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John Pilger [Source: dailytelegraph.com.au]

Since his death on December 30, tributes have been pouring in for John Pilger, an Australian journalist who gave voice to the voiceless and had a talent for putting human tragedies into a political context.

Starting his career in the late 1950s working for daily newspapers in his native Sydney, Pilger became an investigative reporter for The Daily Mirror in Great Britain, where he was voted journalist of the year in 1967 and 1979, and a documentary film-maker who was known for his critical war reporting.

During the Vietnam War, Pilger documented U.S. atrocities and was among the first to break the story that U.S. soldiers were fragging their own officers.

John Pilger at work at the Daily Mirror in 1976.
John Pilger at work at the Daily Mirror in 1976. [Source: theguardian.com]

When the Vietnam War ended, Pilger was among the first Western reporters to enter Cambodia, producing a documentary watched by 150 million viewers that showed how massive U.S. carpet bombing resulted in the Khmer Rouge genocide from 1975-1979.

In the 1990s, Pilger produced a film exposing Indonesia’s genocide backed by the U.S. in East Timor, and another featuring an interview with Nelson Mandela that described a new “economic apartheid” in South Africa that kept many black people in poverty.

A champion of Julian Assange, Pilger wrote eight books and made additional films exposing a) the deadly effect of U.S. sanctions on Iraq; b) the hypocrisy of U.S. and British leaders that waged war on Afghanistan after 9/11; c) the terrible consequences of U.S. political interference in Latin America; d) the negative effects of health care privatization in Great Britain; and e) U.S. saber rattling towards China that was threatening the outbreak of a world war.

[Source: telesurenglish.net]

In late October, Pilger sat down for one of his last interviews with Brad Wolf, a former Lancaster, PA attorney. Pilger was testifying before a war crimes tribunal headed by Wolf and other peace activists that seeks to hold defense contractors accountable for war crimes.

During the interview, Pilger decried the role of the mainstream media in “beating the drums of war” and “promoting myths that lead to endless wars.”

These myths, he said, are “little different from the era of the First World War I when the media claimed that German soldiers were eating babies in Belgium and things like that.”

The fake atrocity stories told more recently have been about Saddam Hussein and the Russians.

According to Pilger, understanding how media propaganda works can be empowering. The War Crimes tribunal, he said, could lead to “an insurrection of banned knowledge” that would force people to look in the mirror and could affect real change.

The media today, Pilger said, is an instrumental element of the military-industrial complex, with its conglomerates intimately tied to the major arms companies.

While some of the media’s reporting may be factual, it leaves out so much. An example is the lack of reporting on U.S. provocations towards China, which, “if carried out the other way, would cause major hell to be paid.”

Over the last decades, Pilger said, that “the U.S. has consolidated a chain of military bases around China’s eastern seaboard and industrial heartland from which it was probing China’s coastline with drones and low-draft U.S. ships.”

Figure 3: US military bases
What the media is not reporting. [Source: thinkchina.sg]

Pilger further lamented the U.S. propaganda directed against Russia that was conditioning the public to view it as an enemy. Pilger said that he grew up amidst a constant propaganda barrage in the First Cold War, and was “again hearing lie after lie about Russia every day.”

The Cold War never ended. [Source: businessinsider.com]

Unfortunately, Pilger said that people in the West are susceptible to the messaging because they don’t have the time to deconstruct the false narratives and to find out the truth and have been conditioned from birth to view Russia negatively and as a national security threat.

The fate of Seymour Hersh is indicative of growing censorship in the media, Pilger said, as Hersh was “once able to publish his scoops in The New York Times and other mainstream media, but is now confined to self-publishing.” Most of the American public consequently “may not be aware of the U.S. role in blowing up the Nordstream II pipeline, which Hersh exposed.”

A person sitting in a chair with a map

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[Source: mythgyaan.com]

Pilger said that “one of the greatest dangers of the military-industrial complex today is the runaway development of Artificial Intelligence (AI),” which is making war look scarier and scarier and easier to carry out.

“The Air Force is currently advertising its development of autonomous control systems that control multiple drone aircrafts simultaneously. Swarms of drones is considered the next phase in the electronic battlefield” that will terrorize people worldwide.

A group of drones flying in the sky

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[Source: mindmatters.ai]

Pilger began his career reporting in Vietnam, which served then as a testing ground for high tech weapons systems without regard for the civilian population. The same disregard for civilians can be seen in today’s human laboratories—Gaza and Ukraine—which are bonanzas for some of the same arms manufacturers that grew rich off the Vietnam War.

Pentagon Officials Flocking to Join Venture Capital Firms

A few days after Pilger’s death, The New York Times ran an article by Eric Lipton entitled “New Spin on a Revolving Door: Pentagon Officials Turned Venture Capitalists,” which could be introduced as evidence in Wolf’s tribunal.

It profiled a glitzy event at the Ronald Reagan library in Simi Valley, California, that brought together Pentagon officials, Congressmen and women and military officers who have joined venture capital firms and are trying to use their connections in Washington to cash in on the potential to sell a new generation of weapons.

A jet that served as Air Force One hangs over a venue where people are seated at tables watching a speaker onstage.
Gala at Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California that brought together former Pentagon officials and military officers who now work for venture capital firms that invest in new weapons systems. [Source: nytimes.com]

Lipton wrote that “Retiring generals and departing top Pentagon officials once migrated regularly to the big established weapons makers like Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Now they are increasingly flocking to venture capital firms that have collectively pumped billions of dollars into Silicon Valley-style startups offering the Pentagon new war-fighting tools like autonomous killer drones, hypersonic jets and space surveillance equipment.”

People sitting around a round table eating a meal in a crowded room. Some people are wearing military uniforms and others are wearing suits.
Venture capitalists mingling with war planners and military commanders at Reagan Library gala event. [Source: nytimes.com]

Among the a-listers at the gala were Mark T. Esper, Defense Secretary under President Donald Trump who now works for Red Cell, a venture capital firm that has invested in new military startups like Epirus, whose anti-drone technology he pitched to top Pentagon officials.[1]

A person in a suit speaking into a microphone

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Mark T. Esper [Source: uspresidentialhistory.com]

Another attendee was Doug Philippone, a former Army Ranger and co-founder of the defense sector venture capital firm, Snowpoint Ventures who helped build the Pentagon sales of Palantir, a leading AI firm that has helped run the war in Ukraine.

The New York Times identified at least 50 former Pentagon and national security officials working in defense-related venture capital or private equity as executives or advisers who in many cases continue to interact regularly with Pentagon officials in the hopes of securing major military contracts. They also regularly meet with members of Congress to push for policy changes or increases in military spending that could benefit firms they have invested in.

In the last four years, at least $125 billion of venture capital has flooded into startups that build defense technology, according to data assembled for The Times by PitchBook, which tracks these investments, compared with $43 billion in the prior four years.

[Source: twitter.com]
A person in a blue jacket

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Elizabeth Warren [Source: wikipedia.org]

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is among the few critical voices on Capitol Hill who stated that “the growing role of venture capital and private equity firms makes President Eisenhower’s warning about the military-industrial complex seem quaint. War profiteering is not new, but the significant expansion risks advancing private financial interests at the expense of national security.”

Though welcome, these latter comments are understated and show disregard for the huge loss of life resulting from endless U.S. wars that Pilger’s reporting helped document.

If more people watched Pilger’s documentaries and followed his work, we would see more protests outside events like the Reagan library gala, and more shaming of the men and women inside who have so much blood on their hands.

  1. Esper is also now co-chairman of a commission set up by the Atlantic Council that is studying ways to accelerate the Pentagon’s embrace of new technology. The Atlantic Council staff set up a series of 70 briefings for Pentagon and congressional officials to promote their ideas. The staff director of the report, Stephen Rodriguez, is an executive at a defense venture capital firm. He also serves as an adviser to Applied Intuition, a software startup and military contractor that helped fund and promote the report. Funding for the Atlantic Council report also came from several other venture-backed defense startups and Mr. Philippone’s Snowpoint Ventures.

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About the Author


  1. “In 2016, the ICTY issued its judgement in the separate trial of Radovan Karadžić, which concluded that there was no evidence that Milošević had “participated in the realization of the common criminal objective”” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_of_Slobodan_Milo%C5%A1evi%C4%87

    Pilger and I, and billions of people support the right of an oppressed, occupied people to defend themselves against the aggressor, which Israel has been since 1948, and as such has always violated the terms of the UN decision to allow Israel to exist with Jews and Palestinians Muslims. Hamas action of Oct. 7 included acts of terrorism, which I do not support. The many millions of people out on the streets in these weeks do not proclaim to support that part of Hamas history.
    I don’t know who you are but you are attempting to demonize one of the greatest truth telling journalist in history. As such, whether intentional or otherwise, you are assisting Wall Street, City, Pentagon, CIA, Israel fascist Zionists, and those who intend to murder another great publisher of truth, Julian Assange.

  2. Angelo. The ICC court found Milosevic inocent of any war crimes. Where do you have EVIDENCE of him supporting Hamas? And if he did, it certainly was before Oct. 7 attack.

    Here is my eulogy of this great man, this real muckraking journalist for Everyman.

    John Pilger: A Giant Muckraker Dies at 84

    One of my three journalist mentors, John Pilger, died December 30, 2023, of pulmonary fibrosis.

    I first knew of his work when he covered the US’s aggressive dirty war (with Australia’s active support) against Vietnam-Cambodia-Laos when I was an anti-war activist in the United States.
    As Jeremy Corbyn wrote about him, “John gave a voice to the unheard and the occupied: in Australia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Chile, Iraq, East Timor, Palestine, and beyond.”

    John “was a journalist who never shirked from saying the unsayable,” wrote Anthony Hayward in The Guardian about John’s 60+ documentaries. “He was a fervent critic of US and British foreign policy. In 2006, on a panel at Columbia University, New York, to discuss Breaking the Silence: War, Lies and Empire, Pilger asserted that ‘journalists in the so-called mainstream bear much of the responsibility’ for the devastation and lives lost in Iraq, by not challenging and exposing ‘the lies of Bush and Blair’”. John Pilger obituary | John Pilger | The Guardian
    John was born October 9, 1939, nine days after me. Without knowing one another until recently, we shared the same journalist mentor, Wilfred Burchett. Both John and Wilfred were born in Australia. My third journalist mentor, Julian Assange, is also an Australian and dear friend of John’s.

    Wilfred Burchett became renowned for his journalism and humanism by defying the US military’s refusal to allow the media to report from atomic bombed Hiroshima. Burchett entered Hiroshima anyway and was the first to report on how the people were decimated. (Daily Express London, 5 September 1945.)

    In Burchett’s The Memoirs of a Rebel Journalist (Quartet Books, London, 1980) he defines what journalism means to him. His credo became both Pilger’s and mine, and probably Julian’s as well.

    1. It is not a bad thing to become a journalist because you have something to say and are burning to say it.
    2. There is no substitute for looking into things on the spot, especially if you are going to write on burning international issues of the day.
    3. Make every possible effort to get the facts across to at least some section of the public.
    4. Do not be tied to a news organization in which you would be required to write against your own conscience and knowledge.

    I met Burchett at Versailles during the February 1972 World Assembly for Peace and Independence for the Indochinese People. We were 1200 delegates from 84 countries. The largest peace conference during the two-decade long war urged unity and demonstrations. At the end, we were among 25-40,000 who marched in Paris to end the war.

    Among delegates and speakers were two former presidents and prime ministers, mayors, senators, religious and union leaders, and activists—the largest contingent. In the words of Jane Fonda, the conference “represented the majority of Americans and the will of the world’s people to end the war by withdrawing all US forces now.”

    Burchett and I covered this unique conference. I was also a delegate for Los Angeles anti-war groups. Burchett’s and Pilger’s coverage of Vietnam and Cambodia were important for us activists worldwide, providing us with information and passion for peace activism.
    In the past three years, I came to know John through correspondence and articles calling for Julian Assange’s freedom. He sometimes wrote to me, encouraging my coverage for justice through activism. He wrote the following regarding my latest piece about US/UK governments imprisonment of Julian—written with This Can’t Be Happening founder Dave Lindorff, US/UK Seek to Silence Julian Assange and Free Press, Australia Says ‘Enough’ – CounterPunch.org

    “Well done on this piece. The grass-roots support matters the most, in my view; even in today’s dark world, the embarrassment and electoral factors can still work. Here [Australia] and in the UK, MPs hear about support for Julian constantly. As far as governments are concerned, if there was strategic gain to letting him go, they would have released him by now. So it’s impossible to predict, alas.
    Please keep sending me your work.
    All power to you, Ron.”

    • In reference to your comment, “Where do you have EVIDENCE of him supporting Hamas? And if he did, it certainly was before Oct. 7 attack.”
      I only found one comment that John made which was on October 8 in his twitter account..
      My interpretation of his comment is that he is supportive or if not supportive he is definitely not critical at all. If you are not critical, then you likely are supportive, although it is possible for someone to be neither supportive or critical, but his twitter comment sounds very supportive to me.

      John Pilger
      The Palestinians are again fighting for their lives, refusing to live in the prison known as Gaza, controlled and policed by Israel with Palestinians killed and maimed, unreported, day after day. Now their resistance, to which they have a right, is called ‘unprovoked’. Read on:

    • In reference to your comment that “The ICC court found Milosevic innocent of any war crimes” I sent a letter to the ICC court asking them if this is true. I may not receive an answer but if I do I will let your know what the ICC’s response is. I have my own thoughts on this, but a direct response form the ICC will carry more weight than my own comments.

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