Amid all the propaganda masquerading as "news" about our endless "war on terrorism," what’s interesting is that the most recent interventionist blitz over ISIS, or the self-proclaimed "Islamic State," has had a surprisingly minimal effect. Recent polls show that while support for more US intervention in the Middle East has gone up, for all the words and energy expended it hasn’t gone up by much. And if you look at the actual questions asked, for example in this Pew poll – should the US use "overwhelming force" or will that "create the hatred that leads to more terrorism"? – the framework is clearly weighted in favor of intervention. (Do I really have to point out that favoring "overwhelming force" in a necessary war doesn’t mean favoring this war?)
Yet even after months of horror stories about ISIS – the beheadings, the rapes, the deaths, the destruction – Pew reports the public is evenly split on the introduction of US ground troops into the region. And that, after all, is the goal of this media campaign: to get us back into Iraq.
So who’s conducting this propaganda barrage, anyway? Well, two groups, the first being ISIS itself. Their web-savvy media machine tweets photos of ISIS atrocities on a daily basis. Especially fond of beheadings, they feed the Western media with plenty of grist for the War Party’s mill – it’s a symbiotic relationship. The more atrocities ISIS commits, the louder the Western media trumpets them – and pressure on Washington to go in, guns blazing, increases exponentially.
Yes, ISIS and the War Party share a common goal: both want US troops on the ground. The former because it will increase their "street cred" with radical Islamists worldwide, and give them an edge with locals who perhaps hate us more than they don’t want to be lorded over by a bunch of homegrown psychos. And of course the War Party wants us over there in order to save their own credibility, which was lost when George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq turned into the most disastrous US intervention since the Vietnam war. These folks used to complain about the dreaded "Vietnam syndrome," a reluctance to engage in overseas meddling due to the defeat handed to us by the Viet Cong. Now they must deal with the "Iraq War syndrome," in which thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died because the neocons succeeded in lying us into that futile crusade.
ISIS is carrying out gruesome acts to lure us into the Iraqi/Syrian quagmire, and there’s no question these are a bunch of nasty characters, but in the media’s rush to bamboozle the American people into supporting yet another Middle Eastern intervention they aren’t bothering to separate facts from fabrications, as this interesting piece points out.
As in the Afghan conflict, the War Party is claiming that we have to go in there and save the women of the region from a horrific fate. No doubt women are in an unenviable position under the heel of the "Caliphate," but, no, they aren’t being forced to undergo genital mutilation, as news outlets from Time to the Atlantic claimed.
Pro-war propagandists – among them the Dubai-based and Saudi-own al Arabiya – claimed the 1,800-year-old St. Ephraims’ cathedral in Mosul had been burned to the ground by ISIS. The evidence: a photo of a burned church that turned out to be an Egyptian Coptic church torched in an arson fire. I wonder if Human Rights Watch has walked this one back: I can see the Times of India hasn’t corrected their story, although the Atlantic did.
One of my favorite bogus ISIS stories in the one about the four ISIS terrorists "caught at the southern border in 36 hours," which Fox News ran. When the Daily Mail starts debunking your "scoops," perhaps it’s time to throw in the towel.
Another favorite of mine is the one about the British "emo" boy who supposedly joined ISIS: this time the Daily Mail fell for it, along with the Telegraph. Both quoted an "expert" with the British government’s "anti-extremist" thinktank, Quilliam, saying "I am not going to discount it." Of course, all anyone had to do to discount this tall tale was to look at the photo offered as "evidence," but it took the author of the hoax to finally debunk it.
Then there was the map purporting to show the ISIS "five year expansion plan" – eerily similar to the map of Nazi Germany’s alleged expansion plan in South America touted by none other than Franklin Roosevelt in the run up to World War II. FDR’s map was a forgery – and the ISIS map is no less fraudulent. "See The Terrifying ISIS Map Showing Its Five Year Expansion Plan" screamed the ABC News headline. The very last line of that story says there are some "doubts" about it, with "some claiming it is a fantasy." Well, uh, yes – because the evidence for its fantastical nature is embedded in the ABC report itself, which shows the tweet it is based on as coming from "Third Position," a neo-Nazi organization. Business Insider, which took the time to do a little research – and even al-Arabiya – reported it as a fake.
The lists of fakes goes on, and will no doubt get longer as the war hysteria waxes hotter, but you get the idea: facts get lost in all the shouting, especially when it’s the usual suspects doing most of the shouting. That’s why Antiwar.com is more essential than ever – because separating myths from facts is what we’re all about.
When the War Party was touting Iraq’s alleged "weapons of mass destruction" as a reason to invade and conquer that unfortunate country we said it was a myth – indeed, an outright lie. This went against the conventional wisdom at the time, but we persisted in speaking truth to power – and were vindicated in the end.
When they said Saddam Hussein was about to unleash those (nonexistent) WMD on the continental US with unmanned drones, we called bullshit on this canard – and those "drones" turned out to be flimsy little gliders that couldn’t even get off the ground.
When President George W. Bush said there was "evidence" the Iraqis had been seeking out uranium "yellowcake" in the African state of Niger, Antiwar.com looked at the "evidence," exposed the "Niger uranium papers" as outright forgeries, and traced them back to their source.
When the US invaded Afghanistan, I wrote:
"When the history books are written, Operation Enduring Freedom will be hailed as a great success — provided it doesn’t endure much more than a few weeks longer."
David Frum, the neocons’ chief ideological enforcer, wrote an article for National Review attacking me for this, calling my view evidence not only of "pessimism" but also of how some libertarians and conservatives had wound up "hating their country." As it stands today, we’re still in Afghanistan – it’s the longest war in American history – and my characterization of it as a quagmire hardly seems unreasonable, let alone treasonous, and yet I’m still waiting for Frum to acknowledge that I was right and he was wrong. However, I’m not holding my breath.
Ah, but that was then, and this is now – so what has Antiwar.com done for the cause of truth and justice lately?
For just one significant example among many: When the Ukraine government was overthrown by force and the current standoff between Russia and the US began to turn into Cold War II, we warned that the Ukrainian regime harbored a large contingent of outright fascists. This was dismissed by our new cold warriors as Russian propaganda, but as time went on and the Kiev government began showing its true colors, the "mainstream" media began catching up with the reality – which had been revealed in the pages of Antiwar.com many months before.
All this shows there’s just one way to get beyond the hype, and get ahead of the news – and that’s by being a regular reader of Antiwar.com. However, just reading the site isn’t enough – because nothing in life is free, and that includes the maintenance of this web site.
We depend on you – our readers and supporters – to keep this site going. It’s been going since 1995 – but today, ironically, when it has never been needed more, its very existence is being called into question by a financial crisis. Our fundraising campaign, begun almost two weeks ago, had started out well but has slowed to a trickle. As of now, we will not receive most of the matching funds. We have already cut expenses to the bone. Please do not delay and donate today.
Out there on the horizon the war clouds have never been thicker: we’re about to re-invade Iraq, and add to that Syria. A new cold war with Russia is hottening up pretty fast, and the war-hawks are on the wing again, spreading disinformation and propaganda in their wake. This web site isn’t a luxury – it’s an absolute necessity. Many of you understand that – and many do not. It’s time for the latter to step up and stand with us.
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NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.