February 12, 2007

All Lies, All the Time

Patrick Cockburn on the vacuous allegations from officials who refuse to be identified, all offered in the effort to "solve" the present catastrophe by widening it:
The allegations against Iran are similar in tone and credibility to those made four years ago by the U.S. government about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction in order to justify the invasion of 2003.

Senior U.S. defence officials in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they believed the bombs were manufactured in Iran and smuggled across the border to Shiite militants in Iraq. The weapons, identified as "explosively formed penetrators" (EFPs) are said to be capable of destroying an Abrams tank.

The officials speaking in Baghdad used aggressive rhetoric suggesting Washington wants to ratchet up its confrontation with Tehran. It has not ruled out using armed force and has sent a second carrier task force to the Gulf.


The allegations by senior but unnamed U.S. officials in Baghdad and Washington are bizarre. The U.S. has been fighting a Sunni insurgency in Iraq since 2003 that is deeply hostile to Iran.

The insurgent groups have repeatedly denounced the democratically elected Iraqi government as pawns of Iran. It is unlikely that the Sunni guerrillas have received significant quantities of military equipment from Tehran. Some 1,190 U.S. soldiers have been killed by so-called improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

But most of them consist of heavy artillery shells taken from the arsenals of the former regime and detonated by blasting caps wired to a small battery. The current is switched on either by a command wire or a simple device such as the remote control used for children's toys or to open garage doors.


The statements from Washington give the impression that the United States has been at war with Shiite militias for the past three-and-a-half years, while almost all the fighting has been with the Sunni insurgents. These are often led by highly trained former officers and men from Saddam Hussein's elite military and intelligence units. ...

The U.S. stance on the military capabilities of Iraqis today is the exact opposite of its position four years ago. Then, Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed Iraqis were technically advanced enough to produce long-range missiles and to be close to producing a nuclear device.

Washington is now saying Iraqis are too backward to produce an effective roadside bomb and must seek Iranian help.


It is likely that Shiite militias have received weapons and money from Iran and possible the Sunni insurgents have received some aid, but most Iraqi men possess weapons. Many millions of them received military training under Saddam Hussein. His well supplied arsenals were all looted after his fall. No specialist on Iraq believes that Iran has ever been a serious promoter of the Sunni insurgency.

The evidence against Iran is even more insubstantial than the faked or mistaken evidence for Iraqi WMDs disseminated by the United States and Britain in 2002 and 2003. The allegations appear to be full of exaggerations. Few Abrams tanks have been destroyed. It implies the Shiites have been at war with the U.S., when in fact they are controlled by parties which make up the Iraqi government.
I came to Cockburn's latest column by way of Chris Floyd. In another entry, Floyd offers these spot-on observations:
Just as the two main beneficiaries of the "war on terror" have been George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden (and the forces they represent: war-profiteering crony capitalism on the one hand, wilfully ignorant violent sectarianism on the other), so too the main beneficiaries of the current White House "surge" toward war with Iran are Bush and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Both men are increasingly unpopular leaders who have recently been stingingly rejected by voters in off-year elections. Both are supported by a "base" of religious fanatics and militarists. Both belong to apocalyptic sects that believe the world will end with the coming of a saviour who will obliterate all enemies of the sect and establish it as the sole determinant of a transformed reality, forever. And both are wretched incompetents at governing, ruling by bluster and PR ploys while their bungled policies – based on blind ideological zeal -- wreak havoc in the lives of ordinary citizens and degrade their nation's standing in the world.

Both are utterly dependent on external threats – real or manufactured– to sustain their power; they cannot obtain it from the "consent of the governed," having lost the support and confidence of their people. All they can do now is to wave the bloody shirt and hope to rally their nations behind them.
Floyd has a lot more.

Anyone, anywhere who falls for this endless barrage of lies to even the most infinitesimal degree is, as they say, too stupid to live. That is doubly true since all this propaganda swamps us less than five years after the last, almost identical episode. On every point that mattered, it was all lies then, and it's all lies now. But as is almost always the case with the perpetually ignorant and willfully self-blinded members of our governing class and the corrupt media who are in their thrall, they will not be the ones to die. If a wider war should come, that fate will be suffered once more by a great many innocent people. In the case of Iran, that number could reach literally into the millions.

And despite the fact that it is fully empowered to take several critical actions, the Democratic-controlled Congress does nothing, except to offer empty platitudes and pompous denunciations that are equally capable of achieving nothing, and to propose deliberately toothless, "non-binding" resolutions. You just have to love our government now: when it comes to the gravest and most momentous of issues, no one in either the legislative or executive branch is willing to take responsibility for a single goddamned thing. In this manner, we may soon become a pariah nation, and the world will finally be that much safer. Our own fate will be one we richly deserve, but it will be nothing compared to that others will have to endure.

Still proud to be an American? I would think not at the moment, and not for some time. One of these days, we might first try to act like decent and civilized human beings.