Sunday, September 19, 2004

Pilger plunges to new lows; keeps digging 

Why does one even bother anymore to comment on John Pilger's writings? There's as much intellectual challenge in it as in fisking "Mein Kampf" and at the end one still ends up feeling dirty, as if just having finished cleaning an overflowing toilet. I'm sorry Pilger is an Australian; you can choose your friends but you can't choose your compatriots. Fortunately some time ago we managed to export him to Great Britain - it might not be fair, but that's life.

Pilger has built up over the years a mean reputation for cheerleading every anti-American regime and movement, no matter how corrupt, bloodthirsty and repulsive. Yet today he still somehow manages to reach new depths of journalistic depravity, not to mention absurdity, with this latest screed. It starts of with a glimpse of a seemingly alternative universe:
"The world is dividing into two hostile camps: Islam and 'us.' That is the unerring message from Western governments, press, radio and television. For Islam, read terrorists."
Really, John? Name them. I bet you that Italy's Berlusconi will be the only one you can quote. Unless you think that Bush's remarks about Islam being religion of peace have some sinister double meaning. I won't even try to guess which mainstream media outlets Pilger's sick imagination considers to be engaged in an anti-Islamic crusade.
"It is reminiscent of the cold war, [continues Pilger] when the world was divided between 'Reds' and us, and even a strategy of annihilation was permissible in our defense. We now know, or we ought to know, that so much of that was a charade; released official files make clear the Soviet threat was for public consumption only."
Anyone who having lived through the twentieth century thinks that much of the Cold War was some sort of a charade and the communist threat was a sick proto-neo-con right-wing fantasy to deceive the masses in my books has zero credibility on political issues - not to mention the moral high ground somewhere below the level of the Dead Sea.

But all that introduction is there to merely enable Pilger to engage in some oh-so-courageous "Bush/Blair=fascists" comparisons:
"On the atrocity at Beslan, Blair is allowed to say, without irony or challenge, that 'this international terrorism will not prevail.' These are the same words spoken by Mussolini soon after he had bombed civilians in Abyssinia...

"Last May, the US Marines used battle tanks and helicopter gunships to attack the slums of Fallujah. They admitted killing 600 people, a figure far greater than the total number of civilians killed by the 'insurgents' during the past year. The generals were candid; this futile slaughter was an act of revenge for the killing of three American mercenaries. Sixty years earlier, the SS Das Reich division killed 600 French civilians at Oradour-sur-Glane as revenge for the kidnapping of a German officer by the resistance. Is there a difference?"
Welcome to Pilgerworld, where even the word "insurgent" is too harsh a description for the people setting off suicide bombs outside police stations. What's there to say?

1) We will never know the exact number of casualties in Fallujah during April this year so I'm not going to argue on this point. Even if accept the initial claims from inside Fallujah that half of those killed were women and children (a claim disputed by the Iraqi health authorities), Pilger creates an impression that what happened in Fallujah was a slaughter, not a battle. Yet if Americans simply wanted to kill 600 Iraqis they would have dropped a few cluster bombs on the town, instead of engaging in days of hard urban combat. Absent from Pilger's Fallujah are the "insurgents", but in his inverted moral universe an Islamofascist fighter killed while launching an RPG at US troops weighs as much as a dead child caught in a crossfire - all innocent victims of American aggression. Fallujah, of course, is now controlled by Talibanesque thugs; but that's the way Pilger likes it - doesn't matter how bad it is, as long as Americans aren't in charge.

2) Iraqis might be surprised to learn from Pilger that 600 killed in Fallujah is "a figure far greater than the total number of civilians killed by the 'insurgents' during the past year." How many Iraqis does Pilger think were killed by the "insurgents"? 10? 50? 250? Or can't he add up? Granted, it's difficult to get accurate casualty numbers from Iraq, but one only has to total the last few weeks' worth of suicide bomb casualties to get well into hundreds. 600 coincidentally happens to be number of Iraqi policemen killed in terrorist attacks since April this year. I'm sure they don't count, though; they're filthy collaborators with the foreign occupiers after all. As such, they deserve everything they get.

3) Pilger's implication that the US military decided to slaughter 600 civilians as revenge for the death of three "mercenaries" - and that their commanding officers were candid about this true nature of the action in Fallujah ("Let's kill us as many sand niggers as possible for what they did to our boys") is not just loathsome; it's entirely baseless. Once again, "insurgents" - the main reason for the battle - are absent from Pilger's picture; the American "mercenaries" killed themselves on their own, there wasn't anyone inside Fallujah but defenseless civilians, and the Americans spent days and days fighting with noone at all, simply taking potshots at women and children. No wonder Pilger can pontificate:
"The occupation of Iraq is presented as 'a mess': a blundering, incompetent American military up against Islamic fanatics. In truth, the occupation is a systematic, murderous assault on a civilian population by a corrupt American officer class, given license by its superiors in Washington."
Which would explain the use by the Coalition forces of napalm, carpet bombing and indiscriminate artillery barrages. But again, we're talking about an alternative universe here.

There's more, a lot more in Pilger's latest garbage, but by the time he was really warming up and getting to Israel I was too sick to continue.


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