Independent Media Centre Ireland

John Pilger in devastating form

category international | anti-war / imperialism | other press author Thursday November 15, 2007 15:14author by Miriam Cotton

'The forgotten fallen'

While whole forests were felled to do justice to the memory of 'our boys', not an inch of it was used to speak of the dead who they refuse to acknowledge. Or did amnesia afflict the mainstream media on remembrance day?

Pilger puts the establishment to shame.

" "The mortality of children in Basra has increased by nearly 30 per cent compared to the Saddam Hussein era," said Dr Haydar Salah, a paediatrician at Basra children's hospital. "Children are dying daily and no one is doing anything to help them." In January this year, nearly 100 leading British doctors wrote to Hilary Benn, then international development secretary, describing how children were dying because Britain had not fulfilled its obligations as an occupying power under UN Security Council Resolution 1483. Benn refused to see them. "

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author by Seán Ryanpublication date Thu Nov 15, 2007 18:44author address author phone

A great find Miriam and as usual from Pilger a stunning expose.

Another great Journalist who has put a lot of work into this particular topic is Greg Palast. Palast in his brilliant book/expose - Armed Madhouse - has covered the same areas and indeed the writings of both journalists are very complimentary. I’ve taken two quotes from this book to elaborate somewhat on what Pilger has just written. The first quote is titled and proceeds as follows:

World Bank as Occupying Power

The war with the insurgency did not distract the new sovereign governments nor the Bush administration from their duties in the class war.

As 2006 began, Iraq’s economy was so thoroughly defeated that a depression would have been an improvement. In the third year of occupation, Iraqis suffered 60% unemployment. But their suffering was just beginning. In August 2005, Iraq’s finance minister du jour complained that, under Saddam, “I’m afraid that people here have become addicted to various subsidies,” and the minister proposed cutting those on food. Addicted to eating and working. Well, at least they have guns.

Iraq’s Finance Minister didn’t dream up these new cruelties all on his own. Six months before the minister went after food subsidies, on February 1, 2005, World Bank executives held a closed meeting about Iraq’s economy. We obtained a copy of the minutes “whose contents,” it warns “may not be disclosed without World Bank authorization.” I don’t think they’ll mind if I share. On the other hand, it’s easy to see why the World Bank would rather its plans for Iraq not to be revealed to the Iraqis. The international oligarchs of finance, in coordination with the International Monetary Fund, couldn’t wait to “advise” Iraq to accept the free-market shock-and-awe nostrums of “food and fuel subsidy reform to pension and payroll reform.” “Reform” is IMF-speak for “cut.” Cut food subsidies, cut fuel, cut pensions, cut payrolls. All in the midst of an economic depression.

Does Iraq have a choice? The World Bank as gatekeeper of $18 billion in aid for Iraq, “advises” the way the Godfather does - their way, or no way. It’s cut cut cut or Iraq gets cut out of international financial markets and aid is pulled. At least George Bush will get his Social Security reform - but in Fallujah at gunpoint.

I’ll quote Palast one more time here as it is pertinent. Pilger speaks of Bremner and the laws he’s forced on the Iraqi population and government. Bremner introduced 100 laws and law no. 100 is a real beauty (in a very ugly way). Palast says: “… To prevent that, there’s Order 100, Bremner’s final commandment. Order 100 ensures that, “the interim government and all subsequent Iraqi governments inherit full responsibility for these [Bremner’s] laws, regulations, orders, memoranda, instructions and directives,” which effectively locks in the economic rules of the occupation.

Pilger speaks about the document unearthed which describes how to destroy Iraq’s water and ensure disease, drought and death. The document it titled: “Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities.” More can be found on this document here:- There’s a link to the actual document there too.

Is Iraq an example of premeditated genocide?


author by Miriampublication date Thu Nov 15, 2007 19:04author address author phone

For anyone who has not read much of Pilger or is not familiar with his documentaries here is his website - well worth a visit:

author by Watcherpublication date Thu Nov 15, 2007 19:43author address author phone

Well done Miriam, restores confidence that the truth will out and all the propaganda that swamps the media will not succeed in shifting the guilt for what is happening in the region away from the real enemies of human rights.

author by Mark Cpublication date Fri Nov 16, 2007 08:58author address author phone

There's a Pilger box set (Documentaries that changed the World) on Amazon at the moment for about £15, 12 documentaries and an interview. Well worth it (although it is gone up four pounds since I bought it).

I hope this doesn't constitute advertising. Apologies if it does.

author by Miriampublication date Fri Nov 16, 2007 09:41author address author phone

Apparently Pilger diverts a lot of his income into philanthropic projects/support for groups and people. He's famous for his generosity according to one media person I know who knows him very well. These books and films are in all probability a means of funding alternative challenges to the establishment. He contributes prolifically to alternative media including Indymedai, Znet, Counterpunch and so forth.

I watched 'Documentaries that Changed the World' over two days and call tell you was not in the better of it. Hugely depressing but a massive wake up call - it should be on the school curriculum. I'm organising a private viewing over 24 weeks for interested neighbours and friends (there are 24 documentaries) - a sort of consciousness raising exercise where we hope to have someone to speak beforehand and then discuss each film afterwards.

It's several months since I watched them and still cant get the image out of my head of the boy returning to Afghanistan with his family only to be blown in half by a landmine within seconds of stepping out of the family car. His parents, aunts and uncles watched on helplessly as he died in front of them. There is a picture of him taken minutes before he died - the lower half of his body mangled - a heartrending expression of agonised and shocked innocence on his blackened face. The anti-mine campaigner that Pilger interviewed in that film (Arming the World - the story of how the British under Thatcher basically tore up the rule book and indulged themselves in a glutton-fest of arms sales) - tells the boy's story, the huge excitement he had felt about going back to a home he had never seen (he was four) his head full of the stories his family had been telling him about all the lovely places and things he would see. It was the day he had been waiting for for months on end. An iconic tale of what the US, the Uk and their warmongering friends are doing to the world.

'Freedom Next Time' is another brilliant book by Pilger - essentially he sums up the state of the world in a series of harrowing stories from various places and lays bare the filthy and murderous hypocrisy of US/capitalist foreign policy.

author by Mark Cpublication date Fri Nov 16, 2007 10:19author address author phone

Great suggestion Miriam. Indeed Pilger should be on the curriculum. Actually I showed some of his work over 3 lunch breaks a number of weeks ago to get a campaign going about the situation in Burma.

I've also given the collection to some of the Religion teachers in the school who have been busy at work showing him off.

So, although not officially recognised as part of the "established" curriculum, he is sneaking in in odd places at opportune times.

Also, just to add to your recommendation of "Freedom: Next Time", readers of the present thread might be interested in "Tell Me No Lies" and collection of the world's best investigative journalism, edited by John Pilger (which includes his fantastic essay, "Cambodia: Year Zero").


author by Ruripublication date Fri Nov 16, 2007 10:57author address author phone

Pilger on the curriculum!! Get a life. The man's work, albeit slick, is nothing but a biased polemic.

Sure why not stick Fisk on it aswell and flush the lot down the toilet.

author by Miriampublication date Fri Nov 16, 2007 11:23author address author phone

I'd say that your comment is probably legally actionable. Pilger marshalls damning evidence in his work - but you obviously havent read or viewed it if you can make such ignorant statements about him.

author by Readerpublication date Fri Nov 16, 2007 11:28author address author phone

He was the person who brought us Cambodia and the Khymer Rouge, however, I'd agree with ruairi
Pilger is established and published, he has a wonderful point of view, he is a hard worker but he
represents issues. in other words there are many propagandas and maybe Miriam does not
understand her audience, many are at a high level of activism and personal education and
there is something vaguely patronisisng about placing people on pedestals , or as exemplars.
The report was fine but its necessary to deal with a level of criticism without getting testy and

for every one Pilger there are thousands who do not have the words or the critical frame
for their grief and betrayal. I want to hear those stories and not have a famous journalist
interpreted for me.

author by Seán Ryanpublication date Fri Nov 16, 2007 11:54author address author phone

The problem with hearing other voices on important issues, especially voices from those who are neither rich nor famous, is that the media etc. do not care to tell their stories. This is why people of the ilk of Pilger are so important and it's also why criticism should focus on what they say rather than on what or who they are.

I think it an understatement to say that Pilger's latest work is well researched and that it cannot be contradicted without either the use of deceit or defamation. I don't want to hear or see either, and I don't particularly care whether the mud-slinger is poor, rich or famous.

The truth is what's important and the passionate telling of it is a trait that is admired and applauded by Indymedia.

author by W. Finnerty.publication date Fri Nov 16, 2007 12:10author address author phone

Don't forget "War on Democracy" (by John Pliger) - and how it relates to our own democratically elected dictatorship, as I see things.

"Whole countries have been privatised, put up for sale, their natural wealth sold for peanuts."

As something of an aside, I also hope that some day - and that day couldn't come soon enough as far as I'm concerned - that John Pilger (or someone like him perhaps) will do a good-quality documentary on the role of corrupt lawyers in all of the wholly avoidable global torture at present in progress.

All of my research suggests that "non-politician" lawyers, operating behind the political scenes, are playing a key (though well hidden) role in the abuse of people generally: yet corrupt lawyers never seem to get anything like their fair share of the blame for the outrageous problems they are causing throughout the whole of society. Worse still, they don't even lose their jobs.

Related link:

author by Miriampublication date Fri Nov 16, 2007 13:04author address author phone

Despite his fame Pilger has been substantially ignored by much of the mainstream media for a long time - and comes under sustained fire from it too - not least because he is so vocal in his criticism of it. There are very few high profile media people who are prepared to bite the hand that feeds them as ssharply as Pilger does and he has paid the price of that up to a point. But it's his work that is important and that people admire - not the trappings of his success. Ive not seen another critique of the remembrance day hypocirsy to rival it. There may well be others, but this one deserves all the credit it deserves either way - the point being to create as many opportunities as possible for airing the perspective and facts that he articulates so well.

author by martin lacey - none publication date Fri Nov 16, 2007 17:21author email mlacey at oceanfree dot netauthor address author phone

what ever your views on his fims and books , i once met pilger at a book signing in easons a couple of years ago and found him to be a boorish , rude oz. .i find that manners maketh the man. how can you be a socialist if you are not polite. seeya, martin

author by T. Rollpublication date Fri Nov 16, 2007 23:01author address author phone

I'm too lazy to think up an insult for Pilger, and I DO NOT want to debate the issues he raises, but unfortunately mr PR person is on holidays. Can I borrow a general purpose ad hominem attack to use?

We can't have his type of insubordinate reporting catching on. sets a bad example to the housebroken hacks.

author by martin lacey - none publication date Sat Nov 17, 2007 21:16author address author phone

i am sick hearing pilgerisms from yuppy types.pilger makes films which the petit bourgeois watch and feel better.pilger has no sence of class analysis.he is responsible for alot of so -called reality films on tv. lets deport him back to oz land. see yaz, martin

author by Boyopublication date Sat Nov 17, 2007 21:40author address author phone

Well Mr. Lacey, I do respect your right to have and to express your opinion, but I fail to see how you consider it to be newsworthy - unless you'd like to outline yourself with regard to your class-analysis of yourself.

So - with regard to your opinion of Pilger - you don't like him (he speaks so finely of you), now you've said it twice. How stupid and lower class do you consider your audience to be? Is it a fact that you are expressing your class analysis of your audience by having to say the same thing twice, remembering that you have not once pointed out a single flaw in what Pilger's had to say. What if you were held to the same criticism you express about Pilger, only in your case it'd be true.

author by Miriampublication date Sat Nov 17, 2007 23:46author address author phone

...given the striking emphasis Pilger places on the accounts of people most grieviously affected by the actions of the poweful. The 'class analysis' is profoundly evident in Pilger's narratives. He doesn't explicitly label people as being a part of one class group or another - he places them emphatically and powerfully on the same level as each other - the victimised always clearly emerging as having the most persuasive call on the viewer's sense of humanity - occupation of the moral high ground - the oppressors and aggressors stripped of the customary deference with which they are treated by the media - all emerging for exactly what they are: liars, maniuplators and pathetic - if casually brutal - specimens of humanity. Pilger tells like it is, at huge cost and risk to himself, acoring to the best and most honest motives of his ability. What more do you want? This is not 'hero worship' - just an acknowledgement of what Pilger has done to raise all our collective consciousness. He may be a cantakerous old bollix in other respects - who knows - but his journalism is another matter.

author by ?publication date Sun Nov 18, 2007 11:11author address author phone

How lucky we are!

We can politely and crisply debate the issues raised by Pilger while ignoring our contribution to
the problems through our government and media. I am tired of this thread. Pilger is great
and a good writer too but we can read without the petty borgeouis filter that he is being
squeezed through, its time wasting. Go get Pilger, read him but less analysis. read Shelly
on anarchism too.

author by Miriampublication date Sun Nov 18, 2007 11:48author address author phone

if you are so tired of it, do you bother to post to it? You clearly know that you keep the thread alive by doing so. Your egocentric view of the world is not a blueprint for others, as you seem to think. Not everybody has necessarily heard of Pilger, neither should they feel they ought to have. Not everybody reads the New Statseman or indeed can afford books or has the time to read them. What a remarkably 'petty bourgeois' perspective you betray.

If you stopped thinking in cliches for a short while you might even begin to understand some of what has been said here. But since you've gone to the trouble, however , I'll return the compliment and tell you what I'm tired of - the small band of bitchy little carpers on Indymedia who strain laboriously to be critical of things and people they know nothing about.

Now that the annoying mosquito whine has stopped, here is an example of the sort of attack that Pilger regularly sustains in MSM. This one is courtesy of AA Gill in 'The Times' and notice how he does not make a single attempt to engage with the subject of PIlger's work. It is exlcusively personal and vicious:

Now, from the wide-eyed and open-handed to the tunnel-visioned and clenched John Pilger, a man who, like Miss Bloomer, Mr Crapper and the Earl of Sandwich, has donated his name for the greater understanding of mankind. Pilgerism: a particularly monotonous, self-righteous, partial and ism-bound view of the world, posing as journalism. Almost everything God’s Warriors attempted to be, The War on Democracy (Monday, ITV1) failed at, or couldn’t be bothered to try. Pilger’s journalistic compass is set by the position of America: wherever that is, he swings the other way. So, based on the sound principle of my enemy’s enemy is my friend, he set about an obscenely embarrassing tongue-bath of Hugo Chavez, the megalomaniac president of Venezuela.

Pilger’s interview technique is not to have any technique visible. He listens to himself asking questions that include answers, then to little else. He picks through the wreckage of people’s misfortune, gleaning shards of proof to complement his mosaic ideology, while dismissing and discarding anything that could be a contradiction. This relentless film looked like Brezhnev-era Soviet propaganda. The irony is that underneath all the Dave Spartism, there is a good story for a committed documentary-maker. But Pilger is so plainly grinding axes that he’s just too easy to resist. He has grown decidedly vain on camera. I couldn’t help noticing that the flowing white locks have been ever so carefully coiffed with an exaggerated swagger, setting off his tan, and it came to me who he has become: a cross between Arthur Scargill and Donald Trump, with just a hint of Pol Pot.

Related Link:
author by -publication date Sun Nov 18, 2007 11:51author address author phone

Please be aware that indy readers have heard Of Pilger, that his books are on their shelves
and many do not need him interpreted. present the facts and leave the interpretation to the
intelligence of the people who are -readers-, without the filter.

author by Miriampublication date Sun Nov 18, 2007 12:19author address author phone

You speak for all Indymedia readers, naturally. What a laugh! There is no filter on this thread other than your own determination to be silly - clearly. But its ok, I know I excite a few people on here - their brains go all to mush at the mere mention of my name - I suppose it's flattering to have the attention, really.

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