In Nineteen Eighty-Four,
George Orwell described a superstate called Oceania, whose language of
war inverted lies that "passed into history and became truth. ‘Who
controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future; who
controls the present controls the past.’"
Barack Obama is the leader of a contemporary Oceania. In two
speeches at the close of the decade, the Nobel Peace Prize winner
affirmed that peace was no longer peace, but rather a permanent war
that "extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan" to "disorderly
regions and diffuse enemies." He called this "global security" and
invited our gratitude. To the people of Afghanistan, which America has
invaded and occupied, he said wittily: "We have no interest in
occupying your country."
In Oceania, truth and lies are indivisible. According to Obama, the
American attack on Afghanistan in 2001 was authorized by the United
Nations Security Council. There was no UN authority. He said the "the
world" supported the invasion in the wake of 9/11 when, in truth, all
but three of 37 countries surveyed by Gallup expressed overwhelming
opposition. He said that America invaded Afghanistan "only after the
Taliban refused to turn over [Osama] bin Laden." In 2001, the Taliban
tried three times to hand over bin Laden for trial, reported Pakistan’s
military regime, and were ignored. Even Obama’s mystification of 9/11
as justification for his war is false. More than two months before the
Twin Towers were attacked, the Pakistani foreign minister, Niaz Naik,
was told by the Bush administration that an American military assault
would take place by mid-October. The Taliban regime in Kabul, which the
Clinton administration had secretly supported, was no longer regarded
as "stable" enough to ensure America’s control over oil and gas
pipelines to the Caspian Sea. It had to go.
Obama’s most audacious lie is that Afghanistan today is a "safe
haven" for al-Qaeda’s attacks on the West. His own national security
adviser, General James Jones, said in October that there were "fewer
than 100" al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. According to US intelligence, 90
percent of the Taliban are hardly Taliban at all, but "a tribal
localized insurgency [who] see themselves as opposing the US because it
is an occupying power." The war is a fraud. Only the terminally
gormless remain true to the Obama brand of "world peace."
Beneath the surface, however, there is serious purpose. Under the
disturbing General Stanley McChrystal, who gained distinction for his
assassination squads in Iraq, the occupation of one of the most
impoverished countries is a model for those "disorderly regions" of the
world still beyond Oceania’s reach. This is known as COIN, or
counter-insurgency network, which draws together the military, aid
organizations, psychologists, anthropologists, the media, and public
relations hirelings. Covered in jargon about winning hearts and minds,
its aim is to pit one ethnic group against another and incite civil
war: Tajiks and Uzbeks against Pashtuns.
The Americans did this in Iraq and destroyed a multi-ethnic society.
They bribed and built walls between communities who had once
inter-married, ethnically cleansing the Sunni and driving millions out
of the country. The embedded media reported this as "peace," and
American academics bought by Washington and "security experts" briefed
by the Pentagon appeared on the BBC to spread the good news. As in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the opposite was true.
Something similar is planned for Afghanistan. People are to be
forced into "target areas" controlled by warlords bankrolled by the
Americans and the opium trade. That these warlords are infamous for
their barbarism is irrelevant. "We can live with that," a Clinton-era
diplomat said of the persecution of women in a "stable" Taliban-run
Afghanistan. Favored western relief agencies, engineers, and
agricultural specialists will attend to the "humanitarian crisis" and
so "secure" the subjugated tribal lands.
That is the theory. It worked after a fashion in Yugoslavia where
the ethnic-sectarian partition wiped out a once peaceful society, but
it failed in Vietnam where the CIA’s "strategic hamlet program" was
designed to corral and divide the southern population and so defeat the
Viet Cong — the Americans’ catch-all term for the resistance, similar
Behind much of this are the Israelis, who have long advised the
Americans in both the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures. Ethnic
cleansing, wall-building, checkpoints, collective punishment, and
constant surveillance – these are claimed as Israeli innovations that
have succeeded in stealing most of Palestine from its native people.
And yet for all their suffering, the Palestinians have not been divided
irrevocably and they endure as a nation against all odds.
The most telling forerunners of the Obama Plan, which the Nobel
Peace Prize winner and his strange general and his PR men prefer we
forget, are those that failed in Afghanistan itself. The British in the
19th century and the Soviets in the 20th century attempted to conquer
that wild country by ethnic cleansing and were seen off, though after
terrible bloodshed. Imperial cemeteries are their memorials. People
power, sometimes baffling, often heroic, remains the seed beneath the
snow, and invaders fear it.
"It was curious," wrote Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four,
"to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia or
Eastasia as well as here. And the people under the sky were also very
much the same, everywhere, all over the world … people ignorant of one
another’s existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet
almost exactly the same people who … were storing up in their hearts
and bellies and muscles the power that would one day overturn the
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