False Positive: Bush's Deadly Odor of Mendacity
Written by Chris Floyd
Wednesday, 08 August 2007
President Bush's many media sycophants tell us over and over that he is not the dribbling idiot of popular imagination. As Hugh Hewitt and other genuflectors who are ushered routinely into the great man's presence insist, George W. Bush is an intelligent, focused, purposeful leader, with a firm grasp on the complexities of modern statecraft.
Let us grant the truth of this assertion. (Indeed, I have already granted it, in two previous pieces: here and here.) What this means, of course, is that when Bush makes a statement in public, he is very much aware of what he is saying, and fully cognizant of the implications of his words. Therefore, when the intelligent, focused and purposeful Mr. Bush declared Monday -- at a highly publicized meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai -- that the Iranian government "has proclaimed its desire to build a nuclear weapon," we must assume that he knew full well that he was telling a barefaced lie, and that he told this lie for some specific purpose. That purpose is obvious: to further prepare the PR ground for inducing the public to go along with a future military strike against Iran.
This is precisely the same kind of focused and purposeful lie that Bush told when he declared, on national television, that there was "no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised," and that Saddam Hussein had "aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operative of al Qaeda." In fact, the new lie is even more brazen, for it involves only the public statements of Iranian leaders, not cherry-picked and falsified nuggets of murky intelligence data buried from all public view. Anyone with a computer -- or a memory -- can readily determine that Iran's government leaders have insistently proclaimed their adamant opposition to building a nuclear weapon; the nation's theocratic leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei, has even declared such a weapons program to be against the will of God.
The veracity of such statements might be controversial, of course. After all, there is no particular reason to believe that the government leaders in Iran are any more honest than, say, American presidents (or American clerics) have proven to be down through the years. But it is simply, literally, indisputably an outright lie to declare that the Iranian government has "proclaimed its desire to build a nuclear weapon." The very opposite is true.
Bush knew he was lying -- and he was lying with a purpose. He was trying to inject this poisonous falsehood into the public debate, and he succeeded. The remark went largely unnoticed by the corporate media, which focused on other themes in the joint press conference. The US media's flagship, the New York Times, did not even mention Bush's falsehood, much less point out the inaccuracy of the remark. As it does so often, the Times smoothed over Bush's actual words with a bland paraphrase, saying only that Bush "is deeply suspicious of [Iran's] nuclear ambitions, a view he reiterated Monday." (That is a further lie in aid of the original lie. Bush did not say he was "deeply suspicious" of Iran's nuclear ambitions; he said outright that Iran has declared its desire for nuclear weapons. There was no "suspicion" about the statement at all; Bush retailed it as an established fact.)
Some outlets, such as the Washington Post, did report Bush's remark -- and even went on to note, at the very bottom of the story, that "Iran actually has not proclaimed a desire to build a nuclear weapon." But instead of asking why Bush would tell such a glaring, provocative lie, the Post merely, and meekly, allowed an Administration spokesman to explain away the remark with a non sequitor: Iran had once kept its nuclear energy program a secret and was now resisting some of the extra inspections demanded of them outside the the nuclear non-proliferation treaty that they have signed and followed for years. The spokesman did not explain how any of this constituted a "proclamation" of the desire to build nuclear weapons. And the Post obviously did not press him on it. Still, in this degraded age of journalism, I suppose we must give a gold star to the Post for even mentioning the discrepancy between Bush's statement and the truth.
(However, full marks must go to AFP for writing a whole story on the lie: Bush levels dubious Iran nuclear arms charge. But they're just a bunch of foreigners anyway, so they don't count. Only the echo chamber of the Homeland media is important in the new warmongering campaign.)
Bush's deliberate lie ratchets that campaign up to another level. We have already had months of stories asserting Iranian involvement in the killing of American soldiers in Iran and Afghanistan -- stories rooted, like the WMD canards, in the murk of unsourced, unverifiable "intelligence data" passed along by Bush's military minions to credulous reporters. Now the Bush Regime is moving on to fantastical falsehoods, based on nothing but a bold perversion of facts available to anyone. And again, as with Iraq, the main war drum remains centered on that ole debbil "mushroom cloud" rising over an American city. (And why not? The Money Power militarists have made mountains of hay (and silos of cash) with that threat for nigh on 60 years now.)
But before the "debate" about striking Iran slips away entirely into the realm of fantasy, it might be useful to look at Iran's nuclear program in context -- provided here by Abbas Edalat and Mehrnaz Shahabi in their Guardian article, Prospects of Armageddon:
...the calamity of Iraq has failed to dampen the belligerent clique within the White House. The arrival of an IAEA team in Tehran yesterday to discuss inspections is equally unlikely to dissuade advocates of a strike, nuclear or conventional. Such an assault would be in flagrant breach of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, but it would hardly be the first time the US has disregarded the 1968 accord.
The treaty obliges nuclear states to pursue negotiations in good faith towards cessation of the nuclear arms race and on to disarmament. It also guarantees non-nuclear states help with and access to peaceful nuclear know-how and technology. All five original nuclear states are in violation of the treaty for failing to take effective action towards disarmament. The US systematically contravened the treaty in the 1980s and 1990s by successfully bringing pressure to bear on western governments and companies, as well as China and Russia, not to enter nuclear collaborations with Iran - which, as a signatory of the treaty, has been entitled since 1970 to receive material, technology and information for the peaceful use of nuclear power. This eventually drove Iran, after the bombing of Iraq's Osirak nuclear plant by Israel in 1981, on to the black market in order to pursue its nuclear programme. The subsequent partial concealment of Iran's nuclear activities gave rise to western suspicion of its nuclear ambitions, but rarely does the media characterisation make reference to the context in which the recourse to the black market took place. It is rare, too, to see mention made of the fact that the IAEA has found no evidence of a weapons programme after over 2,200 hours of snap inspections of Iranian nuclear plants.
In marked contrast to western suspicion of Iran, the real nuclear programme in Israel has been eagerly sponsored by the governments of France, Britain and the US. They have actively supported Israel's development of an arsenal estimated to include more than 200 warheads. It is a weapons programme Tel Aviv is determined to shroud in secrecy. Mordechai Vanunu served an 18-year prison sentence, including 12 years in solitary confinement, after speaking publicly of Israel's possession of nuclear weapons in 1986. Last month he was sentenced to a further six months in prison for speaking to foreigners.
Even as Iran discusses renewed inspections with the IAEA, the risk of a military attack on its nuclear facilities remains high. Israel's threat to deploy nuclear bunker busters to destroy Iran's weapons potential is in line with the US's national security strategy of 2006 and the Pentagon's doctrine for joint nuclear operations which justifies use of tactical nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states as a "deterrent". The ultimate irony is that the leading violator of the treaty, the US, and the region's sole nuclear power and non-signatory, Israel, are contemplating nuclear strikes on the pretext of nuclear limitation.
But this is nothing new. The National Security State that essentially replaced the American republic in 1947 has always relied on "scaring the hell out of the American people," as we noted here earlier this year, when writing of Bush's brutal regime change by proxy in Somalia:
It's clear that no nation on earth will be allowed to organize its own society as it wishes, or work out its own internal conflicts, if the American elite decides they have some financial or strategic interest in the matter. The only nations immune to this power-mad interventionist philosophy are those who can strike back hard enough to upset the elite's apple cart. And thus we have Bush's "war on terror" -- which is, as we've often noted, simply an escalation of the long-running, bipartisan foreign policy of the "National Security State" that has ruled America for 60 years.
This year marks the anniversary of this coup d'etat: the 1947 "National Security Act." Writing on the 50th anniversary of this supplanting of the Republic, Gore Vidal wrote:
Fifty years ago, Harry Truman replaced the old republic with a national-security state whose sole purpose is to wage perpetual wars, hot, cold, and tepid. Exact date of replacement? February 27, 1947. Place: The White House Cabinet Room. Cast: Truman, Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson, a handful of congressional leaders. Republican senator Arthur Vandenberg told Truman that he could have his militarized economy only IF he first "scared the hell out of the American people" that the Russians were coming. Truman obliged. The perpetual war began. Representative government of, by, and for the people is now a faded memory. Only corporate America enjoys representation by the Congress and presidents that it pays for in an arrangement where no one is entirely accountable because those who have bought the government also own the media. Now, with the revolt of the Praetorian Guard at the Pentagon, we are entering a new and dangerous phase. Although we regularly stigmatize other societies as rogue states, we ourselves have become the largest rogue state of all. We honor no treaties. We spurn international courts. We strike unilaterally wherever we choose. We give orders to the United Nations but do not pay our dues...we bomb, invade, subvert other states. Although We the People of the United States are the sole source of legitimate authority in this land, we are no longer represented in Congress Assembled. Our Congress has been hijacked by corporate America and its enforcer, the imperial military machine..."
Obviously, the situation that Vidal describes didn't begin with the illegal implantation of the Bush Regime by the rightwing faction of the Supreme Court (two of whom had family members profiting from the Bush campaign) in December 2000. It has gone on for decades, under "liberal" Democrats and "conservative" Republicans. But it has reached a new pitch of intensity, audacity and recklessness today.
That audacity was on vivid display in the latest war-stoking lie to issue from the presidential mouth: a lie rank with the smell of corpse-flesh -- past, present and future -- that mingles with Bush's every breath. ***
Don Smith sez;
The problems involved in rousing interest in issues such as this are so complex, it is as if the willful ignorance were a normal thing.
I believe that if more people were aware of the horrible effects of war, it would not recieve the lip service it now has from that small pecentage of psychopaths guiding "national policy". As a participant in a war, I have seen nightmarish events, death in industrial quantities, and there is absolutely no good to be found in the destruction of our brothers and sisters, no matter what the cause.
When "leaders" push events to the point that all is madness,(Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Bush I, Clinton,Bush II), there must be some intuitive sense that something is really wrong here.
Most people in the world do not have information available to them, not with the ease we here in cyberspace have. This makes the criminality of the situation even more pronounced, as we cannot claim, as the German people did after WWII, "We didn't know".
We DO know, and anyone denying this is willfully blind, and complicit.
So much for short posts, Socrates.