War by media and the triumph of propaganda

John Pilger

Why has so much journalism succumbed to propaganda? Why are censorship and distortion standard practice? Why is the BBC so often a mouthpiece of rapacious power? Why do the New York Times and the Washington Post deceive their readers?

Why are young journalists not taught to understand media agendas and to challenge the high claims and low purpose of fake objectivity? And why are they not taught that the essence of so much of what's called the mainstream media is not information, but power?

These are urgent questions. The world is facing the prospect of major war, perhaps nuclear war - with the United States clearly determined to isolate and provoke Russia and eventually China. This truth is being turned upside down and inside out by journalists, including those who promoted the lies that led to the bloodbath in Iraq in 2003.

The times we live in are so dangerous and so distorted in public perception that propaganda is no longer, as Edward Bernays called it, an "invisible government". It is the government. It rules directly without fear of contradiction and its principal aim is the conquest of us: our sense of the world, our ability to separate truth from lies.

The information age is actually a media age. We have war by media; censorship by media; demonology by media; retribution by media; diversion by media - a surreal assembly line of obedient clichés and false assumptions.


The siege of Julian Assange is a farce - a special investigation

John Pilger

The siege of Knightsbridge is a farce. For two years, an exaggerated, costly police presence around the Ecuadorean embassy in London has served no purpose other than to flaunt the power of the state. Their quarry is an Australian charged with no crime, a refugee from gross injustice whose only security is the room given him by a brave South American country. His true crime is to have initiated a wave of truth-telling in an era of lies, cynicism and war.

The persecution of Julian Assange must end. Even the British government clearly believes it must end. On 28 October, the deputy foreign minister, Hugo Swire, told Parliament he would "actively welcome" the Swedish prosecutor in London and "we would do absolutely everything to facilitate that". The tone was impatient.

The Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny, has refused to come to London to question Assange about allegations of sexual misconduct in Stockholm in 2010 - even though Swedish law allows for it and the procedure is routine for Sweden and the UK. The documentary evidence of a threat to Assange's life and freedom from the United States - should he leave the embassy - is overwhelming. On May 14 this year, US court files revealed that a "multi subject investigation" against Assange was "active and ongoing".

Ny has never properly explained why she will not come to London, just as the Swedish authorities have never explained why they refuse to give Assange a guarantee that they will not extradite him on to the US under a secret arrangement agreed between Stockholm and Washington. In December 2010, the Independent revealed that the two governments had discussed his onward extradition to the US before the European Arrest Warrant was issued.


The forgotten coup - how America and Britain crushed the government of their 'ally', Australia

John Pilger

Across the political and media elite in Australia, a silence has descended on the memory of the great, reforming prime minister Gough Whitlam, who has died. His achievements are recognised, if grudgingly, his mistakes noted in false sorrow. But a critical reason for his extraordinary political demise will, they hope, be buried with him.

Australia briefly became an independent state during the Whitlam years, 1972-75. An American commentator wrote that no country had "reversed its posture in international affairs so totally without going through a domestic revolution". Whitlam ended his nation's colonial servility. He abolished Royal patronage, moved Australia towards the Non-Aligned Movement, supported "zones of peace" and opposed nuclear weapons testing.

Although not regarded as on the left of the Labor Party, Whitlam was a maverick social democrat of principle, pride and propriety. He believed that a foreign power should not control his country's resources and dictate its economic and foreign policies. He proposed to "buy back the farm". In drafting the first Aboriginal lands rights legislation, his government raised the ghost of the greatest land grab in human history, Britain's colonisation of Australia, and the question of who owned the island-continent's vast natural wealth.

Latin Americans will recognise the audacity and danger of this "breaking free" in a country whose establishment was welded to great, external power. Australians had served every British imperial adventure since the Boxer rebellion was crushed in China. In the 1960s, Australia pleaded to join the US in its invasion of Vietnam, then provided "black teams" to be run by the CIA. US diplomatic cables published last year by WikiLeaks disclose the names of leading figures in both main parties, including a future prime minister and foreign minister, as Washington's informants during the Whitlam years.


We're All Palestinians

Stephen Lendman

The late Edward Said called "any serious public discussion" about Israeli policies the last taboo. It's no exaggeration, he said.

"Abortion, homosexuality, the death penalty, even the sacrosanct military budget can be discussed with some freedom." "The extermination of native Americans can be admitted, the morality of Hiroshima attacked, the national flag publicly committed to the flames."

"But (decades-long Israeli) oppression and maltreatment of the Palestinians is virtually unmentionable, a narrative that has no permission to appear."

Why, he asked? Because of enormous Israeli Lobby influence. The "power of Zionist organizations in American politics…" An "absolute astonishing" refusal to openly discuss what's vital. One-sided MSM media support for Israel. Many US Zionists believe "Palestinians are not real beings." They're "demonized fantasms - fearsome embodiments of terrorism and anti-Semitism." AIPAC is Washington "most powerful single lobby," Said said.

It "inspires an awed fear and respect across the political spectrum." "Who is going to stand up to this Moloch on behalf of the Palestinians, when they can offer nothing, and AIPAC can destroy a congressional career at the drop of a check book?" "(V)irtually the entire Senate can be marshalled in a matter of hours into signing a letter to the President on Israel’s behalf."

"No-one exemplifies the sway of AIPAC better than Hillary Clinton, outdoing even the most right-wing Zionists in fervor for Israel in her avid clawing for power in New York, where she went so far as to call for the transfer of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the grant of leniency for Jonathan Pollard, the Israeli spy serving a life sentence in the US."


From Pol Pot to ISIS: “Anything that flies on everything that moves

John Pilger

In transmitting President Richard Nixon's orders for a "massive" bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger said, "Anything that flies on everything that moves". As Barack Obama ignites his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger's murderous honesty.

As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery - including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields - I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again. A telling example is the rise to power of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had much in common with today's Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They, too, were ruthless medievalists who began as a small sect. They, too, were the product of an American-made apocalypse, this time in Asia.

According to Pol Pot, his movement had consisted of "fewer than 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas uncertain about their strategy, tactics, loyalty and leaders". Once Nixon's and Kissinger's B52 bombers had gone to work as part of "Operation Menu", the west's ultimate demon could not believe his luck.

The Americans dropped the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on rural Cambodia during 1969-73. They levelled village after village, returning to bomb the rubble and corpses. The craters left monstrous necklaces of carnage, still visible from the air. The terror was unimaginable. A former Khmer Rouge official described how the survivors "froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half-crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told... That was what made it so easy for the Khmer Rouge to win the people over."


War, circus and injustice down under

John Pilger

There are times when farce and living caricature almost consume the cynicism and mendacity in the daily life of Australia's rulers. Across the front pages is a photograph of a resolute Tony Abbott with Indigenous children in Arnhem Land, in the remote north. "Domestic policy one day," says the caption, "focus on war the next."

Reminiscent of a vintage anthropologist, the prime minister grasps the head of an Indigenous child trying to shake his hand. He beams, as if incredulous at the success of his twin stunts: "running the nation" from a bushland tent on the Gove Peninsula while "taking the nation to war". Like any "reality" show, he is surrounded by cameras and manic attendants, who alert the nation to his principled and decisive acts.

But wait; the leader of all Australians must fly south to farewell the SAS, off on its latest heroic mission since its triumph in the civilian bloodfest of Afghanistan. "Pursuing sheer evil" sounds familiar; of course, an historic mercenary role is unmentionable, this time backing the latest US installed sectarian regime in Baghdad and re-branded ex Kurdish "terrorists", now guarding Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Marathon Oil, Hunt Oil et al.

No parliamentary debate is allowed; no fabricated invitation from foreigners in distress is necessary, as it was in Vietnam. Speed is the essence. What with US intelligence insisting there is no threat from Islamic State to America and presumably Australia, truth may deter the mission if time is lost. If this week's police and media show of "anti-terror" arrests in "the plot against Sydney" fails to arouse the suspicions of the nation, nothing will. That the unpopular Abbott's reckless war-making is are likely to be self-fulfilling, making Australians less safe, ought to in headlines, too. Remember the blowback of Bush's and Blair's wars.


"The Russians Are Coming" Big Lies

Stephen Lendman

Anti-Russian lies keep repeating. So many proliferate, it hard keeping up. The latest is over-the-top and then some. It accuses Russia of launching a major offensive against Ukrainian forces. Accusations without evidence are made.

Kiev sources are cited. They've been caught red-handed lying many times. Nothing they say is credible. It doesn't matter. Major media scoundrels repeat their rubbish like gospel. More on this below.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki claimed unsubstantiated reports "indicate a Russian-directed counteroffensive is likely underway in Donetsk and Luhansk."

"(W)e're also concerned by the Russian Government's unwillingness to tell the truth even as its soldiers are found 30 miles inside Ukraine," [she said]. "Russia is sending its young men into Ukraine but are telling - are not telling them where they’re going or telling their parents what they’re doing."

Asked why she said "likely" instead of saying a Russian invasion is underway, Psaki said she "decided to say likely." "But why," she was asked? "(L)ikely implies…some uncertainty because there is a possibility that it's not." Psaki ducked the question. She merely cited "a range of (unsubstantiated) reports." "Well, is it an invasion," she was asked? "(A)re we seeing, like, brigades or divisions crossing the borders into Ukraine?" "I don't have any other details to read out for you at this point in time," she said.


Palestine Is Still the Issue

John Pilger

John Pilger first made the film 'Palestine Is Still The Issue' in 1977. It told how almost a million Palestinians had been forced off their land in 1948, and again in 1967. Twenty five years later, John Pilger returned to the West Bank of Jordan and Gaza, and to Israel, to ask why the Palestinians, whose right of return was affirmed by the United Nations more than half a century ago, are still caught in a terrible limbo - refugees in their own land, controlled by Israel in the longest military occupation in modern times.

"If we are to speak of the great injustice here, nothing has changed," says Pilger at the start of the film, "What has changed is that the Palestinians have fought back. Stateless and humiliated for so long, they have risen up against Israel’s huge military regime, although they themselves have no army, no tanks, no American planes and gunships or missiles. Some have committed desperate acts of terror, like suicide bombing. But, for Palestinians, the overriding, routine terror, day after day, has been the ruthless control of almost every aspect of their lives, as if they live in an open prison. This film is about the Palestinians and a group of courageous Israelis united in the oldest human struggle, to be free."

Pilger distills the history of Palestine during the twentieth century into an easily comprehensible struggle for land - the loss of seventy-eight per cent of that belonging to Palestinians when the state of Israel was founded in 1948 and their claim to only the remaining twenty-two per cent, which had for thirty-five years been occupied by Israel.


The Moral Failure Of The West

Paul Craig Roberts

Israel Is Stealing and Murdering Its Way Through Palestine

Readers are asking for my take on the Israel-Gaza situation, and, believe it or not, Oxford University’s famous debating society, the Oxford Union, invited me to debate the issue.

I replied to the Oxford Union that I was unprepared to take responsibility for the Palestinians without undergoing the extensive preparation that an Oxford Union debate deserves and requires. Unless things have changed since my time at Oxford, one prevails in a Union debate by anticipating every argument of one’s opponent and smashing the arguments with humor and wit. Facts seldom, if ever, carry the day, and sometimes not even wit and humor if the audience is already committed to the outcome by the prevailing propaganda. There is no time or energy in my overfull schedule for such preparation plus time away and jet lag.

Moreover, I am not an expert on Israel’s conquest and occupation of Palestine. I know more than most people. I was rescued from Zionist propaganda by Israeli historians, such as Ilan Pappe, by Jewish intellectuals, such as Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, by documentary film makers, such as John Pilger, by Israeli journalists such as Uri Avnery and the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, and by an Israeli houseguest who is an Israeli member of an Israeli peace group that opposes Israeli destruction of Palestinian homes, villages, and orchards in order to build apartment blocks for settlers. There is only one take on the current Israeli slaughter of Palestinians, which Netanyahu, the demonic Israeli leader, declares will be a “protracted campaign” this time.


The return of George Orwell and Big Brother’s war on Palestine, Ukraine and the truth

John Pilger

The other night, I saw George Orwells's '1984' performed on the London stage. Although crying out for a contemporary interpretation, Orwell's warning about the future was presented as a period piece: remote, unthreatening, almost reassuring. It was as if Edward Snowden had revealed nothing, Big Brother was not now a digital eavesdropper and Orwell himself had never said, "To be corrupted by totalitarianism, one does not have to live in a totalitarian country."

Acclaimed by critics, the skilful production was a measure of our cultural and political times. When the lights came up, people were already on their way out. They seemed unmoved, or perhaps other distractions beckoned. "What a mindfuck," said the young woman, lighting up her phone.

As advanced societies are de-politicised, the changes are both subtle and spectacular. In everyday discourse, political language is turned on its head, as Orwell prophesised in '1984'. "Democracy" is now a rhetorical device. Peace is "perpetual war". "Global" is imperial. The once hopeful concept of "reform" now means regression, even destruction. "Austerity" is the imposition of extreme capitalism on the poor and the gift of socialism for the rich: an ingenious system under which the majority service the debts of the few.

In the arts, hostility to political truth-telling is an article of bourgeois faith. "Picasso's red period," says an Observer headline, "and why politics don't make good art." Consider this in a newspaper that promoted the bloodbath in Iraq as a liberal crusade. Picasso's lifelong opposition to fascism is a footnote, just as Orwell's radicalism has faded from the prize that appropriated his name.


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