John Pilger

individual

Overview

  • Australian journalist and documentary-maker
  • Critic of Israel and the United States
  • Praised Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and the Marxist Sandinistas of Nicaragua
  • Said that American, British, and Australian troops in Iraq are “legitimate targets” for killers because “they’re illegally occupying a country.”

Born on October 9, 1939 in Bondi, Australia, John Pilger is a journalist, author, and documentary producer. Both of his parents were socialists, his father a member of the Industrial Workers of the World. He has been based principally in the United Kingdom since 1962.

Pilger’s interest in journalism began when he was enrolled at Sydney Boys High School, where he founded the student newspaper, the Messenger. He later completed a four-year cadetship with Australian Consolidated Press. From 1958-2014, Pilger held numerous jobs as a writer, editor, and correspondent for a variety of publications and news outlets. Most notably, he worked for the Daily Mirror from 1963-86, and wrote a regular column for the New Statesman magazine from 1991-2014. Pilger’s perspective in his writings and his documentaries is relentlessly anti-American, anti-capitalist, anti-Israel and pro-Arab.

In February 2001 Pilger portrayed the United States as the longtime overseer of “geopolitical fascism.” Three months later, he described Israel as a “terrorist state” with “a policy of state murder.”[1]

Two days after 9/11, Pilger wrote that “Islamic peoples” worldwide had long been the “victims” of “American fundamentalism,” “whose power, in all its forms,” represented “the greatest source of terrorism on earth.” That same fall, Pilger depicted America’s war-on-terror as a “fraud,” accusing the U.S. of committing needless atrocities against innocent Afghan peasants.[2]

In August 2003 Pilger characterized the detention facilities in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba as “concentration camps” where “there are no human rights, no recognizable rule of law, no justice.” That same month, he portrayed U.S. and British soldiers in Iraq as “death squads” complicit in “a great recognized crime” that had “brought down on the Middle East, and much of the rest of the world, the prospect of terrorism and suffering on a scale that al-Qaeda could only imagine.”[3]

In a March 2004 interview, Pilger was asked if he approved of “the killing of American, British or Australian troops” by their enemies in Iraq. He replied: “Well yes, they’re legitimate targets. They’re illegally occupying a country.” That same month, Pilger confirmed his hope that America would be “defeated militarily” in Iraq because “unless the United States is defeated there … we’re likely to [also] see an attack on Iran [and] North Korea and … even … China within a decade.” In April 2004 Pilger wrote that he had “seldom felt as safe in any country” as when visiting Saddam Hussein’s Iraq prior to the war. In January 2005 he again voiced support for the Iraqi resistance on the grounds that “we can’t afford to be choosy” in acquiring allies against the U.S.-led coalition.[4]

Blaming the West for the rise of Islamic terrorism, Pilger in 2005 wrote that the explosives used in the deadly July 7th jihadist attacks against London’s public transport system “were [Prime Minister Tony] Blair’s bombs” because “Blair brought home to this country his and George W. Bush’s illegal, unprovoked and blood-soaked adventure in the Middle East” – an act of “epic irresponsibility” which the London killings were intended to avenge.[5]

Accusing the West of blindly supporting Israel while disregarding the needs of Arab and Muslim nations, Pilger in July 2007 said that “Israel is the American watchdog in the Middle East, and that’s why the Palestinians remain victims of one of the longest military occupations.” “[U]ntil there is justice for the Palestinians,” he added, “there will never be any kind of stability in the Middle East.”[6]  In 2008, Pilger became an advisory board member with the Free Gaza Movement, a pro-Hamas initiative.

During that same general time period, Pilger was an avid admirer of Venezuela’s then-president, Hugo Chávez, a communist despot who, by Pilger’s telling, had demonstrated “an alternative way of developing a decent society” that stood in stark contrast to the “Washington-designed peonage” that had long inflicted great suffering on “the majority of humanity.”[7]

Among the more noteworthy documentary films which Pilger has produced are the following[8]:

Vietnam: The Quiet Mutiny (1970) explores the profound “disaffection” allegedly experienced by many American soldiers because of how they were mistreated and exploited by their commanding officers.

* Vietnam: Still America’s War (1974) is about “the continuing and growing and forgotten suffering of the Vietnamese people.”

Nicaragua: A Nation’s Right to Survive (1983) offers a sympathetic portrayal of the communist Sandinistas backed by Fidel Castro – a man whose own communist revolution represented, in Pilger’s calculus, “a crucial model for challenging power” – while depicting the Nicaraguan peasants who opposed them as murderous devils.

Vietnam: The Last Battle (1995) condemns the long-term “economic plunder of [Vietnam] by the United States and other powerful countries.”

Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq (2000) castigates America for imposing economic sanctions on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

The New Rulers of the World (2001) laments “the true effects of globalization” and American “imperialism” – i.e., a world where “the rich get richer on the backs of the poor.”

Palestine Is Still the Issue (2002) denounces Israel for using what Pilger calls its “huge military regime” to inflict “routine terror” on the “stateless and humiliated” Palestinian people, thereby effectively leaving them no choice but to commit “desperate acts of terror, like suicide bombing.”

Breaking The Silence: Truth And Lies In The War On Terror (2003) depicts America’s post-9/11 anti-terrorism measures as “part of an opened-ended war for global dominance and control of valuable oil resources in the Middle East.” Americans, says Pilger, with their “rapacious” desire for “imperial power,” are the world’s “most threatening terrorists,” guilty of “far greater acts of violence than those committed by the fanatics of al-Qaeda.”

The War On Democracy (2007) celebrates not only the “rise of populist governments across South America [led] by indigenous leaders intent on loosening the shackles of Washington,” but also what Pilger calls “the struggle of people to free themselves from a modern form of slavery” stemming from an American “war being waged against all of us.”

The Coming War on China (2016) argues that central planning is preferable to free-market capitalism; that Mao Zedong was a hero who courageously led the resistance against foreign influence in China (his mass murders are never mentioned); and that the warmongering U.S. constitutes the greatest threat to peace that the world has ever known.

For additional information on John Pilger, click here.

Further Reading:A Tribute to My Mom” (by John Pilger, 5-17-2004); “Interview with John Pilger” (The Progressive,7-16-2007); “John Pilger Biography” (JohnPilger.com).

Footnotes

  1. Fascism Today Is Not Just Skinheads and an Austrian Political Thug” (by John Pilger, 2-5-2001); “The Big Threat in the Middle East Is Israel, Not Iraq” (by John Pilger, 5-14-2001).
  2. Far from Being the Terrorists of the World, the Islamic Peoples Have Been Its Victims” (by John Pilger, 9-17-2001); “The War on Terror: The Other Victims” (by John Pilger, International Socialist Review, Nov-Dec 2001).
  3. The Epic Slaughter in Iraq Also Deserves an Inquiry” (by John Pilger, 8-24-2003); “Who Are the Extremists?” (by John Pilger, 8-25-2003).
  4. John Pilger’s Double Standard” (Jihad Watch, 3-21-2004); “Seditious Opinion? Lock ‘Em Up” (ABC.net.au); “If the Military Brass Knew Their Stuff, They’d Whisper Advice on Iraq: “Get out Now’” (by John Pilger, 4-19-2004); “An Honest leftist on Iraq” (American Thinker, 9-17-2005).
  5. Blair’s Bombs” (by John Pilger, 7-25-2005).
  6. Interview with John Pilger” (The Progressive, 7-16-2007).
  7. Chávez Is a Threat Because He Offers the Alternative of a Decent Society” (by John Pilger, 5-12-2006).
  8. Vietnam: The Quiet Mutiny (1970); Vietnam: Still America’s War (1974); Nicaragua: A Nation’s Right to Survive (1983); Vietnam: The Last Battle (1995); Nicaragua: A Nation’s Right to Survive (1983); Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq (2000); The New Rulers of the World (2001); Palestine Is Still the Issue (2002); Breaking The Silence: Truth And Lies In The War On Terror (2003); The War On Democracy (2007); The Coming War on China (2016).

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