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Sunday, February 09, 2014

History and hallucination

We live in country where you can still be called a commie if you don't agree that Stalin's terror killed 20 or 30 million people, even though the actual number is under a million. We also live in a country in which one cannot admit in public that George W. Bush's Iraq adventure achieved a very similar, and perhaps higher body count. (Stalin's terror is here defined as the 1937-38 period, while the Iraq disaster took place over a longer period of time, and must include the victims of what was, in large measure, a civil war.)

This piece by John Pilger discusses our inability to deal with certain truths. It was written for a British audience but deserves to be read by Americans as well:
On Harvey's Today programme I referred to a poll conducted by ComRes last year that asked people in Britain how many Iraqis had been killed as a result of the 2003 invasion. A majority said that fewer than 10,000 had been killed: a figure so shockingly low it was a profanity.

I compared this with scientific estimates of "up to a million men, women and children [who] had died in the inferno lit by Britain and the US". In fact, academic estimates range from less than half a million to more than a million. John Tirman, the principal research scientist at the MIT Centre for International Studies, has examined all the credible estimates; he told me that an average figure "suggests roughly 700,000". Tirman pointed out that this excluded deaths among the millions of displaced Iraqis, up to 20% of the population.

The day after the Harvey programme, Today "countered" with Toby Dodge of the LSE – a former adviser to General Petraeus, one of the architects of the disasters in both Iraq and Afghanistan – along with Mowaffak al-Rubaie, a former Iraqi "national security adviser" in the occupation regime, and the man who led Saddam Hussein to his lynching.

These BBC-accredited "experts" rubbished, without evidence, the studies and reduced the number of dead by hundreds of thousands. The interviewer, Mishal Husain, offered no challenge to their propaganda.
Pilger goes on to note that
In the build-up to the 2003 invasion, according to studies by Cardiff University and Media Tenor, the BBC followed the Blair government's line and lies, and restricted airtime to those opposing the invasion. When Andrew Gilligan famously presented a dissenting report on Today, he and the director general were crushed.
On this side of the pond, 2003 was an even stranger time, perhaps the strangest that I can recall. America was in a fever. The lies broadcast on every television were so brazen and so constant as to make the standard reference to Orwell seem insufficient. Worse, the public's insistence on accepting those lies was nothing short of manic. Nothing infuriated people more than a whisper of truth.

I'd like to believe that the fever was temporary -- and perhaps it was, the worst of it. But where are we now? The majority of the American people still accept codswallop from mainstream sources -- and those who don't, accept codswallop of a different sort from the likes of Alex Jones and Breitbart. The lies of the official media still have purchase because what passes for an alternative media (at least in this country) is so repellent.
As Stalin became a proponent of Great Russian military socialism rather than "internationalist-Communism" -when he opened the doors of the Orthodox Church but continued reining in Israeli-oriented dual loyalists...he sealed his bad press in the United States.
It was astounding to witness. On the one year anniversary of our 9/11, Bush stopped mentioning the name Osama Bin Laden and began talking about Saddam Hussein. Most Americans seemed unable to recognize that a switch had been made. The ploy was amazingly successful.

Before the invasion began I'd read "War On Iraq, what team Bush doesn't want you to know" by William Rivers Pitt with Scott Ritter former U.N. weapons inspector. In the book Ritter (who'd headed the former inspection team in Iraq) made it perfectly clear that there was no way that Saddam could have held on to an effective chemical arsenal. The passage of time alone would have seriously degraded the effectiveness of any retained chemical stockpiles. So the word was out there.

My local PBS station one night mentioned that Scott Ritter would be on their program the next evening to discuss the push for war. They never ran that program. Unfortunately Ritter had a predilection for choking his chicken in front of underage women, and so was easily smeared and became persona non grata.

The supposed factual basis for the war was forged documents in Italy that supposedly showed Saddam attempting to obtain yellow-cake uranium. Two neocon operatives, Michael Ledeen and Douglas Feith, were known to be associated with these falsified documents. This blatant ploy to lead the world to war has never been adequately investigated.

Ambassador Joseph Wilson tried to bring attention to the fact that these Niger uranium documents were fraudulent. As a result the Cheney administration outed the identity of his wife, Valerie Plame in retaliation. This criminal act destroyed a CIA operation devoted to nuclear nonproliferation in the Mideast.

And our country just slipped into mass denial about these crimes and decided it was time to move on. Hundreds of thousands of innocents dead. Millions displaced as refugees. The Mideast unstabilized to a degree that has yet to play out. And the US population remains in the happy bliss of delusion regarding our collective war crimes. It verges on mass hallucination. History will not look kindly upon us.

Yes, the argument about Saddam's chemical weapons stockpile. Many argued before the invasion (and subsequently) that Saddam's gassing of the Kurds in 1988 proved that Saddam still had wmds in 2003. In 1995, Gen. Hussein Kamel, son-in-law of Hussein and Iraq’s Minister of Military Industry, defected to Jordan seeking political asylum. In testimony to the CIA and UN inspectors he gave an extensive accounting of Iraq's wmds program that he managed. Kamel’s words were repeatedly invoked by the Bush Administration in order to justify the 2003 invasion. Bush claimed that "30,000 liters of anthrax...have never been accounted for." Colin Powell’s Feb 2003 address to the UN included Kamel’s confession of "four tons of the deadly nerve agent VX," Powell warning that, "a single drop of this on the skin will kill in minutes." What nobody in the Bush Administration ever saw fit to mention was the part of Kamel’s testimony where he made it clear that all of the weapons on his list were destroyed on his orders in 1991. Bush knew the truth but told the public otherwise. He lied, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died as a consequence of those lies.
CBarr, the claim has been that Valerie Jennings was outed as a CIA agent in 2003 as payback for her husband's stance on the Niger uranium lies.

Blogger Luke Ryland (familiar to Joseph) blogged extensively on this. For what it is worth he claims that Brewster Jennings, the CIA cover company she worked for, had been exposed two years previously.

I'm not in a position to assess the claim but here's one link on the issue.
Thanks gavan.

Post about Woody Allen and Mia Farrow and we get forty three comments, many quite passionate.

Post about the collective denial regarding the lies and fraud that led our nation to murder hundreds of thousands of innocents in Iraq, and we have four comments. Guess this one makes five. Kinda speaks for itself doesn't it?

If we don't know how we got here, then we don't know where we're going. If we don't know how and why we got into the last war then there is nothing to slow our march to the next. We won't always have Vladmir to save us from ourselves.

This situation mirrors the economic crash of 2008. Where are the prosecutions of criminal banksters? Where are the prosecutions of war criminal politicians and their staff? Are we more afraid of the consequences of holding these people accountable than the consequences of letting these crimes remain unpunished and unexamined?

The United States has had a war based economy since 1942. Seems nothing is going to change. Bread and circuses. Ooh, Walmart has flat screen TVs on sale!
C Bliss

The "country" didn't decide it was time to move on as much as the phony Obama betrayed his left base and decided to move on---as if a guy vetted by IDF man Rahm Emanuel was going to make any other decision about pressing for the truth about the lies and the indictment of the criminals.
It's not just Obama. We're supposed to have a news media in this country. Maybe I've missed something, since the push for the Iraq War motivated me to unplug the television. But as far as I know there's been nothing but silence. Since corporate media was complicit in the crime, it's probably too much to expect them to ask the question of what went wrong.
"Stalin's terror is here defined as the 1937-38 period"

Well OK. Aka the purges, which - as anyone who's studied the period knows - hit mainly privileged people.

But a lot of peasants had already been killed when the regime used military methods at the turn of the 1930s to realise the age-old Tsarist dream of sorting out the countryside problem. And don't forget the millions of deaths in the forced-labour camp system, of workers who were worked to an early death.

How many people starved to death in the US during the Depression?
b, surprisingly few Americans starved to death during the Depression. This is a fact seized upon by proponents of intermittent fasting: Life expectancy actually went up dramatically during those years.

Also, a lot of people learned how to make salads out of kudzu, dandelions and weeds.
Boris Borisov applied the same methods of analysing population figures as were used to arrive at the big figure for the Ukraine, and came up with a figure of several million deaths by starvation in the US during the 1930s. But although some exaggerate the number of deaths in the holodomor, there was widespread famine in the Ukraine.

The story of kudzu is interesting. The US right wing is still furious about the Roosevelt government's plantation schemes, which must have saved a lot of poor people's lives.

The life expectancy line smells like bullshit. Life expectancy at what age? This is from one of the big academic promoters of the idea: "In recessions, Tapia Granados says, there is less work to do, so employees can work at a slower pace. There is more time to sleep, and because people have less money, they are less likely to spend as much on alcohol and tobacco." (He doesn't seem to have much appreciation of the role of alcohol.) The Scientific American's take: "spending more time at work could mean spending less time caring for sick family members." This article looks more balanced, although the authors appear to avoid getting to the heart of the matter.
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