IF one of the principal aims of the US-led invasion of Iraq is to eliminate its alleged weapons of mass destruction, the invaders have yet to discover any concrete evidence of chemical or biological weapons in the possession of the Saddam regime.
And yet it is quite likely that at some critical point they are going to “discover” those weapons.
As the distinguished journalist John Pilger, the American poet Lisa Walsh Thomas and a number of other analysts have suggested, planting “evidence” and fabricating “facts” in order to justify one’s nefarious actions are among the stock-in-trade tricks of American imperialism.
Washington has done it on a number of occasions in the last few decades.
In the 1990-91 Iraq-Kuwait war for instance, Dick Cheney, then Defence Secretary and other Pentagon officials used fabricated satellite photographs of Iraqi troops “amassing” at the Iraq-Saudi border to persuade King Fahd to allow stationing of US forces in his kingdom.
An American public relations firm played a major role in concocting yet another story during that war – of Iraqi soldiers plucking out babies from incubators in a Kuwaiti hospital and throwing them on the floor.
Subsequent investigations revealed the story to be a monstrous lie.
An even more infamous fabrication was the Gulf of Tonkin incident of 1964.
President Lyndon Johnson wanted to escalate the US war against Vietnam but did not have any justification for it.
So he accused North Vietnamese torpedo boats of launching an “unprovoked attack” against a US destroyer on “routine patrol” in the Tonkin Gulf.
He further alleged the North Vietnamese had attacked a pair of US ships.
We now know that these accusations were blatant lies.
They were fabricated to enable the Johnson administration to obtain overwhelming Congressional approval for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which paved the way for the massive bombing of Vietnam.
Of course, Washington was not the only imperial power in history to have resorted to lies and deception to justify its hegemonic agenda.
In an earlier era, Britain, as a colonial power, had manufactured lies after lies to justify its intervention in the Malay states, India and Southern Africa, among other parts of the world.
Invariably it was some “noble goal” – restoring law and order or bringing the light of civilisation to a dark continent – that persuaded the arch colonialist to take upon itself the “burden” of ruling the natives.
Today, more than ever before, imperial powers such as Britain and the United States are aided and abetted in their neo-colonial adventures by a powerful media that helps to package and propagate their lies and fabrications with so much skill and sophistication.
We are witnessing a surfeit of this in the present media coverage of the invasion of Iraq.
CNN, CNBC, FOX TV and even the BBC report that the Anglo-American forces had captured a particular city and then a few hours later Al-Jazeera shows visuals of an Iraqi military commander holding a meeting right in the middle of that city with its inhabitants.
These Western television channels claim that a certain Iraqi general had been taken captive only to be refuted later by a live Al-Jazeera interview with that same general.
One other example of a recent fabrication which had an obvious political motive was the allegation aired over BBC, CNN and other channels that one of Shia Islam’s most respected scholars, the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani of Najaf had issued a fatwa (religious ruling) urging Muslims not to oppose the Anglo-American invaders, thus reversing his earlier fatwa calling upon them to defend Iraq.
An official letter from the Ayatollah’s office, signed by him, has denied he had rescinded his earlier fatwa.
It reiterates his call to fight the invaders and aggressors.
It is undeniably true that Iraqi television has also been churning out lies about the Anglo-American forces and making exaggerated claims about the so-called “victories” of the Republican Guards and the Saddam Fedayeen.
But this is what one would expect from the state-controlled media of a despotic regime.
With the much-vaunted media of the “mother of democracies” and the “greatest democracy on earth,” on the other hand, one has every right to expect better performance.
After all, aren’t Washington and London invading Iraq to liberate the people from dictatorship and introduce freedom and democracy to the land?
Isn’t a free media that tells the unvarnished truth the jewel in the crown of democracy?
Or is the truth something else?
That the imperial instincts of Washington and London have always been stronger than their commitment to freedom?
Dr CHANDRA MUZAFFAR,
President, International Movement for a Just World,