How to Beat the War Party

And keep beating them

by , February 10, 2010

The road goes ever on – that’s the name of the song Frodo Baggins sings, in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, as he leaves the Shire with his companions to take on the Dark Lord, and I think of it as I wake on a deadline day and start thinking about my topic: which new outrage against human decency, international law, and common sense will I document today, I wonder, as I scan the headlines. What new lies is the War Party telling, what fresh affronts to morality and our real national interests are those fools in Washington intent on committing?

So many choices! It’s a veritable smorgasbord of folly!

Like the road that goes ever on, there seems no end to it – and, quite honestly, sometimes I wonder if we’re making any progress at all. When I see how easily the War Party’s deceptions are conceived and executed, how quickly the mass "mainstream" media takes them up, how willing the American people are to be deceived – I have to admit that, on occasion, I fall into despair.

But not for long. Something always comes along to pick me up, dust me off, and send me back into battle singing, and this time it was Jason Ditz‘s article debunking the latest war propaganda aimed at Iran. Ditz’s deconstruction of an Associated Press piece – which claimed Iran’s uranium enrichment program to create isotopes for use in medical treatments is a cover for developing a bomb – is here. A more thorough demolition job hasn’t been seen since the last time an Israeli tank rolled over a Palestinian hovel.

So thorough, it turned out, that AP withdrew the article and replaced it with this, by a different author.

Here is a textbook example of how to beat the War Party. It’s a small victory, but a significant one, for it comes at a pivotal moment, when the Obama administration is taking its first steps toward a confrontation with Iran. In case you haven’t noticed, their position on the Iran question has hardened considerably – we’re a long way past "engagement," with Defense Secretary Gates rallying our allies around what the Israelis insist must be "crippling" sanctions. Indeed, the Obamaites have lately become so imperious and openly belligerent that their policy resembles Bush’s in all its essentials: the open threats, the sanctions campaign, all taking place amid growing evidence the US is engaged in a covert effort to effect regime-change in Tehran – including terrorist attacks launched by proxies.

As the Obama administration morphs into its predecessor in many more ways than any of his progressive supporters imagined possible, the news media – which has been in the presidential pocket from the beginning – is now fully on board with his increasingly aggressive foreign policy stance. If they were subservient during the Bush era, it was mostly out of fear – fear of appearing "unpatriotic," especially in the dark days right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Today their subservience is due to their clear political allegiance to this administration and all its works – including its wars.

What this means is that the "mainstream" media – television, the major newspapers, the important news services such as AP and Reuters – are more unreliable than ever. Obama’s wars – in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, wherever – will be treated with kid gloves, and won’t be recognized as futile, tragic crusades until long after many thousands of lives and tens of billions of dollars have been expended to no good end.

In the case of Iran, we are in for a very long and drawn-out buildup of "evidence" that the Iranians are running a secret nuclear weapons program: not necessarily enough to convince the experts and the IAEA, but enough to get by in the popular imagination.

That’s the key to understanding a lot of war propaganda, which is often barely credible – like the Niger uranium forgeries [.pdf], which were such crudely transparent fakes that it took IAEA scientists using Google an hour or so to expose them as fraudulent. By that time, however, the forgers had already accomplished their purpose, which was to shift popular opinion in a pro-war direction – which, using George W. Bush as their willing sock-puppet, they did.

In framing the Iranians for supposedly harboring "weapons of mass destruction," the War Party’s job is to keep up a relentless assault in the hope something will stick. Get ready for a barrage of "leaks" by pro-war factions inside the administration, and yet more "intelligence" reports planted by one or another foreign country with an interest in fomenting war, all of it backed up and "verified" by reliably biased experts. What makes the War Party’s job easier, in this case, is that it’s not hard to confuse the public with a lot of "scientific" terminology and wrangling over technical details: people eventually throw up their hands, and reason that where there’s so much smoke there’s bound to be fire.

The debunking of war myths has to be done carefully, and systematically: the process can take years. There are still those who believe Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a number roughly equivalent to the audience for Fox News. War propagandists erect their war mythos in layers, first laying the foundations by positing the absolute evil and inherent aggressiveness of their chosen enemy, and then building the case for war brick by brick, a construction consisting of whatever "evidence" can be found or manufactured at the time. This results in a somewhat unsteady, makeshift structure, but remember that longevity is not something the War Party is aiming for. The idea is to seize on the passions and politics of the moment to push us into war. What happens afterward is someone else’s problem.

Deconstructing and exposing this edifice of deception is our job here at Antiwar.com, and it never stops. That’s why we always have at least one person "on duty," guarding the ramparts against an assault in the dead of night. That’s why we need a staff, albeit a small one, to keep up with the War Party’s numerous and well-compensated minions, who are always tirelessly ginning up another war somewhere, on some pretext, in which to ensnare us.

That’s why we need your financial support: against the War Party’s bottomless treasury, we spend a pittance – and still we beat them, as in the case of the warmongering AP article. Yet we need that pittance to continue our work, and that’s where you come in.

Your tax-deductible donation goes to support the kind of independent journalism that Jason Ditz’s piece represents: an expertly-placed knockout blow directed at the War Party, timed to deliver maximum pain. Because this is a real fight we’re in, and the stakes are high. We need many more Jason Ditzes, but can barely afford to keep this one. Every fundraising cycle I wonder if we’ll bring in enough to keep Jason, who has become an invaluable addition to our staff: so far, we’ve managed to raise enough. But this time, when the economy is turning really bad, and the focus is off foreign policy issues, I wonder, and I worry.

Today is the third day of our mid-winter fundraising cycle, and we’re just beginning to see some results: it’s too early to tell for sure, but it looks like it’s going to be a difficult one. Believe me, nonprofits – which are donation-dependent – are always the first to experience the initial shocks of whatever general economic downturn is in the works, and from where I’m sitting, things aren’t looking too pretty. So please, give as much as you can, as soon as you can. At a time when we can’t count on the "mainstream" media to give us the real story, and the nation is involved in several conflicts – with more wars waiting in the wings– Antiwar.com is needed more than ever. There’s just one way to make sure independent journalism in the vital foreign policy realm doesn’t become a casualty of this super-recession, and that is by making your contribution to Antiwar.com today!

Read more by Justin Raimondo