Annual Fundraising Appeal

Here’s an important message to CounterPunch readers from Chris Hedges….

Hedges2

Chris Hedges calls CounterPunch “the most fearless, intellectually rigorous and important publication in the United States.” Who are we to argue? But the only way we can continue to “dissect the evils of empire” and the “psychosis of permanent war” is with your financial support. Please donate.

Day8

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)

paypal-donate-21

Don’t want to donate through PayPal?
Then click here to donate through our secure server.

 To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Arrogant Propaganda US Propaganda During the First 10 Days of the Iraq War

Arrogant Propaganda

by PAUL De ROOIJ

“Your BS detector must be on at full blast.”

– Michael Moore, March 28, 2003

In the good old days, the US used to tell a lie — crass propaganda — and it would stick for a long time. Journalists would have to scurry for months before they could expose the lies, but by then it would be almost irrelevant, e.g., the Tonkin incident lie provided to justify escalation in the Vietnam War, or the infamous throwing-babies-out-of-incubators story concocted to swing American opinion in favor of the Gulf War in 1991. In the run up to the US-Iraq war, it became increasingly evident that propaganda has a diminished half-life [1]. Whereas years ago the reigning technique was to repeat a lie often enough, now it seems to have given way to a constant barrage of lies or semi-lies with a very short half-life. As soon as a propaganda ploy has been exposed, the current media spinners will move to the next tall story. They seem to count on either the poor memory of the population, their general disinterest or their credulity. There are also good reasons to believe that the current barrage-propaganda approach is losing its effectiveness.

It has become much more difficult to sell wars these days and the propagandists are remarkably inept. Watching CNN or BBC reveals jarring shoddy propaganda that is immediately transparent. Marines “discovered” a camouflaged chemical weapons factory, but then both CNN and BBC revealed the source of the story: The Jerusalem Post; it was then distributed by Fox News. This was the fastest way to discredit the story, which only lasted two days–later exposed as a fabrication by the March 25th Financial Times. In the meantime, one of the warmongering neocons appeared on CNN, repeating the story, elaborating the details and saying that there was now proof of the existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). A day later CNN mentioned finding a Scud missile inside a factory–another story with a half-life of a day. On March 26th, they were talking about finding 3,000 chemical protection suits, as if this proved something. It is like smelling manure, and then claiming you have found a horse. This story also is destined for the trashcan if only because Hans Blix, the ex-UN weapons inspector, mustered a pixel of backbone to state that it didn’t prove anything. Finally, the first few missiles shot by the Iraqis on Kuwait were intimated to be Scud missiles (illegal under UN resolutions), but this turned out to be false too.

One must admit that the so-called embedded journalists don’t have an easy time. They tag along with the military and have to amplify the statements made by the officers who direct them. High-ranking officers are interviewed, but no critical questions are posed to them. Transparent nonsense is uttered, and it isn’t challenged. The next day the recently uttered “news” has been discredited, but it also has entered both the journalist’s and the officer’s memory hole. Never mind, today is another day and another opportunity to utter nonsense. “Chemical weapons find”, “Scud missile find”, “uprising in Basra”, “a column of 1,000 vehicles is making its way South”, “it wasn’t our missile”, “Syria is supplying night vision equipment”, “surrender en masse”, “Basra has fallen”, “a general has been captured” How many times can self-respecting embedded journalists regurgitate the offal that is fed to them? While CNN or BBC issue warning labels for the reports issued from Baghdad where there is supposedly a minder/censor present, there is no such warning issued about the embedded journalists although their ability to report may be even more restricted. Perhaps a wee warning beyond the usual “report from an embedded journalist” should be issued.

Jacques Ellul, in his book, Propaganda, states that for propaganda to be effective, it must have monopoly and drown out everything else. One of the reasons that propaganda doesn’t stick at present is that there are so many alternative information channels. CNN doesn’t have a monopoly by any means; at an Amsterdam airport lounge recently, the waiting passengers rebelled and forced the attendants to change the channel! The internet has also become a very important alternative news source. Robert Fisk’s reports on DemocracyNow or his columns in London’s The Independent prove that he is a one-man propaganda demolition machine. Listening to his reports from Baghdad allows one to peer through the fog, and obtain a clearer view of what is happening on the ground. Every other paragraph of Fisk’s comments demolishes yet another nonsense statement uttered by Ari Fleischer & his ilk. The hard task of selling or justifying the war has given way to a barrage of lies or semi-lies that only last a few days–thereafter they are immediately forgotten. The next lies follow directly.

On March 26th, a missile killed scores of civilians at a Baghdad market and wounded even more. Houses and shops were demolished. The subsequent stream of propaganda is very instructive. It went from: “must check what happened”, to “inevitably collateral damage occurs” (aka “shit happens”), to “likely that an Iraqi missile was the cause of the explosion,” and finally, on Mar. 28th it was: “it was a missile fired by the enemy” [2]. Another market bombing on March 29th killing 62+ civilians was immediately denied and blamed on the Iraqis themselves. Some historical background may reveal the real reason for these explosions. During the bombing of Serbia over the Kosovo situation, both the Americans and the general staff were surprised because they expected a quick capitulation. Serious dissension grew within the ranks of the then “coalition of the willing” [3], and it was necessary to increase the pressure on the Serbs to obtain their surrender. This was achieved by hitting more military targets, then bridges, railroads, factories, and even the TV station (with some lame justification) [4]. After the war, it was revealed that most Serbian factories had been bombed! Even with this bombing intensity, the Serbians didn’t yield, and at this point the laptop bombardiers started targeting the civilian population, i.e., plain and simple terrorism in the true sense of the word. In the Iraqi context, it is also clear that the resilience of the “regime” is far higher than expected, and it seems that US planners must have believed their own propaganda promising an instant collapse [5]. The current bombing of civilian areas follows the pattern of turning up the pressure, and reveals that Pentagon statements before the war — that “there will be no safe place in Baghdad” — are proving true indeed.

Donald Rumsfeld also claims that meticulous care is taken to avoid hitting civilian areas with smart weapons. They triple check this type of thing! The fact that some missiles have hit other countries, e.g., Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, should safely dispose of such assertions about avoiding civilian casualties or missile accuracy. The first Baghdad market bombing took place in the middle of a sandstorm! How can anything be expected to be accurate under such conditions? Either the bombings are premeditated, and thus civilians are targeted or the claims of accuracy and care in avoiding civilians are bogus. Perhaps reality is somewhere in between.

During the past few days, both BBC and CNN have reported with increasing frequency that the resistance fighters are dressing in civilian clothes, and that Iraqi soldiers deviously use the white flag to attack the Marines. Presto, now we can expect a massive increase in the number of civilians slaughtered by the Marines. Maybe the imprisonment of Iraqi soldiers is becoming burdensome too, and the US was poised to abrogate the Fourth Geneva Convention in any case. Throw in a bit of the usual disdain of killing “mere Arabs” and this war is fast becoming an incredibly bloody fiasco.

The positioning of B52 bombers and the location of their refueling are also part of propaganda. A squadron of B52 bombers is based at the Fairford airbase in the UK. Why couldn’t they be located in, say, Israel that is a bit closer to the action? Israelis and their apologists always justify the US’s support, funding and arming of Israel on the grounds that it is “America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East”. Israel is also part of the coalition of the willing–although Israel deserves a category of its own like: “chief cheerleader”. The vast majority of Jewish-Israelis also supports the war; they are cheerleading the war with blue and red pompons. So why not base the B52s there?

Refueling is also an issue. B52s and other bombers fly over Spain on their way to Iraq. For some reason, it is deemed important to refuel the airplanes over Spain [6], and Prime Minister Aznar has made certain that this is possible. The only apparent reason for the positioning of the B52s and their refueling location has really to do with propaganda. It is a means of suggesting that many countries are part of the “coalition”–one of the most ridiculous propaganda terms in use. In reality, only the US, UK and a handful of Australian military are involved in actual fighting; even then, the Australian contingent may actually be recalled by their Parliament. It would be far more accurate to refer to the “US-UK” forces, but to obtain an appearance of support the B52s must be stationed in the UK. It suggests that it is not only the US with blood on its hands; furthermore, it is very eager to smear some off on others.

“But surely the Americans will win” seems to be the only question that BBC journalists can ask when they get near an Iraqi official. On March 27th, a BBC reporter approached Iraq’s ex-ambassador to Paris, and the same question was asked in various forms yielding the predictable Iraqi response. NB: No question of any other nature was even asked! Perhaps the US-UK should empower BBC/CNN journalists to accept an eventual Iraqi surrender. The BBC would love to take credit for the final capitulation of the Iraqis, just like it allowed the silly story that the entry of one of its journalists, John Simpson, into Kabul had coincided with the Taliban capitulation.

Even more acutely, when Saddam Hussein gives a speech neither CNN nor the BBC discusses what he actually said, but debate whether he is the real Saddam. The only thing that is missing is criticism of the way he is dressed or the way he looks. Anything is proffered to avoid substance. The statements made by other Iraqi officials are similarly slighted, although the persistent claims of shooting down this or that should make all skeptical of their claims.

Propaganda also entails censoring things. Most Americans remember the TV scenes where dead US soldiers were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. Within a week the US’s appetite for that intervention collapsed. Americans only accept clean wars, only the ones that appear like a video game. All the blood and gore must be excised, especially if there is blood of American soldiers, and Americans will not see this on TV. When Al Jazeera showed dead Americans it elicited a vicious reply from the censors shutting down websites and hindering Al Jazeera from broadcasting in the US. If the US finds out the coordinates of the Al Jazeera journalist in Basra, then this could be bombed. During the attack on Afghanistan, the Al Jazeera offices in Kabul were bombed when their reporting proved awkward to the media spinners.

Bush’s practice session for his “war ultimatum” speech was shown to Portuguese and Italian TV audiences, but it was never shown on American TV stations. Perhaps the non-flattering appearance didn’t portray the dear monosyllabic president as a “statesman”. The media spinmeisters prefer to have the president with his mouth firmly shut, and at a safe distance from the media. On the eve of the impending war, they chose to film the dear president from a distance on the White House lawn. The weight of the burden worrying about the impending deaths and destruction required some light distraction by throwing some balls for his dogs. But wait, even his dogs ignored him, and they didn’t run after the balls he threw! Maybe it is time for a pet change — Tony Blair could give the president a corgi, the Queen’s favorite dog breed.

The most important propaganda topic deserving some discussion is the reason to go to war and its evolution over time. Months earlier, the warmongers uttered “regime change” as a justification for the war. This was considered too crass, and it briefly made way for “Iraq has links to terrorism”, a very short-lived justification. This gave way to “rid Iraq of WMD.” A UN inspection team was set up, and it was clear from the beginning that this was meant to fail [7]. Once the UN didn’t lend its imprimatur to justify the war, and the fact that many Europeans sought to continue the inspections regime, then another justification was necessary. Now, “let’s liberate Iraq”–in other words, a euphemism for “regime change”–was concocted without much reflection. Within days of the war starting, the stiff Iraqi resistance revealed the absurdity of the new justification. If the Iraqis are not being liberated, then what are American troops doing there to begin with? Maybe the only way this mythological justification can be stretched is to starve the population of Basra (water supplies have been cut), and at a later point when the situation is really desperate, then soldiers can hand out food parcels for the benefit of CNN viewers. Some plastic flowers may be flown in as currency for the Iraqis to receive their parcels. Cheering heartily may earn some chewing gum [8].

There are several reasons for this war of aggression, but the position on this decision and the intellectual depth thereof were inadvertently revealed during Bush’s ultimatum speech practice session. Therein the dear monosyllabic president states: “FUCK SADDAM, we’re taking him out”. After the eloquent “Axis of Evil” or “good vs. evil” phrases, one expected yet another eloquent justification for this war. This impromptu statement thus reveals a president with a mean-spirited streak, and a very shallow understanding of what is going on. It would be interesting for Americans to view their president’s rehearsal, but unfortunately, this will not be shown to American or British publics thanks to the self-censorship of CNN and BBC, the main purveyors of the current war propaganda.

One of Dr. Josef Goebbel’s cardinal rules for effective propaganda was that all news should be as accurate as possible and credible. Current practice overthrows this rule by a rapid succession of lies, and news about the war on major networks isn’t credible anymore. A key question is why this has happened. One theory is that US propaganda has become a victim of its own spin; propagandists also have been permeated by the same arrogance afflicting the warmongers. Propaganda is something fed to others to sell your “product”, and the spinmeisters are not meant to consume this themselves. So, they failed because they accepted the basic premise of an imminent Iraqi collapse. Given that this didn’t happen, the situation has created panic among the propagandists, and their only response seems to be to live day-by-day. A few more lies today, some more tomorrow, and then hope–really HOPE–to obtain a total Iraqi capitulation. If this doesn’t happen then the US risks the unraveling of its propaganda line. It doesn’t fear that foreigners will rebel–these already don’t buy the US line–but it is the American people who they fear losing. Many more tall stories, and suddenly many questions may arise from this quarter. Too many questions and the whole edifice may collapse.

Propaganda is about selling a war in such a way that the core populations don’t realize the realities of what such a war entails. The American population wants to see “enemy” defeats, no losses of their own troops, and they want the effects to be antiseptic–video game style. Propaganda will attempt to direct your focus to the glamorous aspects of battle. Above all, propaganda papers over the fact that this is a war of aggression, that there are home team losses, and that the results are massively bloody. Propaganda hides the fact that there are virtually no painkillers left in Iraqi hospitals, and that the hundreds or thousands of Iraqi wounded will be operated on without anesthetics. The screams of the Iraqi victims as their limbs are amputated without anesthetics are what propaganda tries with all fervor to drown out. The propagandists must be pleased, as they have made it possible to demolish a country and to exact on the Iraqi people a horrendous toll–without the American public even noticing.

There is only one antidote against propaganda, and that is a relevant sense of history and a strong collective memory. When we remember the lessons from the past, and when we remember what happened even a few days ago, then the job of the propagandists and their warmongering bosses, becomes much more difficult. It is ultimately when their message is challenged that war can be stopped; bloated armament budgets can be pared; international law can be upheld; and shallow mean-spirited politicians with blood soaked hands can be put on trial in an international war crimes tribunal.

A War Weasel Word Watch

Entries with a RF in front of them are from Robert Fisk’s “The war of misinformation has begun”, The Independent, March 16, 2003.

Air campaign Bombardment of cities. There are no Iraqi airplanes.

“Anything that moves, let them have it” And the civilians too? Command issued by a British officer on the outskirts of Basra referring to anything moving in front of them. — BBC TV, March 26, 2003. But certainly the US is going to win Why don’t you capitulate right now? The only question the BBC can ask Iraqi officials.

City falls Terminology used during the Middle Ages.

Civilians fleeing The CNN reason for civilians to flee Basra: to escape the vicious grip of the meanies. A reminder to CNN: the city is being bombed, water supplies have been cut off by British troops, and there is a lot of shooting and bombing.

Coalition US-UK

“Let me just say that there are a number of nations in the world that are fully supporting our efforts, and you heard a number of them speak at the Security Council the other day: Spain, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Italy, Portugal, the newly independent nations of the former Soviet Union. [...] And they do it in the face of public opposition.” General Colin Powell, Interview on Fox News Sunday With Tony Snow, March 9, 2003. (Italics added) www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2003/18470.htm

NB: There is no such thing as a coalition of the UNwilling. The silly tautological “coalition of the willing” is offensive both in its intent and the abuse of language. Tautology is as much a give-away of lying as sweat on the liar’s face.

Cruise Control “Do Bush and Blair intend to save Iraqis by using ‘cruise control’?” — Comment made by an Iraqi in a BBC Radio program from Iraq, March 27, 2003.

Decapitation strike No need to declare war, attack a “target of opportunity”. There is also no need to consult with Congress either; this one already handed over its head on a platter.

DU Ammo

“Coalition forces are using depleted uranium (DU) shells in the war against Iraq and deliberately flouting a United Nations resolution which classifies the munitions as illegal weapons of mass destruction. DU contaminates land, causes ill-health and cancers among the soldiers using the weapons, the armies they target and civilians, leading to birth defects in children.

“Professor Doug Rokke, ex-director of the Pentagon’s depleted uranium project — a former professor of environmental science at Jacksonville University and onetime US army colonel who was tasked by the US department of defense with the post-first Gulf war depleted uranium desert clean-up — said use of DU was a ‘war crime’.” — Neil Mackay, “US Forces’ Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons is ‘Illegal’ “, Sunday Herald, March 30, 2003.

?

Embedded journalist The reason journalism is known as the second oldest profession.

“The reporting isn’t just embedded; it’s in bed with the Pentagon. And CNN is the worst of all.” –Jeffrey St. Clair, Life During Wartime, Counterpunch, March 25, 2003

Fedayeen Interpreted by the various US spokesmodels as “Those who fight and die for Saddam”. Of course, this kind of disinformation is plain silly on the face of it.

Friendly fire Friendly fire is the main cause of US-UK fatalities, but also a means never to admit that the enemy inflicted damage. The Iraqis must always be portrayed as bumbling idiots or criminals–shooting even one US soldier gives them a tinge of competence. The Iraqis attacked a convoy of supply trucks using machine guns and RPGs. However, “friendly fire” was reported to be the cause for all the burned out trucks and wounded soldiers. Didn’t the Iraqis even hit one truck? Hmmm.

Good intentions

“We want them to realize that we come here with good intentions.” –British tank commander in a BBC-TV embedded propaganda piece on March 31, 2003. Never mind that the same troops just killed some people in the town that had just “fallen” to the British troops.

These statements parallel the justification for destroying villages in Vietnam, i.e., “we destroyed them in order to save them.” Good intentioned Americans have caused barbarous amount of damage and carnage around the world. Also, it seems that whatever destruction or killing is instantly forgiven simply because it was well intentioned. This appeals to all the Christians in the US and elsewhere.

Hearts and minds thing

“The marines were keen to emphasize that, posing for photographs demanded by the journalists as they handed sweets to children and fed military rations chocolate to stray puppies ‘We have to do the hearts and minds thing’, said Colonel Ben Currie.” — Andrew Buncombe, The Independent, March 26, 2003.

Human shields

“Civilians next to the Iraqi forces stationed to defend the cities. What do they expect, that the entire Iraqi army moves out of the cities to defend empty desert?” — Cliff Jackson, DoubleStandards.org, March 28, 03.

Humanitarian aid Justification for opening the port immediately. Unfortunately, several thousand truckloads of supplies are necessary to keep the US forces operating. Each division consumes 1.5 million gallons of gasoline per day. Which demand do you suppose will have priority use of the port?

The first humanitarian cargo ship, the “Sir Galahad”, arrived on March 28th, and over a hundred journalists were bused in for the occasion. The supplies were brought in for propaganda benefit, and are only a minuscule proportion of the needs in the area. On March 30th, it was revealed that more than half the shipment was munitions.

Is it really him? An often-repeated question by BBC or CNN reporters after a Saddam Hussein speech. Never mind the content of his speech.

Kill box Pacman warrior terminology. Draw boxes around enemy positions and exterminate them.

Liberation Occupation.

Military Experts Propagators of the Pentagon line on TV by retired officers. They receive official briefings by the Pentagon, and then attempt to present the war as a sports event–post-game quarterback style.

“The US military has invaded the US media. I would like tonight to call for an immediate removal of all US troops from CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, CNN, all of them. US troops come home!”

from Michael Moore’s intended Oscar speech delivered at the Riverside Church, March 27, 2003.

?

Oil Desperate means to fund this war. Iraqi Oil exports will start BEFORE the war ends!

Red line Where finally the Iraqis will use chemical weapons. The line has been drawn by CNN, not the Iraqis.

RF: ‘Allegedly’ For all carnage caused by Western forces.

RF: ‘At last, the damning evidence’ Used when reporters enter old torture chambers.

RF: ‘Inevitable revenge’ For the executions of Saddam’s Baath party officials which no one actually said were inevitable.

RF: ‘Life goes on’ For any pictures of Iraq’s poor making tea.

RF: ‘Newly liberated’ For territory and cities newly occupied by the Americans or British.

RF: ‘Officials here are not giving us much access’ A clear sign that reporters in Baghdad are confined to their hotels.

RF: ‘Remnants’ Allegedly ‘diehard’ Iraqi troops still shooting at the Americans but actually the first signs of a resistance movement dedicated to the ‘liberation’ of Iraq from its new western occupiers.

RF: ‘Stubborn’ or ‘suicidal’ To be used when Iraqi forces fight rather than retreat.

RF: ‘What went wrong?’ To accompany pictures illustrating the growing anarchy in Iraq as if it were not predicted.

Saddam Poor guy, there is no respect. They even referred to Hitler by his last name. Proof that Saddam has been truly demonized is that he is referred to by his first name.

Saddam’s fault Blame the victim. If the bombs fall in civilian areas, then blame Saddam Hussein for putting military targets in built up areas.

Shooting their own people On March 28th a bomb killed 62+ civilians in Baghdad. The “coalition” spokesman denied the responsibility for the bombing. But surprise, Iraqi forces are now “shooting their own people” trying to leave cities “under Saddam’s control”! Even for propagandists sometimes the best defense is an offense.

Still Investigating Just don’t want to admit responsibility right now.

“The piece of metal is only a foot high, but the numbers on it hold the clue to the latest atrocity in Baghdad. At least 62 civilians had died by yesterday afternoon, and the coding on that hunk of metal contains the identity of the culprit. The Americans and British were doing their best yesterday to suggest that an Iraqi anti-aircraft missile destroyed those dozens of lives, adding that they were ‘still investigating’ the carnage. But the coding is in Western style, not in Arabic. And many of the survivors heard the plane.” — Robert Fisk, The Independent, March 30, 2003

NB: the warhead of an anti-aircraft missile is quite small. By simple deduction, a large bomb means only one thing.

Support our troops No need to support the war, just our team.

“AP has frequently used the terms ‘pro-war’ and ‘pro-troops’ interchangeably — a practice that distorts the views of anti-war demonstrators and contributes to the media marginalization of the peace movement.” — FAIR, March 26, 2003

Terrorism aka looks and feels like terrorism Oh, don’t forget that this is a war against terrorism! In the March 27th press conference, Bush referred to the guerrilla tactics used against US troops as terrorism. A top US general repeated this assertion the following day.

Any hostile action by regular or irregular Iraqis against an American aggressor force is NOT terrorism. NB: Iraqis are attacking soldiers. The Americans are not in a position to define what is legitimate resistance. They are also not in a position to specify where these acts of resistance will take place. Finally, Iraqi violence now, or during the past decade, has had nothing to do with any attack against the US, i.e., 9-11.

The Oscars This is about entertainment. Now shut up.

There is still a climate of fear; aka there are still Baath operatives in the city. The reason why the people don’t come out to shower the invaders with flowers. Supposedly, the secret police, the Baathists, the military instill fear in the population, and they are fearful to kiss the American soldiers. Smash the regime, and they will love “us”.

Tsunami of democracy Democracy will sweep the Middle East once the flower blooms in Iraq. The flowers may have to peer through the rubble first.

Uprising in Basra! Military wishful thinking. They hope there may be some support for “our” bombing of their cities. A propaganda stinker safely dispatched by the Al Jazeera footage.

Violation of Geneva Conventions

“As 6,000+ Palestinian political prisoners rot in Israeli prisons, as has been the norm here for 36 years now, it is ironic how four US POWs interviewed on TV all of a sudden become the spark to get the words ‘Geneva Conventions’ to be spoken by US officials.” — Sam Bahour, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine, Mar. 26, 2003

War games Oops, this is not the war we prepared for! “The enemy we are fighting is different from the one we’d wargamed.” — Lt. General William Wallace, US V Corps. March 28, 2003.

?

[1] Just witness the demolition of key propaganda by Seymour Hersh. Before the war started, the US peddled some documents about sales of “yellow paste” from Niger to Iraq used to obtain uranium. Similarly, General Powell suggested that aluminum tubes engineered to very precise tolerances were destined for uranium enrichment. Once again, crass and transparent propaganda died in a matter of days thanks to the acumen of Seymour Hersh who safely dispatched these shoddy fabrications.

[2] Check Cahal Milmo’s “US blames Iraqis in war of words over slaughter at market”, The Independent, March 28, 2003, for a complete sequence of the US statements on this account. The hypocrisy: the US is claiming that it didn’t target the market, and then draws up the lame conclusion that it wasn’t its missile. In the same breath, they admit that cruise missiles have gone astray. This is yet one more lie that will be uncovered in a few days. A comparison to the bombing of the Amariya Air Raid Shelter in 1991 shows that the current batch of denials mimics closely the initial denials at that time. The big gaping hole of the bomb through the concrete finally closed that propaganda chapter, although the US always maintained that the bomb shelter was a military target.

[3] This was also a war with no UN mandate.

[4] To stop the broadcasting it is enough to destroy the transmitters. It is not necessary to demolish the TV/Radio station. If the Pentagon wants to shut down the transmission and avoid civilian casualties, then this is possible. However, such actions make it clear that their purported respect for civilians is not existent.

[5] NB: soldiers were told to expect no resistance! One of the wounded American soldiers during a press conference from the hospital in Germany stated that his officers had told him that there wouldn’t be any resistance.

[6] Refueling is a risky operation and could best be performed over the Mediterranean.

[7] The UN resolution 1441, authorizing the inspections program, was crafted in such a way that it guaranteed a negative outcome. The US also continued bombing Iraq in the months leading up to the war while the inspections were going on–a crass attempt to get the Iraqis to abandon their commitments, thus lending a justification for a war. The composition of the UN inspectors also raised many questions, e.g., a Ukrainian UN inspector offered his services to the Americans after the war started, and another American inspector was found to be the leader of a sadomasochistic cult. One should now follow Hans Blix’s career to determine if he also played a less than honorable role in this futile, and ultimately deadly charade. Didn’t the US nominate him?

[8] See the definition of the “Hearts and minds thing” in the War Weasel Word Watch.

PAUL de ROOIJ is an economist living in London. He does not spend the whole day glued to the TV–this would have a detrimental effect on anyone’s mental health. He is grateful for all the snippets forwarded by many folks. He can be reached at proox@hotmail.com