dennis Halliday former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations who resigned after refusing to administer the sanctions. In 1999 I travel with him to Iraq.
The very provisions of the Charter and Declaration of Human Rights have been set aside and we are waging the war through the United Nations on the children and people of Iraq was incredible results results that you do not expect to see in a war under the Geneva Conventions we’re targeting civilians worse we’re targeting children like Safa who of course were not born when Iraq went into Kuwait. I mean what is this about it’s a monstrous situation, for the United Nations for the Western world or all of us who are part of some democratic system who are at fact responsible for the policies of our governments and the implementation of economic sanctions.
Carne Ross was a senior British diplomat at the UN responsible for imposing the embargo on Iraq.
You gave evidence on the impact of sanctions.
And this is what you said “the weight of evidence clearly indicates that sanctions cause massive human suffering among ordinary Iraqis in particular children we the US and UK governments were the primary engineers and defenders of sanctions and were well aware of this evidence at the time but we largely ignored it or blamed all these effects on the sad on government sanctions effectively denied the entire population the means to live” unquote. that’s that’s a shocking admission.
Yeah I agree well I stand by it today.
Why didn’t you speak out during those four and a half years?
There is a certain macho culture in foreign policy circles that too to talk about things like humanitarian suffering when you’re dealing with Saddam Hussein is a bit wet you know that it’s it’s not what the issues really about the governments do security that’s the kind of hard thing that we’re there to provide and I think however wrong your decisions may be whatever damage you may do to other individuals, there is at the end of the day no accountable accountability whatsoever. We had extraordinarily good resources to put together our story to find little facts to justify their story factoids I began to call them.
And how eagerly would journalists set these factoids?
They had very little chance to do anything other than accept our version of events and more or less relay it on unedited to the public government is an information machine and we would control access for journalists to us to governments. When I was a news department in the in the foreign office we would control access to the foreign off to the foreign secretary as a form of reward to journalists if they they were critical if they we felt they were they were too hostile to our account of events we would not give them the goodies of trips with the foreign secretary around the world or you know into exclusive interviews every now and then we did the same in New York if journalists were not particularly supportive to our account we would freeze them out we would make life harder for them. But there is a subtle and private relationship between them which is basically of of you know favoritism that certain journalists are rewarded with access for for being supportive of the story they will basically tell journalists you carry on with that line that that kind of unjustified criticism of our government policy on xyo said we will punish you. and that that is very explicit those kinds of threats. what happened was was not an intelligence based process it was basically a PR process run by number 10 to to produce a document that was much more politically credible than the evidence suggested.
It was a major deception, wasn’t it?
I think it amounts in effect to that yes I remember before I was sent to me Orkin late 97 I did the round of departments in London saying to them okay I’m going to New York I’m going to be doing Iraq what do I need to know and I went to see non-proliferation Department in the Foreign Office. and I was expecting a briefing on the vast piles of weapons that we still thought Iraq possessed and the desk officers sort of looked at me slightly sheepishly and said well actually we don’t think there’s anything, we don’t think there’s anything in Iraq. I said that’s extraordinary I mean I thought we were had sanctions because we thought Iraq had large amounts of weapons. He said no no the justification for sanctions it is basically that we have our unanswered questions about how those stocks were destroyed in the past. But what I feel I mean I feel very I feel very guilty about it I feel very ashamed about it I feel ashamed about it sitting talking to you you know I feel actual shame running my body when I talk to you about it.
Should journalists feel the same those who pass on the deception?
Absolutely, we should all be accountable to each other and I think that’s the only way to have a civilized society is some kind of transparency with each other and accountability and people holding people morally accountable for what they do and that applies to journalists as much as it applies to anybody.
* * *
These were to be the borders of Israel and Palestine when Israel was founded in 1948… and this is what’s left to Palestine today fragmented and dislocated by a military occupation that defies international law and is backed by one of the world’s most sophisticated propaganda machines. This is Palestinian cameraman Imad Ghanem been shot repeatedly by Israeli soldiers. The killing of non Western journalists Israeli news. mad Ghanem was 21 and lost both his legs. 10 journalists have been killed by Israeli forces since 1992 and many more have been wounded. The pioneering Glasgow University Media Group has just published its latest study on the media reporting of Israel and Palestine.
I think when it comes down to is a basic knowledge that journalists have which is quite simply that if they criticize Israel then it’s potentially trouble. If they criticize the Palestinians then that’s there is much less of a problem. So they might use a word like occupation but they won’t say military occupation they won’t say military rule they won’t explain in detail what it means they wouldn’t certainly wouldn’t do it routinely to explain in detail what it means to be living under military rule and why the Palestinians, from their point of view, are trying to overthrow that military or trying to throw off that control.
Professor Greg Farlow heads the Glasgow unit looking at his research and it comes through very clear it’s a certain state of fear exists on who the Israelis will complain to. They say in the research people producers worried will they complain a director-general level or will they just simply wring the newsroom. But the point is this sense of intimidation almost.
Welcome to the world of a correspondent who has to deal with this pressure on a daily basis yes where I would take issue with you is the fear factor, because actually no correspondent that I have come across who is used to working in Jerusalem particularly or dealing with this stuff fears it at all.
I was thinking of people here a television Center.
We don’t fear it either we take a lot of it but we don’t fear it.
After we did the first book I gave a number of talks to to journalists in Britain to BBC journalists that I spent time with people who were senior producers on on television news and one of them said to me, in the context of quite a heated discussion that was going on with other journalists, he said listen he said we wait in fear that was his exact words “we wait in fear for the telephone call from the Israelis he said the only issue we face then is how high up it’s come from them has it come from a monitoring group as it comes from the Israeli embassy and then how high has it gone up our organization is it the duty editor is it is it gone above that is it a director-general” he said and I said I have had journalists on the phone to me minutes before we’ve gone on on a major news program saying what can I say which words can I use is it alright if I say this?
On May the 31st 2010 Israeli forces attacked an aid flotilla headed for Gaza in international waters. They killed nine people. In the days that followed Israeli propaganda set out to manipulate the news agenda a club they were beaten stabbed it was even reported there gunfire.
Don’t you think it’s fair to to look at some coverage and say there’s a tone the tone was of course you didn’t sit down and say we’re going to put the Israeli point of view but the tone throughout was that Israel had a problem, not the people who were shot in the back of the head but that Israel had a problem.
I think there are two things here one is that– are you saying that actually we devalued human life because I don’t think we did.
No, I didn’t say that.
I think it’s legitimate to ask what the implications of this were going to be for Israel which is what that question was attempting to do.
Tonight attend the Israelis under pressure after the raid on ships taking aid to Gaza hundreds of activists in the convoy were detained in Israel including at least 40 British nationals.
They were wishing everybody under libel running around and they were hitting us with the back of their guns.
The Israelis are accused of carrying out a bloody massacre but they claimed it was self-defense.
Our planning for yesterday’s interception was for a peaceful police operation our sailors on the on the job were told you are to use minimum minimum force and maximum restraint.
The top of the main news was Mark Regev unchallenged mark reve reve as you know was these is the chief Israeli propagandist Mark Regev is a spokesman for the Israeli government now you can describe him as a propagandist what else is he that’s the please don’t well that’s a pejorative way of putting what government spokespeople are you know they’re entitled to express their point of view and we have a duty to report it.
I’m afraid that that polite view wouldn’t be shared by the families of the people who were killed on the back absolutely accept that and we have a duty to report that that perspective as well who’s the Palestinian equivalent of Mark Regev who appeared so often who’s the Palestinian equivalent of all those mainly female Israeli spokespeople during Operation Cast Lead? Who was who is their equivalent articulate in English given given a space right at the top of BBC News who is.
I think that’s a very good point you know who are those people yes but why why hasn’t the BBC but that’s not our job to go out and appoint the Palestinians folks pledge.
You say you’re impartial surely you would find somebody to be yes at mr. rigour of saying his say but then his equivalent we do and we did you don’t actually you don’t have an equivalent of Mark Regev that’s just not true.
Just because there isn’t an equivalent of Mark Wregget doesn’t mean to say that we didn’t allow those viewpoints which you’ve just expressed to be heard across the range of our output.
This was ITV News on May the 31st using the same Israeli footage filmed with night-vision cameras Israeli commandos dropped from helicopters onto the deck of a Turkish a chip and violent clashes erupted and.
The immediate aftermath of the Israeli attack on the aid flotilla in in June for one thing the Israelis supplied doctored film even with captions which was widely used across ITV and BBC it was labeled but it the the the context of this according to the Israelis that their people who were attacking the flotilla were actually being attacked by the people who were on the flotilla. that that Israeli perspective propaganda dominated.
Well no they dominated but certainly the Israeli propaganda machine as you will know is very very sophisticated and in its own terms is quite successful on occasions. And yes it is the case that sometimes major organizations fall into a trap laid for them by.
It’s only sophisticated because we allow them to be sophisticated.
But again you know it’s only when you can come to write the history of these events that you can you can see it with that hindsight view when it’s actually happening on a daily basis you’ve gotta be very careful what you do when the story is over and when someone has the time and brain power left to actually kind of write the definitive history of it sure then if you got things wrong you put your hands up and you say well at that time we weren’t aware that we made a mistake that’s that’s you know that happens from time to time.
People like the Palestinians can’t wait until someone writes a definitive history yeah depending on the joint of Gendron john’s journalist you’re suggesting that journalists can that the job of journalism is to change the world it ain’t I got to tell you even someone with your massive experience should know better than that I’m not saying that your sole job is to make sure that the public who consume our news are as informed as we can make them so that they can make their own lines up.
But viewers can only make their own minds up if they’re given all the available facts graphic independent video was available on the internet on the night of the attack four months later a United Nations investigation described the Israeli attack as displaying unnecessary and incredible violence six people were executed at point-blank range the attack warranted prosecution for war crimes. This was only reported in a 12 second item on ITV News and completely ignored on the three main BBC TV bulletins and seen only on news 24.
* * *
One of the public relations triumphs of the 21st century was the rise of Barack Obama his campaign slogan was change we can believe in he was a brand that offered something special exciting. In 2008 Obama the candidate was voted marketer of the year ahead of Apple Nike and Coors beer. He made many people feel good as if his slogan might be true. Above all the perception of brand Obama was that he was against war both of you know that I opposed this war from the start I thought it was a tragic mistake but that was false as president Obama has not withdrawn America from Iraq and is back US military action in Afghanistan Pakistan Somalia and Yemen and approved a military budget of seven hundred and eight billion dollars the biggest war spending of all time.
Cynthia McKinney is a former Congresswoman and Green Party candidate for president.
It’s a great shame on the black political tradition in the United States to have a warmonger. It’s almost as if the black community in the United States– maybe we’ve lost our innocence too, because it would be very difficult to find a black person in the United States just an average ordinary person who supports any of these wars, and yet these wars are being carried out in blackface.
More than any other president Obama has prosecuted truth tellers known as whistleblowers. And this is WikiLeaks, an Internet whistleblowing organization independent and stateless it represents a landmark in journalism. WikiLeaks has released hundreds of thousands of secret Pentagon documents that describe the wholesale killing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the information that you have revealed on WikiLeaks about these so called endless wars, what has come out of them?
Looking at the enormous quantity and diversity of these military or intelligence apparatus insider documents, what I see is a vast sprawling estate that we would traditionally call the military intelligence complex or military-industrial complex, and that this sprawling industrial estate is growing, becoming more more secretive, becoming more and more uncontrolled. This is not a sophisticated conspiracy controls the top, this is a vast movement of self-interest. Thousands and thousands of players are all working together and against each other to produce an end result which is Iraq and Afghanistan and Colombia and keeping that going you know we often deal with tax havens and people hiding assets and transferring money or through offshore tax havens, so I see some really quite remarkable similarities. Guantanamo is used for laundering people to an offshore haven which doesn’t follow the rule of law. Similarly Iraq and Afghanistan a and Colombia I used to wash money out of the US tax base and back.
Arms companies, yeah.
I mean what you’re saying is that money and money making is at the center of modern war and it’s almost self-perpetuating.
Yes and and it’s becoming worse.
What happens when WikiLeaks runs into the United Kingdom, which has some of the most draconian secrecy laws in the world such as the Official Secrets Act.
We haven’t found a problem publishing UK information. I mean, when we look at the Official Secrets Act label documents we see they state that it is an offense to retain the information and it is an offence to destroy the information, so the only possible outcome is that we have to publish the information.
And that’s which I have done on many many occasions.
I noticed one that I had a personal interest in was one that from the Ministry of Defense, classified document that equated terrorists with investigative journalists as threats.
And Russian spies.
And Russian spies.
As in fact in many sections of that report investigative channels are the number one threat to the sort of information security of the Minister Ministry of Defence. there was a 2,000 page document on how to stop leaks from the Ministry of Defense, which which we leaked.
I didn’t know whether to be offended or honored.
Well it’s like nice to be having an impact.
Since the release of the Pentagon’s war secrets Julian Assange has been subjected to extraordinary smears and accusations originating in America and Sweden. These include threats against his life and bizarre character assassination. the media all over the world has amplified this propaganda this secret pentagon document states clearly that US intelligence intends to destroy trust in WikiLeaks by threatening whistleblowers with exposure and criminal prosecution, thereby discrediting truth-tellers.
How you feel about whistleblowers as an essential part of democracy do you do you approve of whistle blows well I think you know this country has laws to protect whistleblowers and and I think that you know that there have been instances in our history where shining a light on something is is important to do.
Can you, as a senior official of the United States government, guarantee that the editors of WikiLeaks and the editor himself is not American are not in danger that they themselves will not be subjected to the kind of hunt that we read about in the media?
Well first of all it’s not my position to give guarantees on anything we do have an open criminal investigation the investigation is targeted on the individuals that have violated the trust and confidence that’s been bestowed upon them by this country but WikiLeaks is an organization run from outside the United dates and the founder of that has been told that he is at great risk from being hunted town I don’t know in what form.
And neither do I so I’m afraid I can’t help you.
I mean for you to receive that volume of documentation suggests that there must be something of a rebellion going on within the system yes I mean it’s the one hopeful thing is in fact that there are good people in the US military and some of those people have had enough it’s sort of another way of being a conscientious objector in fact arguably a far more powerful way of objecting to the ball.
In April 2010 WikiLeaks released this cockpit video from an Apache gunship in Baghdad in 2007. the gunship is firing from a distance of over a mile from its victims. This is the war you don’t see clearly there were two cameramen they’re holding cameras not arms these ten men turned out to be Reuters news reporters.
Haven’t seen anything since then but once you get on is over yeah I think your element gonna all about four feet uh how long your blur what state line uh let me know what you get item all up come on now all right we just engaged all eight individuals.
A whole street covered with bodies the reaction to that was nice.
This tape from me and the other people involved made nice a dirty word. so he just couldn’t see something has been nice anymore when a whole street covered with carnage he’s nice.
Ethan McCord was one of the first soldiers to reach the scene of the killing. Here he speaks to an audience in the United States myself and the team soldiers I was with begin we’re in any direction where we heard the attacher fire but shoot I was not even close to prepared for the carnage that I was about to walk onto. I saw what appeared to have been three men on a corner. got a big pile of body for the ride on.
It was an extreme shock to my system they didn’t look human then there was the smell the smell was unlike anything I smelled before mixture of feces urine blood smoke and something else indescribable.
Bushmaster we have aa fan that’s approaching is picking up the bodies risks to engage Roger engage Claire come on Claire Claire laughs oh yeah boy looks awful we go frequency drove over a body I preferred to.
Crying I hear crying not cries a pain but that of a small child who had just woken up from a horrible nightmare I looked by the guy. I saw that there was a minivan and the cries appeared becoming pride myself and another soldier, a 20 year old private, walked up to the passenger side van and looked inside the private that I was with real back began to vomit and quickly ran away. What I saw when I looked in the van was a small girl about four years old on the passenger side of the bench seat she had a severe belly wound and was covered in glass. The glass was in her hair and also in her eyes next to her half on the floorboard with his head rested on the seat was a boy about seven years old. He wasn’t moving and from the severe wound to the right side of his head my first thought was that he was dead. And the driver’s seat was whoo I immediately concluded must have been these children’s father by the way he was hunched over the children in a protective manner the whole time thinking fuck what the fuck these are babies see my son was born May 31st 2007 I had yet to see him and I had a daughter who was barely older than this girl the medic radioed in that the liberal grow needed to be evacuated because there was nothing else you can do here I handed the child to the medic who then ran the girl to a waiting Bradley armored vehicle I walked back to the van I don’t know why I looked inside the van again that the boy just move holy shit the boy just moved I grabbed the boy from the band and held him against my chest. I was springing at this point the boys alive the boys alive. I started running to the Bradley in hopes that it wasn’t leaving. At this point the boy looked up at me then his eyes rolled back my heart sunk it’s okay I have you it’s going to be okay don’t die don’t die. I squeezed them a little bit tighter. I put him into the Bradley as gently as I could. did you go Battalion there to civilian children casualties are coming back here after my in the Bradley over Roger that’s a negative not evac in the ED too they’re gonna have a you know I fees all taking months to a local hospital over.
What the fuck are you doing the court it was my platoon leader Yuda quit worrying about these fucking kids and pull security he screamed at the time the only thing I can think of was Roger that sir one of the soldiers on the ground he describes the atrocity as and I quote him and everyday occurrence and he said they word from his commander was to kill–I won’t use the word–everyone on the street and he replied to him are you kidding me women and children he said yes and it’s a point made by many other soldiers who’ve come back from Afghanistan and Iraq but this kind of atrocity is not an aberration.
Well, first of all this is not an everyday occurrence it was an everyday occurrence we would certainly know about it these incidences are unfortunate. Everyone in which there’s a civilian casualty is is unfortunate. But again it is the enemy who is deliberately trying to inflict civilian casualties and put civilians in harm it is the NATO forces it is the US forces that are taking every precaution that they can to prosecute the war and prevent civilian casualties.
General James Cartwright his vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff he says the United States can expect to be at war and–these are his words–for as far as the eye can see. That sounds like a permanent state of war.
Our job is to be prepared to fight and win this nation’s wars and so we have to be prepared for the possibility of conflict into the future.
It’s a remarkable state of affairs isn’t it because the United States is not in fact threatened by a power that could possibly overturn it defeat it. That’s impossible. But still it goes on as if we’re all drawn into most of humanity into a permanent state of war for many people that seems very difficult to justify well first of all there are some very dangerous asymmetric threats that are out there. Terrorism obviously one of them this is what we what we anticipate going into the future is not necessarily nation on nation type conflict okay it is these asymmetric threats that are out there, it’s the threat of of weapons of mass destruction. There’s been another asymmetric threat is the cyber threat that exists these are all threats that transcend geographical boundaries. So you know the United States military has to prepare for a wide range of threats that exist out there in order to protect its national interests.
A media drums beating for another war say a war with around I wouldn’t say that the media are beating the drums for work for war yet although they are showing the same credulous ‘no same obsequious ‘no stored the powerful as they did in advance of the Iraq war. I’m not sure it’s to the point that they’re beating the drums for war yet, but when the elites decide it’s time to go I would be surprised if they did anything but.
You mentioned already Iran.
And there is an enormous choice to be made about Iran are more developed more formidable more populous and certainly better armed country than Saddam’s Iraq whatever was are you actually saying that we should threaten them militarily if they are determined to develop nuclear weapons?
I am saying that I think it is wholly unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons capability…
But what can we do about it?
…and I think we’ve got to be prepared to confront them.
…necessary militarily if necessarily military I think there is no alternative to that if they continue to develop nuclear weapons and they need to get that message loud and clear.
Does this sound familiar? There is as much evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons as there was that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction as claimed by Tony Blair.
We know that great falsehoods were perpetrated and yet the individuals who perpetrated these things are still running around you know more or less much as before you know being taken seriously as commentators as authorities on this or that. You know I find it astonishing these people should hide their heads in shame.
The British elites do not want the public to know what they’re doing. They don’t actually even think they have a right to know what they’re doing and they know that the more information the public has the more difficult it is for them to pursue policies that maybe are abusive of human rights or involve supporting a repressive regime. And so there’s a conscious strategy actually of having these public relations campaigns that the government regularly has whenever it resorts to an overseas military intervention to try and convince the public that they’re acting in for the highest of noble intentions when in fact they’re not when they’re usually acting out of hard-hearted straightforward calculation of elite interests so the public is a threat that needs to be countered.
For too many journalists the price of their independence is their life. They include Terry Lloyd of ITN shot dead in Iraq by American marines. Since the invasion of Iraq more than 300 journalists have been killed more than in any other war. This film is a tribute to them.
That doesn’t mean that we journalists have to risk our lives to tell the truth but we do have to be brave enough to defy those who seek our collusion in selling their latest bloody adventure in someone else’s country. That means always challenging the official story, however patriotic that story may appear, however seductive and insidious it is. For propaganda relies on us in the media to aim its deceptions not at a faraway enemy but at you at home. It’s very simple in this age of endless Imperial War the lives of countless men, women, and children depend on the truth or their blood is on us. Never believe anything until it’s officially denied said the great reporter Claud Coburn in other words those whose job it is to keep the record straight or to be the voice of people, not power.
[Bruce Springsteen’s “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)” plays]
I bought a bourgeois house in the Hollywood hills
With a trunkload of hundred thousand dollar bills
Man came by to hook up my cable TV
We settled in for the night my baby and me
We switched ’round and ’round ’til half-past down
There was fifty-seven channels and notin’ on
Fifty-seven channels and notin’ on
Fifty-seven channels and notin’ on
Well now home entertainment was my baby’s wish
So I hopped into town for a satellite dish
I tied it to the top of my Japanese car
I came home and I pointed it out into the stars
A message came back from the great beyond
There’s fifty-seven channnels and nothin’ on
Fifty-seven channels and notin’ on
Fifty-seven channels and notin’ on