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From Pilger to Powell

Published by marco on

Browsing the archives at CounterPunch turned up more interesting material. For a bit of levity, here’s The New Newspeak with some terms and definitions for today’s world. An article called Sex not Bombs is view of the situation I haven’t seen yet.

A John Pilger article from the 15th of October seriously derides the war in Afghanistan from a British point of view and takes to task our leaders for not reflecting the people’s views (also available at Pilger’s site):

<q>“Moreover, with every bomb that falls on Afghanistan and perhaps Iraq to come, Islamic and Arab militancy will grow and draw the battle lines of “a clash of civilisations” that fanatics on both sides have long wanted. In societies represented to us only in caricature, the west’s double standards are now understood so clearly that they overwhelm, tragically, the solidarity that ordinary people everywhere felt with the victims of 11 September.“</q>

This carried me to Pilger’s home page, where I found a good article addressing the drastic difference in moral outrage felt about attacks on the U.S. (or the West) versus attacks on the Middle East or the Third World.

<q>Ten years ago, when 200,000 Iraqis died during and immediately after the slaughter known as the Gulf war, the scale of this massacre was never allowed to enter public consciousness in the west. Many were buried alive at night by armoured American snowploughs and murdered while retreating. Colin Powell, then US military chief, who 22 years earlier was assigned to cover up the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and is currently being elevated to hero status in the western media, said: “It’s really not numbers I’m terribly interested in.”</q>

Pilger also addresses the lack of real reporting by most of our media outlets in this article. The Powell quote led me to look up the My Lai massacre and found a brief history of Powell’s career at DisInformation, which was published after his selection as Secretary of State.

“On March 16, 1968, US soldiers from the Americal Division slaughtered 347 civilians—primarily old men, women, children, and babies—in the Vietnamese village of My Lai 4 (pronounced, very appropriately, as “me lie”). The grunts also engaged in torture and rape of the villagers.“

Powell was in charge of investigating this ‘incident’ and concluded:

<q>There may be some “isolated incidents” by individual bad seeds, but there were no widespread atrocities. He wrote: “In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between Americal soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent.” The matter was closed.</q>

Coupled with his involvement in Iran-Contra and the Gulf War, I am no longer so confused about his membership in our administration alongside Cheney, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft.


2 Replies



This article by Arundhati Roy at Common Dreams was submitted to me last night. It’s quite long, but very well-written, making many of the same points as have been covered here in recent weeks, but wrapped in more elegant prose.

<q>When he announced the air strikes, President George Bush said: “We’re a peaceful nation.” America’s favorite ambassador, Tony Blair, (who also holds the portfolio of prime minister of the UK), echoed him: “We’re a peaceful people.” … So now we know. Pigs are horses. Girls are boys. War is peace. … Speaking at the FBI headquarters a few days later, President Bush said: “This is our calling. This is the calling of the United States of America. The most free nation in the world. A nation built on fundamental values that reject hate, reject violence, rejects murderers and rejects evil. We will not tire.”</q>

<q>Here is a list of the countries that America has been at war with − and bombed − since the second world war: China (1945-46, 1950-53), Korea (1950-53), Guatemala (1954, 1967-69), Indonesia (1958), Cuba (1959-60), the Belgian Congo (1964), Peru (1965), Laos (1964-73), Vietnam (1961-73), Cambodia (1969-70), Grenada (1983), Libya (1986), El Salvador (1980s), Nicaragua (1980s), Panama (1989), Iraq (1991-99), Bosnia (1995), Sudan (1998), Yugoslavia (1999). And now Afghanistan.</q>


marco (updated by marco)

Curious about the civilian death toll so far? (we know Powell isn’t.) Go to AlterNet and read Where the Bodies Are.