Rumsfeld Wants a Ministry of Truth

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When deceit catches up with a government, officials take refuge in propaganda. Thus, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld told the Washington Times (Oct. 24) that he wants a "21st century information agency in the government" to help fight a "war of ideas" and educate Americans and foreigners that Big Brother is right.

Last year Rumsfeld was forced to close a clandestine "Office of Strategic Influence" in the Pentagon when reports surfaced that the Pentagon was issuing false information abroad in order to influence public sentiment and policy in other countries. Rumsfeld wants to revive this office and to include the US under its sway.

The flower-strewn "cakewalk" promised by Rumsfeld has become, according to his leaked private Pentagon memo, the "long, hard slog." The claims made by Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz to justify the invasion of Iraq were not correct, and our intelligence agencies knew the claims were not correct. Senior Republican senators are calling for Bush "to take charge of his government." Harper’s publisher John R. MacArthur has called publicly for Bush to be impeached.

These developments do not serve the neo-Jacobin (neocon) agenda of wider war in the Middle East. In order to regain control of the agenda, the warmongers intend to create a Ministry of Propaganda so that they can control the facts.

The silence of the public and the meekness of the press in the face of unprecedented lies from the US government has opened the door for a Ministry of Truth.

Rumsfeld regards the public’s acceptance of a war based on lies as the public’s complicity in the deed. He reckons that the flag-waving public, as much as the government, will welcome a new ministry to control the facts.

A Ministry of Truth has many advantages. No one ever has to say they are sorry, admit they were wrong, or learn they were suckered. Political remorse and heartburn become forgotten words. Casualties, like the wounded, will disappear from the news. We will be safe from emotional discomfort until we do something that arouses the government’s suspicion.

Recently, Rumsfeld’s former ally, AEI warmonger Tom Donnelly, lambasted the Defense Secretary for "mulish opposition to increasing the number of American soldiers in Iraq." In his article in the Weekly Standard, Donnelly doesn’t say where the American soldiers are to come from, but the obvious implication is the draft, which awaits Bush’s second term.

In Jacobin ideology people don’t count. Only abstract virtues are important, and neocons unabashedly claim to act for these virtues. Neocons are outraged that they are denied the manpower to impose virtue on the world. Today Iraq. Tomorrow the world.

A Ministry of Truth could justify the draft and silence all opposition as unpatriotic or anti-semitic, two words that are becoming interchangeable.

In the now infamous leaked memo, Rumsfeld writes, "we have not yet made truly bold moves." This is scary. Surely it is bold to use lies and fabrications to start a needless war and to invade a country despite being totally unprepared for the consequences of the invasion. Indeed, reckless seems the more appropriate description.

Prior to the US invasion of Iraq, Americans had the world’s sympathy. Today the US is viewed throughout the world as a dangerous rogue state. Syndicated columnist Doug Bandow reports that hatred of Americans is now so high that it is risky for Americans to travel abroad, especially to countries with Muslim populations.

A Ministry of Truth would save us from the shame any decent person feels when he reads that American soldiers have destroyed the orchards — the only means of livelihood — of poor Iraqi villages, because villagers don’t make themselves terrorist targets by ratting on guerillas. A Ministry of Truth would protect us from the knowledge that frustrated US soldiers use tanks to flatten taxis whose owners are suspected of withholding information.

With a Ministry of Truth we wouldn’t have to hear that the US holds hostage the womenfolk of wanted Iraqis, or that US "helicopters swooped down on this remote sheepherding village in the desert and detained all the men . . . to punish the village because of suspicions it maintains contact with desert smugglers or infiltrators from across the border."

Instead, we would hear the reassuring news that "we are bringing democracy to Iraq."

Dr. Roberts [send him mail] is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy, Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

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