13 February 2004 — InvestigatingImperialism
In reading the endless media reports on the lack of WMD in Iraq, there’s not a single report in the corporate press that raises the issue of why except of course for the state’s mantra of ‘faulty intelligence’ followed by the endless litany of accusation and counter-accusation between governments and their various ‘intelligence’ agencies.
Is it credible that after a dozen years of sanctions, investigations, overflights, hundreds of bombing raids on virtually every military target of any significance in the country, spying via human and electronic means, that Iraq, probably the most ‘watched’ country on the planet, managed to ‘fool’ the most sophisticated countries on the planet?
Key elements that refute the argument that USUK intelligence got it all ‘wrong’ and which the media are deliberately avoiding are:
- Bush’s statements about ‘taking out’ Saddam following 911
- Blix’s UN reports, that in spite of their vagueness, never spoke of thousands” of chemical and biological weapons, merely of a lack of documentation proving their destruction
- Colin Powell’s propaganda blitz at the UN that consisted of nothing but fabrications
- The reports by a variety of individuals who, because their views ran counter to the US and UK government positions were systematically discredited and the fact the media were complicit in propagating the smears
- The reality that twelve years of sanctions and heavy bombing had effectively destroyed not only the economy but the armed forces of Iraq, also not reported by the media
- The marginalising and downplaying of the strategic objectives of the US and its junior partner the UK, all well documented in the various documents produced by the Bush regime (eg PNAC)
Additionally, one must also ask the question, why has the media played down the fact that for a decade, the US and the UK armed and financed the Saddam regime in its fight with Iran? What brought about the sudden ‘change of heart’ that turned an ‘ally’ into an ‘enemy’?
“Saddam Hussein – As you know, for years now I have made every effort to reach a settlement on our dispute with Kuwait. There is to be a meeting in two days; I am prepared to give negotiations only this one more brief chance. (pause) When we (the Iraqis) meet (with the Kuwaitis) and we see there is hope, then nothing will happen. But if we are unable to find a solution, then it will be natural that Iraq will not accept death.
U.S. Ambassador Glaspie – What solutions would be acceptable?
Saddam Hussein – If we could keep the whole of the Shatt al Arab – our strategic goal in our war with Iran – we will make concessions (to the Kuwaitis). But, if we are forced to choose between keeping half of the Shatt and the whole of Iraq (i.e., in Saddam’s view, including Kuwait ) then we will give up all of the Shatt to defend our claims on Kuwait to keep the whole of Iraq in the shape we wish it to be. (pause) What is the United States’ opinion on this?
U.S. Ambassador Glaspie – We have no opinion on your Arab – Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary (of State James) Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960’s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America. (Saddam smiles)” [my emph. WB]
July 25, 1990 www.chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/glaspie.html
Glaspie went on to say:
“I think I understand this. I have lived here for years. I admire your extraordinary efforts to rebuild your country. I know you need funds. We understand that and our opinion is that you should have the opportunity to rebuild your country. But we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait. I was in the American Embassy in Kuwait during the late 60’s. The instruction we had during this period was that we should express no opinion on this issue and that the issue is not associated with America. James Baker has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction. We hope you can solve this problem using any suitable methods via Klibi or via President Mubarak. All that we hope is that these issues are solved quickly. With regard to all of this, can I ask you to see how the issue appears to us?” [my emph. WB]
New York Times, September 23 1990
This oft-repeated interview (but not in the corporate press) and subsequently denied by the US government to have taken place, illustrates the kind of duplicitous relationship the US had with Saddam Hussein. The question we have to ask the media is why, in the light of this exchange, they have decided not to include it in any ‘analysis’ they’ve made of the history of the last fourteen years? How is it that the media can ignore critical exchanges such as this one, given its centrality to the US-Iraqi relationship? What does it tell us about the relationship between the corporate press and the imperium?
The same goes for the UK’s financial backing of the Hussein regime through the 1980s that included millions of dollars of export credit guarantees that enabled Iraq to buy much-needed military equipment from the UK. The issue here is not so much that such information is not reported, it’s the weight, the significance (or lack of it) given to the information. Most important of all, it never figures in the headlines. If it does get mentioned, it’s as part of a ‘history’ no longer considered relevant to current events.
This process is repeated ad infinitum by the corporate and state-run media in a process that simply overwhelms any other version of events except the one being peddled by the dominant culture.
As I’ve tried to illustrate in previous essays here on i’n’i ever since the ‘WMD’ fiasco unraveled some two weeks ago, I’ve searched in vain for any explanation except the one put out by the state propaganda machine and over the past week it’s gone from disinformation to virtually no information at all! The issue is now dead as far the press are concerned. Any investigation and exposure of the lies being told by our governments come only from so-called alternate sources. The question of course is why? What possible interest can the owners of the corporate press have in ‘selling’ the government’s line?
At critical times such as this, the corporate press are in a real bind, for on the one hand, their role in maintaining the status quo is vital. Yet on the other, if they are to maintain the fiction of ‘independence’, lip service has to be paid to the notion of an ‘investigation’. How to tread the fine line between appearing independent and not rocking the boat and undermining confidence in the government’s ‘right to rule us’? And what could be a more explicit expression of this than statements that have occurred with increasing frequency made by both press pundits and representatives of the state of a ‘crisis of confidence’ in the state and in politics in general. Restoring that confidence is the number one objective for the media.
For ultimately, what makes the whole shebang hang together, is pure belief – on our part – in the state’s legitimacy to rule. Take that belief away and like the Emperor’s new clothes, the state is revealed for what it is, naked and bereft of any legitimacy. And herein lies the interests of the corporate media in maintaining a belief in the ‘system’, in the ‘free market’, for like the state’s claim to ‘legitimacy’, the ‘free market’ is also an illusion, a code word for capitalism. It explains why the corporate media pour scorn on the idea that ‘filthy lucre’ in the guise of oil is the reason for the invasion, for to admit to economics as the fundamental reason would mean having to explain the way capitalism works and in doing so, it would undermine the entire propaganda campaign, based as it is, on the hypocritical and entirely false idea of the defence of ‘human rights’ and ‘democracy’ as being the reason why Iraq was invaded and occupied.
It’s the corporate media’s role to juggle these mutually exclusive concepts and it explains why history gets rewritten or embarrassing events simply airbrushed out of sight. It’s why we never read Ambassador Glaspie’s interview with Saddam Hussein or why Scott Ritter gets ‘discredited’. It’s why the UK government’s role in propping up Saddam’s regime is mentioned only in passing and always out of context. It’s why the failure to produce WMD is blamed on faulty ‘intelligence’ or oil relegated to Area 51.