Tuesday, 20 March 2018

The war on Iraq - has anyone learned the lessons?

Today is the fifteenth anniversary of the war on Iraq. The initial name for the war was Operation Iraqi Liberation. However, it was not long before the smart people in Washington noticed that the acronym - OIL - was perhaps all too revealing, so they changed it to Operation Iraqi Freedom. These facts are often denied and anyone who has the audacity to mention them is denounced as a conspiracy theorist. Yet, even if you do not remember that the US called the war Operation Iraqi Liberation, you can still see and hear Presidential Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer unabashedly saying so. Here's the video.

The war on Iraq was based, not simply on a set of falsehoods; it was based on a tissue of lies. False facts that were known to be false. The US and its allies were determined to overthrow Saddam Hussein and the "facts" were invented to justify the invasion. The mildly worded Chilcot Report lays it out in great detail.

Of course, everyone who has been paying attention now knows the war mongers were lying. Yet, amazingly when the same political media elite currently engage in their lies to demonise and so justify aggression against foreign countries today, it seems again that many people cannot see the lies. The current lies about Assad and Syria peddled so assiduously by the political media elite are met with credulity. The current lies about Putin and Russia are treated not just as unquestionable facts, but as a loyalty test - anyone who even asks for evidence is immediately constructed as a traitor.

Of course, this is how propaganda works. It doesn't have to be evidenced,  clever or even plausible. People in authority just repeat the same narrative over and over. The less facts, the more emotive the rhetoric, the better it works. Once the hysteria of fear and moral indignation is generated, confirmation bias kicks in and does its ugly work.

In the current Russophobic climate, anything that Putin or Russia does or says is simply interpreted as proof that Putin and Russia are evil. Boris Johnson and James Clapper (and others) have even gone so far as to attribute malign and manipulative, deceptive and devious behaviour to Russian genes. Johnson appears on national television and asserts that he knows that Putin ordered the assassinations of Skripal and his daughter by the way the Russians denied it, and he isn't even challenged. Andrew Marr baldly asserted on his BBC television show on the day of the Russian presidential election that Putin kills opposition in the streets. The BBC programme Newsnight presents a photoshopped Jeremy Corbyn, made to look like Lenin in front of the Kremlin through a red filter because he had the decency to ask the prime minister to present the evidence and observe the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The lessons of the Iraq war are obvious. Yet, no one - certainly not in the political media elite - seems to have learnt the most obvious ones. The current lying propaganda against Russia is obvious. It is so blatant that anyone who bothers to critically evaluate it can easily see it for it is. The assistant police commissioner in charge of the Skripal case has said that they do not have any persons of interest, let alone suspects. Yet the whole of the political media elite know that Putin did it. Perhaps the police should interview Theresa May or Boris Johnson. They apparently have information that hundreds of police officers, with access to all the experts, have been unable to uncover.

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