War, lies and Brian Williams
by John Myers
“If people really knew, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t know, and can’t know.” — British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, 1917.
The cardinal sin committed by NBC anchorman Brian Williams was embellishing his own experiences, particularly reporting on the war in Iraq. That is going to cost him a six-month suspension and possibly derail his future in broadcast news. That Williams did such a thing is not surprising in the age in which we live where politicians and people that report the “news” are celebrities. But the real reason Williams should be run out of the business is his failure to live up to his fiduciary duty to report on the facts of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Of course, that would require the firing of hundreds of TV and print journalists who are every bit as guilty.
I doubt that 1 in 1,000 Americans has any problem believing that Great Britain used massive propaganda to sell World War I — a war that not only killed 16 million people and injured another 21 million people worldwide, but also a war that accelerated the decline of England as a great power and robbed it out of its best and brightest. That Germany used propaganda in equal measure, as did the United States, isn’t disputed.
A century later, we can ask: For what good reason? Ostensibly, the war was caused by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by a Yugoslav nationalist. The real reasons are more complicated but basically come down to the power elite vying for colonial control and the mineral wealth in Africa and the Middle East.
President Woodrow Wilson said the United States was fighting for freedom, a refrain used to this day.
The citizens of those powers didn’t question throwing away a generation of men and the enduring incredible economic hardship that came from that war. They were told it was unpatriotic not to support it. It only helped that the enemy was an evil caricature who would rape and pillage if given the opportunity.
So the citizenry cheered as their young sons were sent to the trenches to be blown apart by artillery or suffocate from poison gas, little of which was reported until after the war.
The Battle of the Somme was declared a complete victory by the British government and press. If that means having 145,000 dead troops compared to the 164,000 dead Germans, it was.
Millions of people believe that the truth was reported about wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is government propaganda sold by Washington and reiterated in print or television’s 24-hour-news loop.
A March 2011 report by Global Research stated:
The mainstream media is intertwined, often covertly and secretly, with the government. Carl Bernstein, one of the two Washington Post reporters who covered the Watergate scandal, revealed that there were over 400 American journalists who had “secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency.” Interestingly, “the use of journalists has been among the most productive means of intelligence-gathering employed by the CIA.” Among organizations which cooperated with the CIA were the “American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald-Tribune.”
By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc. The CIA even ran a training program “to teach its agents to be journalists,” who were “then placed in major news organizations with help from management.”
Nothing new in the news
World War I was the war to end all wars. Of course, it didn’t end all wars. Instead, it was a slaughter built on lies. This is also true regarding Vietnam, the conflict where America had to evacuate so suddenly that rescue helicopters were being pushed off aircraft carriers — a fact from 40 years ago, yet millions of Americans still trust in government.
Vietnam became a war that killed more than 50,000 Americans because Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. That gave President Lyndon Johnson the authority to militarily intervene in any Southeast Asian country whose government was considered to be jeopardized by “communist aggression.” It was Johnson’s moral justification for open warfare against North Vietnam with tens and then hundreds of thousands of American combat troops. Yet today you will find either people who believe that either Vietnam was not a lost war or people like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who believe that Vietnam was lost only because America lacked the will to win it, a mistake he vows Washington must never again make.
Where there’s a will, there is a way to get us to war
And so it is as Washington gears up to send another generation of kids to Iraq. Of course, the network nightly news or the 24-hour news stations tell us it’s because ISIS is a threat to the world. News anchors — or whatever you call those who host MSNBC, CNN and FOX News networks — show loop upon loop describing ISIS’s beheadings of Westerners or the burning alive of the captured Jordanian pilot.
Here’s what broadcast news media never show and what mainstream press rarely report on:
1.The deaths of innocent civilians, including children, that result from the air attacks principally made by the United States.
2.How the United States’ policies in Iraq with regard to installing power in the hands of murderous Muslim Shiites helped create ISIS.
3.There is no single dissenting voice against further U.S. military involvement in Iraq.
Let’s start with the collateral damage from actions by the United States and its allies over the past 12 years that has already taken 1 million Iraqi civilian lives. Let’s even assume all the things that some people still argue: that Saddam Hussein did have weapons of mass destruction and that the dictator was somehow involved in the 9/11 attacks that killed 5,000 Americans. Does that give the U.S. government justification to kill 1 million Iraqi civilians after Saddam fled? Iraqis are now embroiled in a civil war that will result in countless more deaths. How many will be enough? Two million? Ten million? If we are going to do that, we might as well go straight to the nuclear option and get it over with in one fell swoop. After all, why should we care about those ragheads any more than we cared about the Huns, Krauts, Japs or Slopes?
In his book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” Paulo Freire wrote:
Dehumanization, although a concrete historical fact, is not a given destiny but the result of an unjust order that engenders violence in the oppressors, which in turn dehumanizes the oppressed.
With regard to ISIS, it is important to remember that the organization was energized by the oppression and mass murders that were carried out by Shiites who were installed into power by the Bush administration and who were backed by President Barack Obama until the U.S. government finally forced then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s resignation last August. His bloody reign included using his Shiite Iraq army to conduct executions of Sunni protesters. The Shiite government’s abuse of power turned ISIS from a second-rate terrorist organization into a threatening military force in the Middle East.
A riveting documentary called “The Rise of ISIS,” which was broadcast last fall by PBS’s “Frontline,” can be watched here.
This brings me to my last point: the lack of a discerning word when the war drums beat. You would think news organizations might include one or two dissenting views about America’s renewed involvement in Iraq. And while I am now willing to admit that the U.S. may have to go back to Iraq to undo the mess our government helped create there, it would be nice to at least debate the subject. Instead, all we hear are military experts, many of whom are former high-ranking military officers who now work for government or defense contractors. That doesn’t seem democratic. With today’s slick high-tech studio productions, it is still the basic message to sell war.
Yours in good times and bad,