[Marxism] John Pilger on Agent Orange, Syria, and government and media lies

John Percy johnpercy at tpg.com.au
Mon Jun 25 08:59:26 MDT 2012


  History is the enemy as "brilliant" psy-ops become the news

   From Agent Orange in South Vietnam to Obama's drone attacks in
  Afghanistan and war in Syria, Washington spins its assaults on the
  world as it cynically lives up to a reputation for casual slaughter.

*By John Pilger <http://www.newstatesman.com/writers/john_pilger> 
Published 20 June 2012

*New Statesman*

Arriving in a village in southern Vietnam, I caught sight of two 
children who bore witness to the longest war of the 20th century. Their 
terrible deformities were familiar. All along the Mekong River, where 
the forests were petrified and silent, small human mutations lived as 
best they could.

Today, at the Tu Du paediatric hospital in Saigon, a former operating 
theatre is known as the "collection room" and, unofficially, as the 
"room of horrors". It has shelves of large bottles containing grotesque 
foetuses. During its invasion of Vietnam, the United States sprayed a 
defoliant herbicide on vegetation and villages to deny "cover to the 
enemy". This was Agent Orange, which contained dioxins, poisons of such 
power that they cause foetal death, miscarriage, chromosomal damage and 

In 1970, a US Senate report stated that "the US has dumped [on South 
Vietnam] a quantity of toxic chemical amounting to six pounds per head 
of population, including women and children". The code name for this 
weapon of mass destruction, Operation Hades, was changed to the 
friendlier Operation Ranch Hand. An estimated 4.8 million of the victims 
of Agent Orange today are children.

  Hanging tough

Len Aldis, secretary of the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society, recently 
returned from Vietnam with a letter for the International Olympic 
Committee from the Vietnam Women's Union. The president of the union, 
Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa, described "the severe congenital deformities 
[caused by Agent Orange] from generation to generation". She asked the 
IOC to reconsider its decision to accept sponsorship of the London 
Olympics from the Dow Chemical Corporation, which was one of the 
companies that manufactured the poison and has refused to compensate its 

Aldis hand-delivered the letter to the office of Lord Coe, chairman of 
the London Organising Committee. He has had no reply. When Amnesty 
International pointed out that in 2001 Dow Chemical acquired Union 
Carbide, "the company responsible for the Bhopal gas leak [in India in 
1984] which killed 7,000 to 10,000 people immediately and a further 
15,000 in the following 20 years", David Cameron described Dow as a 
"reputable company". Cheers, then, as the television cameras pan across 
the £7m decorative wrap that sheathes the Olympic Stadium: the product 
of a ten-year "deal" between the IOC and such a reputable destroyer.

History is buried with the dead and deformed of Vietnam and Bhopal. 
History is the new enemy. On 28 May, President Obama launched
a campaign to falsify the history of the war in Vietnam. To Obama, there 
was no Agent Orange, no free-fire zones, no turkey shoots, no cover-ups 
of massacres, no rampant racism, no suicides (as many Americans took 
their own lives as died in the war), no defeat by a resistance army 
drawn from an impoverished society. It was, said Mr Hopey Changey, "one 
of the most extraordinary stories of bravery and integrity in the annals 
of [US] military history".

The following day, the /New York Times/ published a long article 
documenting how Obama personally selects the victims of his drone 
attacks across the world. He does this on "terror Tuesdays" as he 
browses through mugshots on a "kill list", some of them of teenagers, 
including "a girl who looked even younger than her 17 years". Many are 
unknown or simply of military age. Guided by "pilots" sitting in front 
of computer screens in Las Vegas, the drones fire Hellfire missiles that 
suck the air out of lungs and blow people to bits. Last September, Obama 
killed a US citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, purely on the basis of hearsay 
that he was in­citing terrorism. "This one is easy," aides quoted him as 
saying as he signed the man's death warrant. On 6 June, a drone killed 
18 civilians in a village in Afghanistan, including women, children and 
elderly people who were celebrating a wedding.

The /New York Times/ article was not a leak or an exposé. It was a piece 
of PR, designed by the Obama administration to show what a tough guy the 
"commander-in-chief" can be in an election year. If re-elected, Brand 
Obama will continue serving the wealthy, pursuing truth-tellers, 
threatening other countries, spreading computer viruses and murdering 
people every Tuesday.

The threats against Syria, co-ordinated in Washington and London, scale 
new peaks of hypocrisy. Contrary to the raw propaganda presented as 
news, the investigative journalism of the German daily /Frankfurter 
Allgemeine Zeitung/ identifies those responsible for the massacre in 
Houla as the "rebels" backed by Obama and Cameron. The paper's sources 
include the rebels themselves. This has not been completely ignored in 
Britain. Writing in his personal blog, ever so quietly, Jon Williams, 
the BBC World News editor, in effect dishes his own "coverage", citing a 
western official who described the "psy-ops" operation against Syria as 
"brilliant". As brilliant as the destruction of Libya, and Iraq, and 

  Significantly insignificant

And as brilliant as the psy-ops of the /Guardian's/ latest promotion of 
Alastair Campbell, the chief collaborator of Tony Blair in the criminal 
invasion of Iraq. In his "diaries", Campbell tries to splash Iraqi blood 
on the demon Murdoch. There is plenty to drench them all. But 
recognition that the respectable, liberal, Blair-fawning media were a 
vital accessory to such an epic crime is omitted and remains a singular 
test of intellectual and moral honesty in Britain.

How much longer must we subject ourselves to such an "invisible 
government"? This term for insidious propaganda, first used by Edward 
Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud and inventor of modern public 
relations, has never been more apt. "False reality" requires historical 
amnesia, lying by omission and the transfer of significance to the 
insignificant. In this way, political systems promising security and 
social justice have been replaced by piracy, "austerity" and "perpetual 
war": an extremism dedicated to the overthrow of democracy. Applied to 
an individual, this would identify a psycho­path. Why do we accept it?

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