|Are you being duped? Ask yourself that question before condemning those who oppose bombing, invading and occupying Iraq. It wouldn't be the first time your own government, including your president, has lied to justify war. It happens in every other generation.
This nation fought a war against Spain over a century ago because many in the media parroted the government line that Spaniards blew up the Battleship Maine in Cuba. Turns out that most likely was a mistake at best, a big fat lie at worst.
During World War I, Germans were depicted as brutal barbarians who reveled in nailing babies to fences and gouging out their eyes, and World War I was billed as the war to end all wars. Instead, it led directly to World War II, the rise of communism and the Cold War in the bloodiest century the world has ever known.
Many of today's hawks are too young to remember the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the big fat lie that plunged us into Vietnam in the 1960s. Look it up. Then there was the Iran-Contra affair, a web of lies that helped shape the dismal dilemma we face now. Remember Iran-Contra? That was the covert operation of the Reagan-Bush administration in the 1980s to sell missiles to a radical Iranian government in exchange for its help in freeing American hostages held in Lebanon.
Yes, folks, our government dealt with terrorists and sold arms to radical Muslim governments. Money from the missiles we sold to Iran was used to arm the Contras in Central America. Some called them terrorists, but they were our terrorists, so we called them freedom fighters.
Reagan's national security adviser, John Poindexter, was convicted in 1990 of conspiracy, lying to Congress, defrauding the government and destroying evidence in the Iran-Contra scandal. He got off on grounds that he had been granted immunity from prosecution by the same Congress he lied to. Incredibly, Poindexter now serves as director of the Pentagon's Information Awareness Office, which snoops on the electronic transactions of ordinary Americans.
It gets more mendacious. While Poindexter, Oliver North and others were secretly funneling weapons to Iran, our government also supported Iran's hated enemy, Iraq, selling the Iraqis cluster bombs and chemicals for weapons of mass destruction. Our government, including Donald Rumsfeld and others now surrounding President George W. Bush, shamelessly played both sides against the middle in the 1980s, promoting trench warfare that resulted in about 1 million dead, crippled and emotionally scarred Iranians and Iraqis.
Later, our government lied to make its case for the first Gulf War.
Our government claimed in 1990 to have a photograph showing 265,000 Iraqi soldiers and 1,500 tanks massed on the Saudi border ready to overrun that country's oilfields. That claim compelled the Saudis to let us use their country as a staging ground for the Gulf War. A prize-winning writer for the St. Petersburg Times went to the source of the photograph and exposed it as one more lie. The first Bush bunch also lied to the Kurds and other enemies of Saddam Hussein, promising we would liberate them if they rose up to oppose that hated tyrant, Saddam Hussein.
Instead, Kurds were slaughtered by Iraqi helicopters as U.S. forces withdrew. We mostly protected the Kurds from further Iraqi vengeance, but the lies keep coming, to the Kurds and to us.
A New York Times poll shows that 42 percent of Americans believe Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Our government helped create that impression in its obsessive drive toward regime change in Iraq.
If you love America as I do, then you owe it to yourself and your children to seek the truth and reject even the lies told with the best of intentions by our own leaders. Governments throughout history have lied, and many folks around the world have become smart enough to know it.
Maybe that explains why, even as talking heads on CNN and ABC gushed over how brilliantly Secretary of State Colin Powell had made the case for war against Iraq - with his photographs of trucks and bulldozers and his little bag of phony anthrax and his weird tape recordings the world responded with the largest peace demonstration in history against a war that hadn't even started. It's one that doesn't have to if the truth be told.
Don Williams is the founding editor of New Millennium Writings. You may write to him at PO Box 22463, Knoxville, TN, 37901, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone him at 428-0389.
Americans Were Duped Before; It Could Be Happening Again
By DON WILLIAMS
February 21, 2003