I had one of my moments last evening. Just bibulous enough to indulge in a "Walter Mitty" fantasy. A latter day T.E.Lawrence.
In other circumstances I might well have woken up in Benghazi airport with a hangover and scared shitless. Not quite that daft but daft enough to want to communicate my mood. What set me of was this, from an email from my sister.
Famous Aussie expat journalist, John Pilger writes:
'Shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I interviewed Ray McGovern, one of an elite group of CIA officers who prepared the President's daily intelligence brief. McGovern was at the apex of the "national security" monolith that is American power and had retired with presidential plaudits. On the eve of the invasion, he and 45 other senior officers of the CIA and other intelligence agencies wrote to President George W. Bush that the "drumbeat for war" was based not on intelligence, but lies. "It was 95 per cent charade," McGovern told me.
"How did they get away with it?"
"The press allowed the crazies to get away with it."
"Who are the crazies?"
"The people running the [Bush] administration have a set of beliefs a lot like those expressed in Mein Kampf … these are the same people who were referred to in the circles in which I moved, at the top, as 'the crazies'."
I said, "Norman Mailer has written that that he believes America has entered a pre-fascist state. What's your view of that?"
"Well … I hope he's right, because there are others saying we are already in a fascist mode."
On 22 January, Ray McGovern emailed me to express his disgust at the Obama administration's barbaric treatment of the alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning and its pursuit of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. "Way back when George and Tony decided it might be fun to attack Iraq," he wrote, "I said something to the effect that fascism had already begun here. I have to admit I did not think it would get this bad this quickly."
On 16 February, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech at George Washington University in which she condemned governments that arrested protestors and crushed free expression. She lauded the liberating power of the internet while failing to mention that her government was planning to close down those parts of the internet that encouraged dissent and truth-telling.
It was a speech of spectacular hypocrisy, and Ray McGovern was in the audience. Outraged, he rose from his chair and silently turned his back on Clinton. He was immediately seized by police and a security goon and beaten to the floor, dragged out and thrown into jail, bleeding. He has sent me photographs of his injuries. He is 71. During the assault, which was clearly visible to Clinton, she did not pause in her remarks.
Fascism is a difficult word, because it comes with an iconography that touches the Nazi nerve and is abused as propaganda against America's official enemies and to promote the West's foreign adventures with a moral vocabulary written in the struggle against Hitler.
And yet fascism and imperialism are twins. In the aftermath of world war two, those in the imperial states who had made respectable the racial and cultural superiority of "western civilisation", found that Hitler and fascism had claimed the same, employing strikingly similar methods. Thereafter, the very notion of American imperialism was swept from the textbooks and popular culture of an imperial nation forged on the genocidal conquest of its native people. And a war on social justice and democracy became "US foreign policy".
As the Washington historian William Blum has documented, since 1945, the US has destroyed or subverted more than 50 governments, many of them democracies, and used mass murderers like Suharto, Mobutu and Pinochet to dominate by proxy. In the Middle East, every dictatorship and pseudo-monarchy has been sustained by America. In "Operation Cyclone", the CIA and MI6 secretly fostered and bank-rolled Islamic extremism. The object was to smash or deter nationalism and democracy. The victims of this western state terrorism have been mostly Muslims. The courageous people gunned down last week in Bahrain and Libya, the latter a "priority UK market", according to Britain's official arms "procurers", join those children blown to bits in Gaza by the latest American F-16 aircraft.
The revolt in the Arab world is not merely against a resident dictator but a worldwide economic tyranny designed by the US Treasury and imposed by the US Agency for International Development, the IMF and World Bank, which have ensured that rich countries like Egypt are reduced to vast sweatshops, with half the population earning less than $2 a day. The people's triumph in Cairo was the first blow against what Benito Mussolini called corporatism, a word that appears in his definition of fascism. How did such extremism take hold in the liberal West?
"It is necessary to destroy hope, idealism, solidarity, and concern for the poor and oppressed," observed Noam Chomsky a generation ago, "[and] to replace these dangerous feelings with self-centred egoism, a pervasive cynicism that holds that [an order of] inequities and oppression is the best that can be achieved. In fact, a great international propaganda campaign is under way to convince people – particularly young people – that this not only is what they should feel but that it's what they do feel." Like the European revolutions of 1848 and the uprising against Stalinism in 1989, the Arab revolt has rejected fear. An insurrection of suppressed ideas, hope and solidarity has begun. In the United States, where 45 per cent of young African/Americans have no jobs and the top hedge fund managers are paid, on average, a billion dollars a year, mass protests against cuts in services and jobs have spread to heartland states like Wisconsin. In Britain, the fastest-growing modern protest movement, UK Uncut, is about to take direct action against tax avoiders and rapacious banks. Something has changed that cannot be unchanged.
The enemy has a name now."
John Pilger 25 FEB 2011
Not just a name but a face. One does not need a conspiracy theory; the culture of the elite is enough. Trans-national and pervading.
Not just this but from the SMH (1 March 2011). I borrow from it just that part that is relevant:
Saudi Arabia is, of course, the world's oil superpower. It accounts for 12 per cent of world oil output, though it can readily increase this by half if necessary. Its reserves loom even larger, with around a quarter of known global reserves.
Saudi Arabia is an extraordinary relic. It resembles a religiously fanatical family petrol franchise more than a modern nation state.
The country is named after the Saud family. It is an absolute monarchy.
No less than 45 per cent of its national economy is oil. And the Saud family has no fewer than 22,000 members, all of whom live off the oil revenue. The House of Saud has created a symbiosis with a fundamentalist strand of Islam, Wahabbism. The Saud family directly supports and funds the Wahabbists, and, in return, they avow loyalty to the king. The sect, richly bankrolled by oil revenues, has been exporting the fundamentalist Wahabbist ideology wherever it can across the Islamic world. The king, the ailing octogenarian Abdullah, had been out of the country for three months for back surgery. He returned to his kingdom, with uprisings in the states to its east, south and west, in haste last Wednesday. As his plane approached the runway in the capital, Riyadh, officials announced new handouts to the people of $36 billion, which amounts to about $2000 per head of population. A brave coterie of activists, unimpressed at this hush money, has called for a "day of rage" on March 11. Also in Riyadh last week was the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen.
Why? Because the US is as worried as King Abdullah. Washington has supported the House of Saud, with a military base in the country, since 1945 under Roosevelt.
As the American resource academic Michael Klare explains in his book Resource Wars: "At the core of this arrangement is a vital but unspoken quid pro quo: in return for protecting the royal family against its enemies, American companies will be allowed unrivalled access to Saudi oilfields."
This is a great, yet largely invisible, nexus of global power and global economics. The deepest meaning of the Arab uprisings is only just beginning to dawn on the world.
It might be bigger than anyone realises.
First I will reflect on the cynical use of religion to divide people. Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, Sunni, Shia, Wahabbist, the list goes on and on. There must be as many gods as there are people who believe in a deity.
I only know one thing, that God is unknowable and any who claim to know god or divine its purpose are the ultimate blasphemers.
I have a vision for the Arabs: One people, one nation, one country encompassing the middle east and north Africa. As such it would right many wrongs, provide equity, dilute extremism, and usher in a new world order. Not that it would solve all our problems (overpopulation at the top of the list), nor should the Israelis be left out of the equation, nutters though a lot of them are.
Gone would be the tinpot dictatorships, artificial countries created by the imperialists, Kuwait, UAE etc.
Fiona suggested I put this up, Webdiary is not the power it once was but who knows? Mighty aches from little corns grow so they tell me, or something similar.
The Arabs don't need a leader, they need several; men of intellect as well as charisma. I know they're out there.
I feel privileged to live in the age of internet – it gives everyone a voice.