by Rich Cowan
March 8, 2003
The United States government has now amassed over 200,000 war-ready troops in the Persian Gulf. The government argues that the forced removal of Iraq's government is necessary to protect us and the world from terrorism.
Other countries that have also been the victims of terrorism have been reluctant to join the U.S. in this war. Even in Great Britain, our strongest ally, polls show that 82-86% of the public oppose initiating a war without approval by the United Nations. Many British reservists are refusing to fight.
At no time in the last 30 years has our government put our troops into the battlefield in the face of such widespread opposition. Therefore, it is appropriate to examine: why are so many countries now opposed to a war in Iraq? Are those opposing war simply apologists for Saddam Hussein? Do the arguments of those advocating unilateral war stand up under scrutiny?
We are fortunate that the U.S. Constitution includes a Bill of Rights, to ensure that we have the right to ask questions about government. President Eisenhower, in his farewell address, warned "the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist" and stated that an "alert and knowledgeable citizenry" was necessary to preserve liberty. In that spirit, we release this document.
References for introduction:
UK Poll Shows Opposition to War is Growing
UK Reservists Trying to Avoid Service
Farewell Address of President Dwight Eisenhower
1) Myth: Removing Saddam Hussein from power would eliminate a key backer of the Al Qaeda terrorist networks responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
Response: Just four days after the September 11th attacks, the Wall St. Journal analyzed Iraqi involvement in an article titled "U.S. Officials Discount Any Role by Iraq in Terrorist Attacks: Secularist Saddam Hussein and Suspect bin Laden Have Divergent Goals." The article linked Hussein with supporting the families of suicide bombers in Israel, but strongly doubted any linkage to Al Qaeda.
None of the hijackers came from Iraq; 15 of the hijackers came from the same country as Osama Bin Laden: Saudi Arabia.
Attempts to link Iraq to 9/11 or to bin Laden have failed. In April 2002 there was an announcement of a meeting between a 9/11 hijacker and an Iraqi that supposedly occurred in Prague. In October 2002 the New York Times quoted Czech officials who doubted that such a meeting occurred. In August, 2002, on a mission to Japan to gain support for an attack on Iraq, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage refused to link Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Armitage noted that al Qaeda members were in Kurdish controlled areas in Iraq, outside the reach of Saddam Hussein's government.
The latest claimed link -- through Ansar al-Islam -- lacks evidence. The founder of Ansar disputes any tie to Iraq or al Qaeda; Iraq denies supporting Ansar; and Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism expert and author of Inside al Qaeda links Ansar with Iran. A recent New York Times report from the front between the Kurds and Ansar al-Islam details evidence linking al Ansar with al Qaeda; the report, however, mentions only ties to Iran, not Iraq. Finally, such a link is unlikely for ideological reasons: Ansar is a Taliban-style fundamentalist group; Saddam Hussein is a secularist (see Myth #5).
The CIA and the FBI remain skeptical of a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, despite continued political pressure to find one, according to a front page article in the NY Times on Feb. 2, 2003.
Myth 1 References:
Pope, Hugh, "U.S. Officials Discount Any Role by Iraq in Terrorist Attacks," Wall St. Journal, September 19, 2001.
Whitmore, Brian, "Hijacker - Iraqi Meeting Disputed Differing Reports On Whether Prague Encounter Occurred," New York Times, October 23, 2002
Doug Struck, "Al Qaeda Members Fled to Kurdish Area of Iraq, State Department Says," The Washington Post, August 29, 2002
reprinted, The Tech, MIT
Don Van Natta Jr., "Mullah Who Leads Ansar al Aslam Denies U.S. Claims," International Herald Tribune, February 7, 2003
Iraq: Group Linked To Al-Qaeda Establishes Enclave In North (Radio Free Europe Report)
Michael Howard and Julian Borgan, "Al Qaeda Running New Terror Camp, Say Kurds," The Guardian, August 23, 2002
Helena Cobban, "Bin Laden's voice aside, war on Iraq is not war on Al Qaeda," Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 13
A British Reporter visits Ansar al-Islam in Northern Iraq
THREATS AND RESPONSES: TERROR LINKS; Split at C.I.A. and F.B.I. On Iraqi Ties to Al Qaeda By James Risen and David Johnston, The New York Times, February 2, 2003 Section 1; Page 13
"Prisoner casts doubt on Iraq tie to Al Qaeda: Story at odds with Powell's UN case," Chicago Tribune, February 11, 2003. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0302110307feb11,1,3163993.story?coll=chi%2Dnews%2Dhed
2) Myth: Secretary of State Colin Powell provided a "careful and powerful presentation of the facts. The information in the Secretary's briefing ... was obtained through great skill, and often at personal risk. Uncovering secret information in a totalitarian society is one of the most difficult intelligence challenges. The Iraqi regime's violations [are] in direct defiance of Security Council 1441." -- President Bush, Press Briefing, February 6, 2003.
Response: Many of Powell's assertions were quickly refuted. For example, Powell said, "By 1998, UN experts agreed that the Iraqis had perfected drying techniques for their biological weapons programs." Actually, the UN's 1/99 report on this matter said only that Iraq had performed drying experiments prior to the Gulf War, in 1989 -- not that it had perfected them.
A journalist for The Observer toured Ansar al-Islam’s alleged chemical weapons factory and found it to be a bakery with outhouses. Powell's claims that ricin found in Britain came from Iraq were rejected by European intelligence agencies, who said it was crude and “homemade” in Europe.
Even more appalling was the revelation in the British press about one of the key documents Powell used in his UN speech, the "dossier" on terrorism prepared by the staff of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. Powell praised the document as a "fine paper." However, much of it was plagiarized from source material written before the current round of inspections, primarily from a published article written by Ibrahim al-Marashi, a graduate student in California. The al-Marashi article, published nearly a year ago, relied on sources that were as much as 12 years old. This is a far cry from the "James Bond 007" penetration of Iraq's secrets alluded to by Bush.
Myth 2 References:
Status of Verification of Iraq's Biological Warfare Programme, UNSCOM Report, July 1999
Response to Secretary of State Colin Powell's UN Presentation, by Dr. Glen Rangwala, Cambridge Univ.
Europe skeptical of Iraq-ricin link
"Revealed: truth behind US 'poison factory' claim," The Observer, Feb. 9, 2003.
Rangwala's Expose Of Plagiarism in British Dossier
Iraqi 'facilities of concern' yield no evidence of violations," Associated Press, Jan. 18.
3) Myth: Saddam Hussein cannot be contained. To prevent a repeat of the situation with Nazi Germany, we must act immediately and preemptively before he acquires weapons with which to threaten us.
"We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." -- Condoleeza Rice, Sept. 8, 2002.
Iraq's programs to create weapons of mass destruction "are real and present dangers to the region and to the world." -- Colin Powell, speech to the UN, Feb. 5, 2002.
Response: The comparison to Nazi Germany is a bit of a stretch. Germany, by 1938, was number one in military spending, and had recovered from the Great Depression well before the other leading nations. It formed a real military alliance -- the Axis -- with two other powerful industrial nations, Italy and Japan.
By contrast, Iraq's military capability was largely destroyed in the 1991 Gulf War, and the "Axis of Evil" that Iraq is supposedly part of (Iran-Iraq-N. Korea) does not really exist as an alliance. In fact, Iran and Iraq fought each other in a 9-year war from 1980-1989.
The $399 billion US military budget proposed at the end of January 2003 is almost 300 times the size of Iraq's!
The US government released press statements in December that it is "investigating" whether Iraq received 'weaponized' smallpox from a Russian scientist in 1990. But these claims are widely disputed. Even if they were true, a U.S bioweapons expert said that it would not be possible to start a national epidemic by releasing such a strain.
Last October, CIA Director George Tenet said that Iraq was unlikely to use chemical or biological weapons unless it was attacked. After Powell's speech, a group of retired CIA officials re-emphasized Tenet's letter. They also warned that "an invasion of Iraq would ensure overflowing recruitment centers for terrorists into the indefinite future."
Myth 3 References:
Top Bush officials (Rice) push case against Saddam
Germany # 1 in military spending, 1938: The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Paul Kennedy, 1987, p. 296
German recovery in 1936: Timelines Of The Great Depression
Iraq military strength “dramatically down”
DoD News Briefing, January 16, 1996 - 1:30 p.m:
Turkey and Saudi Arabia’s combined GDP is 11½ times that of Iraq, combined military budgets 20 times as Iraq’s.
CIA World Factbook 2002 - Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, USA
US Fiscal Year 2004 military budget in world comparison:
Smallpox in Iraq?
US paper to face Russian smallpox lawsuit
Piller, Charles, Smallpox Strike Called Unlikely; Experts say suicidal efforts to spark an epidemic would probably fail. The Los Angeles Times, Dec 13, 2002.
CIA Director Tenet said Iraq use of CBW unlikely unless attacked in letter to Senator Bob Graham:
"CIA veterans' warning on Iraq war," UPI, Feb. 9, 2003
"Memo to the President," Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Feb. 7, 2003
The Wartime Deceptions: Saddam is Hitler and It's Not About Oil
4) Myth: A discovery on Feb. 12 by UN weapons inspectors revealed, for the first time, that Iraq possessed missiles, the Al-Samoud and Al-Fatah, with a range exceeding the limits imposed by the 1991 UN Resolution 687.
Response: Though the Feb. 12 UN finding made the headlines, it was not really new; it was based on information volunteered by Iraq back in December.
According to the 2/13/03 NY Times and numerous other sources, "The inspectors learned of the range of the missiles from test results that were provided in the 12,000-page arms declaration Iraq delivered at the start of the inspections." Colin Powell had also mentioned the missiles on 2/5/03 in his United Nations speech.
The missiles in question are short range models that, all sides agree, can travel less than half of the distance from the western tip of Iraq to the eastern tip of Israel. By comparison, the CIA reported on the same day that North Korea's Taepo Dong 2 missile should be able to travel 50 to 100 times as far -- though as of yet this new missile has not been tested.
UN Weapons Inspector Hans Blix reported the results of missile tests at the UN on 2/27/03. He reported that in a test firing of 40 missiles, 27 of the missiles landed within the legal distance of 150 km.
Iraq has argued that, fully loaded with guidance systems and warheads, an even higher percentage of the missiles would land within the permitted range. According to NPR, part of this claim by Iraq is false, as the missiles are already usable with one of two guidance systems. However, Iraq has, at last word, gone along with demands to destroy the Al Samoud missile.
Myth 4 References:
UN Resolution 687 on elimination of certain weapons from Iraq
Source for distance from Iraq to Israel (250 miles) is: Candidate George W. Bush on Israel
Experts Confirm New Iraq Missile Exceeds U.N. Limit
N. Korea Missile Can Hit U.S., CIA Says
Bush Issues Challenge to UN on Iraq
World Stands Divided Over War With Iraq
Dispute over Missile Destruction NPR Report, All Things Considered, February 25, 2003
U.N. Finds No Long-Range Iraqi Missiles
Response: According to the transcript of the 16-min. Al Jazeera tape, bin Laden called Hussein a "Muslim apostate," i.e., a turncoat against Islam. Bin Laden has long called for the secular Baathist Party in Baghdad to be replaced with an Islamic fundamentalist, cleric-led government. The new words were intended to rally support for radical Islam in the Muslim world, including factions within Iraq that are more anti-US than Saddam Hussein.
According to Gen. Hamid Gul, the former chief of Pakistan's spy agency InterServices Intelligence, bin Laden and Saddam cannot work closely together because "Bin Laden and his men considered Saddam the killer of hundreds of Islamic militants," a reference to Saddam's attacks against domestic political rivals, including Kurds and Shiites.
It is true that Saddam Hussein has expressed support for suicide bombings against Israel, and that the bin Laden tape refers to the suicide operations “that cause so much harm” in the U.S. and Israel. However, the existence of such terrorism is quite independent of Hussein. Many terrorism experts believe that "al Qaeda may eventually transform itself into a 'leaderless resistance' movement" that could have hundreds of cells.
German government spokesman Thomas Steg found no evidence in the tapes of “an axis or close link” between Baghdad and al Qaeda. Similar doubts were voiced by Sen. John McCain, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and others. See Myth #1
Myth 5 References:
Text of Bin Laden tape aired an Al Jazeera, provided by BBC
Bin Laden Calls Iraqis to Arms
Osama Rallies Muslims, Condemns Hussein:
Bin Laden offers tips to defend Iraq:
Behind Bin Laden’s message
Ties between bin Laden and Saddam? Yes, maybe any day now
Split at C.I.A. and F.B.I. on Iraqi Ties to Al Qaeda
US already knew of Bin Laden tape
Pass the Duct Tape
U.S. Misreading of Bin Laden Tape May Win Iraqi War For Al Qaeda
Only by Swallowing Big Lies Can Powell Justify a War
Deadly Puzzle of Terrorism
US, Germany Dispute Authenticity of Bin Laden Tape
Even Muslim community can’t agree on Bin Laden’s meaning:
Bin Laden Tape May Hint at Attack, C.I.A. Says
Paul Haven, "Disparate views make bin Laden, Saddam unlikely pair", The Houston Chronicle, January 30, 2003 p.12
When Seeing and Hearing Isn't Believing (Technology to fake a tape)
6) Myth: "The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his 'nuclear mujahedeen' -- his nuclear holy warriors." - George Bush, televised speech, October 7, 2002 in Cincinnati (1)
Dr. Khidhir Hamza, from 1987 to 1994, served as the head of Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program" (2) and has said that "Iraq runs its nuclear program under the very nose of the international community."(3) -- Quotes by Larry Elder, Worldnetdaily.com, and Hamza
Response: Saddam did refer to a nuclear energy program in a speech he made on 9/10/00. According to the Rangwala memo cited earlier, Bush is taking advantage of a mistranslation of this speech that left out the word 'energy,' among other problems.
Although it would make sense to also forbid nuclear energy programs in Iraq, the U.S. and the U.N. have not called for that. There is no credible evidence that Saddam Hussein's scientists are now working on nuclear weapons, even though Hussein has wanted them in the past.
In his Jan. 27 report to the UN Security Council, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director Mohamed ElBaradei concluded, "we have to date found no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons programme since the elimination of the programme in the 1990s. .... we should be able within the next few months to provide credible assurance that Iraq has no nuclear weapons programme."(4)
In an article for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Dr. Khidhir A. Hamza states that he was "for a brief period in 1987--director of weaponization" of Iraq's nuclear weapons program (5) Hamza also states, in his book "Saddam's Bombmaker" and in his 'Curriculum Vitae', that he was not employed in the Iraqi nuclear weapons program after 1989. He left Iraq in 1994. So it is clear that he has no personal knowledge of the status of the Iraqi nuclear program after 1994, and the extent of his personal knowledge after 1989 is open to question.(6)(7) Other Iraqi defectors with more knowledge than Hamza have disputed his claims.(8)(9)
The written IAEA report version said "By the end of 1992, we had largely destroyed, removed or rendered harmless all Iraqi facilities and equipment relevant to nuclear weapons production... By December 1998... we were confident that we had not missed any significant component of Iraq’s nuclear programme."(4)
Myth 6 References:
President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat
Larry Elder, "Interview with Saddam's Bombmaker", Jan. 2, 2003.
Middle East Forum, Saddam's Bombmaker, A briefing by Khidhir Hamza, April 2, 2001.
"The Status Of Nuclear Inspections In Iraq: Statement to the United Nations Security Council," Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency Jan. 27, 2003.
Inside Saddam's Secret Nuclear Program, Dr. Khidhir Hamza.
Saddam's Bombmaker: The Terrifying Inside Story of the Iraqi Nuclear and Biological Weapons Agenda (Chapter One available online)
Curriculm Vitae of Khidhir A. A. Hamza
Saddam's Bombmaker is Full of Lies,IMAD KHADDURI, 27 Nov 2002
Transcript of Interview with Iraqi Defector Hussein Kamel
Iraqi 'facilities of concern' yield no evidence of violations," Associated Press, Jan. 18.
Counter Dossier II (nuclear section), by Dr Glen Rangwala, an independent analyst at the University of Cambridge, UK
7) Myth: "If the United States marches 200,000 troops into the region and then marches them back out . . . the credibility of American power . . . will be gravely, perhaps irreparably impaired." -- Henry Kissinger, quoted in NY Times, Feb. 15, 2003.
Response: Top US officials have repeatedly stated they want to avoid war in recent weeks:
"I will tell my friend Silvio [President of Italy] that the use of military troops is my last choice, not my first." -- President Bush, quoted in White House News Release, January 30, 2003.
"We still hope that force may not be necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein... Let me be clear: no one wants war." - Donald Rumsfeld, In Munich, Germany, Feb. 8, 2003.
The U.S. position is that "Force should always be a last resort." -- Colin Powell, response to weapons inspection head Mohamed El Baradei, February 14, 2003.
If the U.S. can disarm Saddam without war -- the administration's stated objective -- how is our credibility hurt? Even French President Chirac, a critic of war, has credited the presence of U.S. troops with increasing Iraqi compliance.
Kissinger and top Bush administration officials are not satisfied with this progress. However these individuals have conflicts of interest. They have strong ties with companies that produce weapons, drill oil, and build military bases.
The President's father, and his 2000 recount advisor James Baker, are, respectively, 'Asian Advisor' and Partner of Carlyle Group. According to Fortune magazine, Carlyle makes much of its profits by buying smaller "defense" companies, assisting them in winning huge taxpayer-funded contracts, and then selling them at a large profit. Dick Cheney's wife, until January 2001, was on the board of Lockheed, and 8 other administration officials had Lockheed ties before they were appointed. Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz were involved in a think-tank advocating for "global military dominance" that is funded by family foundations whose fortunes came from military contracting and whose founders included a Lockheed executive. These ties must be taken into account when evaluating the legitimacy of 'fears' about a peaceful outcome of the Iraq crisis.
Myth 7 References:
The Venus Trap (Quote by Kissinger)
Powell's Response: Iraq Fails to Comply With U.N. Terms
President Bush Meets with Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi
Chirac says U.S. military deployment laid the groundwork to peacefully disarm Iraq
Conflicts of Interest
KISSINGER QUITS AS CHAIRMAN OF 9/11 PANEL Kranish, Michael, The Boston Globe, December 14, 2002, p.1.
Oil Ties of Bush Administration are documented here:
"Invading Iraq not a new idea for Bush clique," Philadelphia Daily News, January 27, 2003.
Bush Team Denies Oil Link to War Policy
Bush Administration Ties to Lockheed, Military Companies
The Big Guys Work For the Carlyle Group
Dick Cheney's Corporate Ties
The neo-conservative Project for a New American Century (PNAC) includes Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby, etc.
Top Bush advisors (later in PNAC) advocated global dominance plan over 10 years ago: "The Anniversary of a Neo-Imperial Moment"
1998 letter from members of PNAC (including Rumsfeld) to President Clinton, urging him to invade Iraq:
Sept. 2000 PNAC document "Rebuilding America's Defenses" states "While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."
8) Myth: War in Iraq will involve 150,000-200,000 troops and only cost $50 billion -- less than it did in 1991.
Response: Bush's former economic advisor Laurence Lindsey estimated to the Wall Street Journal last summer that the war would cost $100-$200 Billion. A veteran ABC News reporter revealed on 1/13/03 that the actual deployment planned was 350,000 troops.
One reason the proposed war would cost so much more than the Gulf War is that the administration plans to occupy Baghdad, a city of 5 million people. Another is that other countries have declined to pay the costs of the war as they did in 1991; instead, the U.S. is planning to pay Turkey $30 billion for its cooperation.
As Colin Powell wrote in Foreign Affairs in 1992, "The Gulf War was a limited-objective war. If it had not been, we would be ruling Baghdad today at unpardonable expense in terms of money, lives lost and ruined regional relationships.”
Credible estimates of cost of a "short" Iraq war start at $120 billion. This is on top of a 2003 military budget that is already expanded dramatically. The numbers tell the story: the military budget in 2001 was $304 billion after 9/11 expenses were added. The military budget in 2003 is already $407 including homeland security and military construction. Adding the cost of the war, it could reach $527 billion or more. The cost of the increase from 2001-3 comes out to $2000 for every family in the U.S.
The administration is planning larger military budget increases in 2004, and is also contemplating additional wars. The Bush administration does not seem concerned with the fact that their own budget projections two years ago anticipated a surplus of $262 billion in 2004, but their projections now anticipate a 2004 deficit of over $307 billion.
Myth 8 References:
Powell's Foreign Affairs article is republished in Intervention: The Use of American Military Force in the Post-Cold War World, Revised Edition (1999), by Richard N. Haass, as Appendix E.
Troops Already Working in Iraq (150,000 troop minimum reached)
David E. Sanger with Dexter Filkens, "U.S. Pessimistic Turks Will Accept Deal on Iraq," the New York Times, February 20, 2003 p. A1.
Bigger Buildup: U.S. May Call for More Military [350,000 troops]
The Lindsey estimate of cost as a percentage of GNP: Wall St. Journal, September 30, 2002. The 1991 Gulf War cost $79.9 billion; the U.S. paid only $10-$15 billion; most of cost was paid by other countries: NY Times, September 30, 2003.
Edmund L. Andrews, "Federal Debt Near Ceiling, Second Time in 9 Months," NY Times, 2/20/03 p. A27
Krugman, Paul, "Is the maestro a hack?" NY Times, February 7, 2003.
Johnathon Fuerbringer, "Nothing Like Big Deficits to Hearten Bond Traders," NY Times, 2/5/03 p.C1
The Cost of the War on Terrorism and the Cost of Social Security http://www.cepr.net/Social_Security/cost_of_the_war_on_terrorism_and.htm
The War and your Wallet (trifold leaflet, with references)
Analysis of 2004 Military Budget
Project for a New American Century, Letter to President Bush, 1/23/03
Powell: Commitment in Iraq Would Be Long
9) Myth: Freedom of the Press in the U.S. exists even in times of war. The U.S. news media has been extremely skeptical of the official stories put out by the government, in order to uphold the truth.
Response: The last 20 years have seen a trend towards "management" of the press by the government: restricted access press pools, fabricated stories, fake letters to the editor, and even violence against U.S. war reporters.
According to the Winter 2002 Navy War College Review, citing the book America's Team: Media and the Military, the military had assigned reporters to a pool to cover the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989, but the Defense Secretary at the time, Dick Cheney, "delayed calling out the pool."
During the 1991 Gulf War, according to Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist Patrick J. Sloyan, "The Associated Press, which benefited most from a system that turned all journalists into wire service reporters, sent photographer Scott Applewhite to cover victims of a Scud missile attack near Dahran. The warhead had hit an American tent, killing 25 army reservists and wounding 70... Applewhite, an accredited pool member, was stopped by US Army military police. When he objected, they punched and handcuffed him while ripping the film from his cameras."
Dick Cheney, quoted in America's Team, was honest after the Gulf War about his treatment of the media. "Frankly, I looked on it as a problem to be managed," he said after the war. "The information function was extraordinarily important. I did not have a lot of confidence that I could leave that to the press."
The most famous Gulf War media fiasco occurred right here at home. Employees of the large PR firm Hill & Knowlton arranged for a speech to be made by a 15-year-old girl, "Nayirah," to an unofficial "Congressional Human Rights" group in October 1990. Her so-called eyewitness story about Iraqi soldiers removing babies from hospital incubators was publicized by the entire news media and even by Amnesty International. But Nayirah was actually the daughter of Kuwait’s Ambassador to the United States; the other eyewitness recanted his story, and other eyewitnesses have said that the story was fabricated. Amnesty was forced to issue a rare retraction.
Myth 9 References:
Do we really have a "free" press? by Patrick J. Sloyan
Klein, William S, Faking the voice of the people,
America's Team: Media and the Military (Entire Book!)
'NO BAD STORIES' The American Media-Military Relationship, Navy War College Review
Bodies? What Bodies? by Patrick J. Sloyan
Collective Amnesia, from American Journalism Review, October 2000.
See the quote by Max Uechtritz, attending a journalism conference in the summer of 2002, “We now know for certain that only three things in life are certain – death, taxes and the fact the military are lying bastards.”, in News World Asia Conference Day 3 Report.
Censorship of News in Wartime is Still Censorship
Even in Wartime, Stealth and Democracy Do Not Mix
How PR Sold the War in the Persian Gulf (Nariyah Accounts)
(note: thanks to http://www.wilsonsalmanac.com/myths.html for a good account of the "Nariyah" incident, which we incorporated and trimmed.)
10) Myth: "We can give the Iraqi people their chance to live in freedom and choose their own Government." -- President Bush, Feb. 6, 2003 press statement.
"Iraq's oil and other natural resources belong to all the Iraqi people - and the United States will respect this fact." -- Stephen Hadley, US Deputy National Security Advisor, Feb. 11, 2003.
Response: The U.S. government has made statements elsewhere asserting that we will control both Iraq's government and its oil, for quite some time.
Excerpt from the Oil and Gas International, an Industry Trade Publication, 1/27/03: "France and Russia have been warned they must support the US military invasion and occupation of Iraq if they want access to Iraqi oilfields in a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq."
Excerpt from the Globe and Mail, quoting US Congressional Testimony on 2/12/03: "The United States intends to rule postwar Iraq through an American military governor, supported by an Iraqi consultative council appointed by Washington, Iraqi opposition leaders gathered in this northern Kurdish city said yesterday. 'While we are listening to what the Iraqis are telling us, the United States government will make its decisions based on what is in the national interest of the United States,' said Mark Grossman." Grossman, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, was testifying to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
A recent policy paper by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace concluded that "The increasingly popular idea in Washington that the United States, by toppling Saddam Hussein, can rapidly democratize Iraq and unleash a democratic tsunami in the Middle East is a dangerous fantasy."
Myth 10 References:
Statement by the President, Feb. 6, 2003
Contingency Plans Underway For Post-War Iraq, U.S. Official Says
France & Russia warned support US war on Iraq or no Iraqi oil http://www.oilandgasinternational.com/departments/world_industry_news/jan03_france.html
Plan: US general to run Iraq
Plan would see U.S. rule postwar
Democratic Mirage in the Middle East, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Policy Brief #20, October, 2002
Iraqi oil may be taken as 'spoil of war'
11) Myth: War will reduce energy prices and make the U.S. more independent, because oil from Iraq would reduce the current U.S. dependence on Saudi Arabian oil (and prevent the Saudis from pushing us around).
Response: It is true if someone handed us unfettered control of all Iraq's oil, Saudi Arabia would have less influence than it does now as the lead oil exporter in the world.
But acquiring that control through war has enormous costs, and these costs have to be factored in to assess the true cost of energy.
The Rocky Mountain Institute, an independent research organization in Colorado, points out: "Since 1970, oil imports have been responsible for nearly 75 percent of the U.S. trade deficit and have resulted in a net outflow of $1 trillion to the OPEC nations - much of which is respent on armaments... the peacetime readiness cost of U.S. military forces earmarked for Persian Gulf intervention is around $50 billion a year, raising the effective cost of Gulf oil to around $100 per barrel." This was before the post-9/11 buildup (see myth #8).
If the government charged the oil companies a larger portion of the taxpayer cost of obtaining the oil, and subsidized a massive switch to use of off-the-shelf renewable energy sources, it would be possible to gain energy independence, and reduce sales of weapons to what is a very unstable region.
RMI also points out that "increasing fuel efficiency from 20 mpg to 23 mpg would eliminate the need for our [pre-1991 level] oil imports from Iraq and Kuwait. Increasing it to 33 mpg would eliminate the need for ALL Persian Gulf oil." Comparable reductions could also be achieved through a combination of technologies, including wind, solar, and energy efficiency. Technology is not a barrier.
One of the costs of stationing so many troops in the Gulf is that the U.S. has fewer resources with which to defend the U.S. in the case of an actual attack on the mainland U.S.
Myth 11 References:
IPS "On Oil and War" Fact Sheet
Fuel Savings from Energy Efficiency
Hypercars could increase fuel efficiency 3-5 times:
Bush budget cuts funding for renewable energy:
Why? The oil and gas industry overwhelmingly dominates in campaign spending and skews strongly Republican.
US Considered 'Suicide Jet Missions' (on the unavailability of armed jets on 9/11 to shoot down the hijacked planes)
12) Myth: "The course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others" -- George Bush, State of the Union Address, Jan. 28, 2003.
"[UN Resolution] 1441 gives us the authority to move without any second resolution." -- George Bush, Press Conference with Tony Blair, January 31, 2003.
Response: First of all, we should not forget that when the U.S. was achieving independence from Britain, we did not do it alone. France helped!
In the wake of World War II, the US took a leading role in establishing the UN to prevent future world wars. The recent unilateral position of the Bush administration runs counter to decades of US policy, the language in resolution 1441, and international law. To ignore the usefulness of the United Nations at this time would strengthen the hand of those who want global war, including anti-U.S. terrorist groups.
As President Bush himself said during one of the 2000 presidential debates, "If we are an arrogant nation, they will resent us, If we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us." He went on to add, It's important to be friends with people when you don't need each other so that when you do, there's a strong bond of friendship. And that's going to be particularly important in dealing not only with situations such as now occurring in Israel, but with Saddam Hussein." Cooperation with other nations is especially vital for fighting terrorism.
The text of 1441 concludes, “[The Security Council] Decides to remain seized of the matter,” meaning that it retains jurisdiction, and has not given anyone else the power to act. The US Senate ratified US agreement to the UN Charter by a vote 89 to 2 on July 28, 1945. Under Article 2 of the Charter, the use of military force is prohibited without explicit authorization (under Article 42). Even threatening use of force -- as the US is currently doing to Iraq -- violates the language of Article 2.
Myth 12 References:
France Allied With American Colonies:
State of the Union Transcript:
Text of UN Resolution 1441:
Press conference: PM Tony Blair and President George Bush, 31 January
The Guardian: Nov 11, 2002: "To War Or Not To War"
At The U.N., It's Not Just About Iraq
Salon (premium required): Nov. 8. 2002: "U.N. adopts new Iraq resolution"
Article on Ratification of UN Charter
Presidential Debate Transcript:
13) Myth: "'Anti-war' protesters ... are giving, at the very least, comfort to Saddam Hussein." Therefore they can be accused of committing treason according to the Constitution. -- NY Sun Editorial, February 7, 2003
Response: Since the American Revolution, democracies have steadily replaced dictatorships, in part because open debate produces a more responsive and accountable government. Punishing dissenters is the hallmark of totalitarianism; it throws away one of democracy’s greatest strengths.
After John McCain -- the Senator from Arizona -- was released from captivity as a POW in Vietnam, he was asked, "How did it feel when you heard Americans were protesting the war?" He said, "I thought that's what we were fighting for -- the right to protest."
It is true that courts have not always fully supported free speech in the face of government attempts to curtail our rights. But in 1964, thanks to Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, the US Supreme Court issued a landmark decision on the matter. They ruled that the New York Times could not be sued for an ad critical of the actions of Montgomery, Alabama police against civil rights protesters. According to one account, the court "made explicit the principle that seditious libel -- criticism of government -- cannot be made a crime in America and spoke in this connection of `the central meaning of the First Amendment.'"
The Sun's editors also missed the fact that Osama bin Laden's terrorist group attacked New York, and that this group wants to end the rule of Saddam Hussein. By calling for the overthrow of Hussein, the Sun is actually supporting the position of the terrorists who attacked Manhattan.
Myth 13 References:
Editorial: Comfort and the Protesters
The Bill of Rights (Amendments 1-10 of the U.S. Constitution)
The U.S. Constitution, Article III:
Famous Quote by John McCain
http://www.life.com/Life/heroes/visions06.html Cited in Stars & Stripes, Pacific Edition, May 4, 1997
New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, Supreme Court Decision, Mar. 9, 1964
Quote on Supreme Court Case is from Jamie Kalven, editor's introduction to Harry Kalven's A Worthy Tradition: Freedom of Speech in America (Harper & Row, 1988)
Investigate 'Communist-style' peaceniks, says Right Wing Leader
See the famous quote by Nazi leader Goering, who said after Germany lost World War II that to win people's support for war, all that was necessary was to "tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism."
26 Ways to use the 13 Myths, by Marti Bombyk
Condensed "13 Myths" Flyer, in a printable form (legal size paper)
MS Word Version (27K)
PDF version (17K PDF)
References, PDF version (250K, requires Adobe Acrobat)
This factsheet was produced using a collaborative online process. 13myths.org is a project of Organizers' Collaborative (OC), a tax-exempt group harnessing the power of technology for social change. OC also provides, for free:
-technology tips for activists at www.organizenow.net
-a free database software program for activist groups, at http://organizersdb.org
You can support further development of this collaborative research technology by making a donation at http://organizenow.net/donate-r.html
We would like to thank Resist foundation for a substantial grant that made this web site possible.
Editors: Rich Cowan, Paul Rosenberg, and Abigail Caplovitz
Research and proofreading team: Deborah Conner, Bonnie Britt, Brit Eckhart, Marc Schuler, Jules Siegel, Rodger Payne
Also, thanks to software designer Dan Schueler for work on the collaborative editing system (see http://islandimage.net for information on his services, mostly 'cold fusion.')
Other organizing ideas: see United for Peace or the following trifold brochure.