Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Why was Iraq invaded? Letter to the Guardian's Jonathan Steele

"Dear Mr Steele,

Your article 'The Iraq War is finally over. And it marks a complete neocon defeat' (23 October) is a shocking piece of propaganda. You claim: The Neocons' "hopes of making Iraq a democratic model for the Middle East have been tipped on their head." In reality, we were told that Iraq had to be invaded because Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction and posed an imminent threat. We were also told that Saddam had links to the 9-11 hijackers and Al Qaeda. Bush's desire to export democracy to the Middle East was only used as the main justification for the invasion when these pretexts collapsed. As for democratization of the Middle East as a whole, America's major allies in the region are all authoritarian regimes.

The Neocons invaded Iraq because they wanted to Protect U.S oil interests. They make this clear in documents headed: 'The Project for the New American Century.' In a tome titled: 'Rebuilding American Defense Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century', PNAC asserts: The maintenance 'of America's global leadership' relies on 'the preservation of a favourable balance of power in the Middle East and surrounding energy-producing region'. John Bolton, a member of PNAC, reasserted this point in a recent interview, which you can watch here

Please can you explain why you continue to parrot the claim that Bush invaded Iraq because he wanted to bring democracy to the Middle East?

I look forward to your reply,
Tony Shenton."

Here is Jonathan Steele's response:

"Dear Mr Shenton,

Thank you for your comment. The following is a passage from a speech Bush made at the Pentagon on May 10 2004:

"We have great respect for the people of Iraq and for all Arab peoples — respect for their culture and for their history and for the contribution they can make to the world. We believe that democracy will allow these gifts to flourish. But freedom is the answer to hopelessness and terror; that a free Iraq will lead the way to a new and better Middle East; and that a free Iraq will make our country more secure".

You can get the full text of the speech at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/white_house/jan-june04/bush_05-10-04.html

With a little bit of work on Google I'm sure you can find similar sentiments from Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and other neocons.

Jonathan Steele"

Mr Steele didn't seem to understand my argument, so I tried to be more precise.

"Dear Mr Steele,

Thanks for your expeditious reply. So you know Bush and his collaborators wanted to export democracy to the Middle East because they say so and that proves it. Throughout history leaders have used noble rhetoric to conceal their rapacious goals. As Noam Chomsky explains:

"The French were carrying out a "civilizing mission", Mussolini was nobly uplifting the Ethiopians. If we had the records from Genghis Khan when he was massacring tens of millions of people, he probably also had a "noble vision". See if you can find an exception" ('Imperial Ambitions' P.118).

The assumption that 'our' leaders really are committed to exporting democracy is so taken for granted that you do not consider it to be worthy of serious attention. Please can you explain why? Do you accept that exporting democracy became the main justification when the other pretexts for the invasion - WMD, links between Saddam and Al Qaeda - collapsed?

I hope to hear from you again soon.

Best wishes,
Tony Shenton."

Astonishingly, even perspicacious mainstream journalists, such as Steele, fail to understand that 'our' leaders might not be telling the truth about why they bomb and invade other countries. Thus, they always marginalise or exclude completely, the very credible claim that millions of people have been killed for oil, power and profit.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Alex Thomson (Chief Correspondent at Channel 4 News) and the parameters of debate

Dear Mr Thomson,

I hope you are well. Your email to David Cromwell and David Edwards in response to their latest Media Lens Alert reinforces Noam Chomsky's argument about the parameters of debate. You write:

"Media coverage of Afghanistan has been - in many aspects propagandist bilge - run on the assumption that anyone who doesn't want to try to turn Helmand into Surrey is mad.

"Clueless - particularly for those who actually know the place and its people".

So, basically there are two positions that are presented to the public. There are those such as Andrew Marr and Tom Bradby et al who uncritically parrot the claim that our leaders want to spread democracy. Your comments represent the other side of the spectrum. As Chomsky explains:

"(T)he Critics say that the vision is noble, inspiring, but we must understand that (Afghans) and others in the Middle East may not be able to rise to the heights that we have planned for them".

The notion that 'our' leaders are genuinely trying to turn the Middle East into a place like Surrey is so taken for granted that you do not even consider it to be worthy of serious criticism. Thus, you continue to exclude the very credible claim that Britain and America invade other countries for rapacious reasons. Will you change?

I look forward to your reply.

Best wishes,