America's loss of image
By Eric S. Margolis
Last week, Bush received a scornful reception at the United Nations
that symbolized the world's growing dismay over his administration.
Not since Nikita Kruschev pounded his shoe on the speaker's rostrum
has a major leader so embarrassed himself and his nation before the
In his UN speech, Bush again claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass
destruction and 'ties' to terrorism. Only days later, US
intelligence teams that scoured Iraq for four months reported no
traces of weapons or terrorism links - the pretext used by Bush and
his neo-conservative handlers for unprovoked war against Iraq.
The White House was left choking on its own grotesque lies.
Incredibly, vice-president Dick Cheney, a prime architect of the
Iraq war, actually claimed recently that Iraq still had mobile germ
labs, though the US and British inspectors debunked this phoney
claim last June. The 'special' intelligence network created by neo-
conservatives in Washington and Israel is still apparently feeding
disinformation to America's leadership. It staggers the imagination
that Cheney is so ill informed. How isolated from reality are he
and the president?
Yet none of this has stopped the White House and its pro-Israeli
neo-conservative string-pullers from raising new alarms about
Iran's nuclear program and issuing threats of war against the
Islamic republic. A crisis with 'nuclear armed Iran' will be an
excellent way of boosting Bush's declining popularity before the
2004 elections. If Iran does not work out, then Pakistan offers
another handy bogeyman. The phoney claims, promoted by Pentagon
neo-conservatives, that Pakistan was supplying North Korea with
nuclear technology was the first salvo in the upcoming scare
campaign about Pakistan.
Cheney's bizarre behaviour came only days after Bush finally
admitted Iraq was not, as most Americans were misled to believe,
behind the September 9, 2001 attacks on the US. No wonder world
leaders gave Bush the cold shoulder, and even usually timid UN
secretary-general Kofi Annan warned against 'dangerous acts of
unilateralism,' a pointed reference to the bellicose Bush
Unfortunately, many Americans still do not understand how gravely
White House has damaged the nation's once noble reputation. Recent
polls show that even among the traditional best friends abroad,
America is no longer regarded as a champion of freedom, democracy,
and human rights, but, increasingly, as a hegemon bent on imperial
domination and exploitation.
America's most precious and proudest asset, its moral reputation,
has been gravely damaged by White House. The only positive note:
rising anti-Americanism is largely associated in the eyes of non-
Americans with the persona of George Bush, a man who incarnates
almost all the negative stereotypes foreigners hold of the
Bush's blinkered core supporters simply don't understand or don't
care to know what the rest of the world thinks of their nation,
which, since 9/11, has wrapped itself in a cocoon of anti-foreign
feeling and self-righteous rage.
The White House's mouthpiece media, led by Fox News, have simply
blanked out world opinion and endlessly chorused administration war
A fascinating March study of network TV news by New York's fairness
and accuracy in media shows how Americans were misled into war by
outrageously biased programming on Iraq.
The Fair's analysis found: 76 per cent of all TV commentators on
Iraq were current or former government officials. Only six per cent
of the commentators expressed scepticism regarding the need for a
war - when 61 per cent of the public favoured more time for
diplomacy and inspections. On the four major TV networks, less than
one per cent of the sources were identified with anti-war groups.
Over two-thirds of the commentators were from the United States, 75
per cent either current or former government or military officials.
The small number of foreign commentators mostly came from nations,
like Britain and Israel, backing Bush's war policy.
In short, the major networks, under White House prompting, beat the
war drums and blatantly excluded commentators with contrary views,
presenting a distorted account of world events. No wonder so few
Americans understand what is going on abroad, how the outside world
really sees them, or why America has so many enemies overseas.
The 'citizens of the old Soviet Union suffered the same information
isolation. Like the Americans since 9/11, they were force-fed
propaganda disguised as news and deprived of all knowledge of the
real world around them.
Back to reality. Bush's UN speech was another attempt to mislead
the Americans into believing the horrid mess in Iraq - entirely the
creation of George Bush and the extremist neo-conservatives.
French President Jacques Chirac proposed that the US hand over Iraq
to the UN. But Bush, still lusting for Iraqi oil and fearful his
family foe, Saddam Hussein, would return to thumb his nose at him,
foolishly scorned this wise proposal. Bush is praying that his hit
teams will assassinate Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein before
next year's elections. But even that may not save Bush from the
growing anger of defrauded Americans who are slowly realizing that
Mr Bush's Iraq war was a political version of the giant Enron
financial swindle. - Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2003.
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