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The War on Truth

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  • Dan Clore
    News for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo ZNet | Mainstream Media The War On Truth by John Pilger July 31, 2003 In Baghdad, the rise
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 31, 2003
      News for Anarchists & Activists:

      ZNet | Mainstream Media
      The War On Truth
      by John Pilger
      July 31, 2003

      In Baghdad, the rise and folly of rapacious imperial power
      is commemorated in a forgotten cemetery called the North
      Gate. Dogs are its visitors; the rusted gates are padlocked,
      and skeins of traffic fumes hang over its parade of
      crumbling headstones and unchanging historical truth.

      Lieutenant-General Sir Stanley Maude is buried here, in a
      mausoleum befitting his station, if not the cholera to which
      he succumbed. In 1917, he declared: "Our armies do not come
      . . . as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators." Within
      three years, 10,000 had died in an uprising against the
      British, who gassed and bombed those they called
      "miscreants". It was an adventure from which British
      imperialism in the Middle East never recovered.

      Every day now, in the United States, the all-pervasive media
      tell Americans that their bloodletting in Iraq is well under
      way, although the true scale of the attacks is almost
      certainly concealed. Soon, more soldiers will have been
      killed since the "liberation" than during the invasion.
      Sustaining the myth of "mission" is becoming difficult, as
      in Vietnam. This is not to doubt the real achievement of the
      invaders' propaganda, which was the suppression of the truth
      that most Iraqis opposed both the regime of Saddam Hussein
      and the Anglo-American assault on their homeland. One reason
      the BBC's Andrew Gilligan angered Downing Street was that he
      reported that, for many Iraqis, the bloody invasion and
      occupation were at least as bad as the fallen dictatorship.

      This is unmentionable here in America. The tens of thousands
      of Iraqi dead and maimed do not exist. When I interviewed
      Douglas Feith, number three to Donald Rumsfeld at the
      Pentagon, he shook his head and lectured me on the
      "precision" of American weapons. His message was that war
      had become a bloodless science in the service of America's
      unique divinity. It was like interviewing a priest. Only
      American "boys" and "girls" suffer, and at the hands of
      "Ba'athist remnants", a self-deluding term in the spirit of
      General Maude's "miscreants". The media echo this, barely
      gesturing at the truth of a popular resistance and
      publishing galleries of GI amputees, who are described with
      a maudlin, down-home chauvinism which celebrates the
      victimhood of the invader while casting the vicious
      imperialism that they served as benign. At the State
      Department, the under-secretary for international security,
      John Bolton, suggested to me that, for questioning the
      fundamentalism of American policy, I was surely a heretic,
      "a Communist Party member", as he put it.

      As for the great human catastrophe in Iraq, the bereft
      hospitals, the children dying from thirst and
      gastroenteritis at a rate greater than before the invasion,
      with almost 8 per cent of infants suffering extreme
      malnutrition, says Unicef; as for a crisis in agriculture
      which, says the Food and Agriculture Organisation, is on the
      verge of collapse: these do not exist. Like the
      American-driven, medieval-type siege that destroyed hundreds
      of thousands of Iraqi lives over 12 years, there is no
      knowledge of this in America: therefore it did not happen.
      The Iraqis are, at best, unpeople; at worst, tainted, to be
      hunted. "For every GI killed," said a letter given
      prominence in the New York Daily News late last month, "20
      Iraqis must be executed." In the past week, Task Force 20,
      an "elite" American unit charged with hunting evildoers,
      murdered at least five people as they drove down a street in
      Baghdad, and that was typical.

      The august New York Times and Washington Post are not, of
      course, as crude as the News and Murdoch. However, on 23
      July, both papers gave front-page prominence to the
      government's carefully manipulated "homecoming" of
      20-year-old Private Jessica Lynch, who was injured in a
      traffic accident during the invasion and captured. She was
      cared for by Iraqi doctors, who probably saved her life and
      who risked their own lives in trying to return her to
      American forces. The official version, that she bravely
      fought off Iraqi attackers, is a pack of lies, like her
      "rescue" (from an almost deserted hospital), which was
      filmed with night-vision cameras by a Hollywood director.
      All this is known in Washington, and much of it has been

      This did not deter the best and worst of American journalism
      uniting to help stage-manage her beatific return to
      Elizabeth, West Virginia, with the Times reporting the
      Pentagon's denial of "embellishing" and that "few people
      seemed to care about the controversy". According to the
      Post, the whole affair had been "muddied by conflicting
      media accounts". George Orwell described this as "words
      falling upon the facts like soft snow, blurring their
      outlines and covering up all the details". Thanks to the
      freest press on earth, most Americans, according to a
      national poll, believe Iraq was behind the 11 September
      attacks. "We have been the victims of the biggest cover-up
      manoeuvre of all time," says Jane Harman, a rare voice in
      Congress. But that, too, is an illusion.

      The verboten truth is that the unprovoked attack on Iraq and
      the looting of its resources is America's 73rd colonial
      intervention. These, together with hundreds of bloody covert
      operations, have been covered up by a system and a veritable
      tradition of state-sponsored lies that reach back to the
      genocidal campaigns against Native Americans and the
      attendant frontier myths; and the Spanish-American war,
      which broke out after Spain was falsely accused of sinking
      an American warship, the Maine, and war fever was whipped up
      by the Hearst newspapers; and the non-existent "missile gap"
      between the US and the Soviet Union, which was based on fake
      documents given to journalists in 1960 and served to
      accelerate the nuclear arms race; and four years later, the
      non-existent Vietnamese attack on two American destroyers in
      the Gulf of Tonkin for which the media demanded reprisals,
      giving President Johnson the pretext he wanted to bomb North

      In the late 1970s, a silent media allowed President Carter
      to arm Indonesia as it slaughtered the East Timorese, and to
      begin secret support for the mujahedin, from which came the
      Taliban and al-Qaeda. In the 1980s, the manufacture of an
      absurdity, the "threat" to America from popular movements in
      Central America, notably the Sandinistas in tiny Nicaragua,
      allowed President Reagan to arm and support terrorist groups
      such as the Contras, leaving an estimated 70,000 dead. That
      George W Bush's America gives refuge to hundreds of Latin
      American torturers, favoured murderous dictators and
      anti-Castro hijackers, terrorists by any definition, is
      almost never reported. Neither is the work of a "training
      school" at Fort Benning, Georgia, whose graduates would be
      the pride of Osama Bin Laden.

      Americans, says Time magazine, live in "an eternal present".
      The point is, they have no choice. The "mainstream" media
      are now dominated by Rupert Murdoch's Fox television
      network, which had a good war. The Federal Communications
      Commission, run by Colin Powell's son Michael, is finally to
      deregulate television so that Fox and four other
      conglomerates control 90 per cent of the terrestrial and
      cable audience. Moreover, the leading 20 internet sites are
      now owned by the likes of Fox, Disney, AOL Time Warner and a
      clutch of other giants. Just 14 companies attract 60 per
      cent of the time all American web-users spend online.

      The director of Le Monde Diplomatique, Ignacio Ramonet,
      summed this up well: "To justify a preventive war that the
      United Nations and global public opinion did not want, a
      machine for propaganda and mystification, organised by the
      doctrinaire sect around George Bush, produced
      state-sponsored lies with a determination characteristic of
      the worst regimes of the 20th century."

      Most of the lies were channelled straight to Downing Street
      from the 24-hour Office of Global Communications in the
      White House. Many were the invention of a highly secret unit
      in the Pentagon, called the Office of Special Plans, which
      "sexed up" raw intelligence, much of it uttered by Tony
      Blair. It was here that many of the most famous lies about
      weapons of mass destruction were "crafted". On 9 July,
      Donald Rumsfeld said, with a smile, that America never had
      "dramatic new evidence" and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz
      earlier revealed that the "issue of weapons of mass
      destruction" was "for bureaucratic reasons" only, "because
      it was the one reason [for invading Iraq] that everyone
      could agree on."

      The Blair government's attacks on the BBC make sense as part
      of this. They are not only a distraction from Blair's
      criminal association with the Bush gang, though for a less
      than obvious reason. As the astute American media
      commentator Danny Schechter points out, the BBC's revenues
      have grown to $5.6bn; more Americans watch the BBC in
      America than watch BBC1 in Britain; and what Murdoch and the
      other ascendant TV conglomerates have long wanted the BBC
      "checked, broken up, even privatised . . . All this money
      and power will likely become the target for Blair government
      regulators and the merry men of Ofcom, who want to contain
      public enterprises and serve those avaricious private
      businesses who would love to slice off some of the BBC's
      market share." As if on cue, Tessa Jowell, the British
      Culture Secretary, questioned the renewal of the BBC's

      The irony of this, says Schechter, is that the BBC was
      always solidly pro-war. He cites a comprehensive study by
      Media Tenor, the non-partisan institute that he founded,
      which analysed the war coverage of some of the world's
      leading broadcasters and found that the BBC allowed less
      dissent than all of them, including the US networks. A study
      by Cardiff University found much the same. More often than
      not, the BBC amplified the inventions of the lie machine in
      Washington, such as Iraq's non-existent attack on Kuwait
      with scuds. And there was Andrew Marr's memorable victory
      speech outside 10 Downing Street: "[Tony Blair] said that
      they would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath, and
      that in the end the Iraqis would be celebrating. And on both
      those points he has been proved conclusively right."

      Almost every word of that was misleading or nonsense.
      Studies now put the death toll at as many as 10,000
      civilians and 20,000 Iraqi troops. If this does not
      constitute a "bloodbath", what was the massacre of 3,000
      people at the twin towers?

      In contrast, I was moved and almost relieved by the
      description of the heroic Dr David Kelly by his family.
      "David's professional life," they wrote, "was characterised
      by his integrity, honour and dedication to finding the
      truth, often in the most difficult circumstances. It is hard
      to comprehend the enormity of this tragedy." There is little
      doubt that a majority of the British people understand that
      David Kelly was the antithesis of those who have shown
      themselves to be the agents of a dangerous, rampant foreign
      power. Stopping this menace is now more urgent than ever,
      for Iraqis and us.

      Dan Clore

      Now available: _The Unspeakable and Others_
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