by Deck Deckert
(Swans - December 5, 2005) There is an extraordinary amount of energy being spent on discussing the possibility that the administration lied us into a war with Iraq. I'm shocked, shocked to find that lying is going on in here!
The lies, now, of course, come from those who are pretending that they had no way of knowing that they were being lied to at the start of all this. The current lies come from all quarters -- Democrats and Republicans, the New York Times and the other print media, Fox News on TV and all the other networks.
The whole thing is absurd.
1) There is no question that we were lied to.
2) There is no question that the lies were self-evident from the very beginning.
No one over the age of 12, or with an IQ over 60, could have possibly believed that Iraq had the means and the desire to attack the most powerful country in the world with weapons of mass destruction -- or baseball bats -- across thousands of miles of ocean.
Oh, they might have had the desire, at that. After all, we had slaughtered a hundred thousand of them in the first Iraq war; had been bombing them for 10 years; and we had been subjecting them to sanctions which had killed hundreds of thousands of their citizens, including perhaps a half-million children, which UN ambassador Madeline Albright said blithely was "worth the price."
So, they may have had the desire, although more likely most of them were probably just numb with despair. But whatever their desires, they never had the means. Even if they'd really had those fictional weapons of mass destruction, they would have had no realistic way to use them against us. Nor would they have ever attempted to do so, if only because they knew we would utterly destroy their country in retaliation. (They couldn't have known then that we would destroy it anyhow.)
All those politicians and members of the media who claimed they were "misled" and "lied to," are themselves lying or stupid -- or both.
All the fitful attempts by politicians to produce some kind of exit strategy now reflect only an attempt to placate the public in time for the next elections. Congress just voted by an overwhelming 403 - 3 to continue the war, proving once again the United States doesn't have a two-party system, it has one party -- the War Party.
Oh, the issue is complicated, and there are a lot of dirty tricks involved. But it all comes down to the fact that both the Democrats and Republicans want the war, or at least don't know any way to get out of it. So we will just keep on letting Iraqis and American soldiers die for .....what? Well, no one knows for what. Oil, maybe...?
Karen Kwiatkowski in the HuffingtonPost quotes my favorite cynic H.L. Mencken as being right when he said, "Congress consists of one third, more or less, scoundrels; two thirds, more or less, idiots; and three thirds, more or less, poltroons."
"Poltroon" means "an abject coward." Which is just about right.
The problem for the Democrats is that they support the war; they just want to escape being blamed for it. It's all Bush's fault, they insist.
Along with some Republicans, they will chatter now about an "exit strategy," but there will be no real exit strategy for months or years to come. Congress could stop the war any time by stopping funding for it. They won't.
If the media were honest in their reporting, their coverage would also mean an end to this war. But that won't happen either. They are only slightly embarrassed by the fact that the public can now see how easily they lied, and are lying, to support the Bush administration and other centers of power in Iraq and elsewhere. They should be more than just slightly embarrassed; they have utterly failed us, both in the run-up to the war, and now. The case of Judith Miller is just the most visible transgression.
There never was any golden age of media accountability and responsibility to readers rather than to the ruling elite. The media has always given voice and support to those in power, both visible and those behind the scenes. But the degree of that subservience to power is now dangerously complete, in large part because of the incredible concentration of power in the hands of a handful of giant corporations.
Forget the corporate media's ignoring of the hundreds of unanswered questions about 9/11. The protection of the Bush administration is still going on. The Downing Street Memo was virtually ignored, for example, as is the issue of torture -- who ever would have thought that the United States would be unashamedly embracing torture? The utter destruction of the Iraqi town of Fallujah with the killing of thousands of civilians is a war crime of immense proportions that is ignored by the mainstream media. The cover-up, the protection, goes on and on.
Most of this is done quite willingly by the mainstream American media. The alternate media on the Internet -- the blogs, the Webzines like Swans, Web sites like Antiwar, Rense, and Common Dreams -- are less solicitous. But compared to the mainstream media, they have little power.
Non-American media, such as the Arab news service Al Jazeera, do more honest reporting, but often at great cost. The U.S. bombed Al Jazeera offices in Afghanistan, shelled a hotel where their journalists were staying in Iraq, and detained and imprisoned some of its staff.
And just recently it was announced that Tony Blair had to persuade President Bush not to bomb Al Jazeera last year, according to the British paper, The Mirror.
"Outlandish!", the White House screamed. "You can't talk about that!", the British warned.
The American corporate media was mostly silent on the accusation even though a lot of journalists have been killed by "friendly fire" and other "accidents" and you would think that they would take the matter quite seriously. Shucks, you might think they would even be a bit upset.
But then, the Bush administration is hardly the first to deliberately kill journalists while the media looked on in silence.
President Clinton's regime bombed a Serbian TV station during the the war over Kosovo and the dismemberment of Yugoslavia. NATO missiles struck the Belgrade studio in April, 1999, killing several people. NATO said the network was part of a "propaganda machine" supporting the Milosevic government and therefore the bombing was "justified."
The media was silent then also. So some newsmen got killed, but hell, they were foreigners anyways -- the enemy, you know.
The Tony Blair meeting took place on April 16, 2004, at the peak of the first US siege of Fallujah, and Al Jazeera was one of the few news outlets broadcasting from inside the city. The Fallujah offensive was one of the bloodiest assaults of the US occupation. Al Jazeera beamed images to the world showing the deaths of innocent civilians.
But American corporate media still treats Fallujah as a "success" story. The real threat Al Jazeera poses is that they practice honest unembedded journalism.
The corporate media is in trouble. Newspaper circulation is declining alarmingly. For example, the Baltimore Sun has dropped 11.5 percent in daily circulation. The Chicago Tribune was down 6.6 percent daily. The Miami Herald was down 3.7 percent, and even the Washington Post was down 2.6 percent.
TV news viewership is also showing some signs of decline.
Good news, you might think. But the enormous power of the mainstream corporate media will not be denied. If viewership and readership declines, they will find other ways. The Internet, for example, is far more vulnerable to a corporate takeover than most users realize.
Meanwhile, the lies and the war will continue.