Let’s see: a con-man makes up a few non-facts, invents some quotes, and passes off his minor lies as legitimate news over a period of some 18 months. Result: the executive editor and the managing editor of America’s newspaper of record resign in disgrace. On the other hand, U.S. and British government officials, over roughly the same time period, concoct a series of cock-and-bull stories about Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction," and systematically lie to the American people in order to bamboozle them into an unnecessary war. Result: nobody resigns, or is asked to resign. Meanwhile, the same people hailing the downfall of Howell Raines are busy making excuses for George W. Bush and the neoconservative cabal who lied us into war.
We’re now supposed to ignore the media because they’re unreliable. Listen to the government: they know what’s best. That’s the whole point of the current campaign to debunk not only the Times but the supposedly "liberal" media. The stupid story about Wolfowitz saying that the Iraq war was really all about oil is somehow supposed to make us forget what he said to Vanity Fair. Even if Wolfowitz had said the war was all about oil, it still would’ve been a lie because the truth is a whole lot worse.
The War Party, faced with the debunking of this administration’s fabrications, is counterattacking by debunking the debunkers. It’s their signature modus operandi: exaggerate, besmirch, smear, and drag everyone down to their level, where we can all roll around in the mud. If caught in a lie, get the goods on your accuser. Plant stories and then debunk them, discrediting your enemies: I have no proof that’s what happened in the case of the Guardian, but I wouldn’t put it past the War Party. The neoconservative scum who disfigure the public face of this administration like a bad case of acne, and their allies abroad, are capable of almost anything.
That the neocons are now posing as champions of objective truth, and the mortal enemies of context-dropping, has got to be the grossest inversion of reality on record: their hero, Leo Strauss, believed in lying as a high principle. The masses, you see, are too stupid to comprehend the bitter realities of the truth, and must be fed "necessary lies" cooked up by the intellectual elite i.e. the neocons, in government and the media but it’s all for the greater good.
You have to hand it to the neocons for their boldness. Now they’re saying: so we lied, or were lied to, but what does it matter? The end of Saddam is an end worthy of lying, or, as Andrew Sullivan put it:
"One reason I find some of the grand-standing over WMDs increasingly preposterous is that it comes from people who really want to avoid the obvious: more and more it’s clear that the liberation of Iraq was a moral obligation under any circumstances."
Ah, the joys of "liberation" thousands of deaths, ruined and looted cities, the rise of the Iranian-influenced mullahs, the slide into constant guerrilla warfare, widespread fear and uncertainty, the crippling of the economy, and the end of civil society. What more could the Iraqis want?
But all of that’s just temporary, you see, an unfortunate stage in the transition to "democracy" and complete "liberation," two words that fall from the lips of administration officials and their media amen corner like overripe fruit in a summer storm. The President, in his "vision" speech to the American Enterprise Institute that neocon echo chamber where the ideology of Democratism has incubated lo these many years inveighed against the idea that the soil of the Middle East is too harsh for the tender sprout of democracy:
"It is presumptuous and insulting to suggest that a whole region of the world or the one-fifth of humanity that is Muslim is somehow untouched by the most basic aspirations of life. Human cultures can be vastly different. Yet the human heart desires the same good things, everywhere on Earth. In our desire to be safe from brutal and bullying oppression, human beings are the same. In our desire to care for our children and give them a better life, we are the same. For these fundamental reasons, freedom and democracy will always and everywhere have greater appeal than the slogans of hatred and the tactics of terror."
Speaking of presumptuous, the "interim" occupation government of Iraq has decreed that a "code of conduct" shall govern the "liberated" media of Iraq. Associated Press reports:
"Coalition officials say the code is not intended to censor the media, only to stifle intemperate speech that could incite violence and hinder efforts to build a civil society. The country is just too fragile for a journalistic free-for-all, they say."
Oh, those Ay-rabs, they’re so damned fragile, a free press might shatter them. I especially like the way Mike Furlong, described as "a senior advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority," put it:
"There’s no room for hateful and destabilizing messages that will destroy the emerging Iraqi democracy. All media outlets must be responsible."
But if "freedom and democracy will always and everywhere have greater appeal than the slogans of hatred" then why bother with censorship? Oh, but this isn’t censorship, according to a media "advisor" who runs the seized Iraqi government television station:
"’We’ve done some pretty critical stories on U.S. authorities,’ said Don North, an Arlington, Va.-based adviser to the station who has helped launch independent media in the Balkans and eastern Europe. ‘The journalists ask, ‘It is it all right to criticize the U.S. in our story?’ North said. ‘Yes, of course if you can substantiate the charges.’"
To whose satisfaction is left unsaid, but the answer is clear: as in Bosnia and Kosovo, U.S. government media "advisors" will have the final say.
AP reports on an international shindig of "legal and media experts" meeting in Greece this week to draw up a "regulation book" for Iraqi journalists (but not Western journalists working in Iraq?), and lists key proposals:
"Adopt media law with penalties, ranging from public apologies to closure, for defamation, incitement to violence, hate speech.
"Set up council to help draw up code of conduct for journalists, resolve complaints against media.
"Create commission to regulate media, with authority to allocate radio and TV frequencies, monitor content, hear complaints. Separate board would hear appeals."
With the apparatus of censorship securely in place, the overlords of Iraq can safely proclaim that, from this day henceforth, the Iraqi government will "not require licenses for newspapers, magazines, individual journalists." Isn’t that great? Furthermore, they’ll "grant public and press access to all documents and decisions of U.S.-led interim governing authority" as long as this material is utilized in a "responsible" manner, and doesn’t get Iraqi journalists hauled up before the Media Commission on charges of "hate speech." Sure, why not "allow private Internet service providers to operate," as long as American "advisors" like Commissar North are around to "monitor content"? By all means let us "transform state-owned radio and TV into [a] public broadcasting system with editorial independence" it’s all good, as long as Americans are paying the bills and holding the reins.
But the ultimate solution, of course, is to "turn government newspapers over to independent, private owners," as the Athens conclave put it. Yeah! That’s it! Why not just "deregulate" the Iraqi media and save the U.S. taxpayers some small change by turning it all over to Rupert Murdoch? After all, it seems to have worked in the U.S.
The War Party smugly cites a poll that avers the people don’t care if they were lied to, but that’s nonsense. As long as they are blithely unaware of the consequences and costs of the Iraq war, it doesn’t matter to most people one way or the other. But at the first sign of trouble, or when the bill comes due whichever comes first Americans will suddenly recover their moral sense and recall, albeit dimly, the virtue of honesty.
Our rulers lied about the real reasons for this war, they lied about their war aims, and they are lying, now, about their future plans for a wider and even more destructive war. But their day of reckoning will come, and a lot sooner by the look of things than anyone now imagines.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You’ve got to check out LewRockwell.com’s new blog it’s LRC, but with a whole lotta brio! It’s a colorful dash of political incorrectness in the bland cyber-soup of post-9/11 neocon orthodoxy. And, best of all, it’s David Frum’s worst nightmare! In a cyber-universe where truly witty writers are as few and far between as the hairs on Jonah Goldberg’s chest, the LRC-blog is an oasis of talented and engaging paleos of the libertarian persuasion. LewRockwell.com is my first stop every morning: I mean, what better way to start your day than with Murray N. Rothbard on "Fusionism and Libertarianism" in the thought of Frank S. Meyer? As an extra, added bonus: we now have the Mises blog where you can read the latest about the issues that really matter, written by scholars and students associated with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, from a pure free-market perspective.
In a darkly evil era, one of the few bright spots to emerge has been the revival of what we now call the Old Right. Anti-imperialist, radically decentralist, and implacably opposed to the rise of the American Welfare-Warfare State, the Old Right which went out of fashion somewhere around the early 1950s stood defiantly blocking the road to empire, and bitterly decried the death of our old republic. Today, the Old Right is back, and The American Conservative is its champion and standard-bearer. Look, I’m not just promoting a cause: I mean it when I say that I am bowled over by each and every issue of TAC, and this latest one with John Laughland’s eye-opening piece on how the U.S. installed a gangster regime in defeated Serbia is really the jewel in the crown. Peter Hitchens yes, the good Hitchens, as opposed to the Other One on Tony Blair’s transformation of Britain into an Orwellian "Airstrip One" is not to be missed. (It’s not online, however, so if you don’t rush down to your local news stand, you will miss it. That’s why it’s useful to subscribe.)
But my own personal favorite is Taki’s philippic against the "Uriah Heep-like Frum," the neocon version of Stephen Glass, who claims that Taki, on meeting Frum and his wife, Danielle Crittenden, remarked "That is why I am an anti-Semite the Jews take all the most beautiful women." Taki replies:
"At the time I had never heard of Frum and took him for Mr. Crittenden. Is it credible that I would say I was anti-Semitic to a man I did not know and had no idea what religion he was? Was he wearing a yarmulke?"
What Commissar Frum ought to be wearing is a placard, or a tatoo emblazoned across his beetled brow, proclaiming "I am a liar." Never mind Jayson Blair and Rick Bragg, or the hapless reporters at The Guardian: I’m wondering when someone is going to bust Frum for lying through his teeth, taking quotes out of context as he did in his completely linkless and footnote-less screed against "unpatriotic" antiwar conservatives and libertarians and making up stories out of whole cloth, as he clearly did with Taki. Never mind the alleged sins of Howell Raines bring me the head of Rich Lowry!