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when a government lies to its people

  1. The American people have been fooled before, but this time the stupid perpetrators are NOT VERY GOOD AT IT!

    By Carla Binion
    Online Journal Contributing Editor

    You might ask what it takes to remember
    When you know that you've seen it before,
    When a government lies to its people,
    And our country is drifting to war.
    —Jackson Browne, "Lives in the Balance"

    February 27, 2003—The Bush administration's lies "justifying" war in Iraq should insult the intelligence and electrify the conscience of the American people and the world community. The fact that the administration has repeatedly exploited the September 11 tragedy and used it to build a case for unjust war is the most offensive lie of all.

    Because regime change in Iraq and domination of the Gulf region have been on the Bush team's agenda long before the events of September 11, a large part of the administration's purported rationale is deceptive. If the rationale is untruthful, and if the threat from Iraq isn't imminent, then the proposed attack on Iraq amounts to an unjust war. Such a war, with its unwarranted motives, would amount to the mass murder of possibly tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, including many children.

    The Bush administration is arguably on the verge of committing mass murder in Iraq, and people who fail to oppose this are complicit in the murder. Honest people can disagree on what constitutes just war, so let's consider possible definitions.

    In his book Just and Unjust Wars, social scientist Michael Walzer suggests guidelines. For example: A just war must be a last resort. The war's purpose must be just. A just war shouldn't cost more in human loss than the value of its ends. To date, the Bush administration hasn't produced evidence that a war on Iraq would meet any of those criteria.

    Regarding preemptive strikes, Walzer says another nation is an imminent threat only if its army is "recognizably hostile, ready for war and fixed in a posture of attack." Absent those conditions, any perceived threat is "prospective and imaginary . . . Hence the moral necessity of rejecting any attack that is merely preventive in character."

    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said recently, "Everyone agrees that the last choice is to use force and have a war, but at some point time would run out. And that's what the president has said." (Reuters, Fri., Feb. 21.)

    How can Rumsfeld claim an attack on Iraq would be a "last choice" or last resort? Iraq isn't "fixed in a posture of attack," imminently ready to fire missiles at the U.S. The Bush administration has offered no evidence that Iraq is an imminent threat in any way.

    The administration has often pushed another myth (or lie)—the idea that the "war on terrorism" or current U.S. designs on Iraq started in response to the events of one day, September 11. Hawks within the Bush administration were pushing for war with Iraq and so-called war on terrorism long before September 11.

    In 1992, under then-president George H. W. Bush, Paul Wolfowitz and I. Lewis Libby prepared a draft Defense Policy Guideline (DPG) for their boss, Dick Cheney, who was then U.S. defense secretary. Wolfowitz is now deputy defense secretary and Libby is now Dick Cheney's chief of staff.

    In the spring of 1992, The New York Times published excerpts of the DPG. The document called for U.S. domination of much of the globe through the unilateral use of military power. It also recommended preempting nations that might have weapons of mass destruction.

    Then in 1997, a neo-conservative think tank, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was established to further American dominance in the world. The PNAC's "statement of principle" urged a significant increase in military spending.

    The document said regarding preemptive military action, "It is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire." Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz were among those signing the statement.

    In September 2000, the PNAC, including Wolfowitz and Libby, released a report entitled: Rebuilding America's defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century. The document says that for the U.S. to maintain its role as a world superpower "requires a globally preeminent military capability both today and in the future."

    The report also suggests the U.S. "discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or . . . even aspiring to a larger regional or global role." It says we need to be able to "fight and win multiple, simultaneous theater wars," and maintain "nuclear strategic superiority" in the world.

    The document singles out Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya and Syria as having dangerous regimes that need to be controlled. It also targets China for "regime change," saying increased American presence in Southeast Asia might lead to "providing the spur to the process of democratization in China."

    Since September 11, the Bush administration has rushed forward with its plans—plans first drafted in 1992 and 1997—but it has done this under the guise of "war on terrorism." Again, the administration has misled the American people and member nations of the UN to believe that its moves against Iraq, including the alleged imminent "threat" regarding weapons of mass destruction and the push for "regime change" are in large part a reaction to September 11.

    The Bush administration has failed to openly discuss its longstanding desire to dominate much of Eurasia and other parts of the world, and to impose "regime changes" in a variety of other nations via the ongoing use of unilateral military action. The administration's attempt to link Saddam Hussein with al Qaeda in order to justify going ahead with plans the Bush team had in mind long before 9/11 is clearly a lie—and a particularly cynical lie because, again, it exploits the public's sorrow over the lives lost on September 11.

    When a government lies to its people to pump up support for an unjust war, those who see through the lies must speak out. Surely the world's greatest superpower can come up with creative new ways to maintain its status—methods that don't involve lying to its own people and to the United Nations or murdering tens of thousands of innocents.

    Reporter Helen Thomas observed on Phil Donahue's program recently that the fate of all humanity is now in George W. Bush's hands. Because the U.S. is such a hyper-power, its White House occupant (especially when virtually unchecked by the U.S. Congress) can do anything he wants around the world, and no other nation can curb his impulses.

    Such power in the hands of one individual and his advisers wouldn't be so frightening if the Bush and his team were acting as reasonably wise, compassionate stewards. However, Bush and his administration's war hawks are not merely acting unwisely and with insufficient compassion; they're behaving as ruthless warmongers, promoting a dangerous and virtually insane foreign policy, and are bent on fighting an unjust, murderous war in Iraq and creating chaos and unending conflict around the world.

    To oppose such an administration's policies is not to be "anti-American." To oppose them is patriotic. It's an effort to save America and the rest of the world from the Bush war machine's madness.

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