George Bush, Lying, & the Dogs of War

by Harry Browne

March 26, 2004         

"Cry ‘Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war."

Shakespeare, Julius Caesar                          

Before the Iraqi war, the Bush administration cried "Havoc!" and used a number of lies to justify setting the dogs of war loose.

The non-existent weapons of mass destruction and the phony uranium purchases from Niger weren't the only falsehoods. There also were lies about Al-Qaeda training camps in Iraq, aluminum tubes, Hussein kicking the UN inspectors out of Iraq, unmanned airplanes that could attack the East Coast of America, mobile bioweapon laboratories, and on and on and on.

Once the war was underway, the folks who brought us death and destruction peddled further lies: the triumphant toppling of the Hussein statue, the Jessica Lynch story (she actually got a medal for bravery despite not doing anything), the bogus stories to explain the killing of civilians, and more.

It Never Stops

Now that the war is over, the discredited prewar lies have been discarded, and the administration is resorting to new claims, such as:

•  The world is a safer place with Saddam Hussein gone.

•  The Iraqi people are finally free.

•  Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator.

•  "The defense of freedom is always worth it," as George Bush said last week.

Character Assassination

And we need to add to these prevarications the character assassination the administration fires at anyone who exposes its lies by relating personal experiences within the administration. Paul O'Neill and Richard Clarke have felt the full force of the government-press partnership.

The moment Clarke went public with statements that Bush was determined to blame 9-11 on Iraq, and that Bush was much more eager to attack Iraq than attack Al-Qaeda, the administration redirected the dogs of war from Hussein to Clarke.

Top administration officials have already appeared on numerous national news shows. Condoleezza Rice showed up on all five national morning shows (on NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, and CNN). The attack dogs said very little about the actual charges, preferring to attack Clarke personally as a hypocrite who previously praised President Bush's response to terrorism.

Providing their usual support for big government, TV and press reporters repeated and discussed statements Clarke made in 2001 and 2002 — statements that seemed to back up the charge that Clarke was an opportunistic hypocrite.

But did you notice that every reporter showed us exactly the same statements from Clarke? Some of the apparent "statements" weren't even complete sentences. Why did everyone who commented on Clarke's apparent flip-flop focus on exactly the same fragments?

They did so because those were the only fragments they had to work with. The quotes were all provided by the Bush administration — and they're the only quotes available. If the reporters had possessed the original documents, some of them would have picked out other statements or fragments from those documents.

It is very, very, very important to realize that . . .

Virtually everything we think we know about a foreign-policy issue is only what the government tells us.

We have no way of knowing whether the fragments are actually true statements Clarke once made. Nor do we know in what context the fragments appeared originally. All we know is that this is what the administration wants us to believe.

Even if every fragment is true and indicative of Clarke's previous opinions, it doesn't mean he's a hypocrite. What he said in 2001 or 2002 may have seemed true to him at the time, but has since been refuted by reality.

For example, Clarke supposedly said in 2002 that the Bush administration "changed the strategy from one of rollback with Al Qaeda over the course of five years, which it had been, to a new strategy that called for the rapid elimination of Al Qaeda." But that doesn't mean the strategy did change. Politicians continually make statements promising revolutionary improvements that never come to pass. One year after making that statement, Clarke quit working for the government — partly, we presume, because Bush's actions didn't match his promises.

Fox TV News has provided a complete transcript of a press briefing Clarke gave in 2002 — from which the above quote was taken. You can search the entire transcript and not find unequivocal praise for George Bush.

We have no way of knowing what Clarke really thought about Bush in 2001 and 2002, because we have mostly only out-of-context fragments of statements Clarke made — fragments that have been carefully selected and released by the Bush administration in order to discredit Clarke. And the press dutifully publicizes those statements without pointing out that they are necessarily only small, out-of-context pieces of the puzzle.

So let me repeat what you should never forget . . .

Virtually everything we think we know about a foreign-policy issue is only what the government wants us to know.

Other Postwar Lies

What about the Bush administration's postwar lies? . . .

•  The world is a safer place with Saddam Hussein gone.

Is it really?

Tell that to the 200 people who died in Spain two weeks ago — or to their families. Tell it to the Israelis who continue to be killed in Palestine suicide attacks. Tell it to the Palestinians who continue to be killed in Israeli military attacks. Tell it to the people in America who have been jailed without formal charges, without benefit of an attorney, without a speedy trial or the opportunity to confront their accusers.

Free At Last!, Thank God Almighty, We Are Free at Last!

•  The Iraqi people are finally free.

Oh really?

The country is occupied by a foreign power.

Its officials are appointed by that foreign power.

Its citizens must carry ID cards, and submit to searches of their persons and cars at checkpoints and roadblocks.

They must be in their homes by curfew time.

Many towns are ringed with barbed wire.

The occupiers have imposed strict gun-control laws, preventing ordinary citizens from defending themselves — making robberies, rapes, and assaults quite common.

The occupiers have decreed that certain electoral outcomes won't be permitted.

Families are held hostage until they reveal the whereabouts of wanted resisters — much like the Nazis held innocent French people hostage during World War II.

Public protests are outlawed.

Private homes are raided or demolished — with no due process of law.

Newspapers, radio stations, and TV are all supervised by the occupiers.

Brutality

•  Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator.

So what?

Is it the duty of the American people to give their resources — and maybe their lives — to topple every dictator in the world and make sure the Bill of Rights is enforced in every country (except, perhaps, the United States)?

And if toppling dictators is so important, why is George Bush cozying up to brutal dictators in Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan?

If George Bush wants to donate his own money to revolutionary movements in oppressed countries, he has a right to do so. If he wants to quit his job and go fight in one of those revolutionary movements, he has a right to do so.

But he has no constitutional authority to commit American money and American lives to the fight for freedom in other countries.

Even the claims of Hussein's brutality are suspect, because they come mostly from the same administration that has already discredited itself. The "human shredder" atrocity story has already been refuted, and who knows how many more of George Bush's favorite horrors will be exposed as lies eventually?

Say What?

When confronted with the charge that he misled the American people about the need to go to war with Iraq, President Bush replied, "The defense of freedom is always worth it."

Is that right?

Worth what?

The loss of more of our freedoms in America?

A cost of hundreds of billions of dollars paid by Americans for the freedom of people in foreign countries?

And worth it to whom?

Obviously, the Iraqi war was worth it to George Bush. (At least it seemed so until now.)

But was it worth it to the hundreds of Americans who died?

Was it worth it to the thousands of Iraqis who died?

Was it worth it to the families of those who died?

And what freedom are we talking about?

The U.S. was never threatened by Saddam Hussein. He had no capability to attack America, and he never indicated any desire to attack America.

In short, American "freedom" was never threatened by Saddam Hussein. So why is an unprovoked attack on another country considered to be a "defense of freedom"?

The Dogs of War

So the lies continue.

And the dogs of war are unleashed on anyone who threatens to expose those lies and seems to have the public forum in which to do so.