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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/13/14

US Recipe For Getting Into Wars: Repeat as Necessary

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Message BK Faunce

Americans love their historical amnesia.

Unable to reconcile the myth (the US stands for freedom and democracy) with reality (the US murders large numbers of innocent people in order to steal their resources), they choose to forget. And in forgetting their own history, as Santayana warned, they are condemned to repeat it.

In August 1965, the US gov't told the American people one of their ships had been attacked by the North Vietnamese while on a "routine mission" in the Gulf of Tonkin. President Johnson declared it an act of war. Congress convened and quickly passed the "Tonkin Resolution" - and virtually overnight the conflict in Vietnam escalated into a major war.

Turns out it was all a lie, a covert propaganda campaign carried out by the US gov't to trick its own citizens into supporting a war of aggression waged against a country that posed no threat to the US. The truth is the attack never happened, something even Sec of Defense Robert McNamara has had to admit. But the truth wasn't the point. The point was to get Americans to hate and fear the Vietnamese. And it worked. By the end of 1965 polls showed 61% of the public supported increasing the war effort.

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Twenty-five years later, the US gov't told the American people Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was nothing less than a threat to western civilization. Americans were understandably war-weary. But no matter. On 10 October 1990, days before a crucial congressional vote, US officials held a news conference at which they introduced 15 year-old Nayirah. (Her last name was kept secret, reporters were told, to protect her identity.) Miss Nayirah proceeded to tell a horrified national audience that she had witnessed armed Iraqi soldiers storm into Kuwaiti hospitals and throw babies from their incubators.

Turns out it was all a lie. There were no armed Iraqi soldiers storming into Kuwaiti hospitals, no babies thrown on the floor and left to die. And Nayirah, the girl who testified that she'd witnessed these atrocities first-hand? She was the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the US, and later evidence would reveal that Miss al-Sabah wasn't anywhere near Kuwait at the time of the alleged attacks. But the deception worked. Overnight Americans were ready to cheer on another war.

And since it worked so well in Vietnam and in the 1st Gulf War, the US gov't must have figured, let's try it again, only this time let's really play the public for suckers.

Flashback to 2002: the US gov't tells the American people that Saddam Hussein is behind the 9/11 attacks and - worse - that Iraq has developed an arsenal of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, which they are poised to use against Americans. Gov't officials even go so far as to present "evidence" of the Iraqi threat to the UN, in a nationally televised broadcast, complete with slide show.

Turns out it was all a lie. No yellow cake. No aluminum tubes. No mobile labs. No connection to 9/11. No connection to al Qaeda. No weapons of mass destruction. Just one more propaganda piece playing Americans for fools.

Sound familiar? It should by now.

But maybe not. After all, the invasion of Iraq was twelve years ago. Who can remember that far back anyway?

Well, how about last year in Syria? US officials immediately blamed Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian gov't for using chemical weapons against the citizens of Ghouta. They declared it a barbaric act no civilized nation could tolerate and warned of awful things to come if we did not start a war with Syria right away. Then the truth came out: both the form of the Sarin gas and the military canister that delivers it were "most likely" used by the Syrian rebels -- that is, by the group the US gov't supports.

Or how about the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Eastern Ukraine? That was only a couple months ago. US officials couldn't blame pro-Russian separatists quickly enough. To this day they're all over the airwaves peddling the claim that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired by Putin's Ukrainian thugs. Bomb the Ukraine, they insist, and dare Russia to start a war.

Turns out US officials don't have any such evidence because the pro-Russian separatists weren't involved. On the ground investigations have shown that MH17 was not shot down by a surface-to-air missile but by machine gun fire from two fighter jets. (One of the first OSCE investigators to arrive on the scene reported this: "There have been two or three pieces of fuselage that have been really pockmarked with what almost looks like machine-gun fire, very very strong machine-gun fire.")

First the Vietnamese. Then Iraq. Then al Qaeda. Then Syria. Then pro-Russian separatists. Then ISIS. The pattern should be clear. Demonize an "other." Terrify Americans. Start a war. Kill anything that moves. Steal everything in sight. Repeat as necessary.

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BK Faunce is a retired Associate Professor of English (UMW / UCSC) specializing in British Romantic Literature, Film Theory and Writing. His recent work examines the use of state power and its impact on visual culture.

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