WMD and Propaganda

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case anyone forgot, the fearsome "weapons of mass destruction"
remain hidden in Iraq.

were the causus belli, and whoever stashed them should teach
his clandestine feats to American intelligence services and military
forces. This assumes, of course, Hussein really had "weapons
of mass destruction."

all, war propaganda is often one teeny kernel of truth swirling
in a tornado of lies, or a blowing typhoon of lies containing no
truth at all.

way, propaganda often makes the war.

Big Lie

occasion for this observation is some recent reading about the history
of British propaganda and the role it played in sucking the United
States into two world wars.

that would-be world conquerors here wanted to avoid war. They invited
it, Americans opposed it, so propaganda and provocation were indispensable.
Without them, Americans would never have joined either effort.

facts are well detailed in The
Costs of War
, from Transaction Press, a collection of essays
about this nation's costly wars, and how and why they enhanced the
power of Washington's Leviathan.

World War I, the British manufactured tales proven false before
the end of the war. The Kaiser's troops, they said, bayoneted Belgian
babies and nailed them to doors. This was an outrage, and when the
Germans sunk a British merchant ship, the Lusitania, which carried
American passengers, then we had to enter the war. Problem was,
the Germans didn't bayonet any babies, and the Lusitania, an auxiliary
man-of-war, carried munitions.

don't read much about that, or about the role of British propaganda
in pulling the United States into World War II. Hollywood manufactured
films about the glories of the British Empire, while a British agent,
set up in New York, planted pro-British articles in American newspapers.

that what we don't know can kill us, The
Costs of War
notes that FDR promised the British full support
against Germany, a violation of our neutrality policy, long before
Pearl Harbor. An American admiral suggested an American sub's sinking
an American ship to provoke war with Germany. Then, the Japanese
bombed Pearl Harbor, and not, some speculate, without Winston Churchill's
and FDR's foreknowledge. At a minimum, FDR provoked the Japanese
into attacking, just as Lincoln provoked the South's firing on Fort

Roger McGrath, writing in Chronicles magazine, recently
recounted North Vietnam's "attack" on the U.S. Navy in
the Gulf of Tonkin, which inspired the famous resolution that began
the Vietnam war. North Vietnam never attacked the ship, he writes,
but when we finally abandoned South Vietnam to communism, more than
50,000 American boys were dead or missing.

About Those WMD

returns us to Iraq. After the mass murder of Sept. 11, Bush and
his propagandists had to blame someone.

couldn't catch bin Laden, mastermind of the raid, and as with two
world wars and Vietnam, we couldn't simply invade Iraq, as War Minister
Rumsfeld quickly suggested. We had to have reasons.

we learned, possessed "weapons of mass destruction," and
Hussein was "connected" to Al Queda. He threatened the
United States. As others have observed, the horrors of Sept. 11
were accomplished using lax immigration policy and dime-store box-cutters.
But that truth was lost in the monsoon of lies about nukes and giant
germ bombs and "the war on the terror."

propagandists got their war.

27, 2003

columnist R. Cort Kirkwood [send
him mail
] is managing editor of the Daily News-Record
in Harrisonburg, Va.

Cort Kirkwood Archives


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