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15 Jun, 2003

Message To the American Empire: Unjust Rulers Always Fall — Always!!

Originally Published: 15 June 2003

The most basic premise of a judicial process is that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty. The second basic premise is that evidence has to be found and produced in court BEFORE a suspect can be prosecuted and convicted.

Am I correct in asserting that, or not?

No ifs or buts. Am I or am I not right in asserting that?

Isn’t access to an impartial and fair judicial process the absolute foundation of a “democracy” as we currently understand it as well as a basic human right?

Now, apply this principle to the war in Iraq and check whether it was observed in the slightest shape or form.

In essence, the self-appointed global cops went in without so much as an arrest warrant, hundreds died in the ensuing shootout, the chief suspect has still not even been apprehended and now the ‘evidence’ that was repeatedly guaranteed by the prosecution as being there suddenly is proving not to be.

Worse, the prosecutors and cops who ordered and executed the shootout do not wish to be held accountable.

Give us more time to find the evidence, they plead. That is PRECISELY what weapons inspector Hans Blix was saying before a single shot was fired.

Does this make any sense, or what?

Which standards of justice does it conform with? Which US court would have allowed this under even the most basic of legal circumstances?

If this is the prevailing definition of ‘rule of law’ by the ‘international community’ and an indication of global governing standards to come, we are in bigger trouble than we think.

All around the world, day in and day out, stories emerge about how the US government, US companies and indeed even the US media are sacrificing the very values that they once held up as examples for the rest of the world.

Surprisingly, the US media has all but become an instrument of the state, some more than others.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the US media played a formidable role in two of the greatest events that showed the power of grassroots democracy — the end of the Vietnam war and the resignation of President Nixon.

Indeed, 2004 will mark the 30th anniversary of Nixon’s resignation and 2005 the same anniversary of the end of the Vietnam war.

Yet, in less than 30 years, how times have changed.

For those too young to remember, the Watergate scandals broke because in July 1972, agents of Nixon’s re-election committee were arrested in the Democratic party headquarters, in the Watergate apartment building in Washington, D.C., after an illegal attempt to tap telephones there.

That was the start of the investigative journalism that brought down Nixon, despite attempts to cover-up, deny and obfuscate the truth. Nixon and his cohorts repeatedly lied to the people of the United States, their elected representatives and the various grand juries set up to investigate the scandal.

They failed.

The Vietnam war followed a similar trajectory, with the US media encouraging the anti-war movement and taking a line that easily showed up the big gaps between the ‘truth’ being trotted out by the Defence Department spin-doctors and the facts on the ground.

Back then, lying was a crime. Today, it’s okay.

It is also okay to bug phone lines and email.

On March 2, 2003, the UK Observer newspaper reported a leaked memo that the National Security Agency – the US body which intercepts communications around the world — was carrying out an “aggressive surveillance operation” involving the interception of the home and office telephones and the emails of UN delegates in New York, specially the smaller members of the UN Security Council in order to know how they were going to vote on the then upcoming Council resolution on Iraq.

Do you know how many US journalists followed it up?


In the old days, a story like that would have been swarmed over by the mainstream media like bees on honey.

On 7 March 2003, in the Security Council debate, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed ElBaradei said in no uncertain terms that the dossier claiming the Iraqis had tried to buy uranium from some African countries was a forgery.

His exact words, posted on the IAEA website, are: “Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents – which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger – are in fact not authentic. We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded.”

If the documents were “not authentic,” who was responsible for the forgery? A charge like that should have made headlines and halted the entire process of war until it could be ascertained who tried to mislead the Security Council and why.

Do you know how many US journalists followed that up?


Till today, there is not a single report of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan or anyone else trying to trace the source of those forgeries.

Why not?

In the best traditions of Richard Nixon, the art of the ‘cover-up’ is alive and well, especially by a media all too ready to egg on those seeking to kick Arab butt. Media like the Wall Street Journal, The Economist and the Murdoch-owned radio and TV stations played a major role in getting the dogs of war ready for the kill.

During the Vietnam war, journalists questioned with deep skepticism the claims of the military brass.

Today, that’s not quite okay. This is the age of “embedded journalists” who dutifully reported the handful of US and UK military casualties. It is the aid and humanitarian organisations who are trying to show the other side of the picture by tallying up estimates of how many hundreds of Iraqi civilians also died, and are continuing to die from cluster bombs.

Slowly but steadily, as opposition grows worldwide, especially by Americans themselves, the US government is resorting to the draconic measures typical of dictators trying to put themselves above the law, free of any checks-and-balance, and beyond accountability.

In the process, America and its institutions are squandering that most valuable of assets in any relationship — trust.

Its big-name companies face accounting scandals, its media parrots the official line, the spin-doctors tell governments that the only thing that matters is terrorism and if they help fight it, they will be rewarded with free-trade agreements, export credits and other financial largesse, perhaps even an invitation for their leaders to Mr Bush’s Texas ranch.

In other words, everything is for sale, including basic standards of justice, transparency, accountability and democracy.

Yes, even souls.

This is only the beginning of what is becoming known as the American empire.

Like all previous empires, especially unjust ones, it will fall without fail, a forecast I have repeated at least five times in the last year alone and about which I become increasingly confident as time goes by.

Iraq is already showing signs of becoming another Vietnam. Afghanistan could well be next. The Israeli occupation of Palestine remains on the boil.

It’s bound to get worse. The fear is: It may not get better for a long time, a really long time.