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INSIDE TRACK ON WORLD NEWS
by international syndicated columnist & broadcaster Eric Margolis
MISLED INTO WAR? SO WHAT?June 16, 2003
NEW YORK - Why, US readers keep asking me, why are so many of my fellow Americans unconcerned their government appears to have misled them and Congress over Iraq, and then waged a war with no basis in law or fact. Why is there growing outrage in Britain over Tony Blair's equally exaggerated or patently false warnings over Iraq, while middle America couldn't seem to care less about Bush's `Weaponsgate.'
One answer: an old joke. Greenberg gets drunk in a bar. He goes up to Woo, a Chinese man. and punches him. `Why'd you do that?' cries Woo. `Because of Pearl Harbor,' snarls Greenberg.
`But I had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor, I'm Chinese, says Woo' `Chinese, Japanese, it's all the same to me,' answers Greenberg. A month later, Greenberg sees Woo in the bar and apologizes to him. The Chinese man smiles, then punches Greenberg.
`Why did you do that, cries Greenberg? `Because of the Titanic.' `What do I have to do with the Titanic,' asks Greenberg. `Greenberg, iceberg, it's all the same to me,' replies Woo.
Iraqis, Iranians, Pakistanis, Saudis, Taliban, al-Qaida, it's all too much for many geographically and historically challenged Americans. `Don't bother us with details and funny names. Kill'em all, God will sort'em out. The Muslim A-rabs did 9/11 and we got revenge. Whacking those ugly I-raqis made us feel a whole lot better. Besides, we liberated Iraqis from that monster Saddam. So what if Saddam didn't really have the weapons of mass destruction that good ol'George W Bush said endangered the entire world. All politicians lie. So what?'
Venting national outrage over 9/11 was one factor. The second: Starting with Afghanistan, the Bush White House threatened big corporate media it would be held `unpatriotic' and hinted at unspecified reprisals if its coverage did not actively support the war effort there and in Iraq. Big media too often caved in, sometimes sounding like a public relations arm of the Administration.
Third: the near total domination of Iraq media commentary by the special interest groups that engineered this phony war. Almost all such of it on networks in the lead-up to the war was done by lying, self-serving Iraqi exiles, uninformed generals, and neo-conservatives from Washington think tanks echoing the views of Israel's far right Likud Party. In short, a media lynch mob endlessly repeating that Baghdad's terrifying killer weapons were about to blitz the USA.
I scanned the American major networks for voices challenging the distortions and bunkum coming from the White House and neo-con network. There were almost none: group-think, and the big lie prevailed. The British and Canadian media carried both pro and anti-war views; as a result, there was far more healthy skepticism in both nations about the war than in America. By contrast, much of the US mainstream media muffled criticism, became part of the war effort, and devoted itself to patriotic flag-waving. Americans would have been totally misled had it not been for the Internet sites like `Antiwar.com;' `CommonDreams;' LewRockwell; and Bigeye; and magazines like `American Conservative' and `Harpers. '
Even the august `New York Times' allowed itself to be used. The `Times' is currently hand-wringing about two cases of plagiarism and phony reporting by staffers. It should better be anguishing that its pages trumpeted phony reports about Iraqi weapons and links to al-Qaida that came from anti-Saddam exile groups and the pro-war cabal in the Pentagon led by neo-cons Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle.
Most so-called Iraqi `experts' on TV, including colleagues of mine, merely regurgitated what they had read in the morning's `NY Times.' The `Times' and much of the major media were duped, to put it politely, abandoning their vital role in our democratic system as tribune and questioner of the politicians. The Pakistani press put the American press to shame when it came to freedom and variety of expression.
So, too, shamefully, the Democratic Party, which, as war fever was being stoked by the Bush Administration and the yellow press, rolled over and played dead - with the exception of that great American, Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who alone denounced Bush's Iraq misadventure, and who now demands a full investigation of how Americans and their Congress were misled.
The black comedy continues. Bush citing crudely forged documents in his State of the Union Message. Drones of death' that turned out to be rickety model airplanes. The nefarious `decontamination' trucks cited by Colin Powell that turned out to be fire trucks when inspected by the UN. The notorious `mobile germ labs' that the British press now reports were for inflating artillery balloons and, in fact, were sold Iraq by Britain. British and American intelligence officers are accusing their governments of outright lies or absurd exaggerations.
Maybe Americans have become brain-dead from too much TV. Maybe they don't care terrorism is surging, or that recent polls show America reviled, hated, or distrusted around the globe, thanks to this Administration. Maybe they don't understand that over 288 Americans and an estimated 26,300 Iraqis have so far died in a totally unnecessary conflict. Or that the US in now stuck in an ugly little colonial war in Iraq, its very own West Bank and Gaza.
Published at Bigeye.com since 1995 with permission, as a courtesy and in appreciation.
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