The Rogue State
by John Pilger 

The Daily Mirror
Thursday July 4, 2002 p4-5

For 101 days, Royal Marines have been engaged in a farcical operation as
mercenaries of the United States whose lawlessness now qualifies it as
the world's leading rogue state.

Shooting at shadows, and the occasional tribesman, blowing up mounds of
dirt and displaying "captured" arms for the media, all have been a part
of the Marines' humiliating role in Afghanistan - a role foisted upon
them by the Blair government, whose deference to and collusion with the
Bush gang has become a parody of the imperial courtier.

Gang is not an exaggeration.  The word, in my dictionary, means "a group
of people working together for criminal, disreputable ends".  That
describes accurately George W Bush and those who write his speeches and
make his decisions and who, since their rise to power, have undermined
the very basis of international law.

In Afghanistan, their record is beyond question.  The killing on Monday
of some 40 guests at a wedding was not a "blunder" but the direct result
of a policy to shoot and bomb first and find out later, as announced by
George W Bush in the weeks following September 11.

The capacity of the American military machine to smash impoverished
countries was never in dispute - conditional, that is, on the absence of
American ground troops and their substitution by "allied" forces, like
the Royal Marines. (During the heyday of the British Empire, Indian and
other colonial troops were used in a similar role, although the British,
unlike the Americans, were also prepared to sacrifice their own
soliders).

Since last October, Afghan leaders have reported American aircraft
destroying villages "too small to be marked on any map" with "more than
300 people killed" in one night.  In a family of 40, only a small boy
and his grandmother survived, reported Richard Lloyd Parry of the
Independent.

Out of sight of the television cameras, "at least 3,767 civilians were
killed by US bombs between October 7 and December 10 ... an average of
62 innocent deaths a day", according to a study carried out at the
University of New Hampshire in the US.  This is now estimated to have
passed 5,000 civilian deaths: almost double the number killed on
September 11.

There is no evidence that a single leader of al-Qaeda has been captured
or, to anyone's knowledge, killed.  Neither has the leader of the
Taliban.  The change in Afghanistan is minimal compared with the
murderous feudalism that ruled during the 1990s, and before the Taliban
came to power.

For all the cosmetic changes in Kabul, the capital, women still dare not
go unveiled.  "The Taliban used to hang the victim's body in public for
four days," quipped the new American-installed regime's Minister of
Justice.  "We will only hang the body for a short time, say fifteen
minutes, after a public execution."

Describing this as a "triumph of good over evil", as Bush has said, with
an echo from Blair, is like lauding the superiority of the German war
machine in 1940 as a vindication of Nazism.

Not only the Marines but the British public ought to feel duped.  Both
Washington and Whitehall knew long ago al-Qaeda was finished in
Afghanistan.  Apart from the element of revenge, for home gratification,
the Americans have set out to reassert the control of their favourite
warlords: people responsible for thousands of deaths in their stricken
country.

In October, the US planned to install a regime dominated by members of
the Pashtun tribe, who, they predicted, would desert the Taliban.  But
the split in the Taliban never happened and the Americans have since
changed tack and tried to put together a "coalition" of Tajik and Uzbek
warlords.  The current "interim president", Hamid Karzai, although a
Pashtun, has neither a tribal or military powerbase.  He is simply
America's man.

The presence of the Royal Marines, leading the so-called "International
Security Assistance Force", is for reasons straight out of the
nineteenth century.  At the Americans' bidding, the Marines were meant
to keep the favoured warlords from each other's throats until the region
could be "stabilised" for American oil and other strategic interests.

Potential vast energy sources in Central Asia have become critical for
the deeply troubled US economy, and for the Bush administration, which
is dominated by oil interests, notably the Bush family itself.  An
investigation by the Hong-Kong based Asia Times in January found that
the US was frantically developing "a network of multiple Caspian
pipelines".

The disgraced Enron Corporation, one of Bushes' biggest campaign
backers, conducted a feasibility study for a $2.5billion oil pipeline
being built across the Caspian Sea.  Top current and former American
officals, including Vice President Cheney, "have all closed major deals
directly and indirectly on behalf of the oil companies", says the Asia
Times.

If there was a map of American military bases established in the region
to fight "the war on terrorism" what would be immediately striking is
that it would follow almost exactly the route of the projected oil
pipeline to the Indian Ocean.

Blair and the voluble Geoffrey Hoon have, of course, offered none of this
vital information to the British people, let alone to the British
soliders sent to play America's imperial game.  Fortunately, the troops
suffered only gastric flu.  The Afghan people have not been as lucky.

Any doubt about the systematic murderous way the US military has
operated in Afghanistan is dispelled by a report in the American press
in May of children gunned down in wheat fields and as they slept.  For
four hours, American helicopter gunships saturated the fields and
village with bullets and rockets before landing to disgorge US troops
who shot survivors and detained other "suspects".

In fact, the area was renowned for its opposition to the Taliban and the
governor of Oruzgan province confirmed that those murdered "were
ordinary people.  There were no al-Qaeda or Taliban here."

In recent months, the American rogue state has torn up the Kyoto treaty,
which would decrease global warming and the probability of environmental
disaster.  It has threatened to use nuclear weapons in "pre-emptive
strikes" (a threat echoed by Hoon).  It has tried to sabotage the
setting up of an international criminal court, understandably, because
its generals and leading politicans might be summoned as defendants.

It has further undermined the authority of the United Nations by
allowing Israel to block a UN committee's investigation of the Israeli
assault on the Palestinan refugee camp at Jenin; and it has ordered the
Palestinians to get rid of their elected leader in favour of an American
stooge.

It ignored the World Food Summit in Italy; and at summit conferences in
Canada and Indonesia it has blocked genuine aid, such as clean water and
electricity, to the most deprived people on Earth.  Proposals to
increase American food subsidies by 80 per cent are designed to secure
American domination of the world foodgrains market.

("When we get up from the breakfast table every morning," said the chief
executive of the Cargill Corporation, the world's biggest food company,
"much of what we have eaten - cereals, bread, coffee, sugar and so on -
has passed through the lands of my company."  Cargill's goal is to
double in size every five to seven years).

There is a desperate edge to most of America's rogue actions.  The
Christian "free market" fundamentalists running Washington are worried.
The US current account deficit is running at a record $34billion.
Foreign purchases of the huge US debt are falling rapidly.  The US
stockmarket is heavily over-valued, and the dollar is uncertain.

As one commentator has put it, the "Bush doctrine" looks like "one last
attempt to order the world entirely around the requirements of US
monopoly capital, before it can long hope to do so".

In other words this may well be the last roll of the dice before the US
economy goes into serious decline - as yesterday's dramatic fall in the
stock markets indicated.

This means controlling the oil and fossil fuel riches in Central Asia.
It means attacking Iraq, installing a replacement Saddam Hussein and
taking over the world's second-largest source of oil.  It means
surrounding a new economic challenger, China, with bases, and
intimidating the leaders of its principle economic rival, Europe, by
undermining NATO, and setting off a trade war.

I have just visited the United States, and it is clear many people there
are worried.  And many dare not say so.  Their views are seldom reported
in the American mainstream media, which is self-censored and controlled,
perhaps as never before.

Instead, the air is thick with the likes of Charles Krauthammer, of the
Washington Post.  "Unilateralism is the key to our success," he wrote,
in describing the world of the next fifty years: a world without
protection from nuclear attack or environmental damage for the citizens
of any country except the United States; a world where "democracy" means
nothing if its benefits are at odds with American "interests"; a world
in which to express dissent against these "interests" brands one a
terrorist and justifies surveillance and repression.

There is only one way such rogue power can be resisted.  It is by
speaking out and urgently.  If our government won't, we must.

---

* John Pilger's new book "The New Rulers of the World" is published by
Verso.

[thanks John.  You forgot to mention Star Wars and the National Missile
Defense system (back on the table), the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
(out the window), the Treaty on Chemical and Biological Weapons (recently
abandoned by the US), steel subsidies, and encryption monopolies - but
I guess you only have a 650-page book to tell it all, so fair enough - Ed]

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