Does anyone know when the Wall Street Journal became
the capitalist equivalent of a Stalinist propaganda machine? I can
vaguely recall reading some items on that editorial page that made some
sense, though one wonders when that was.
You see, the page purports to comment on the Iraqi War, and
it probably even has some readers. Whether or not those readers have
read anything aside from the Journal is hard to say. If they
had, one can imagine that the editorial offices are daily bombarded
with protests against its brazen and even immoral ranting on behalf of
the warfare state.
More likely, the people who read those editorials don’t read
anything else, are glad to believe that the US military is the god of
liberty marching on the planet, and frankly don’t care anything about
information that contradicts that. Most serious people don’t even look
at it for anything other than discovering what the most extreme
elements of the regime want us to think.
As a dedicated advocate of capitalism and free markets —
causes the WSJ purports to support — I can only wince when I
read the editorials these people write. Their writers are probably in
their twenties, and it is impossible to know whether they write from
total ignorance, and whether that ignorance is willing or just a
condition, or whether they thrill to dish out the lies of which only
shills are capable.
But rather than go on like this, let us fisk the editorial
that appeared on November 17, 2004, called “Victory in Fallujah.”
Whoops, can’t even get past the title.
Victory? The Washington Post began a story
the other day as follows:
Even the dogs have started to die, their corpses strewn among
twisted metal and shattered concrete in a city that looks like it
forgot to breathe.
The aluminum shutters of shops on the main highway through
town have been transformed by the force of war into mangled accordion
shapes, flat, sharp, jarring slices of metal that no longer obscure the
stacks of silver pots, the plastic-wrapped office furniture, the rolls
of carpet. These things would be for sale, except there are no traders,
no customers, hardly any people at all in the center of Fallujah.
U.S. Marines searching for insurgents in the Jolan
neighborhood in the northwestern side of the city on Monday did see two
elderly men emerge from a pile of rock. The men, who looked too old to
fight, pointed to their stomachs. They were hungry. They were given
brown, plastic pouches of military rations and disappeared back into
the rocks, the Marines recounted.
Black smoke rose from buildings across the city as U.S.
artillery continued to bombard insurgent positions and weapons bunkers
a day after commanders declared that the city had been liberated.
Now, I don’t know any moral person who can read that and not
feel at least some pangs of sadness. Moral outrage too. It is a
travesty. Keep in mind that Fallujah never did anything to any American
citizens here. This ancient city of commerce and friendship was never a
threat. It was never militarized. It contained no terrorists, at least not until the US made it
a magnet. The
people fighting there were resisting an invading military from the
other side of the world. For this, the city was smashed in the most
horrific and bloody way.
Not that any end justifies this means, but the known truth is
that the pummeling of this city does nothing to curb terrorism, end
resistance, punish injustice, warm the hearts of Iraqis toward the
Americans. Rather — must it really be said? — it does exactly the
But to declare this liberation? Declare this a victory? It
really leaves one morally stunned. Who would say such a thing? The
devil perhaps, or the willfully blind or the heartlessly cruel. But
these editorialists dash off such comments, sitting in their plush
Manhattan offices, with no concern for truth or anything. The level of
their abstraction is what chills you.
Now that we are past the title:
Iraqi insurgents respond by attacking in Mosul, Baquba,
Kirkuk and Suweira. This, we now hear, proves that the more insurgents
the U.S. kills, the stronger the insurgency grows. Call it the Obi-Wan
Kenobi school of international relations: Strike him down, and he’ll
only become more powerful. In real warfare, of course, killing the
enemy means there are fewer enemies to kill.
Yes, Star-Wars kids, killing does indeed kill people. And if
killing is the only goal, you can accomplish that goal in precisely
this way because the killing has indeed created ever more enemies and
hence ever more targets.
It’s like the bank robber who says that anyone who moves is
going to be shot. As more and more people are shot, more and more are
inspired to take the risk of moving to disarm the robber. And this is
especially true when not everyone is in plain sight. The end result of
this shoot-’em up approach is massacre. As in Fallujah.
The insurgents have been denied their principal sanctuary.
Yes, and so has everyone else. Killing fields are unhappy
sanctuaries. The rebels will have to find other sanctuaries — most
everyone with sense left as the Americans marched in — or take back
Fallujah once the Americans go.
It is increasingly clear that the US controls only the ground
under the tank treads and the soldiers’ boots. The US doesn’t even
control Baghdad. In fact, Baghdad has been lost, in the words
of Michael Ware of Time. But according to the Wall Street
Ordinary Iraqis can take heart that the Allawi government
and the U.S. mean business, something that had been put into doubt by
the failure to take Fallujah back in April.
We are really supposed to believe that ordinary Iraqis are
taking heart in all this, huh? That citizens all over the country are
thinking: it warms my heart that this once great and ancient city in my
country has been bombed to smithereens and thousands have been killed
and many more have fled. What graces have been bestowed on our beloved
As for the weak-willed, namby-pamby April attack that was too
soft and thus encouraging to the insurgents, IBC says: “between 572 and
616 of the approximately 800 reported deaths were of civilians, with
over 300 of these being women and children.”
The sooner and more aggressively the fight is taken to
other insurgent strongholds, the better the chances that January’s
scheduled elections can be held on time, in conditions of relative
Day by day, as long as this war has gone on, there has been
less security and more misery for just about everyone. When you think
about democracy in Iraq, just remember that most real experts admit
that Saddam Hussein would win if he ran. This is the political
situation that the US has created.
These insurgents will no doubt continue to mount gruesome
attacks throughout the country, with the aim of cowing the silent
majority of Iraqis who’d like to be on the side of freedom if given the
The silent majority, huh? How do we know? Well, they are
silent, so of course there can be no proof of this. They are there. We
just can’t hear them. It’s just something that editorial writers in New
York know. Just a solid intuition, an intuition so reliable that it can
be put into an editorial as fact.
Well, here is a fact: never in the history of the world has a
military conqueror engaging in mass bloodshed and imposing a lawless
military dictatorship enjoyed a majority of support from the host
country. Why doesn’t this claim alone discredit this editorial page,
now and forever?
Also, notice the identification of US government bullets and
bombs with the cause of freedom. The cause of freedom has many great
saints and martyrs in world history, but not one led a bloody military
occupation of a foreign country while killing as many as 100,000
Beyond whatever tactics the Iraqi insurgents may employ,
their strategy is to convince Americans that there is no bottom; that
their cause enjoys huge popular support; that it feeds off the
resentments that “occupation” inevitably engenders; and that it can go
on undeterred by whatever damage U.S. forces inflict.
Note that that word occupation is in quotes. We need to
create a new category of propagandists: occupation deniers.
The big news of the Fallujah campaign is that most Iraqis
quietly supported it. The protests from nationalist politicians was far
more muted than in April.
Big news indeed. In other news, Ukrainians welcomed farm
collectivization, Poland welcomed invasion from Germany, and the
Chinese welcomed the Cultural Revolution. For more on each, see back
issues of Soviet Life and the collected works of the Eher
The task now is to build quickly on success in Fallujah by
wiping out other insurgent strongholds such as Ramadi.
A sentence such as this
makes one wonder whether the US might actually adopt some extreme
solution to the Iraqi problem. The first and only nuclear weapons
dropped in history on cities were built and deployed by the US to
prevent other countries from building and deploying nuclear weapons.
Imagine a scenario under which Iraq is destroyed by WMD in the name of
purging Iraq of WMDs.
Those of us in the Old Liberal camp, who think of market
economics as tied to peace, can only be disgusted by its identification
with the cause of indiscriminate, imperial, total war. And yet the WSJ
is not alone. Nor is their rhetoric without cultural cost.
Read the blogs and forums out there calling for death to
dissidents, and for an end to the freedom to speak. This kind of
editorial, and it is one of thousands published daily in this country,
does more to further ignorance, violence, and statism than anything I
see published on the left.
Freedom has no
greater enemies than those who lie in its name.