John Pilger and the lie

Beyond the sheer weirdness of it all, there's the obscenity of it all. Pilger is so desperate to blame the West for the death toll in Iraq that he effectively absolves the groups and people responsible for 95 percent of the killing

Market bombing in Iraq
the commentator
On 8 February 2014 15:52

Someone somewhere, in a line so oft repeated that it is difficult to be sure who really did say it first, opined that, "at the heart of socialism is the lie". The central insight, recognised and written about by thinkers from George Orwell to Vaclav Havel, is that the entire socialist ideological system from theory through to practice is saturated in dishonesty about what it is, what it opposes and what it truly wants.

Nowadays, outside North Korea and few desperate stragglers like Cuba, the communist horror story has come to an end, at least as a form of government. But the mentality that produced that tyranny still survives, often in watered down or mutated form.

And so to John Pilger and his ceaseless ragings against Western liberal-democratic capitalism. Since he rages against pretty much anything in sight, it's not surprising that sometimes critics of the way the Western order is currently constructed, such as The Commentator, can even find ourselves agreeing with him. Whether we were right to get involved in Iraq is a case in point.

The notion that we should have embarked upon a military campaign to bring democracy to that country and make it a shining example to the rest of the Arab world  -- and that was the key reason the so-called neo-cons pushed for the war on the first place -- is something reasonable people can disagree on.

But no reasonable person committed to truthful and honest discussion comports themselves in the manner of John Pilger in his latest op-ed for the Guardian. It could be about anything, but it happens to be about Iraq. His gripe is that the BBC and other media seem to be covering up the death toll to protect Western powers from being held accountable for "the criminal bloodbath". Apparently the BBC is also onside with "the nuclear-armed predators in Israel" too.

That's certainly news to us. But beyond the sheer weirdness of it all, there's the obscenity of it all. Not one single word; not one (!) about the mass murder by the Jihadists and other insurgents who planted bombs in markets, restaurants, anywhere they could to perpetrate carnage and mayhem on as big a scale as possible.

As is the norm with such writers, the people of Iraq, the terrorists, the psychopathic death sqauds, only exist in the dim and distant background. If they are mentioned at all -- which to repeat, in this case, they are not -- they are products of Western policy. They lack all agency. To all intents and purposes they are the absent party. They are non-persons; hapless nobodies not subject to blame or praise.

There's obviously a kind of racism at play here: only Westerners matter; and only then if they can be blamed.

But more than anything one is dumbfounded at the dishonesty. However you cut it, practically all the deaths in Iraq either during the sanctions regime or the war itself are attributable to non-Western causes and forces. Not even Pilger thinks the people who drove trucks into crowds of civilians were paid to do so by the US army. But to make any sense of his writing you'd have to believe something like that.

The fact is that even if you attribute every single combat death where US, British or other Western forces were involved to the policies of Bush and Blair, you still can't conceivably make that more than 5 percent of the total.

The other 95 percent were killed, directly or indirectly, by Saddam Hussein, his sympathisers, the jihadists and the other groups that wrought such devastation over so many years.

Maybe the West was wrong to get involved. But only someone who has internalised and is now defined by "the lie", would blame the bloodbath in Iraq on anyone but those who perpetrated it.

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