An Anniversary Worth Remembering

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Two
years ago today, the U.S. military took over Baghdad, and the glorious
event was celebrated by jubilant Iraqis who rushed to Firdos Square
and pulled down an enormous statue of Saddam Hussein.

TV
pictures of the event radiated throughout the U.S. And, for Americans,
the event continues to symbolize the great liberation of the oppressed
Iraqi people.

This
past week I've already seen video clips of the statue event on Fox
TV News and CNN Headline News. Americans won't forget this great
victory.

And
they know that Iraqis won't forget either. After all, Americans
saw for themselves on TV the square in the center of Baghdad jammed
with thousands of Iraqis watching and cheering as the statue was
toppled over.

Penn
& Teller Do Baghdad?

Or
at least that's what they thought they saw.

Perfect
framing by the operator of the video camera, combined with a misleading
voice-over description of the event, made it seem that what you
saw on TV was a part of an enormous throng of Iraqis, filling a
city square, celebrating the end of decades of oppression that had
made their lives a living Hell.

But
it was all an illusion – the kind created by the best magicians.

There
were three elements in the illusion:

  1. The
    statue was actually toppled by U.S. Marines
    using their own
    equipment – not by Iraqis. The Marines first draped an American
    flag over the statue's face, but then realized that this would
    make it too obvious that the Marines had come to occupy, not liberate,
    Baghdad.
  2. The square
    wasn't filled with thousands of Iraqis. Only a hundred or so people
    witnessed the event.
  3. The few
    people there weren't oppressed Iraqis – celebrating
    the event with joyous relief that their years-long oppression
    in Baghdad had ended. The people crowded around the statue were
    mostly members
    of the Iraqi National Congress
    – an organization of Iraqis
    who had been living outside Iraq, and had been flown into
    Iraq just before the event.

Fortunately,
there were cameramen on the scene who weren't part of the illusion.
And so photographs showing the truth surfaced shortly thereafter
– mostly on the Internet, but here and there a
few acknowledgments were made on TV
that one more fraud had
been perpetrated on the American people. This fraud was perpetrated
to support the idea that all the killing was producing a happy ending
– joy in Baghdad that the wonderful U.S. military had saved
Iraqis from a fate worse than death.

Interlocking
Illusions

The
Iraqi National Congress (INC) members who crowded around the statue,
giving the illusion that Baghdad residents were overjoyed, were
particularly significant.

These
people had been living outside Iraq, conspiring to end Hussein's
reign. They claimed to have spies planted throughout Iraq and could
provide valuable information to the Bush administration.

People
in Washington were enchanted by the "intelligence" that
the INC provided
, because the INC was telling them exactly what
they wanted to hear – that Hussein had WMDs and was a threat
to the world. So the INC folks kept passing on secret "intelligence":

"Pssst!
– our men inside Iraq have talked to the scientists who helped
create nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons for Hussein!"

"Pssst!
– our spies have seen mobile trailers that manufacture biological
weapons!"

"Pssst!
– we have first-hand, eye-witness reports of terrorist training
camps around Baghdad!"

"Pssst!
– Hussein has developed unmanned airplanes that can carry
WMDs across the Atlantic Ocean and drop them on the East Coast
of America!"

"Pssst!
– our people say the Iraqis will welcome the U.S. military
with open arms, throwing flowers at them when they parade through
Baghdad!"

This
is just what George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz,
and the other great liberators wanted to hear.

They
in turn passed the information on to the United Nations and to other
governments. So when it all proved to be fraudulent, U.S. officials
were able to say that other countries – not just the U.S. –
had also believed that Hussein had terrible weapons that threatened
the world.

Yes,
the whole world thought Hussein was a threat because the U.S. told
the whole world he was. And the U.S. got a lot of its "intelligence"
conveniently from an outfit, the INC, that was just your garden-variety,
power-hungry outfit peddling fraudulent stories in order to take
over Iraq.

In
exchange for providing an excuse for the U.S. to invade Iraq, Ahmed
Chalabi – the head of the INC – was expected
to be made the President of Iraq
, once the war was over, and
that’s why he and his men were flown into Baghdad to take part in
the statue-toppling.

Poetic
Justice

Capping
off a fraudulent war with a fraudulent staging of a victory celebration
seems more than just appropriate.

And
it seems particularly appropriate that, as the statue was pulled
down, the Iraqis crowding around the Marines and getting their pictures
taken were members of the Iraqi National Congress – the people
whose fraudulent information had contributed so much to making that
day possible.

As
it turned out, Ahmed Chalabi didn't become the President of Iraq.
In fact, he
has become somewhat disgraced
and out of favor.

But
so far no one who helped make this war possible – who helped
bring about an event that snuffed out the lives of tens of thousands
of people – has had to pay a price for his misdeeds. So I won't
be surprised if Ahmed Chalabi winds up in some important, well-paid
position in the new Iraqi government.

Anniversary

While
the TV networks remind us that today is an anniversary of sorts,
we should remind ourselves that the entire war has been a fraud
– from the supposed threats that George Bush kept waving in
our faces – to the staging of the statue toppling – to
the honoring of Jessica
Lynch's "heroic deeds"
and her supposed rescue –
to the constant claims
that the Iraqi people are free
– to the celebrating
of every small step
as proof that killing all those people has
produced something wonderful.

So,
yes, we should acknowledge this anniversary of the fall of Baghdad
and the fall of the statue. And we should vow to do whatever we
can to make sure that Americans are never again dragged into such
a fraudulent war.

April
11, 2005

Harry Browne [send
him mail
], the author of Why
Government Doesn’t Work

and many other books, was the Libertarian presidential candidate
in 1996 and 2000. See his website.

Harry
Browne Archives

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