[A-List] The Unasked Question
shimogamo at attglobal.net
Wed Aug 25 11:38:22 MDT 2004
by Joe Sobran
The Wanderer (July 22 2004)
A truth that's told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.
So said the poet William Blake. His words came to mind when I read the
hawkish British weekly The Economist on whether President Bush and Prime
Minister Tony Blair had lied about the Iraqi "threat" that turned out to
be nonexistent after the war had already been fought. Both rulers have
been cleared of outright mendacity by official investigations; the
magazine called them "sincere deceivers" who "believed what they said,
but ... said more than they really knew".
Many people argue that we should believe our rulers because "they know
so much more than we do". Yes, they have access to far more information
than we do; and furthermore, they have the power to withhold it from us.
A curious reason for trusting them. Jefferson said that freedom depends
on "jealousy" - suspicion of government - and not "confidence" in it.
We have more to fear than rulers' factual lies; we also have to worry
about their bad judgment and exaggerations. The Senate Intelligence
Committee concluded that Bush had "overstated" the supposed Iraqi threat.
Are we expected to write this off as an honest mistake, when the
"overstatement" meant the difference between war and peace, life and
While Bush was "overstating" the danger, he allowed his underlings to
go further. Vice President Dick Cheney, the administration's answer to
Whoopi Goldberg, said there was "no doubt" that Saddam Hussein had an
active nuclear program; National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice
warned that we faced nuclear attack; even Secretary of State Colin
Powell, the only member of the Bush team known for measuring his words,
joined in the hyperbole contest, asserting positively things unwarranted
by the facts.
Yes, in a sense they all knew more than we did. That's what makes their
feigned certitude not only false, but criminal. They misled the American
public into thinking a "preemptive" war was necessary for American
survival, when it was not.
Even so, many Americans didn't believe them. Politicians lie a lot;
that's a fact of life. But in this case, it also defied common sense to
think Saddam Hussein would dare to launch an attack on the United States,
whose weapons of mass killing were so far superior to anything he could
possibly have possessed. He had already been decisively deterred from
invading tiny Kuwait next door, which he had once attacked only because
he thought it was safe to do so. Why would he launch a suicidal war on
Moreover, neoconservatives in the press, who hungered for war on Iraq,
went beyond exaggeration to sheer fantasy, warning that the United
States was in danger of total destruction - "holocaust", in the word of
Richard Perle and David Frum, in their hysterical book An End to Evil.
Bush did nothing to temper these diatribes, which were useful to him;
just as he didn't bother correcting the many Americans who didn't even
know the difference between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Such
absurd confusion was also useful.
So outright lying was hardly necessary. Just encouraging hysteria and
letting it run its natural course did the job. Time and again the Bush
spokesmen said there was "no doubt" of the Iraqi threat; and those who
did have doubts should trust their rulers. "The risks of inaction",
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, "are greater than the risks
of action". War was the prudent course.
The country is now having severe second thoughts about the war, but one
risk was hardly taken into account: the risk of killing innocent people,
including Iraqi soldiers whose only crime was trying vainly to defend
their country from an unprovoked invasion. We still hear a great deal
about American casualties, but almost nothing about American guilt.
An unjustified war is mass murder. That obvious truth has carried very
little weight in the whole debate over this war. Our government has
slaughtered countless people. Those who still resist are called rebels
and even terrorists, no different from the fanatics of 9/11.
The hawks, within the administration and in its volunteer propaganda
corps in the media, have never evinced much (if any) regret at the cost
to the other side. How can anyone call these deceivers "sincere" if they
never even paused to face the simple moral question "But what if we are
wrong?" If they had been sincere then, they would be facing this
question today, tens of thousands of deaths later, when there is little
doubt how wrong they were.
Please also see:-
"The Withdrawal of Foreign Troops is the Only Solution"
by Tariq Ali, The Guardian (August 12 2004)
Bill Totten http://www.ashisuto.co.jp/english/
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