WICHITA, Kan. - Friends, if you don't think the mainstream media plays a major role in the formulation of American foreign policy, I would politely suggest you are living in denial. If a hayseed from Kansas like me figured out from multiple news sources that the Bush administration was lying about the "Iraqi threat" prior to the invasion in 2003, how could a majority of Americans and Congress members become so thoroughly fooled and panicked that they virtually clamored for America's first-ever "pre-emptive war"?
Today, we know that the Bush administration knowingly issued 935 proven lies prior to the invasion. So, I can only assume that the Bush administration was following the advice of one of the world's most infamous manipulators of public opinion who said, "It is the absolute right of the state to supervise the formation of public opinion ... news should be given out for instruction rather than information."
Though I certainly do not wish to accuse members of the Bush administration of being Nazis, by any means, it's quite sobering to realize the similarities between the theories of Hitler's minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels -- who was quoted above -- and the policies that were obviously in place in the Bush administration prior to the Iraqi invasion.
Is it any wonder how Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle and other charter members of the Project for a New American Century -- who had advocated invading Iraq for more than ten years -- successfully managed to manipulate American public opinion in a way that resulted in the invasion of Iraq?
In addition to embracing Goebbels' philosophy of deceit, I believe the Bush inner circle also took heed of what Hermann Goering said during the Nuremberg Trials: "Naturally the common people don't want war. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
But how, one wonders, do leaders sell so many big lies? Especially, when there are media outlets such as the Knight-Ridder Newspapers whose Washington Bureau was virtually shouting in its own newspaper headlines that its reporters had uncovered lies and wandering inconsistencies throughout Ahmed Chalabi's various testimonies before Congress and numerous interviews; and even bigger lies among the supposed "confessions" of the later - revealed - to - be - invented "defector" called "Curveball."
How can one media group expose blatant lies and still have their reportage be ignored by the vast majority of the American public? How could that be possible?
Well, my friends, if you'll forgive me for once again quoting Goebbels, I'd ask you to see if you don't agree with me that his words just may reveal the formula the Bush administration used. Said Goebbels: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."
How well did repetition of the big lie work? In the summer of 2006, a Pugh survey revealed that fully 69% of the American public STILL believed we were in Iraq because Saddam was responsible for collaborating with al-Qaeda and facilitated the attacks on the WTC & Pentagon; and more than 80% of active duty military personnel believed Iraq was responsible for the attacks.
Now, in regard to Iran, we are being treated to "the same song, different verse." The last time around, it was Judith Miller and her breathless, panic-inducing headlines prior to the US invasion of Iraq that helped muster public support for what turned out to be almost entirely a fantasy enemy.
Now, I don't deny that Saddam Hussein and his government were unacceptable and his rule despotic. But was he/Iraq a threat given the lie Bush & Company conjured about WMDs? No. Did Iraq facilitate the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? Again, No. But, yet, in spite of a campaign to publish the truth that was contrary to the administration's false claims, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the vast majority of the rest of mainstream media continued repeating over and over the lie that America was on the verge of being attacked. Finally, panic reined supreme.
And, just like the peons factored into Goering's formula for war -- tell the people they are under attack! -- the American people and the US Congress went along like so many lemmings over the cliff.
Today, the status of our relationship with Iran is, without question, "Iraq Redoux." Again, the American public is being given an equally one-sided, one-dimensional view of Iran and its president Ahmadinejad. And again, only the most extremist and pessimistic explanations of Ahmadinejad's words and Iran's actions are allowed into the public discussion.
To be blunt: the New York Times, the Washington Post and virtually every other mainstream media outlet - - and, yes, that includes the supposedly "liberal" MSNBC -- have become more like propaganda providers than professional journalism organizations. And, though a palpable anti-Iran bias is a constant presence on editorial and op-ed pages of the New York Times, Washington Post / Newsweek and other mainstream media, it is also to be found in abundance throughout what is considered "objective" news stories as well.
I had hoped that the death, destruction and "close call" we experienced in Iraq would have taught our mainstream media titans that that kind of one-sided reporting about foreign "enemies" can step over the line beyond "informing the public" and can subsequently result in horrendous -- and unnecessary -- human suffering.
My fear is that American mainstream media have proclaimed the traditional journalistic role as the "fourth branch of government" and its former values of fairness, commitment to facts and objectivity to be old fashioned and inappropriate for today's "more pragmatic world." Just as Bush White House Justice Department flippantly labeled the anti-torture regulations of the Geneva Conventions as "quaint and out of touch," factual journalism seems to have also been declared "inappropriate" for today's style of journalism.
The coverage of Iran's election last June revealed that the depictions of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran's nuclear program followed almost to a "t," the one-sided coverage that the mainstream media used to describe Saddam Hussein and Iraq's alleged WMD program. The result: the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
In regard to previous coverage of pre-invasion Iraq; and, in regard to current coverage of Iran, Robert Parry, the reporter who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press, said, "The leading U.S. news outlets took sides; they cast developments in the 'enemy' Muslim nation in the harshest possible light; they treated the leaders as unrelentingly evil; they exaggerated the threats (and potential threats) posed by the country's weaponry, real and imagined.
"For instance, echoing U.S. policymakers, the U.S. news media often warns about the danger from a prospective Iranian nuclear weapon. What the news organizations almost never mention is that several countries in the region already have nuclear weapons, including Israel whose undeclared arsenal is considered one of the most sophisticated in the world."
I would urge you, dear reader, to put two-and-two together and recognize on a conscious level that the consistent failure of leading U.S. news organizations to mention this relevant fact is a gross violation of trust that America has traditionally put in its "Fourth Estate." Without that necessary context, there is no way for the average American to objectively evaluate Iran's behavior.
Join me in trying to keep in mind in the coming months that Iran and its people are deliberately being portrayed in the mainstream media as irrational extremists.
Let's not, yet again, allow ourselves and our beloved America become vulnerable to the emotional blackmail and panic that results from being subjected to endlessly repetitious, slanted news coverage.
America would definitely not benefit from another needless war.