Truth or Uncle Powell's Fairy-Tale Hour
The US Government Finally Presents "Evidence" to the UN Security Council
By Goedart Palm
[This article originally published in the cyber journal Telepolis, February 6, 2003 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.telepolis.de/deutsch/special/irak/14127/1.html.]
Facts, facts, facts! Or Uncle Powell's fairy tale hour as a "full multimedia blitz" for unbelievers? US Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke (1) of "facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence" when he presented his evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to the UN Security Council. Previously the issue was played down. The announcements stretching out for months without overwhelming evidence reveal more than is admitted [Iraq war prepared at a great distance (2)]. Powerful unequivocal evidence justifying momentous actions was not given. Beating a population black and blue was the rhetorical field of Colin Powell's apocalyptic revelation.
What remained after the 75-minute media blitz? Spy satellites record mysterious movements: mobile weapons laboratories, chemical weapon warheads, bio-weapon barrels, the scientists of evil in flight, aluminum tubes possibly for enriching uranium.
No limits are set any more to the fantasy since Iraqi weapons of mass destruction according to the will of Bush Jr. haunt the uncritical, media-saturated heads of the world population. His Secretary of State presented Before-After photos presumably showing that prohibited material was removed before the arrival of the UN inspectors. Decontamination aircraft were shown. Monitored telephone conversations of Iraqi dark-skinned men were made public with fresh remarks about the lack of understanding of the weapons inspectors and hiding places for explosive material...
Powell gave user-friendly instructions for the media show-down before the military show-down in Bagdad. With one's mind and understanding, one should strive to see what the US government long wanted to see. Propaganda is nothing but the politically correct execution of perception psychology. Presenting a public dossier that could be scrupulously studied like the Iraqi weapons report instead of the multimedia blitzkrieg would have been persuasive. TV is good but control is better. Accounts of respectable men doing their hard jobs to save the world were emphasized. In a time of digital data-manipulation and on the background of the first Gulf war, "seeing is believing" is a somewhat short-circuited truth program to replace conclusive evidence. Neither foreign minister Fischer nor the representatives of France, Russia and China were publically converted to join in the war howling.
Colin Powell's one man show was a legitimatorial event to soften incorrigible peace optimists and UN believers. They always squeek and perhaps now more than ever. Proofs that are not proofs are even worse than refusing proofs. That Powell decorated his gala with satellite photos with the well-known reproaches "Saddam's inhumanity knows no limits" did not improve matters. His rehashed claim that Saddam Hussein was determined to gain possession of nuclear bombs wasn't any more convincing than the "conservative estimate" that Iraq has 100 to 500 tons of chemical weapons... In Powell's words, findings from his high-flying photos can still not be publicized for security reasons. Vague photos of Iraqis zealously digging about in the sand, architecture without obvious function, tracks that could come from mobile weapons laboratories and information of exiled Iraqis prevented boredom in the multimedia show. Evidence upon evidence flooding the eyes until one believes that one sees through a magnifying glass and doesn't know where the illusion begins and ends. Blix and his men have not seen the hot traces in the desert sand. Are they withered by the wind?
Instead of this show, a fundamentally different and serious approach of the American government would have been welcome. Why weren't the inspectors informed on time so the prohibited material could have been successfully seized? Why wasn't there at least a tiny snapshot of an actual hiding place thanks to the all-powerful satellites? Why weren't the various transports observed on their way to learn more about the remains or destination of the removed weapons?...
The "needle in the haystack argument" is captivating on first view. On one side, there should be tons and tons of prohibited material. On the other side, not even the smallest knife was found. Admittedly the infernal biological and chemical stuff must be somewhere. Finally, the Americans brought part of that material into Iraq. Saddam Hussein doesn't suffer under a confession pressure. As one expert rightly remarked, "small quantities of terroristically suitable material is involved that can be produced in any university laboratory. Even when traced, such risks are not eliminated. The Anthrax letters in the US were produced in the US, not in Bangdad!"
This war could only be justified if weapons of mass destruction existed in great number to perpetrate calculated genocide and the intention or mens rea were sufficiently clear. Colin Powell didn't bring this proof before the UN Security Council, only the sign that the US wouldn't be deterred from waging this war...
According to CIA information, the tyrant armed by the US in those days has already left the country. Perhaps he also took along his arsenal of evil. However Bush will not order back his desert armada. This would be a great loss of face for a president who at the moment cannot afford the appearance of indecision or vacillation (translator's note: humility and self-criticism are strengths). In this well-fortified civilization, it is not a loss of face to risk the lives of tens of thousands of civilians if it only serves the only good cause and collateral secondary objectives.