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May 28, 2003

Lie and Conquer


by Ramzy Baroud

The British Empire, at the peak of its expansion, was credited for developing the "divide and conquer" military strategy. I wonder how history will remember the United States' imperialist policies – "lie and conquer"? Perhaps.

"September 11 has changed the world" we are constantly reminded. That was a lie. The truth was that a "new world order" had already been crafted by Pentagon think tanks and strategists, and was spelled out as bluntly as it gets, by the now deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz, as early as 1992.

Furthermore, "Rebuilding America's Defenses", an infamous document that detailed the future vision carried by the so-called neoconservatives, was drafted and published before the collapse of the New York towers "changed the world". What the terrorist attacks merely did was provide a pretext for Washington's strategists to consolidate the pre-designed plans, ahead of schedule, while the horror of the attacks guaranteed a solid foundation for popular support.

Many optimists hoped that, despite the viciousness of the attacks, an historic awakening would in fact spread through the United States, where the public would rise and confront the disastrous foreign policies of their government that provoked such travesties in the first place. That didn't actualize, for the launching of unjustifiable wars helped unite a shocked and confused public behind a dishonest government. Regardless of their political leanings, Americans often unite in times of war. Washington seems determined to keep it that way.

The return of al-Qaeda operatives, or the rise of new terrorist groups, resulted in the latest deadly bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco; fresh proof that the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq were anything but "wars on terror".

Many knew in advance that overthrowing the Taliban would change nothing in the equation, because it is injustice and oppression that breed terrorism, not a tiny regime that was engaged in endless tribal civil wars.

But nobody dares addressing such seemingly irrelevant concepts such as injustice and oppression, especially in times where new war fronts are being opened, so that the public will remain involved in "marching behind the troops". New wars had to be fought under the banners of freedom and democracy, while in reality, they only served the pre-planned strategic, political and ideological interests of Washington's ruling elite.

It was necessary to attack Iraq, because such regime change was predestined years ago, and those benefiting from it had already lined up from Tel Aviv to Washington, passing through London of course. George Bush tried desperately to link the overthrown Iraqi government to al-Qaeda. Even the CIA's chief George Tenet had then informed a Congress committee that proof of such a relationship was "unsubstantiated".

The war was fought anyway, under such false pretexts. But as none of these pretexts proved accurate, new lies were injected into the story to justify a war in retrospect. It's rather appalling that television screens have shown us such horrific scenes of mass graves in Iraq, allegedly belonging to Iraqi dissidents killed by the regime, but no mention has been made to the US role in all of this. Many of those buried in such graves were those killed in the Iraq civil war of 1991, which erupted when former President George Bush called on Iraqis to overthrow their government. He promised them support and delivered none. But because of the desperate justification of the immoral war, the rotten corpses attained untold significance. Being confronted with the corpses of Iraqis from both sides of the civil war is the latest attempt to win our applause, so that we might drop our position that the war was immoral and the subsequent occupation is illegal.

But whoever said propaganda ends when wars do? Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has just uttered the latest of the lying campaign. Rumsfeld, the dynamo of the Iraq war, is now claiming that al-Qaeda operatives are "busy" in Iran. He linked the latest bombings in Riyadh and Casablanca to Tehran, apparently as an attempt to pressure Iran to cut its support for Hezbollah and other resistance movements. The statement was another warning shot for Tehran to stay out of Iraq, whose future is set to be determined by Washington only.

To further alienate Iran, the Los Angeles Times reported that the United States has indefinitely broken off all dialogue with the Islamic Republic, canceling a meeting scheduled in Geneva on May 21, between Iranian and American officials to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

Failing to end terrorism, or confront its real roots, Washington is now hoping to benefit from it. The easiest way to force a country to its knees is to allege that intelligence information indicates a link between the defiant country and al-Qaeda. And Bush's "you are either with us or with the terrorists" doctrine is the only proof needed to convince the media that a war is legitimate.

Washington continues to spread lies, while injecting fear and panic into the hearts of Americans, simply by elevating the terrorist threat level whenever policymaking necessitates.

Many factors shall prove that these wars of lies are doomed to failure, but one of the most important factors in all of this is the American public, which has been marginalized and deceived for too long, coaxed into putting their total trust in the "greatest democracy on earth". The US administration is operating with the hope that no awakening will ever take place to disturb its malicious plans. Americans must prove the neoconservatives wrong, before the damage goes beyond peace and security, to include democracy itself.


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  • Ramzy Baroud is editor-in-chief of the Palestine Chronicle. His book The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle is now out in paperback.

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