Force, and fraud, are in war the two cardinal virtues. – Hobbes, Leviathan
The U.S Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, citing Churchill, recently declared, “We will not report anything that might compromise our sources or methods”. Then he authorised the Pentagon to lie to journalists whenever necessary.
In response to questions concerning proof of bin Laden’s responsibility for the September 11 attacks, the White House press secretary stated, “You may have the right to ask that question, I have the right not to answer.”
The first war of the twenty-first century is an invisible war, hidden from journalists and the public. It is obscene in the original sense used by the Greeks to denote things so malevolent that they should not be depicted on the stage.
Censorship and manipulation are the only rules that apply to the press in this war. It is a war conducted on behalf of global governments and it has been declared incompatible with an open press. We are told that this is a struggle for “civilisation” and “freedom from fear”. Yet we are asked to sacrifice freedom of the press, which constitutes, together with the market and science, one of the pillars of liberalism.
After ordering the bombing of Afghanistan, President George Bush said, “It is the duty of the United States of America, the freest country in the world, a country built on fundamental values that rejects hatred and violence, to fight murderers and evil. We will never tire of this.”
There is a long list of countries where America has fought and bombed according to those principles since the end of World War II. It includes China, Korea, Cuba, Belgian Congo, Peru, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Grenada, Libya, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Iraq, Bosnia, Sudan, Yugoslavia and now Afghanistan.
To this should be added places where the battle was being waged indirectly by means of conspiracies, assassinations and coups d’état. The U.S. has conducted many such covert actions including the massacre of hundreds of thousands in Indonesia from 1965 to 1966.
Another war that belongs on this list is the one against Iraq-not the one against the country or its 22 million people, who were the targets of those surgically-precise, laser-guided bombs, but the one against a single man, Saddam Hussein. The Western media has been working overtime to demonise this former ally and friend of George Bush Sr. and Margaret Thatcher, and to justify relentless bombing and countless civilian deaths while omitting the true reasons for this imperial violence. Why has this same media spent thirteen years ignoring the immense suffering of hundreds of thousands of people, especially children-victims of the embargo imposed upon Iraq by the U.S. and U.K.?
In light of what has just occurred in Afghanistan, why do they consent silently to another invisible war against an artificially constructed enemy? How can they ignore what are most certain to be terrible consequences for civilians already reduced to extremes of poverty by a previous embargo? Are they not substituting one dictatorship for another, more friendly and manageable group of tyrants?