Here we are again, on the verge of another war. The nightmare of Iraq all over again.
I remember the outrage I felt as I watched Bush and Co. lead us into that misguided chaos. I knew it was all manufactured bullshit. Now, we can look back and see what a bunch of malarky it really was. http://www.motherjones.com/... And yes, I’m being gentle when I use the word “malarky.” Believe me, there are many other words I’d like to use. Trying to watch my tongue, so to speak.
Are we really going to go down this path again?
We’ve been hearing about the tragedies in Syria for some time now. The terrible civil war that’s resulted in what most reports claim over 100,000 dead, endless destruction of communities, thousands upon thousands of injured, who knows how many refugees have fled to other countries. We here in the U.S. can’t imagine what it must be like to endure that kind of violence.
President Obama has been making the Red Line threat for a while now. The use of chemical weapons is indeed a terrible, horrific event. We were told by the President that he would be forced to act if this did indeed happen. Last week, we found out it has indeed taken place. This is an atrocity, we are being told. “It defies any code of morality,” said John Kerry, it’s a “moral obscenity.” Yes, Mr. Secretary. It is a moral obscenity.
The reports that have come out of Syria of a chemical weapons attack, terrible images of dead children, claims that Assad made the order to use chemical weapons on his own population. We’ve been hearing about what a monster this guy is for some time. Chemical weapons is the last straw, we are being told, before we take action against this bad guy. We must take action to protect American interests.
Wait a second. What American interests? I thought we were going there to help protect Syrians against Assad? Isn’t that why we’re going to show him a lesson? What the heck are American interests, anyway?
This sounds familiar.
After the fiasco of Iraq, we should all be very aware and concerned when the talking heads start pontificating the need for the United States to bomb Syria to “teach them a lesson” to not use chemical weapons on their people. It is unfortunate that it appears Obama has backed himself into a corner with all of this “red line” rhetoric, claiming again and again over the last several months that if there was proof that chemical weapons were used in Syria, it would be cause for American intervention. Many of the same talking heads who insisted we needed to take out Saddam Hussein are now insisting that we need to take the same action on Assad. Strange how the outrage over children dead from poisonous gas somehow garners the reaction that we should rain missiles on Syria to somehow “save” them.
Now, I admit, I’m not a journalist. But just a bit of research on the subject has given me a more clear understanding of the situation than what you can get from most of the talking heads on television demanding American forces start another bombing campaign on another country that has not attacked us.
What I’ve discovered is a chilling account by Michel Collon, a Belgian investigative journalist and writer who’s put together the theory of what he calls the 5 Principles of a Propaganda War.
When you put the Iraq war up against the test, all the pieces fit. Let’s take a look, shall we?
1. Hide economic interests.
Yes, indeed, they did just that. We were told Saddam had WMDs and he was going to use them against us, we were told Saddam was a danger to Americans, we were told we would be greeted as liberators by the Iraqis, we were spreading democracy and joy and freedom to the Middle East! Yay America! What they failed to tell you was their profit motives behind the war. According to International Business Times,
“...companies that made money off the war by providing support services as the privatization of what were former U.S. military operations rose to unprecedented levels. Private or publicly listed firms received at least $138 billion of U.S. taxpayer money for government contracts for services that included providing private security, building infrastructure and feeding the troops. Ten contractors received 52 percent of the funds, according to the analysis by the Financial Times.... The No. 1 recipient: KBR, which was spun off from it’s parent....Halliburton.... The company was given $39.5 billion.”
I’d say that was a pretty large economic interest. No conflict of interest at all, was there, VP Cheney?
2. Hide history of what colonialism did to divide the people of the country.
Did we really understand the history of Iraq before we went storming in to bring them “democracy?” Did anyone know or understand the difference between a Sunni or a Shiite or a Kurd? What we failed to acknowledge was that 75% of Iraqi citizens, an estimated 26 million people, belonged to one of 150 tribes that populated Iraq at the time of our “humanitarian” invasion. The arrogance of those like Rumsfeld, who spoke of the war estimate claimed “It could last ...six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.” We had no clear understanding of the underlying tensions that simmered just below the surface of an ancient population.
3. Demonize the one you intend to attack
It is much easier to demonize one person than an entire population, although much effort is still being made to demonize Muslims, Arabs, or any person from the Middle East, unless of course they are a Syrian child who’s been killed by poisonous gas. Saddam Hussein was propped up as the boogeyman who was going to use his Weapons of Mass Destruction against us. He was the Bad Guy who did terrible things to his people. It is easier to focus hatred on one man than an entire country, that way when he doesn’t live up to whatever ultimatums we put in place for him, we can call him out on it as it serves our purpose. In January of 2003, Rumsfeld claimed “Iraq poses a serious and mounting threat to our country” and Bush told us “The Iraqi regime is a threat to any American.” We were told Saddam could attack us with chemical weapons, and endless lies were propagandized to the American public that Saddam and Iraq had something to do with 9/11, a lie so well ingrained in many American minds that there are still those today who claim this falsehood to be true. (Good work, Fox News. I hope that Halliburton offered up a great Christmas bonus for you all.)
4. Pretend you are making an intervention to protect the victims.
The Iraqi people would be so happy to have our bombs of freedom rain down on them that we’d be greeted as liberators. I can still remember the ill feeling I got in the pit of my belly the first time I heard that rubbish. Those poor Iraqi women, once American forces were there, they were going to be free of their oppression. Our humanitarian bombs of democracy and freedom were going to bring justice to the Iraqi people who suffered for so long under the wrath of Saddam. Uncle Sam is coming to save the day! The terror we caused the people of Iraq, the countless deaths, and the unbearable living conditions those people are still living under today are reminders of how far their promises fell to those we looked to “save.”
5. Monopolize any debate.
If you believe there was a fair debate in the lead up to the war in Iraq, please take a look at this
It is widely known that Phil Donahue, the well respected talk show host turned MSNBC news hour host, had been offering the opposing view on the Iraq war. He had been instructed to have 2 conservative pro war voices on air for ever 1 liberal anti war voice. He did not last long. He was taken off the air, unable to keep up the corporate talking points. (GE owns MSNBC and is in the business of being a defense contractor.)
It has been proven again and again that war is a racket used by the military industrial complex to create more profit for defense contractors and profiteers. They convince the masses that a military strike is being made for humanitarian reasons, hiding their profit motive and stifling dissent by either suppressing opposing views or calling them out as supporters of the evil madman they’ve propped up for us to all hate, calling those who are against the war “anti-American” or traitors. They create a situation where the “good guys” are being forced by the “bad guys” to attack them, creating a twisted logic meant to blame the poor bully for having to beat up the geeky kid in school and steal his lunch money because it was the geek’s fault for walking down that hall when he did. The bully had no choice but to beat him up and stuff him in a locker. The aggressor creates the illusion of taking action as a humanitarian response, because our bombs will free the oppressed, save the innocent, create democracy born from bloodshed.
Journalists are fed the appropriate talking points of untold atrocities displayed for all to see, and the defense of what they deem an appropriate military response is painted conveniently with the brush stroke of humanitarian action. Dead children paraded on airwaves like sacrificial lambs to the gods of pre emptive war, creating the idea that our cause is sacred, for the bombs we drop are motivated by the need for a retaliation for those little dead bodies.
“Wars do not start with bombs, they start with media lies.” - Michel Collon
I share this with you because I watched the horrors of the pre emptive war with Iraq unfold with barely a challenge to the status quo. I can’t help but place these same 5 Principles of a Propaganda War upon the tragic events happening now in Syria. What concerns me is that Syria is definitely NOT Iraq.
General Wesley Clarke, in an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, revealed to us the Bush Administration’s original intentions soon after 9/11 was that they intended to take out 7 countries in 5 years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. “The truth is about the Middle East is had there been no oil there, it would be like Africa. Nobody is threatening to intervene in Africa.” This should be a very telling statement indeed. While we may have a different administration under a different president, we must acknowledge the very real fact that the military industrial complex operates in the shadows whether or not there is a Republican or a Democrat in the White House.
There have already been warnings issued by Iran and Russia of a retaliation if indeed the US attacks Syria. Make no mistake about it, to drop bombs on a country that has made no threat to us, that has made no clear cut attack upon us, is to declare war with them. The NeoCon game to make the claim that it will be a “surgical” strike, that there will be “pin point” targets are all to be taken with a very large grain of salt. How would Americans feel if Syria were to just make a “surgical” strike upon one of our Naval ships in the Persian Gulf? There is simply no such thing as a small strike. Syria is a well equipped to retaliate to any of our Naval ships in the area. There have been threats towards American allies such as Israel. Iran is close allies with Syria, as well as Russia and China. This isn’t just throwing a lit match in a powder keg, it’s throwing a live grenade in there.
We have been told that Obama will not wait for the UN report, and will not go to congress to seek approval. There are claims that Assad was the chemical weapons culprit, yet the fact that we cannot wait for a report from the UN leaves unanswered questions. After 9/11, we now have the Authorization to Use Military Force, and Obama intends to use it without congressional approval. We have reached the slippery slope, and our checks and balances are spinning out of control down the abyss towards an unchecked imperialism.
While I am not claiming to be a "journalist," I had the pleasure of reading the following quote by Mr. Collon, that I would like to share with you. It helped give me the motivation (and, by the way, the nerve) to write the above diary (please note, it's a loose translation from French):
"Praise of the citizen journalist. The information you can do, you're not helpless, you have power. You too can be journalist. It is up to each of us to engage in this battle...information, this battle for the truth."