WMDs: Weapons of Murderous Deception
- by Todd Tavares
More than a year after President Bush began to make claims that Iraq possessed WMDs and posed a threat to the world's only superpower nearly half a world away, these claims have been refuted as far as can possibly be done by the recent Kay report. Bush still has the upper hand however; it is impossible to disprove the existence of something that isn't real (try to disprove Santa to a five year old), hence no one can prove that WMDs aren't buried in the Iraq desert. So now the goal of the White House is two-fold: to spin it that the cause of war wasn't WMDs, but because Saddam was a bad dude, and to convince America that the intelligence community somehow deceived the highest level of government (and, as a result, the public), when it in fact told the administration what it wanted to hear to justify its quaint little military adventure.
Any student of history from sixth grade on should not be shocked to find that the government would resort to historical revision or would manipulate, distort, or otherwise devise state information to conform with their expectations/desires. Remember the Maine? In 1898 the United States battleship U.S.S. Maine mysteriously exploded in Havana harbor during the Cuban war for independence against Spain. Although no evidence was presented to implicate the Spanish for the destruction of the Maine (about 100 years later the explosion was discovered to be the result of a design flaw), the death of the 268 sailors aboard, coupled with idea of Cuban independence, made a compelling pretext for war against Spain. The resulting Spanish-American War inaugurated a new age of American imperialism, which absorbed into the empire not only Cuba but also the Philippines after years of bloody slaughter there.
Then, as now, a great tragedy befalls America, and a country that has nothing to do with the purported incident (9/11, WMDs) is attacked. Sound familiar?
Since that time the United States has used faulty, ambiguous, or altered data to justify war so often that it could credibly be called standard operating procedure. The official opening of the Vietnam War came after an unprovoked attack by Vietnamese torpedo boats on the U.S.S. Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin. Oddly, it has never been determined if the attack actually occurred, although it has since been determined that the Maddox was a legitimate military target that was inside Vietnam's territory, conducting electronic espionage. Reagan would continue the tradition, invading Grenada to protect American students (who were in no danger), and starting a terrorist proxy war in Nicaragua (because, after all, those commies were only two day's drive from the Texas border).
The most recent, and possibly longest running deception, has been in Iraq, where U.S. manufactured lies have demanded U.S. intervention since 1990. Sadly, the reasoning behind the first U.S.-Iraq war have not had the same (minimal) examination in the press, most likely because the Gulf War seemed so clear cut, with Iraq as the vicious invader and America as the gallant knight defending an innocent country from aggression. Operation "Iraqi Freedom" was certainly not this clean-cut- in fact it was completely different and far more complex and behind-the-scenes. However, for our purposes, let's look back and see how the Gulf War was sold to the incredulous press with either misleading or distorted military intelligence similar to the case today.
Way back in 1990 the world heard the testimony of a 15 year old Kuwaiti nurse named Nayirah who had seen Iraqi soldiers enter hospitals in Kuwait fully armed, remove babies from incubators, and throw the children on the ground to die. This was a story that would not only come up time and again in Congress while debating action and be mentioned often by President Bush as a reason for war, but it resonated with the public. It was also a lie. The story had been concocted as part of an elaborate $11.5 million PR campaign created by Hill & Knowlton that had been financed by the Kuwaiti government. In fact the girl who testified was actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the U.S. who was most likely not even in Kuwait when the invasion occurred. Would it have been difficult for official government information gathering to see through this deception? Nope, but it would have disagreed with the official position of the time: that Saddam was the reincarnation of Hitler. As we have seen recently, convenient lies can be ignored.
While the example of the nurse was not the direct work of the government, the Pentagon pursued its own campaign of deception. Based on satellite gathered intelligence, Pentagon Officials declared that Hussein had begun to amass troops along the Saudi Arabian border shortly after his conquest of Kuwait. The estimate in September of 1990 was that there were 250,000 troops and 1,500 tanks positioned to invade the US oil-supplier and regional ally. Although the military would not release the satellite photos that proved this, Soviet satellite photos of the region were released to the St. Petersburg Times of Florida - the only newspaper to question the military's accusation. The photos revealed…empty desert. Again, false information sold to the public and the highest offices of government with the intent to mislead and to support war. In this case, again, the information was easily disprovable, but no one saw any reason to counter it since the evidence agreed with the official position.
The above are only two examples of countless instances of lies and deceptions in the case of Iraq. Using faulty evidence to make a case for war has long been the norm for the United States, but no where so effectively, and for so long, as Iraq. From the initial rejections - and denials of - a peaceful resolution in 1991 to "Desert Fox" in 1998, from the endless air war and genocidal sanctions of the past decade to the recent war with the deaths of citizens and soldiers, unpleasant or unwanted facts have been suppressed while desired lies have been thrust upon the public. Now the White House wants "all the facts." What do you think the conclusion will be?
Todd Taveres, 25, just finished up a B.A. in Political Science and Economics at Northeastern University, where he was a member of the Progressive Student Alliance. His articles have also appeared in Dollars and Sense. He can be reached here: email@example.com