The Greater the Lies, the Less the Protest
By Peter Strutynski
[This article originally published in: W & F (Wissenschaft und Frieden) 3/03 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.linksnet.de/artikel.php?id=969. Dr. Peter Strutynski teaches at the University of Kassel and is a spokesperson for the German peace movement (cf. http://www.friedens-ratschlag.de)].
In western democratic societies, politicians are usually left unpunished for serious political sins while they lose their posts for trivial offenses or private affairs. The media often described as the fourth branch in the state is more interested in the private scandals of public persons than their official acts. That the general public enjoys this game has to do with the power of the media and the human interest in the private lives of persons favored by fate. President Clinton never had to fear the whisper of serious criticism about his belligerent foreign policy. The affair with one of his assistants nearly cost him his office. Some even think that the intensive four-day bombardments of Iraq in December 1998 preserved him from criticism. German defense minister Scharping remained politically untouched as long as he led the German army in the offensive NATO war against Yugoslavia aided by great whopping lies, rebuilt his armed forces into an intervention army and strained the national budget with the shockingly expensive military airbus. He first had to retire when he was shown to have received a velvet "advance payment" for his "Memoirs" from a PR-firm.
The conflict around the Iraq war justifications of the governments in London and Washington smoldering for weeks has now embarrassed several cabinet members. Paul Wolfowitz, assistant secretary of defense, revived the discussion about the existence of weapons of mass destruction when he was quoted in the June issue of "Vanity Fair" (title: Bush's Brain Trust) with the words the US administration only concentrated on the theme weapons of mass destruction "for bureaucratic reasons" because this was "the only reason everyone could accept". The motive that the presence of US troops in neighboring Saudi Arabia had become superfluous with the Iraq war was "enormous but almost unnoticed". Only the removal of this "burden" from Saudi Arabia will lead to a peaceful Middle East, Wolfowitz declared.
With this revealing confession, he brought US Secretary of State Powell and the British premier Tony Blair into distress. They most ardently trumpeted out the horror reports of their secret services in the world. We remember the presentation of the British dossier "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction" in September 2002. The British government was convinced that Iraq continued producing chemical and biological weapons, planned to militarily deploy chemical and biological weapons and could detonate these weapons within 45 minutes. Iraq had installed structures of command and control for the use of weapons of mass destruction and mobile research laboratories for military objectives. Iraq secretly attempted to purchase technology and materials necessary for manufacturing nuclear weapons. Possessing up to 20 missiles with a range of 650 km that carried chemical or biological warheads was illegal for them. Iraq worked on new machines and test devices for missiles that could reach the British military base on Cyprus, other NATO members like Turkey and Greece as well as all the Gulf states and Israel.
Tony Blair personally wrote a foreword to the dossier. "Despite the sanctions, the policy of containment was clearly inadequate in preventing Saddam from developing these weapons. Therefore he urged that the UN weapon inspectors be allowed in the country again "to conscientiously do their job". "The international community must act if Saddam doesn't allow them or hinders their work." Although international criticism of the dossier's incredible "proofs" was already unsparing and although the UN inspectors in their work couldn't find anything "useful" in the sense of the war-mongerers (and they did their job very well), Colin Powell repeated the most whopping lies in the Security Council five months later (on February 5). An embarrassed Powell was reproached that the "fine" document "describing the Iraqi diversions in exquisite detail" - as Powell characterized the British dossier - turned out to be largely a copy of a student's research report - with information sometimes over twelve years old. Powell emphasized in his speech: "I cannot tell you everything that we know but what I can tell you is deeply alarming." Certainly he also knew - but obviously couldn't possibly say - that many of his supposed proofs for the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were manufactured by the US and British secret services.
Those British secret services merged in the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) that already had their dirty hands in preparing the Afghanistan war fabricated the essential threads to the web of lies. At that time it fell to Tony Blair within the Anglo-American division of labor to offer "evidence" of an entanglement of Bin Laden, Al Qaida and the Taliban regime in the terror attacks of 9/11/2001. Even at that time the paper was vigorously criticized by experts. It wasn't much good for justifying an initial suspicion against the accused. Given the meager records, the accused would have been released by any court "for lack of evidence". Nevertheless the Afghanistan war was launched.
The "spin doctors" in the US learned several things from the disgraceful inventions of the secret services. The ideological preparation for the Iraq war did not only include the constant reference to the weapons of mass destruction. A troika of reasons for war was advanced in all the speeches of Bush, Powell and Rumsfeld (and in the British dossier of September 2002). Besides Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, there were the massive human rights violations and crimes of the Saddam regime and the alleged support of terrorism. This "more complex" argument that is also inconsistent with international law marked the debates in the British lower house and in the American congress before the vote on war authorization. All congressional representatives knew what they resolved when they passed Joint House Resolution 114 "To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq" on October 2 with a large majority.
The war politicians contradicted one another in their broad justifications for war and asked for patience for their own se3arch parties in Iraq. At the beginning of June, the US increased its "weapon inspectors" to 1400 persons and set them under a special CIA commissioner.
For the democratic development in the US and Great Britain, the conflict over war is bitterly necessary. Public matters of the greatest significance are involved even if the scandal doesn't develop into a "Saddam-gate". The work of the investigative committees in the US congress and the British parliament could bring to light revealing discoveries about the dangerous activity of the power cartels from secret services and governments. The focus must be expanded to the dubious success of the war coalition, the devastations brought by the war (for example, the thousands of civilian deaths) and the permanent damage to international law. A glance at one's own weapon arsenal would be interesting. While the US administration warned of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, it enormously upgraded or rearmed its own B (biological) and C (chemical) weapon arsenals (2003 budget: $6 billion) and blocked all effective bio-weapons controls on the international plane.
The German government must feel confirmed in its war criticism to press for further information and enlightenment and to do its utmost that international institutions gain more influence. The legitimation for the war is put in question more than ever in the core countries of the war alliance. The reputation of the US empire in the world continues to fall. Instead Berlin Buries the conflict and only looks forward to new transatlantic solidarity. UN resolution 1483 (2003) that subsequently legitimated the offensive war against Iraq violating international law and granted merely a petitioner's role to the UN in the humanitarian resolution of post-war problems was even approved by the German government. Let's forget it! The more obvious the lies, the less the protest!