Lies, More Lies, and Damn Lies
by Eric Margolis by Eric Margolis
As Americans turn increasingly against President George Bush’s calamitous war in Iraq, and revolt spreads through Republican ranks, the White House is again resorting to its tried-and-true ploy of fanning grossly inflated fears of terrorism.
The president just made two preposterous claims last week that insult the intelligence of his listeners. First, Bush insisted US forces in Iraq are fighting "the same people who staged 9/11."
Second, withdrawing US forces from Iraq, as the Democratic-controlled Congress is urging, means "surrendering Iraq to al-Qaida."
These canards mark the latest steps in the Bush administration’s evolving efforts to mislead Americans into believing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are all part of a global fight against al-Qaida.
When marketers want to change the name of an existing product, they first place a new name in small type below the existing one. They gradually shrink the old name, and enlarge the new one until the original name vanishes.
That’s what’s been happening in Iraq. When the US invaded, Iraqis who resisted were initially branded "Saddam loyalists," "die-hard Ba’athists," or, in Don Rumsfeld’s colorful terminology, "dead-enders." Next, the Pentagon and US media called the Iraqi resistance, "terrorists" or "insurgents." The reason for invading Iraq, the White House insisted, was all about removing the tyrant Saddam, seizing weapons of mass destruction, defending humans rights and implanting democracy.
Then, a tiny, previously unknown Iraqi group that had nothing to do with Osama bin Laden appropriated the name, "al-Qaida in Mesopotamia."
This was such a breathtakingly convenient gift to the Bush Administration, many cynics suspected a false-flag operation created by CIA and Britain’s wily MI6. Soon after, the White House and Pentagon began calling most of Iraq’s 22 plus resistance groups, "al-Qaida."
The US media eagerly joined this deception, even though 95% of Iraq’s resistance groups had no sympathy for bin Laden’s movement. Watch any US network TV news report on Iraq and you will inevitably hear reporters parroting Pentagon handouts about US forces "launching a new offensive against al-Qaida."
Al-Qaida in Mesopotamia didn’t even exist before 9/11, but that didn’t stop President Bush from trying to gull credulous voters. He simply ignored the 2006 National Intelligence Estimate that found US-occupied Iraq had become an "incubator" for violent anti-American groups.
If the US were to withdraw from Iraq tomorrow, the nation would be split between warring Shia, Sunni and Kurdish parties. The fake Al-Qaida in Iraq would end up at the bottom of the totem pole, or be wiped out by other Iraqis. Even Osama bin Laden and his number two, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, have blasted the phony al-Qaida in Iraq and called for an end to its attacks on Iraqi civilians.
Polls show that in spite of a mountain of evidence to the contrary, White House disinformation strategy has worked. Today, an amazing 60% of Americans still believe Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks.
At least that’s down from the 80% who originally believed this Orwellian big lie in 2003. The White House continues to blur the facts and make Americans believe Iraq and Afghanistan are "central fronts in the global war on terror."
The fact recent polls found 60% of Americans — and 90% of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan — still believe Saddam and bin Laden had colluded to launch 9/11 is shocking, but not surprising. Ignorance of foreign affairs and mindless flag waving are as American as apple pie.
Tens of millions of Americans are fed a steady diet of political or religious ideology disguised as news from the administration’s house organ, Fox News; from evangelical Christian TV and radio; or from the neoconservative’s version of Pravda, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial pages. The rest are too busy watching brain-deadening TV pap to pay the least attention to events overseas.
They remain unaware the faux "war against global terror" is now costing a mind-boggling US $12 billion monthly, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. That’s the cost of 3 nuclear-powered "Nimitz" class 97,000-ton aircraft carriers every month.
The Bush Administration has spent $610 billion dollars since 2001 on its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, making them the second most expensive conflict in US history after World War II.
Last week, US Homeland Security Czar Michael Chertoff allowed he had a "gut feeling" that an al-Qaida attack on America was imminent this summer. At the same time, Washington was abuzz with a leaked US intelligence report that al-Qaida — the objective of the so-called war on terror — had reconstituted and was as strong as prior to 9/11, 2001.
America’s sixteen intelligence agencies spend $40 billion annually, with another $15—20 billion in their hidden "black budgets." Homeland Security spends $44.6 billion. In spite of these gargantuan expenditures of a trillion dollars — that’s $1,000,000,000,000 — the best intelligence Czar Chertoff can come up with is "gut feeling?"
One suspects Chertoff’s worried stomach has far more to do with the growing Republican Party revolt against the president’s Iraq war than nebulous threats from Osama bin Laden’s loud but tiny group.
Polls show the only area where Republicans still command popular support is the "war on terror."
So Bush/Cheney & Co. are trying to use al-Qaida to scare Americans to vote Republican, just as they did prior to 2004 elections. It worked well last time and got Bush reelected.
But Americans are increasingly leery of the White House’s crying wolf. Many are also asking how Bush could claim "steady progress" was being made in his wars when it appears the al-Qaida movement is back to pre-2001 strength, anti-American groups are popping up across Asia and Africa, and Iraq is a bloody mess.
After six years of conflict, 3,600 dead and 25,000 wounded American soldiers, expenditure of $610 billion, tens of thousands of dead Iraqis and Afghans, collapse of Mideast peace efforts, and a Muslim World enraged against the US, nothing positive seems to have been accomplished by a leader who likes to style himself, "the war president."
As the White House now ponders an attack on Iran, we would do well to recall the famed words of King Pyrrhus of Epirus, "one more such victory and we are ruined."