Mid-part of a long, but well worth reading speech below; whole speech here:
Breaking the great Australian silence – John Pilger
One of the founders of modern propaganda was Edward Bernays, an American who believed that people in free societies could be lied to and regimented without them realising. He invented a euphemism for propaganda — “public relations”, or PR. “What matters,” he said, “is the illusion.” Like Kevin Rudd’s stage-managed press conferences outside his church, what matters is the illusion. The symbols of Anzac are constantly manipulated in this way. Marches. Medals. Flags. The pain of a fallen soldier’s family. Serving in the military, says the prime minister, is Australia’s highest calling. The squalor of war, the killing of civilians has no reference. What matters is the illusion.
The aim is to ensure our silent complicity in a war of terror and in a massive increase in Australia’s military arsenal. Long range cruise missiles are to be targeted at our neighbours. The Rudd government and the Pentagon have launched a competition to build military robots which, it is said, will do the “army’s dirty work” in “urban combat zones”. What urban combat zones? What dirty work?
“I confess,” wrote Lord Curzon, viceroy of India, over a century ago, “that countries are pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world.” We Australians have been in the service of the Great Game for a very long time. Do the young people who wrap themselves in the flag at Gallipoli every April understand that only the lies have changed – that sanctifying blood sacrifice in colonial invasions is meant to prepare us for the next one?
When Prime Minister Robert Menzies sent Australian soldiers to Vietnam in the 1960s, he described them as a ‘training team’, requested by a beleaguered government in Saigon. It was a lie. A senior official of the Department of External affairs wrote this secret truth: “Although we have stressed the fact publicly that our assistance was given in response to an invitation by the government of South Vietnam, our offer was in fact made following a request from the United States government.”
Two versions. One for us, one for them.
Menzies spoke incessantly about “the downward thrust of Chinese communism”. What has changed? Outside the church, Kevin Rudd said we were in Afghanistan to stop another downward thrust. Both were lies.
During the Vietnam war, the Department of Foreign Affairs made a rare complaint to Washington. They complained that the British knew more about America’s objectives than its committed Australian ally. An assistant secretary of state replied. “We have to inform the British to keep them on side,” he said. “You are with us, come what may.”
How many more wars are we to be suckered into before we break our silence?
How many more distractions must we, as a people, endure before we begin the job of righting the wrongs in our own country?
“It’s time we sang from the world’s rooftops,” said Kevin Rudd in opposition, “[that] despite Iraq, America is an overwhelming force for good in the world [and] I look forward to working with the great American democracy, the arsenal of freedom…”.
Since the second world war, the arsenal of freedom has overthrown 50 governments, including democracies, and crushed some 30 liberation movements. Millions of people all over the world have been driven out of their homes and subjected to crippling embargos. Bombing is as American as apple pie.
In his acceptance of the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, Harold Pinter asked this question: “Why is the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought of Stalinist Russia well known in the West while American criminal actions never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it never happened. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.”
In Australia, we are trained to respect this censorship by omission. An invasion is not an invasion if “we” do it. Terror is not terror if “we” do it. A crime is not a crime if “we” commit it. It didn’t happen. Even while it was happening it didn’t happen. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.
In the arsenal of freedom we have two categories of victims. The innocent people killed in the Twin Towers were worthy victims. The innocent people killed by Nato bombers in Afghanistan are unworthy victims. Israelis are worthy. Palestinians are unworthy. It gets complicated. Kurds who rose against Saddam Hussein were worthy. But Kurds who rise against the Turkish regime are unworthy. Turkey is a member of Nato. They’re in the arsenal of freedom.
The Rudd government justifies its proposals to spend billions on weapons by referring to what the Pentagon calls an “arc of instability” that stretches across the world. Our enemies are apparently everywhere — from China to the Horn of Africa. In fact, an arc of instability does indeed stretch across the world and is maintained by the United States. The US Air Force calls this “full spectrum dominance”. More than 800 American bases are ready for war.
These bases protect a system that allows one per cent of humanity to control 40 per cent of wealth: a system that bails out just one bank with $180 billion – that’s enough to eliminate malnutrition in the world, and provide education for every child, and water and sanitation for all, and to reverse the spread of malaria. On September 11th, 2001, the United Nations reported that on that day 36,615 children had died from poverty. But that was not news.