How the World May End

Republicans and Democrats – along with a complicit mainstream media – are plunging ahead toward war with Russia, a mad groupthink that could end life on the planet, observes John Pilger.

By John Pilger

The U.S. submarine captain says, “We’ve all got to die one day, some sooner and some later. The trouble always has been that you’re never ready, because you don’t know when it’s coming. Well, now we do know and there’s nothing to be done about it.”

Gregory Peck in a scene from the 1959 movie, “On the Beach,” showing how a nuclear war ends life on the planet.

He says he will be dead by September. It will take about a week to die, though no one can be sure. Animals live the longest.

The war was over in a month. The United States, Russia and China were the protagonists. It is not clear if it was started by accident or mistake. There was no victor. The Northern Hemisphere is contaminated and lifeless now.

A curtain of radioactivity is moving south towards Australia and New Zealand, southern Africa and South America. By September, the last cities, towns and villages will succumb. As in the north, most buildings will remain untouched, some illuminated by the last flickers of electric light.

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper   

These lines from T.S. Eliot’s poem The Hollow Men appear at the beginning of Nevil Shute’s novel On the Beach, which left me close to tears. The endorsements on the cover said the same.

Published in 1957 at the height of the Cold War when too many writers were silent or cowed, it is a masterpiece. At first the language suggests a genteel relic; yet nothing I have read on nuclear war is as unyielding in its warning. No book is more urgent.

Some readers will remember the black and white Hollywood film starring Gregory Peck as the U.S. Navy commander who takes his submarine to Australia to await the silent, formless specter descending on the last of the living world.

I read On the Beach for the first time the other day, finishing it as the U.S. Congress passed a law to wage economic war on Russia, the world’s second most lethal nuclear power. There was no justification for this insane vote, except the promise of plunder.

Aiming Toward a Hot War

The “sanctions” are aimed at Europe, too, mainly Germany, which depends on Russian natural gas and on European companies that do legitimate business with Russia. In what passed for debate on Capitol Hill, the more garrulous senators left no doubt that the embargo was designed to force Europe to import expensive American gas.

Russian President Vladimir Putin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 10, 2015, at the Kremlin. (Photo from Russian government)

Their main aim seems to be war – real war. No provocation as extreme can suggest anything else. They seem to crave it, even though Americans have little idea what war is. The Civil War of 1861-65 was the last on their mainland. War is what the United States does to others.

The only nation to have used nuclear weapons against human beings, they have since destroyed scores of governments, many of them democracies, and laid to waste whole societies – the million deaths in Iraq were a fraction of the carnage in Indochina, which President Reagan called “a noble cause” and President Obama revised as the tragedy of an “exceptional people.” He was not referring to the Vietnamese.

Filming last year at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, I overheard a National Parks Service guide lecturing a school party of young teenagers. “Listen up,” he said. “We lost 58,000 young soldiers in Vietnam, and they died defending your freedom.”

At a stroke, the truth was inverted. No freedom was defended. Freedom was destroyed. A peasant country was invaded and millions of its people were killed, maimed, dispossessed, poisoned; 60,000 of the invaders took their own lives. Listen up, indeed.

A lobotomy is performed on each generation. Facts are removed. History is excised and replaced by what Time magazine calls “an eternal present.” Harold Pinter described this as “manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good, a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis [which meant] that it never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.”

Those who call themselves liberals or tendentiously “the left” are eager participants in this manipulation, and its brainwashing, which today revert to one name: Trump.

Trump is mad, a fascist, a dupe of Russia. He is also a gift for “liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics,” wrote Luciana Bohne memorably. The obsession with Trump the man – not Trump as a symptom and caricature of an enduring system – beckons great danger for all of us.

A Narcissistic Media

While they pursue their fossilized anti-Russia agendas, narcissistic media such as the Washington Post, the BBC and the Guardiansuppress the essence of the most important political story of our time as they warmonger on a scale I cannot remember in my lifetime.

The Washington Post building in downtown Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Washington Post)

On 3 Aug., in contrast to the acreage the Guardian has given to drivel that the Russians conspired with Trump (reminiscent of the far-right smearing of John Kennedy as a “Soviet agent”), the paper buried, on page 16, news that the President of the United States was forced to sign a Congressional bill declaring economic war on Russia.

Unlike every other Trump signing, this was conducted in virtual secrecy and attached with a caveat from Trump himself that it was “clearly unconstitutional.”

A coup against the man in the White House is under way. This is not because he is an odious human being, but because he has consistently made clear he does not want war with Russia.

This glimpse of sanity, or simple pragmatism, is anathema to the “national security” managers who guard a system based on war, surveillance, armaments, threats and extreme capitalism. Martin Luther King called them “the greatest purveyors of violence in the world today.”

They have encircled Russia and China with missiles and a nuclear arsenal. They have used neo-Nazis to install an unstable, aggressive regime on Russia’s “borderland” – the way through which Hitler invaded, causing the deaths of 27 million people. Their goal is to dismember the modern Russian Federation.

In response, “partnership” is a word used incessantly by Vladimir Putin – anything, it seems, that might halt an evangelical drive to war in the United States. Incredulity in Russia may have now turned to fear and perhaps a certain resolution. The Russians almost certainly have war-gamed nuclear counter strikes. Air-raid drills are not uncommon. Their history tells them to get ready.

The threat is simultaneous. Russia is first, China is next. The U.S. has just completed a huge military exercise with Australia known as Talisman Sabre. They rehearsed a blockade of the Malacca Straits and the South China Sea, through which pass China’s economic lifelines.

The admiral commanding the U.S. Pacific fleet said that, “if required,” he would nuke China. That he would say such a thing publicly in the current perfidious atmosphere begins to make fact of Nevil Shute’s fiction.

Silencing Dissenting Journalists

None of this is considered news. No connection is made as the bloodfest of Passchendaele a century ago is remembered. Honest reporting is no longer welcome in much of the media. Windbags, known as pundits, dominate: editors are infotainment or party-line managers. Where there was once sub-editing, there is the liberation of axe-grinding clichés. Those journalists who do not comply are defenestrated.

A poster for the 1959 classic, “On the Beach,” telling the story of the last days of life on earth.

The urgency has plenty of precedents. In my film, The Coming War on China, John Bordne, a member of a U.S. Air Force missile combat crew based in Okinawa, Japan, describes how in 1962 – during the Cuban missile crisis – he and his colleagues were “told to launch all the missiles” from their silos.

Nuclear armed, the missiles were aimed at both China and Russia. A junior officer questioned this, and the order was eventually rescinded – but only after they were issued with service revolvers and ordered to shoot at others in a missile crew if they did not “stand down.”

At the height of the Cold War, the anti-communist hysteria in the United States was such that U.S. officials who were on official business in China were accused of treason and sacked. In 1957 – the year Shute wrote On the Beach – no official in the State Department could speak the language of the world’s most populous nation. Mandarin speakers were purged under strictures now echoed in the Congressional bill that has just passed, aimed at Russia.

The bill was bipartisan. There is no fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. The terms “left” and “right” are meaningless.  Most of America’s modern wars were started not by conservatives, but by liberal Democrats.

When Obama left office, he presided over a record seven wars, including America’s longest war and an unprecedented campaign of extrajudicial killings – murder – by drones.

In his last year, according to a Council on Foreign Relations study, Obama, the “reluctant liberal warrior,” dropped 26,171 bombs – three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day. Having pledged to help “rid the world” of nuclear weapons, the Nobel Peace Laureate built more nuclear warheads than any president since the Cold War.

Trump is a wimp by comparison. It was Obama – with his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at his side – who destroyed Libya as a modern state and launched the human stampede to Europe. At home, immigration groups knew him as the “deporter-in-chief.”

One of Obama’s last acts as president was to sign a bill that handed a record $618 billion to the Pentagon, reflecting the soaring ascendancy of fascist militarism in the governance of the United States. Trump has endorsed this.

Buried in the detail was the establishment of a “Center for Information Analysis and Response.” This is a ministry of truth. It is tasked with providing an “official narrative of facts” that will prepare us for the real possibility of nuclear war – if we allow it.

John Pilger is an Australian-British journalist based in London. Pilger’s Web site is: www.johnpilger.com. His new film, “The Coming War on China,” is available in the U.S. from www.bullfrogfilms.com

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Fri Aug 4, 2017 10:20AM
EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini (C) is welcomed by Iranian Foreign Ministry officials upon arrival in Tehran, August 4, 2017. (Photo by IRNA)
EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini (C) is welcomed by Iranian Foreign Ministry officials upon arrival in Tehran, August 4, 2017. (Photo by IRNA)

Leaders and senior politicians from around the world are arriving in the Iranian capital, Tehran, to attend the upcoming inauguration ceremony of President-elect Hassan Rouhani.

Since Thursday, aircraft carrying delegations have been touching down in Tehran’s Imam Khomeini and Mehrabad International Airports.

In May, Rouhani won re-election in a landslide victory after securing 57 percent of the votes and defeating his main contender Ebrahim Raeisi, the current custodian of the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH).

The swearing-in ceremony is slated to be held (at Majlis Parliament) on Saturday.

On Thursday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei formally endorsed Rouhani as president.

Read more:

Representatives from at least 100 countries are slated to partake in the ceremony.

By Saturday morning, officials from as many countries had reached Tehran for the ceremony, including: the European Union’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini; Britain’s Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt; Deputy Danish Foreign Minister Jonas Bering Liisberg; Deputy Italian Foreign Minister Vincenzo Amendola; Deputy Austrian Parliament Speaker Karlheinz Kopf; and the Netherlands’ former prime minister Wim Kok.

IRNA reported that Mogherini had held separate meetings with President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday.

A handout picture provided by the office of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on August 5, 2017, shows him (R) meeting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Tehran.

Iraqi President Fuad Massoum, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis, Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, and Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement Ramadan Abdullah have also arrived.

A handout picture provided by the office of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on August 5, 2017, shows him (R) meeting Iraqi President Fuad Massoum in Tehran.

So have South Korean Parliament Speaker Chung Sye-kyun, South Africa’s Minister of State Security, David Mahlobo, and Cuba’s Deputy President Ulises Rosales del Toro.

President of Inter-Parliamentary Union Saber Hossain Chowdhury, and Chairman of the board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Tigran Sargsyan have arrived in the Iranian capital, too.

Norman Stewart Hughson Lamont, the UK premier’s special envoy, arrives in Tehran, August 4, 2017.

Most lately, Madagascar’s Parliament Speaker Jean Max Rakotomamonjy, his Cambodian counterpart Nguon Nhel, Lesotho’s King Letsie III, First Ghanaian Deputy President Alhaji Bawumia, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, his Moldovan counterpart Igor Dodon, and Chairman of the Britain-Iran Parliamentary Friendship Group Richard Bacon have reached Tehran.

More foreign delegations arrive in Tehran to attend swearing-in ceremony of President-elect @HassanRouhani

Also among the dignitaries are the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea, Kim Yong-nam, and other North Korean political figures. The Islamic Republic recently designated a new building accommodating North Korea’s diplomatic mission.

Chung Sye-kyun, speaker of the South Korean National Assembly, visits the Iranian city of Isfahan on August, 4, 2017, on the eve of the inauguration ceremony. (Photo by IRNA)

Ebrahim Rahimpour, an Iranian deputy foreign minister, attended the ceremony, where he stressed the importance of expanding bilateral ties between the two sides.

He hailed Pyongyang’s support for Tehran during the1980s war imposed by the former Iraqi regime on Iran, with the two sides agreeing to ratchet up bilateral cooperation in political, economic, and cultural fields.

Iran’s Minister of Labor Ali Rabei (2nd R) receives Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe at Mehrabad Airport in Tehran, Aug. 4, 2017. (Photo by IRNA)

The other notables to have so far arrived for the inaugural ceremony include are the Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary General, Sheikh Naim Qassem, Pope Francis’ Nuncio to Iraq and Jordan Alberto Ortega, and Secretariat of the UN Conference on Trade and Development’s Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi.

Some other dignitaries are from Ireland, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Portugal, Malaysia, Ugandan, Guyana, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Swaziland, and Namibia.

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