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Not Buying the Spin

Watching Freedom’s Watch

by RICHARD FORNO

A new grassroots lobbying effort headed by former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleisher is running a series of "pro-war" videos to support military operations in Iraq.

While I sympathize with all who have served, suffered, and/or died during this conflict, I must nevertheless take issue with what I find is an appalling and misleading message being presented by this video:

The "Wounded Vet" video

Three key statements from this ad deserve mention:

"Congress was right to vote to fight terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan"

True, but that’s conflating rationales. Terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 were in Afghanistan, not Iraq….and we attacked them there in late 2001 with strong international support and political backing. However, since we invaded Iraq in a blatant war-of-choice with a flimsy international coalition to support us, NOW there are terrorists in Iraq, including elements linked to those who caused 9/11. So it’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy: "there were no 9/11-related terrorists in Iraq, but since we invaded they’re there, so now it’s all the more reason to stay and fight them — and besides we’ve been authorized to fight terrorism wherever they pose a threat!" (And of course, by shifting our focus to Iraq, Afghanistan is falling apart again — our adversaries are regrouping and conducting significant new operations against us there, too.)

The geographically-challenged might note that Iraq is pretty close to another "problem country" in the eyes of the PNAC Alumni Association — Iran. But I digress.

"They attacked *us* and they will again."

While this is being said during the ad, a still image of a plane flying into the WTC on 9/11 is shown — thus clearly trying again to make the suggestion that the perpetrators of 9/11 and (the need to invade and now stay in) Iraq were/are linked, even though such links were disproved repeatedly by any number of bipartisan government commissions and investigations in recent years, and also by senior members of the Administration. That’s pure FUD and fear-mongering.

"They won’t stop in Iraq."

This is simply an extension of the tired old chickenhawk talking point about "fighting terrorists over there so we don’t fight them here at home." Anyone who still believes or perpetuates that logic clearly does not understand the nature of the current conflict, terrorism, unconventional warfare, or simple human nature. Sadly, that flawed logic has become one of the more salient Administration talking points in defense of the Iraq War, if not also a cornerstone for its current ‘strategy.’

The bottom line about this commercial: It has been proven repeatedly that none of the 9/11 terrorists had ANY connection with Iraq. It is clear this ad’s desired message is to once again try connecting Iraq and 9/11 in an effort to place fear in the minds of viewers in an effort to curry public opinion for the current policy and ‘strategy’ during a time when serious questions are being raised by the political opposition, general public, and members of the President’s own party. I daresay folks in DC are in a panic mode about what to do both from a political and national policy perspective, and are fearful of admitting that based on how things have devolved in Iraq since March 2003, the ideal outcome in Iraq won’t be a "good" one aligned with lofty US goals but rather the one that’s "least bad" for all involved, as Thomas Ricks noted the other day to Tim Russert.

Two final points about the politicization of Iraq and our military not specifically related to the aforementioned commercial:

(1) I am sick of hearing how pundits and politicians take great pains to say they’re "just back from Iraq" as if that confers any additional credence to their statements. Most such visits are tightly-controlled and secured, and as a result these folks aren’t seeing "the real picture" outside their security bubbles and short periods of time "on the ground."

(2) You can find soldiers and veterans both for and against the war, so for a politician or pundit to make claims that soldiers are supporting their position (or using them in commercials) is a meaningless statistic, because there are just as many who are opposed to it — which is only natural if one considers the opinions of various US servicemembers as representative of the deep divisions of opinion here in American society. Such a technique is used simply as window-dressing to support their various statements.

Just a few thoughts from someone not buying the spin.

PS: Has anyone else noticed that during the past week that there’s been a marked increase in the hostile public rhetoric towards Iran?

RICHARD FORNO is a security consultant in the Washington, DC area and can be reached through his website, www.infowarrior.org. These views are his own.