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August 23, 2004

How Do They Get Away With It?

by Paul Craig Roberts

It is not an enjoyable experience watching the Republican Party descend into the depths of propaganda and falsehood. Today's disaffected Republicans once believed the GOP to be the party of principle. Any remaining claim to principle ended with Bush's invasion of Iraq.

No informed person believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or terrorist connections to al-Qaeda and involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks.

It is not possible that the president and vice president of the United States, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the director of the CIA and the national security adviser could have believed such rubbish. Yet, each one of them told the American people, the U.S. Congress, the United Nations, and our allies that they did believe it.

Did U.S. intelligence agencies actually convey totally false information to the highest government officials? If so, these agencies are the greatest threat to innocent people abroad and to the U.S. government's credibility. Such incompetence is more dangerous than terrorism. The agencies should be immediately abolished.

Contrary to Bush administration propaganda, Saddam Hussein was precisely the type of secular Arab ruler who would feature large on Osama bin Laden's hit list. Hussein brutally suppressed Islamic leaders, knocking off cleric after cleric, including Moqtada al-Sadr's father, a grand ayatollah.

If Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction to give terrorists, the terrorists would have used them on Israel. The U.S. is a derivative target because of our alliance with Israel against the Palestinians.

Bush and Rumsfeld claim that they believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Yet, it is certain that the joint chiefs and commanding generals did not believe the falsehood. No general, no matter how incompetent, would have concentrated his invasion army in a small area adjacent to an enemy armed with WMD, when one weapon could wipe out the entire U.S. invasion force.

No one has been held accountable for the unjustified invasion of Iraq that has destroyed America's standing in the world and has cost tens of thousands of Iraqi lives and thousands of American dead and wounded.

Don't expect a demand for accountability from the public. A poll released August 20 by the Program on International Policy Attitudes [pdf] at the University of Maryland found that 54% of Americans continue to believe Iraq had WMD; 35% believe that Iraq was closely linked to al-Qaeda, and 15% believe Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11 attack.

What does the persistence of such extraordinary falsehoods say about the U.S. media? How can a free people with First Amendment rights be so totally misinformed? The answer is that an independent media no longer exists in the U.S.

Formerly independent media are now submerged into corporate chains where focus on advertising revenues means zero tolerance for controversy. In the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the U.S. media served as a propaganda arm for the Bush administration. The New York Times and Washington Post have since published mild apologies for neglecting their responsibilities, but the U.S. media has been muzzled by the "you-are-with-us-or-against-us" mantra.

Anyone who tells the truth is in the "against-us" camp.

Having gotten away with one invasion based on deception, the Bush administration is eager to repeat the offense. Last week Undersecretary of State John Bolton used a Hudson Institute forum to repeat before a live C-SPAN TV audience the same lies – only this time it is Iran that has WMD:

"Today I'd like to speak about Iran, which has concealed a large-scale, covert nuclear weapons program for over 18 years, and which, therefore, is one of our most fundamental proliferation challenges. All of Iran's WMD efforts – chemical weapons, biological weapons, nuclear weapons, and ballistic missiles – pose grave threats to international security."

The grave threat to international security is posed by the Bush administration's relentless war propaganda. Does Bolton really believe that a nuclear weapons program, with all its extraordinary requirements, could be concealed for 18 years?

There is a total failure of U.S. diplomacy. Is the failure intentional? Does the Bush administration desire more war in the Middle East?

Every indicator reads yes. The U.S. has struck an aggressive stance toward Iraq, Syria and Iran – the three Middle Eastern countries that are not ruled by American puppets on the American payroll. Now that the Soviet Union is no longer a check on U.S. intrusions in the Middle East, the Bush administration intends to complete the colonization under the cloak of bringing "democracy" to Islam.

This is the neoconservative agenda. The same neocons who control the Bush administration have put forward this plan in written and spoken form for all to read and hear. They have informed us of their war intentions, and we are paying no attention.

If you favor the return of the draft and war without end, vote Republican.

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    Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and contributing editor of National Review. He is author or co-author of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon chair in political economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and senior research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury's Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell.

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