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It's Time to Play Beat-the-Bully

By       (Page 1 of 3 pages)   1 comment
Message Bernard Weiner
We all know this from our schooldays and our workplaces. The thing about bullies, especially the really cocky ones, is that they're often really insecure. They strut their stuff, and get in your face aggressively, but once you organize opposition and indicate you're not afraid of them anymore, thus stripping them of their essential power over you, they're lost in the world of ordinary mortals.

Bullies need to seem successful, which helps explain why so many cheat and lie and threaten in order to get their way; they don't believe they can make it on their own abilities. This behavior also helps explain why they avoid responsibility by blaming others for their own faults.

I got to thinking about this the other day when learning that the Bush Administration secretly paid for pro-U.S. stories in Iraqi newspapers. That reminded me of how Bush&Co. got caught secretly paying a number of U.S. journalists to write pro-Administration articles and plant them in various media outlets. And that reminded me of how the Pentagon and other Administration departments created their own fake "TV news stories" about Bush policies and sent them out to small-town stations around the country, who ran them as real news.

And that reminded me of how Bush during the campaign almost always appeared before hand-picked supportive audiences, and how he almost never gives major foreign-policy speeches these days except before supportive military audiences. Ordinary American civilians who may or may not agree with all his policies are not to be included in the democratic process; as Bush famously told one citizen who expressed mild disapproval, "What do I care what you think?"

It's plain that the Bush Administration believes (or at least suspects) that its own arguments, if presented straight, won't pass muster with the American populace, or, in the case of the purchased news stories in Iraq, that country's public. The Administration's versions of the truth won't be enough to convince readers, viewers or voters-- for good reason, as they derive from a greedy, mean-spirited ideology -- so propaganda is employed to fool the public.

Such deception can be carried out in microcosm by, say, writing a story, getting it translated into Arabic and then paying to have it run in a Baghdad newspaper. Or the deception can be on the macrocosmic Big Lie scale: Asserting that Saddam Hussein is in cahoots with Osama bin Laden and is going to pass some of his supposed huge store of biological and chemical and nuclear WMD to Al-Qaida. The bigger the lie, in some ways, the easier it is to sell to the public -- especially when your highest officials spend months and months engaged in such falsehoods and deceptions. Then you add the mainstream media into the equation: by not doing their job and questioning the Bush assertions early on, they appeased the bullies, thereby giving them more power.


You'll recall that the White House Iraq Group, the unit established to "market" the war to the American people, had a devil of a time coming up with a successful selling tool. Should they tell the truth, that the war was necessary as part of a long-term campaign to control the huge oil/gas energy fields in the Mideast and to alter the geopolitical map of that region? No, that wouldn't fly with the citizenry, they figured; nobody wants their kids killed or maimed for imperial adventures created by ivory-tower ideologues who made sure never to put on their country's uniform in times of war.

So, according to Paul Wolfowitz, one of the key neo-con architects of the war, the Bush Administration finally settled on the scary bogeyman of "weapons of mass destruction" that Saddam Hussein supposedly was ready to unleash on America -- biological and chemical agents dropped or sprayed from drone planes off the East Coast, "mushroom clouds" over American cities, and so on.

Even though U.S. leaders knew Saddam was a paper tiger and no longer possessed such weaponry or even active programs to acquire such capabilities, they launched their WMD-scare offense on the American public and provided cherry-picked intelligence (devoid of the doubts, caveats and demurrers of the intelligence analysts) to the Congress.

To help push the propaganda campaign along, they added one more powerful deception to their arsenal of lies. Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rice and others began conflating Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 terror attacks. There was no such linkage, of course; the Administration was informed by their counter-terrorism experts shortly after 9/11 that the attacks were pure al-Qaida, with no Iraqi involvement. (Further, Saddam slaughtered any Islamicists he could find in Iraq, and Osama bin Laden had targeted him as a secular enemy.)

The Iraq/9/11 linkage was all B.S., of course, but most American leaders swallowed it -- including those of the supposed Democrat "opposition" -- while the rest of the world, more savvy about the reality and complexity of the situation, were not afraid to confront the Superpower bully and angrily denounced the Bush lies. More than 10,000,000 citizens demonstrated worldwide against the impending war. Maybe they were more willing to take on the U.S. because they remembered what happened in Europe when appeasement of a war-hungry Adolph Hitler led to World War II, in which 60 million were slaughtered.

Two years after the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, the suspicions raised by the anti-war forces around the globe about the Bush Administration's duplicity and lies were verified when the top-secret Downing Street Memos -- minutes from inside the Blair war cabinet, detailing the invasion preparations of the U.S. and U.K. leadership -- were leaked to the British press, and, of course, were given little attention by the American corporate mainstream media.


In the wake of the recent indictment of Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, for obstruction of justice in the Valerie Plame case, the run-up to the Iraq War again has become the subject of great scrutiny. And it turns out that the duplicitous war campaign is non-stop, because the lies are non-stop. The other day, Lynne Cheney expressed outrage that her husband was being accused once more of making those links to Iraq and 9/11. He never expressed such linkages, she said adamantly.

Too bad, Lynne, there are such things as videotape and audiotape, and that record still exists of his ##intertwining 9/11 and Iraq. ( )

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Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked for two decades as a writer-editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (more...)
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