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Leftist Lies About the War (english)
by Preston McConkie
03 Apr 2003
Modified: 04 Apr 2003
Almost invariably, when protesters cry "peace" they mainly mean peace for their own minds – absolution from sacrifice or the need to make difficult choices. To that end, they are willing to wage total war against the truth. From accusations that America is starving Iraqi children, to accusations that Bush plan a silent genocide, to accusations that multibillion-dollar wars are fought over $1 billion construction projects, their version of reality requires reassigning motives and responsibility, downplaying or exaggerating facts, and fabricating fantastic lies.
For example, former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter is a novice war protester who instinctively understands what is needed, but isn’t perfectly polished yet. In a September interview with Time, he was reluctant to answer a question about a prison he’d seen during his inspections career, but nonetheless replied:
"[It] appeared to be a prison for children – toddlers up to pre-adolescents – whose only crime was to be the offspring of those who have spoken out politically against the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was a horrific scene…Actually I’m not going to describe what I saw there because what I saw was so horrible that it can be used by those who would want to promote war with Iraq, and right now I’m waging peace."
Since becoming a film maker in the employ of an Iraqi-born Michigan real estate developer, Ritter has been a pioneer of the claim that 5,000 Iraqi children die each month from the effects of sanctions.
At one time, this man had some sense. "Saddam Hussein is willing to parlay the suffering of his people for economic gain," he said in a 1999 interview with Britain’s notoriously far-left newspaper the Guardian. But by 2002, he’d learned not to emphasize Hussein’s role in that suffering. His notorious address to Iraq’s parliament on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary drew comparisons to "Hanoi Jane" Fonda’s conduct during the Vietnam War. His decision to blame all the world’s pain on the one superpower, however, ensures him a faceless future as simply one more clone of the anti-war Left.
The assertion that America is starving Iraqi children is not new. While body counts vary, the "5,000 per month" allegation, with its implications of systematic genocide, has proven popular. Now no informed person questions that large numbers of children and adults have perished in Iraq due to malnutrition and disease. According to a U.N. press release from March 24 2000, Secretary General Kofi Annan raised the question of "who was responsible for the situation: President Saddam Hussein or the United Nations."
Since Hussein first agreed to the oil-for-food program in 1996 (having rejected earlier offers), the United Nations has handled approximately $55 billion in authorized oil sales, bringing Iraq’s total exports near pre-war levels, but with the U.N. skimming enormous administrative fees and diverting part to war reparations. Iraq orders shiploads of supplies and presents the manifests to the U.N., which normally grants approval and cuts a check.
The U.N. handles deliveries in the ethnically-Kurdish north of Iraq, but disbursal to the Baghdad-controlled areas of Iraq is the job of Hussein’s regime. Further, Hussein is the one who must make the actual orders, and has deliberately left $21 billion – more than half of his share – unspent.
In September the Wall Street Journal pointed out the U.N.’s growing financial incentive to uphold the status quo, since it is "working, on commission, for Saddam." France and Russia, the biggest importers and re-sellers of Iraqi oil, have actively obstructed regime change. The longer the Saddam problem remains, the more money France, Russia and the U.N. make.
Meanwhile, Hussein has managed to smuggle about $3 billion in oil each year , and has even worked a finger into the oil-for-food pie, orchestrating kickbacks from intermediaries and collecting further billions for his palaces and weapons programs. This is, of course, standard operating procedure in the Arab Middle East, the land that invented baksheesh.
All this makes an excellent case for deposing Hussein, if only "for the children" as liberals love to say. Yet both his fellow travelers and Ritter, who knows firsthand the true plight of Iraqi children, advocate a laissez faire Iraq policy. Sanctions, he told the Guardian, make America "party" to the Iraqi people’s suffering.
To the truly fanatical "peace"-niks, the evil of war is not that people die, but that involvement forces Americans to make painful, conscience-tasking choices. This discomfort is anathema to a group that, during its 1960s incarnation, declared everything from the draft to academic standards to be a "hassle."
Protesters such as William Blum remain vigilant even during peace. A former Johnson Administration staffer still fulminating over American intervention in Latin America, in 1995 Blum wrote Killing Hope: U. S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, which boasts these paragraphs:
"Everyone knows of the unbelievable repression of women in Afghanistan, carried out by Islamic fundamentalists, even before the Taliban. But how many people know that during the late 1970s and most of the 1980s, Afghanistan had a government committed to bringing the incredibly backward nation into the 20th century, including giving women equal rights?.. What happened, however, is that the United States poured billions of dollars into waging a terrible war against this government, simply because it was supported by the Soviet Union. Prior to this, CIA operations had knowingly increased the probability of a Soviet intervention, which is what occurred. In the end, the United States won, and the women, and the rest of Afghanistan, lost. More than a million dead, three million disabled, five million refugees, in total about half the population."
When the U.S. kicked off its own invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, the legend makers were standing by with pens primed, ready to list the atrocities. Their greatest hope was for mass starvation to break out, something predicted confidently by Edward Herman in Nov. 2001 in "Genocide as Collateral Damage, But With Sincere Regrets," an article scattered thickly through anti-war cyberspace.
Even at that early date in the war, Herman was drawing parallels to Vietnam atrocities, claiming the Bush Administration planned for maximum civilian suffering. In choosing to invade at a time inconvenient to Afghanistan as a whole, "the U.S. war's impact on the Afghan starvation crisis is to exacerbate it, making it a policy of mass killing" while the media "are oblivious to the hypocrisy of the food drop program and its PR character."
Also in November 2001, former Herman collaborator Noam Chomsky told the Cairo newspaper Al-Ahram, "Plans are being made on the assumption that they may lead to the death of several million people. Very casually, with no comment and with no particular thought about it. It looks like what is happening is some sort of silent genocide."
Interestingly, when leftists fail to check each other’s notes they sometimes tread on each other’s toes. Robert Scheer wrote for The Nation on Dec. 3 (the article no longer shows up in their archives) that "the new Administration ... even funneled "humanitarian" aid to Taliban-run Afghanistan as a reward for the fundamentalists’ eradication of an opium crop." Impugning Bush’s motives (this is dealt with elsewhere) and putting "humanitarian" in quotation marks doesn’t change the fact that the Bush Administration was feeding Afghans up to the moment the war on terror began and kept feeding them afterwards.
Herman’s and Chomsky’s claims are admirably ambitious, but if massive loss of life doesn’t happen in Afghanistan they may prove of minor use; propagandists will be have to rely on mischaracterizing the Administration’s reasons for invading in the first place, since even a small body count is shocking if it happens for no good purpose. This all ignores, of course, the fact that American intervention in Afghanistan essentially stopped (or grossly curtailed, since no-one is claiming Afghanistan has become Connecticut) a long-running civil war that was costing thousands of lives. Our intervention has thus already saved many times more Afghan lives than have died in our bombings in the most extravagant plausible estimate.
Hence the predictable accusation that this war, too, is all about oil. In the 1991 Gulf War that was a reasonable statement; in Afghanistan the idea takes a little more explaining. Although Afghanistan has little oil of its own, nearby Central Asian nations are brimming with largely untapped reserves. Burgeoning India is a market particularly hungry for natural gas from Turkmenistan and its completely landlocked neighbor, Uzbekistan.
Since the Central Asian republics became independent of Moscow in 1991, Turkmenistan’s government and an international consortium of major corporations, headed by California-based Unocal, have been itching to build pipelines that would deliver oil and natural gas to the world market. Pipelines have been planned that would go in two directions: west across Iran or under the Caspian Sea, through Turkey and to the Mediterranean, and east across Afghanistan, through Pakistan to a port there and on to the gas grid in New Delhi. Troubles related to Islamist regimes in both directions have stopped any of these projects that would bring huge oil and gas profits to Asia’s arid, underdeveloped heartland.
These petroleum projects are essential to keeping the price of oil down in the long run, which is essential to the health of the entire world economy. One is naturally very curious about how many of the people who treat industrial civilization’s pursuit of oil as something shameful actually walk to work or ride in wood-burning buses.
Naturally, in the wake of the Taliban’s ouster it is expected that work will go forward, and a gas pipeline project has already been announced. Although the Unocal-led consortium is still waiting for signs of political stability, stories started running months ago in the British press and campus-oriented web sites calling the war a front for American oil companies.
In the screed "Afghanistan, the Taliban and the Bush Oil Team," put out by the Canada-based Centre for Research on Globalisation and posted to democrats.com last January, Afghan President Hamid Karzai was "a top advisor" for Unocal before the U.S. invasion. The conclusion, of course, is that Karzai was installed for the purpose of furthering U.S. oil interests.
If Karzai had merely been an oil man drafted into government service this might hold some water, but he was already a veteran official from the post-Soviet government overthrown by the Taliban in 1996.
He also belongs to the prestigious Populzai clan, which supplied Afghanistan’s kings from the mid-1700s on. But he had the bad grace to give solicited advice to an American business, and to the campus babblers and scribblers who are the primary consumers of anti-war propaganda, multibillion dollar projects – which inevitably involve American financiers and businesses – are symbols of despised corporate imperialism. Just as any war that involves American interests is suspect, so is any Marshal plan involving American corporations.
To think Afghanistan’s delegates would have supported a know-nothing or an anti-pipeline president is absurd. Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan all want the pipeline; what they lack is the capital and corporate resources to build it themselves. To the anti-Western comfortably ensconced in the West, however, Westernizing the East’s standard of living is a sin in itself.
The current war is generally a popular one with Americans galvanized by 9/11, so its opponents attack from three directions. The first employs exaggerations or fabrications about America’s role in world tragedies, ranging from ad nauseam recitations of single incidents (Japanese internments, Mai Lai) to creative math depicting Americans as mass murderers surpassing Stalin. The second requires minimizing, dismissing or shifting blame for real atrocities committed by enemy regimes. The third requires twisting the motives for a war so the cause eclipses the outcome.
The goal is a policy of abandonment. Renouncing U.S. interests is an article of faith among war protesters, and if that means abandoning the victims of tyranny as well, then it’s a question of tough priorities – and accepting whatever collateral damage it takes to give them a warm feeling of moral superiority inside.
veteran of the first Persian Gulf War
(No verified email address)
04 Apr 2003
saddam has nothijg ot do with 9/11, so the people galvanised by it are victims of blind hate. This has happened in the past:
NEW YORK, Mar 28, 2003 -- The 70th anniversary wasn't noticed in the United States, and was barely reported in the corporate media. But the Germans remembered well that fateful day seventy years ago - February 27, 1933. They commemorated the anniversary by joining in demonstrations for peace that mobilized citizens all across the world.
It started when the government, in the midst of a worldwide economic crisis, received reports of an imminent terrorist attack. A foreign ideologue had launched feeble attacks on a few famous buildings, but the media largely ignored his relatively small efforts. The intelligence services knew, however, that the odds were he would eventually succeed. (Historians are still arguing whether or not rogue elements in the intelligence service helped the terrorist; the most recent research implies they did not.)
But the warnings of investigators were ignored at the highest levels, in part because the government was distracted; the man who claimed to be the nation's leader had not been elected by a majority vote and the majority of citizens claimed he had no right to the powers he coveted. He was a simpleton, some said, a cartoon character of a man who saw things in black-and-white terms and didn't have the intellect to understand the subtleties of running a nation in a complex and internationalist world.
His coarse use of language - reflecting his political roots in a southernmost state - and his simplistic and often-inflammatory nationalistic rhetoric offended the aristocrats, foreign leaders, and the well-educated elite in the government and media. And, as a young man, he'd joined a secret society with an occult-sounding name and bizarre initiation rituals that involved skulls and human bones.
Nonetheless, he knew the terrorist was going to strike (although he didn't know where or when), and he had already considered his response. When an aide brought him word that the nation's most prestigious building was ablaze, he verified it was the terrorist who had struck and then rushed to the scene and called a press conference.
"You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history," he proclaimed, standing in front of the burned-out building, surrounded by national media. "This fire," he said, his voice trembling with emotion, "is the beginning." He used the occasion - "a sign from God," he called it - to declare an all-out war on terrorism and its ideological sponsors, a people, he said, who traced their origins to the Middle East and found motivation for their evil deeds in their religion.
Two weeks later, the first detention center for terrorists was built in Oranianberg to hold the first suspected allies of the infamous terrorist. In a national outburst of patriotism, the leader's flag was everywhere, even printed large in newspapers suitable for window display.
Within four weeks of the terrorist attack, the nation's now-popular leader had pushed through legislation - in the name of combating terrorism and fighting the philosophy he said spawned it - that suspended constitutional guarantees of free speech, privacy, and habeas corpus. Police could now intercept mail and wiretap phones; suspected terrorists could be imprisoned without specific charges and without access to their lawyers; police could sneak into people's homes without warrants if the cases involved terrorism.
To get his patriotic "Decree on the Protection of People and State" passed over the objections of concerned legislators and civil libertarians, he agreed to put a 4-year sunset provision on it: if the national emergency provoked by the terrorist attack was over by then, the freedoms and rights would be returned to the people, and the police agencies would be re-restrained. Legislators would later say they hadn't had time to read the bill before voting on it.
Immediately after passage of the anti-terrorism act, his federal police agencies stepped up their program of arresting suspicious persons and holding them without access to lawyers or courts. In the first year only a few hundred were interred, and those who objected were largely ignored by the mainstream press, which was afraid to offend and thus lose access to a leader with such high popularity ratings.
Citizens who protested the leader in public - and there were many - quickly found themselves confronting the newly empowered police's batons, gas, and jail cells, or fenced off in protest zones safely out of earshot of the leader's public speeches. (In the meantime, he was taking almost daily lessons in public speaking, learning to control his tonality, gestures, and facial expressions. He became a very competent orator.)
Within the first months after that terrorist attack, at the suggestion of a political advisor, he brought a formerly obscure word into common usage. He wanted to stir a "racial pride" among his countrymen, so, instead of referring to the nation by its name, he began to refer to it as "The Homeland," a phrase publicly promoted in the introduction to a 1934 speech recorded in Leni Riefenstahl's famous propaganda movie "Triumph Of The Will."
As hoped, people's hearts swelled with pride, and the beginning of an us-versus-them mentality was sewn. Our land was "the" homeland, citizens thought: all others were simply foreign lands. We are the "true people," he suggested, the only ones worthy of our nation's concern; if bombs fall on others, or human rights are violated in other nations and it makes our lives better, it's of little concern to us.
Playing on this new nationalism, and exploiting a disagreement with the French over his increasing militarism, he argued that any international body that didn't act first and foremost in the best interest of his own nation was neither relevant nor useful. He thus withdrew his country from the League of Nations in October, 1933, and then negotiated a separate naval armaments agreement with Anthony Eden of The United Kingdom to create a worldwide military ruling elite.
His propaganda minister orchestrated a campaign to ensure the people that he was a deeply religious man and that his motivations were rooted in Christianity. He even proclaimed the need for a revival of the Christian faith across his nation, what he called a "New Christianity."
Every man in his rapidly growing army wore a belt buckle that declared "Gott Mit Uns" - God Is With Us - and most of them fervently believed it was true. Within a year of the terrorist attack, the nation's leader determined that the various local police and federal agencies around the nation were lacking the clear communication and overall coordinated administration necessary to deal with the terrorist threat facing the nation, particularly those citizens who were of Middle Eastern ancestry and thus probably terrorist and communist sympathizers, and various troublesome "intellectuals" and "liberals."
He proposed a single new national agency to protect the security of the homeland, consolidating the actions of dozens of previously independent police, border, and investigative agencies under a single leader. He appointed one of his most trusted associates to be leader of this new agency, the Central Security Office for the homeland, and gave it a role in the government equal to the other major departments.
His assistant who dealt with the press noted that, since the terrorist attack, "Radio and press are at our disposal." Those voices questioning the legitimacy of their nation's leader, or raising questions about his checkered past, had by now faded from the public's recollection as his central security office began advertising a program encouraging people to phone in tips about suspicious neighbors.
This program was so successful that the names of some of the people "denounced" were soon being broadcast on radio stations. Those denounced often included opposition politicians and celebrities who dared speak out - a favorite target of his regime and the media he now controlled through intimidation and ownership by corporate allies.
To consolidate his power, he concluded that government alone wasn't enough. He reached out to industry and forged an alliance, bringing former executives of the nation's largest corporations into high government positions. A flood of government money poured into corporate coffers to fight the war against the Middle Eastern ancestry terrorists lurking within the homeland, and to prepare for wars overseas.
He encouraged large corporations friendly to him to acquire media outlets and other industrial concerns across the nation, particularly those previously owned by suspicious people of Middle Eastern ancestry. He built powerful alliances with industry; one corporate ally got the lucrative contract worth millions to build the first large-scale detention center for enemies of the state. Soon more would follow. Industry flourished.
But after an interval of peace following the terrorist attack, voices of dissent again arose within and without the government. Students had started an active program opposing him (later known as the White Rose Society), and leaders of nearby nations were speaking out against his bellicose rhetoric. He needed a diversion, something to direct people away from the corporate cronyism being exposed in his own government, questions of his possibly illegitimate rise to power, and the oft-voiced concerns of civil libertarians about the people being held in detention without due process or access to attorneys or family.
With his number two man - a master at manipulating the media - he began a campaign to convince the people of the nation that a small, limited war was necessary. Another nation was harboring many of the suspicious Middle Eastern people, and even though its connection with the terrorist who had set afire the nation's most important building was tenuous at best, it held resources their nation badly needed if they were to have room to live and maintain their prosperity.
He called a press conference and publicly delivered an ultimatum to the leader of the other nation, provoking an international uproar. He claimed the right to strike preemptively in self-defense, and nations across Europe - at first - denounced him for it, pointing out that it was a doctrine only claimed in the past by nations seeking worldwide empire, like Caesar's Rome or Alexander's Greece.
It took a few months, and intense international debate and lobbying with European nations, but, after he personally met with the leader of the United Kingdom, finally a deal was struck. After the military action began, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain told the nervous British people that giving in to this leader's new first-strike doctrine would bring "peace for our time."
Thus Hitler annexed Austria in a lightning move, riding a wave of popular support as leaders so often do in times of war. The Austrian government was unseated and replaced by a new leadership friendly to Germany, and German corporations began to take over Austrian resources.
In a speech responding to critics of the invasion, Hitler said, "Certain foreign newspapers have said that we fell on Austria with brutal methods. I can only say; even in death they cannot stop lying. I have in the course of my political struggle won much love from my people, but when I crossed the former frontier [into Austria] there met me such a stream of love as I have never experienced. Not as tyrants have we come, but as liberators."
To deal with those who dissented from his policies, at the advice of his politically savvy advisors, he and his handmaidens in the press began a campaign to equate him and his policies with patriotism and the nation itself. National unity was essential, they said, to ensure that the terrorists or their sponsors didn't think they'd succeeded in splitting the nation or weakening its will.
In times of war, they said, there could be only "one people, one nation, and one commander-in-chief" ("Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer"), and so his advocates in the media began a nationwide campaign charging that critics of his policies were attacking the nation itself. Those questioning him were labeled "anti-German" or "not good Germans," and it was suggested they were aiding the enemies of the state by failing in the patriotic necessity of supporting the nation's valiant men in uniform. It was one of his most effective ways to stifle dissent and pit wage-earning people (from whom most of the army came) against the "intellectuals and liberals" who were critical of his policies.
Nonetheless, once the "small war" annexation of Austria was successfully and quickly completed, and peace returned, voices of opposition were again raised in the Homeland. The almost-daily release of news bulletins about the dangers of terrorist communist cells wasn't enough to rouse the populace and totally suppress dissent.
A full-out war was necessary to divert public attention from the growing rumbles within the country about disappearing dissidents; violence against liberals, Jews, and union leaders; and the epidemic of crony capitalism that was producing empires of wealth in the corporate sector but threatening the middle class's way of life.
A year later, to the week, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia; the nation was now fully at war, and all internal dissent was suppressed in the name of national security. It was the end of Germany's first experiment with democracy.
As we conclude this review of history, there are a few milestones worth remembering.
February 27, 2003, was the 70th anniversary of Dutch terrorist Marinus van der Lubbe's successful firebombing of the German Parliament (Reichstag) building, the terrorist act that catapulted Hitler to legitimacy and reshaped the German constitution. By the time of his successful and brief action to seize Austria, in which almost no German blood was shed, Hitler was the most beloved and popular leader in the history of his nation. Hailed around the world, he was later Time magazine's "Man Of The Year."
Most Americans remember his office for the security of the homeland, known as the Reichssicherheitshauptamt and its SchutzStaffel, simply by its most famous agency's initials: the SS.
We also remember that the Germans developed a new form of highly violent warfare they named "lightning war" or blitzkrieg, which, while generating devastating civilian losses, also produced a highly desirable "shock and awe" among the nation's leadership according to the authors of the 1996 book "Shock And Awe" published by the National Defense University Press.
Reflecting on that time, The American Heritage Dictionary (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1983) left us this definition of the form of government the German democracy had become through Hitler's close alliance with the largest German corporations and his policy of using war as a tool to keep power: "fas-cism (fbsh'iz'em) n. A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."
Today, as we face financial and political crises, it's useful to remember that the ravages of the Great Depression hit Germany and the United States alike. Through the 1930s, however, Hitler and Roosevelt chose very different courses to bring their nations back to power and prosperity.
Germany's response was to use government to empower corporations and reward the society's richest individuals, privatize much of the commons, stifle dissent, strip people of constitutional rights, and create an illusion of prosperity through continual and ever-expanding war.
America passed minimum wage laws to raise the middle class, enforced anti-trust laws to diminish the power of corporations, increased taxes on corporations and the wealthiest individuals, created Social Security, and became the employer of last resort through programs to build national infrastructure, promote the arts, and replant forests.
To the extent that our Constitution is still intact, the choice is again ours.
-- Thom Hartmann lived and worked in Germany during the 1980s; he is the author of over a dozen books, including "Unequal Protection" and "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight."
?Thom Hartmann, 2003. Distributed in partnership with Globalvision News Network (www.gvnews.net). All rights reserved.
by not a cog
(No verified email address)
04 Apr 2003
Your story has some good points. I didn't read the whole thing but I get the general point of it.
And you're right - leftist propagandists distort the presentation of facts as well as rightist propagandists.
I guess it's in the nature of being a 'propagandist' isn't it?
Me? I am against this war.
I know that Saddam Hussein's regime is sick, twisted, authoritarian, uses torture, uses other forms of coercion.
So does the U.S. government and the capitalist world system.
Forced and reinforced poverty, institutionalized racism, classism, sexism...
I am against the war, but it's not the only thing I am against. I am against Saddam's government and against the U.S. government.
So is this not practical? I think it's the only practical way to be. We have to go to a higher level and really see what the situation is. Not get sucked into being cogs in the machine of any organized crime outfit...
Another world is necessary.