Er verið að afnema lýðræðið í heiminum?
Birtist í Mbl. 11. febrúar 2003
Á hverjum degi vöknum við upp við yfirlýsingar bandarískra ráðamanna eða helstu bandamanna þeirra um að tíminn sé útrunninn fyrir Íraka. Senn verði ráðist inn í landið. Nánast allt mannkynið andæfir. Skoðanakannanir um heim allan sýna að almenningur er andvígur árás á Írak. Aðeins lítill minnihluti fylgir bandarísku stríðsæsingamönnunum að málum. En ég spyr - og ég er ekki einn um að spyrja - á að láta það viðgangast að ríkisstjórnir heimsins traðki á lýðræðislegum vilja á þennan hátt? Á að láta það viðgangast að valdbeiting og hótanir Bandaríkjastjórnar og undirgefni svokallaðra bandamanna þeirra verði til þess að lýðræðið sé að engu haft? Við eigum aðeins eitt svar. Hvar sem því verður við komið þarf að hafa í frammi kröftug mótmæli.
Þorri manna gerir sér grein fyrir því hvað þarna er að gerast: ásókn í olíuauð Íraka og krafan um hernaðarleg og pólitísk ítök er megintilgangurinn. Þetta var hér áður kallað heimsvaldastefna. Það hugtak á svo sannarlega við um utanríkisstefnu Bandaríkjanna í dag.
Mikið hefur verið fjallað um yfirgang bandarísku hernaðarhaukanna og þá einnig undirlægjuhátt bandamanna þeirra í breskum, bandarískum og evrópskum fjölmiðlum. Einhver áhrifaríkasta grein sem ég hef lesið nýlega er áfellisdómur hins heimskunna breska fréttamanns, Johns Pilgers, yfir ríkisstjórn Bretlands og þá einkum forsætisráðherranum Tony Blair. Greinin heitir "Hugleysinginn Blair" og birtist í lok janúar í breska blaðinu Mirror. Pilger telur rangt að líta á Blair sem gælurakka Bush. Málið sé mun alvarlegra en svo því að í sameiningu séu þessir tveir helstu leiðtogar Vesturlanda að leggja á ráðin um að fremja stríðsglæpi.
Pilger er mikið niðri fyrir. Hann lýsir reynslu sinni af Víetnamstríðinu, árásum úr háloftunum á varnarlausa alþýðu manna og veit hvað bíður almennings í Írak ef ekki tekst að stöðva stríðsæsingaöflin. Hann segir m.a. frá því þegar hann kom í þorp eitt sem var hluti af því svæði sem bandarískar flugvélar voru nýbúnar að "teppaleggja" með sprengjuregni, eins og það kallaðist á máli hernaðarsérfræðinganna. Hér er lausleg þýðing á því sem blasti við Pilger:
"Gatan í gegnum þorpið var nú sem gígur. Ég rann á sundurtættum fótlegg af nautgripi og féll harkalega niður í skurð, skurð sem reyndist vera fullur af litlum kroppum; sundursprengdum börnum, afrifnum útlimum þeirra og svo heilum líkömum sem kastast höfðu í loft upp við sprenginguna.
Hörund barnanna var laust frá holdinu, eiginlega var það upp rúllað líkt og pergamentpappír, það sást í æðar og brunnið hold sem úr seytlaði blóð. En augun voru ósnert og störðu beint fram fyrir sig. Augu mín staðnæmdust um stund við lítinn fótlegg sem var svo afmyndaður að mér sýndist hann vaxinn út úr öxl. Ég kastaði upp."
Þannig leit mynstrið út á hinu nýja teppi Bandaríkjamanna í Víetnam - markmiðið með teppalagningunni var að þurrka út allt líf og menningu og virtist takast með ágætum þennan daginn. Með lýsingu sinni varpar Pilger ægiskýru ljósi á nöturlegan veruleika styrjalda og stillir honum upp gegn gerviveröld hinna sem eru jafnan hvergi nærri vettvangi, kynnast aldrei hryllingnum en taka ákvarðanir og gefa skipanir um voðaverkin.
Það er rétt hjá Pilger að heimurinn þarf að vakna til vitundar um hve skelfilegir atburðir kunna að vera í vændum. Lýsingar á stríðsundirbúningnum eru óhugnanlegar. Árásin á Írak er skipulögð á teikniborði kaldrifjaðra og siðblindra manna. Þeir eru ekki að fjalla um mannslíf, þeir eru að teppaleggja, flísaleggja eða hvað þeir nú vilja kalla það. Þeir eru albúnir í handverkið sem þarf að leysa af verkfræðilegri nákvæmni. Svipað því og gert var í fangabúðum nasista á fyrri hluta tuttugustu aldar. Að sögn var þá einnig verið að útrýma óvini.
Eftirfarandi er greinin eftir John Pilger, sem vitnað er í hér
að framan, á ensku.
PILGER: BLAIR IS A COWARD
Jan 29 2003
William Russell, the great correspondent who reported the carnage of
imperial wars, may have first used the expression "blood on his
hands" to describe impeccable politicians who, at a safe distance,
order the mass killing of ordinary people.
In my experience "on his hands" applies especially to those modern
political leaders who have had no personal experience of war, like
George W Bush, who managed not to serve in Vietnam, and the effete
There is about them the essential cowardice of the man who causes
death and suffering not by his own hand but through a chain of
command that affirms his "authority".
In 1946 the judges at Nuremberg who tried the Nazi leaders for war
crimes left no doubt about what they regarded as the gravest crimes
The most serious was unprovoked invasion of a sovereign state that
offered no threat to one′ s homeland. Then there was the murder of
civilians, for which responsibility rested with the "highest
Blair is about to commit both these crimes, for which he is being
denied even the flimsiest United Nations cover now that the weapons
inspectors have found, as one put it, "zilch".
Like those in the dock at Nuremberg, he has no democratic cover.
Using the archaic "royal prerogative" he did not consult parliament
or the people when he dispatched 35,000 troops and ships and aircraft
to the Gulf; he consulted a foreign power, the Washington regime.
Unelected in 2000, the Washington regime of George W Bush is now
totalitarian, captured by a clique whose fanaticism and ambitions of
"endless war" and "full spectrum dominance" are a matter of record.
All the world knows their names: Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz,
Cheney and Perle, and Powell, the false liberal. Bush′s State of the
Union speech last night was reminiscent of that other great moment in
1938 when Hitler called his generals together and told them: "I must
have war." He then had it.
To call Blair a mere "poodle" is to allow him distance from the
killing of innocent Iraqi men, women and children for which he will
He is the embodiment of the most dangerous appeasement humanity has
known since the 1930s. The current American elite is the Third Reich
of our times, although this distinction ought not to let us forget
that they have merely accelerated more than half a century of
unrelenting American state terrorism: from the atomic bombs dropped
cynically on Japan as a signal of their new power to the dozens of
countries invaded, directly or by proxy, to destroy democracy
wherever it collided with American "interests", such as a voracious
appetite for the world′s resources, like oil.
When you next hear Blair or Straw or Bush talk about "bringing
democracy to the people of Iraq", remember that it was the CIA that
installed the Ba′ath Party in Baghdad from which emerged Saddam
"That was my favourite coup," said the CIA man responsible. When you
next hear Blair and Bush talking about a "smoking gun" in Iraq, ask why the US government last December confiscated the 12,000 pages of
Iraq′s weapons declaration, saying they contained "sensitive
information" which needed "a little editing".
Sensitive indeed. The original Iraqi documents listed 150 American,
British and other foreign companies that supplied Iraq with its
nuclear, chemical and missile technology, many of them in illegal
transactions. In 2000 Peter Hain, then a Foreign Office Minister,
blocked a parliamentary request to publish the full list of
lawbreaking British companies. He has never explained why.
As a reporter of many wars I am constantly aware that words on the
page like these can seem almost abstract, part of a great chess game
unconnected to people′s lives.
The most vivid images I carry make that connection. They are the end
result of orders given far away by the likes of Bush and Blair, who
never see, or would have the courage to see, the effect of their
actions on ordinary lives: the blood on their hands.
Let me give a couple of examples. Waves of B52 bombers will be used
in the attack on Iraq. In Vietnam, where more than a million people
were killed in the American invasion of the 1960s, I once watched
three ladders of bombs curve in the sky, falling from B52s flying in
formation, unseen above the clouds.
They dropped about 70 tons of explosives that day in what was known
as the "long box" pattern, the military term for carpet bombing.
Everything inside a "box" was presumed destroyed.
When I reached a village within the "box", the street had been
replaced by a crater.
I slipped on the severed shank of a buffalo and fell hard into a
ditch filled with pieces of limbs and the intact bodies of children
thrown into the air by the blast.
The children′s skin had folded back, like parchment, revealing veins
and burnt flesh that seeped blood, while the eyes, intact, stared
straight ahead. A small leg had been so contorted by the blast that
the foot seemed to be growing from a shoulder. I vomited.
I am being purposely graphic. This is what I saw, and often; yet even
in that "media war" I never saw images of these grotesque sights on
television or in the pages of a newspaper.
I saw them only pinned on the wall of news agency offices in Saigon
as a kind of freaks′ gallery.
SOME years later I often came upon terribly deformed Vietnamese
children in villages where American aircraft had sprayed a herbicide
called Agent Orange.
It was banned in the United States, not surprisingly for it contained
Dioxin, the deadliest known poison.
This terrible chemical weapon, which the cliche-mongers would now
call a weapon of mass destruction, was dumped on almost half of South
Today, as the poison continues to move through water and soil and
food, children continue to be born without palates and chins and
scrotums or are stillborn. Many have leukaemia.
You never saw these children on the TV news then; they were too
hideous for their pictures, the evidence of a great crime, even to be
pinned up on a wall and they are old news now.
That is the true face of war. Will you be shown it by satellite when
Iraq is attacked? I doubt it.
I was starkly reminded of the children of Vietnam when I travelled in
Iraq two years ago. A paediatrician showed me hospital wards of
children similarly deformed: a phenomenon unheard of prior to the
Gulf war in 1991.
She kept a photo album of those who had died, their smiles undimmed
on grey little faces. Now and then she would turn away and wipe her
More than 300 tons of depleted uranium, another weapon of mass
destruction, were fired by American aircraft and tanks and possibly
by the British.
Many of the rounds were solid uranium which, inhaled or ingested,
causes cancer. In a country where dust carries everything, swirling
through markets and playgrounds, children are especially vulnerable.
For 12 years Iraq has been denied specialist equipment that would
allow its engineers to decontaminate its southern battlefields.
It has also been denied equipment and drugs that would identify and
treat the cancer which, it is estimated, will affect almost half the
population in the south.
LAST November Jeremy Corbyn MP asked the Junior Defence Minister Adam
Ingram what stocks of weapons containing depleted uranium were held
by British forces operating in Iraq.
His robotic reply was: "I am withholding details in accordance with
Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government
Let us be clear about what the Bush-Blair attack will do to our
fellow human beings in a country already stricken by an embargo run
by America and Britain and aimed not at Saddam Hussein but at the
civilian population, who are denied even vaccines for the children.
Last week the Pentagon in Washington announced matter of factly that
it intended to shatter Iraq "physically, emotionally and
psychologically" by raining down on its people 800 cruise missiles in
This will be more than twice the number of missiles launched during
the entire 40 days of the 1991 Gulf War.
A military strategist named Harlan Ullman told American television:
"There will not be a safe place in Baghdad. The sheer size of this
has never been seen before, never been contemplated before."
The strategy is known as Shock and Awe and Ullman is apparently its
proud inventor. He said: "You have this simultaneous effect, rather
like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks but
What will his "Hiroshima effect" actually do to a population of whom
almost half are children under the age of 14?
The answer is to be found in a "confidential" UN document, based on
World Health Organisation estimates, which says that "as many as
500,000 people could require treatment as a result of direct and
A Bush-Blair attack will destroy "a functioning primary health care
system" and deny clean water to 39 per cent of the population. There
is "likely [to be] an outbreak of diseases in epidemic if not
It is Washington′s utter disregard for humanity, I believe, together
with Blair′s lies that have turned most people in this country
against them, including people who have not protested before.
Last weekend Blair said there was no need for the UN weapons
inspectors to find a "smoking gun" for Iraq to be attacked.
Compare that with his reassurance in October 2001 that there would be
no "wider war" against Iraq unless there was "absolute evidence" of
Iraqi complicity in September 11. And there has been no evidence.
Blair′s deceptions are too numerous to list here. He has lied about
the nature and effect of the embargo on Iraq by covering up the fact
that Washington, with Britain′s support, is withholding more than
$5billion worth of humanitarian supplies approved by the Security
He has lied about Iraq buying aluminium tubes, which he told
Parliament were "needed to enrich uranium". The International Atomic
Energy Agency has denied this outright.
He has lied about an Iraqi "threat", which he discovered only
following September 11 2001 when Bush made Iraq a gratuitous target
of his "war on terror". Blair′s "Iraq dossier" has been mocked by
human rights groups.
However, what is wonderful is that across the world the sheer force
of public opinion isolates Bush and Blair and their lemming, John
Howard in Australia.
So few people believe them and support them that The Guardian this
week went in search of the few who do - "the hawks". The paper
published a list of celebrity warmongers, some apparently shy at
describing their contortion of intellect and morality. It is a small
IN CONTRAST the majority of people in the West, including the United
States, are now against this gruesome adventure and the numbers grow
It is time MPs joined their constituents and reclaimed the true
authority of parliament. MPs like Tam Dalyell, Alice Mahon, Jeremy
Corbyn and George Galloway have stood alone for too long on this
issue and there have been too many sham debates manipulated by
If, as Galloway says, a majority of Labour backbenchers are against
an attack, let them speak up now.
Blair′s figleaf of a "coalition" is very important to Bush and only
he moral power of the British people can bring the troops home
without them firing a shot.
The consequences of not speaking out go well beyond an attack on
Iraq. Washington will effectively take over the Middle East, ensuring
an age of terrorism other than their own.
The next American attack is likely to be Iran - the Israelis want
this - and their aircraft are already in place in Turkey. Then it may
be China′s turn.
"Endless war" is Vice-President Cheney′s contribution to our understanding.
Bush has said he will use nuclear weapons "if necessary". On March 26
last Geoffrey Hoon said that other countries "can be absolutely
confident that in the right conditions we would be willing to use our
Such madness is the true enemy. What′s more, it is right here at home and you, the British people, can stop it.