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“What makes John Pilger a truly great journalist is his conscience and bravery.”—Martha Gellhorn
|The Model Pupil||15|
|Paying the Price||45|
|The Great Game||98|
|The Chosen Ones||158|
Posted July 19, 2002
This book is a curious mixture of good reporting and dogmatic `ultra-left¿ opinions: it does not provide what its title promises. Instead, it includes an account of 1966¿s NATO-backed massacre of a million Indonesians, which the Australian embassy in Jakarta called a `cleansing operation¿, and an essay on the Australian government¿s appalling treatment of the Aborigines. The central part of the book consists of two longer essays, one on globalisation and the war on terrorism, which Pilger wrongly conflates, and the other on the proposed attack on Iraq. Pilger denounces the war on terrorism, but surely a war on the feudal-minded terrorists who targeted and killed thousands of innocent workers is not wrong. He stigmatises what he calls the `leading terrorist states in the world¿, instancing Algeria, China and Russia. These are all states that have fought Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups. So it¿s terrorist to fight terrorists? It is wrong to link the war on terrorism with the proposed attack on Iraq, as both Bush and Pilger do. But Pilger is right to oppose Bush¿s proposed attack on Iraq and his illegitimate threats against states unconnected to the Al Qa¿ida terrorists. Pilger cites the New York Times, ¿The Central Intelligence Agency has no evidence that Iraq has engaged in terrorist operations against the United States in nearly a decade, and the agency is also convinced that President Saddam Hussein has not provided chemical or biological weapons to al-Qa¿ida.¿ There is no evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction: Scott Ritter, a former UN weapons inspector, summed up, ¿Does Iraq have a chemical weapons programme today? No. Does Iraq have a long-range missile programme today? No. Nuclear? No. Biological? No. Is Iraq qualitatively disarmed? Yes.¿ We do not need a Second Front in the war against terrorism: we do need, contra Pilger, to focus on defeating the Al-Qa¿ida terrorists. When it comes to the practicalities of what to do next, workers must always think for themselves and never let themselves be guided by gurus or `grand old men of the left¿. We should always be wary of heroes and hero-worship.
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