FAKE ‘GOOD NEWS’ FROM IRAQ

The lying cretins who gave us the Iraq war aren’t content that our soldiers are sitting ducks for terrorists throughout the Middle East – now they’re using them as props in a propaganda campaign designed to convince the American people that “progress” is being made. As the [Washington] Olympian reports:

“Letters from hometown soldiers describing their successes rebuilding Iraq have been appearing in newspapers across the country as U.S. public opinion on the mission sours.

“And all the letters are the same.

“A Gannett News Service search found identical letters from different soldiers with the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, also known as ‘The Rock,’ in 11 newspapers, including Snohomish, Wash.”

Just a few minutes of googling brings forth at least two identical letters attributed to two different soldiers: Oh, and here’s another. Gannett News counts at least 11. Capitol Hill Blue reports “some say they were ordered by their superiors to sign their names.”

According to the phony letter, everything is hunky-dory over in “liberated” Iraq:

Kirkuk is a hot and dusty city of just over a million people. The majority of the city has welcomed our presence with open arms. After nearly five months here, the people still come running from their homes into the 110-degree heat, waving to us as our troops drive by on daily patrols of the city. “

It figures that these fake letters appeared in newspapers just as relatively trouble-free Kirkuk appears to be going off the deep end, along with the entire northern part of the country. Is this the kind of war propaganda we’re paying for? I demand a congressional investigation! Why don’t they hire Glenn Reynolds – if they already haven’t, that is. Here is the Pontifcating Professor as he tries to explain that the bogus letter isn’t a bogus letter, you see, because it’s a “form letter.” Only a law professor could argue that so labeling it ameliorates the essential fraud of misrepresenting both the author and his intent.

Clearly, those who did agree to sign (when asked to do so by their military superiors) had no idea that their names would soon be in print. When one proud father congratulated his son on getting a letter published in the local newspaper, the soldier said: “What letter?”

The Official Story is that some anonymous GI wrote the letter, the military public relations team had nothing to do with it, the high command had nothing to do with it, and somebody – nobody knows who – mailed it out to all the hometown papers of the unit. Whoever did it had access to the soldiers’ records, because in at least one case a letter was sent to the Olympian, published in Washington state, when the soldier and his family had long since moved to Idaho.

Aside from that, however, there is the problem of implied coercion. As reported on Capitol Hill Blue:

“One soldier, who asked not to be identified, said he was reluctant to sign the letter because he did not agree with the comments in the letter but said he was ordered by a superior officer to sign. ‘When I’m given an order, I obey it,’ he said.”

The Olympian quotes Sgt. Christopher Shelton, signer of a letter that was published in the Snohomish Herald, saying “his platoon sergeant had distributed the letter and asked soldiers for the names of their hometown newspapers. Soldiers were asked to sign the letter if they agreed with it.”

Shelton, it appears, did agree with it, but can anyone honestly imagine a soldier refusing to sign it when asked to do so by a superior officer?

It isn’t enough that our soldiers are being put in harm’s way in an increasingly ugly and pointless war: now they are being used as political pawns, forced to lie on behalf of the Liar-in-chief and his fellow fibbers in the War Party.

The story that this was a spontaneous campaign initiated by an anonymous soldier just doesn’t wash. This has all the earmarks of a more than typically clumsy effort by some government agency or other to fight the “war on terrorism” on the home front. As such, it underscores the character of those who lied about the real reasons we went into Iraq, and are lying as hard as they can, as often as they can, to keep us there.

I suppose there are some good aspects of the U.S. invasion and conquest of Iraq. Someone in Iraq, somehow – if only by accident – is going to benefit from the infusion of all that money. And we are not just talking about material benefits. the proliferation of newly-minted Iraqi newspapers is proof enough of that.

The great irony, however, is that the Coalition “Provisional” Authority is unsettled by all this ideological diversity, and has responded by banning two television outlets, including Al Jazeera, and a number of newspapers, for “incitement.” An even greater irony is that we, the American people, derive no benefits from this “liberation.” Lives are lost, bodies maimed, but who gains, aside from politically-connected government contractors and lobbyists?

Ordinary Americans will have their tax dollars “liberated” from their wallets and transferred overseas, along with all too many of their sons and daughters – more than a few of whom will be making a one-way trip. Now I think I fully understand why Ayn Rand hated altruism. If that’s what this is, then so do I.

No matter what briefly enduring short-term good comes of the American occupation of Iraq, I’m sure the professional apologists for U.S. policy would be incapable of discovering it, or even of telling anyone about it. These people are incapable of telling the truth, even if it is to their advantage. They prefer prevarication. That’s why the art of lying has attained cult status among the more exalted neocon intellectuals, who celebrate Leo Strauss’s concept of the “noble lie” – fibs fed to the masses for their own good by geniuses like themselves.

It’s a depressing scenario, alright, but let’s try to end this on a lighter note. Hey, I hear that the USO is sending a group of comedians to entertain the troops in Iraq: I’m sure, at this point, they could use a few laughs. But, uh, look who they’re sending over there….

I’m not exactly an encyclopedia of popular culture, but this was the first I’d heard of Ralphie May. Judging from his website, however, I’m not sure I want to know much more. And what about Butch Bradley? Oh wait, you mean this guy? I never even heard of the people he’s opened for, never mind him. I’m suuuuuure the troops will be thrilled to know that, along with these worthies, Lahna Turner will be paying them a visit – no, not that onethis one.

Aside from being Ralphie’s main squeeze, I’m not sure why she’d be better than, say, Janeane Garofalo. Can anyone speculate as to why Robin Williams was passed over (after he was a big hit in Afghanistan) for a bunch of nobodies? Hey, what about Whoopi Goldberg? I’d love to hear the Pentagon explain why not. If our vocally antiwar Hollywood celebs had any political – or PR – sense, they’d volunteer for the Iraq gig and offer to donate the money to the families of the dead and wounded.

Better yet, why not fire Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle – the whole neocon gang that lied us into war – and send them over there as a comedy act. They could specialize in goofball slapstick, and bill themselves as the Gang that Couldn’t Keep Their Lies Straight.

That’s my solution to the Iraq disaster: send in the clowns.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

Gee, it’s been at least a few weeks since Stephen Schwartz, the Trotskyite-turned-neocon Muslim convert. wrote a screed for Frontpage charging Antiwar.com with sedition and me with being an agent of the Mikado. I was beginning to feel … neglected. I mean, where is this relationship going? You never call anymore! But then – oh glory be! – my feeling of abandonment was lifted by a missive in the Letters column of the New York Review of Books (October 9, 2003), which reads, in part:

In a violent diatribe drawing on a disreputable source, the www.antiwar.com Web site, Clifford Gertz described [Stephen] Schwartz as ‘a strange and outlandish character.’ However, he cites nothing about Mr. Schwartz that could fit such a description.”

What can one say about a writer who goes to all the trouble to get over 200 others – including the entire staff of Walter Magazine! – to sign a letter protesting a bad review of his book? Strange and outlandish? That’s an understatement. No wonder all sign of his employment at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, where he was listed as a “senior fellow,” has been scrubbed clean from their website.

Department of Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You:

“The imperial project of the Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-neoconservative cabal is the Israeli occupation of Palestine writ large.”

– “Phase Two Begins,”
Antiwar.com, April 14, 2003

“US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz blaring from loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops.”

– “US soldiers bulldoze farmers’ crops,”
Patrick Cockburn,
The Independent, October 12, 2003

Matt Barganier has been traveling this week, and won’t be filing his usual Monday column, drat, but, hey – psssst! – I know where you can get your Barganier fix. He’s been blogging for dear life on the Antiwar.com blog. That boy sure can write – and he does it a lot. He’s joined by several of our regular columnists: Nebojsa Malic, whose mordant sense of irony is a great addition to the blog mix: the acerbic Anthony Gancarski, scourge of the neocons, and our very own Sam Koritz, editor of the “Backtalk” page, whose informed commentary always enlightens and clarifies (complete with photos!). But I laughed out loud when I saw the headline of this Ran Hacohen blog item on Israel’s acquisition of nuclear armed submarines: “Doomsday is Already Here.”

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is editor-at-large at Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].