Adolph Hitler, in his book MEIN KAMPF, theorized that human beings are susceptible to "great" lies told by their political leaders because of an intrinsic belief that such leaders would not be dishonest about issues or events of huge magnitude. Such lies are particularly effective when reduced to brief slogans and repeated continually. Hitler further opined that leaders telling "small" lies are rarely successful, because people are likely to recognize lies they or their peers might tell in similar situations. Thus while most Americans were skeptical about Bill Clinton's denial of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, most Americans were receptive to George Bush's claims that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction or had links to the terrorist group Al Qaeda.
But even if such weapons or links are eventually found, the reality remains that Americans, and indeed the world, were lied to about the primary motivation behind the Iraqi war, which was to transform the doctrine of "unilateral preemption," promoted during the first Bush regime, from theory to reality. This doctrine, that America can, without regard for international law or policies, preemptively attack any nation perceived to be a "threat" caused such controversy when first expressed that it was amended into a policy of "containment."
Placing this doctrine into effect required three phases. Phase One was to reinstate the unilateral preemption policy. This necessitated the elevation to power of an individual who was, or could be made, receptive to this policy. The son of the man in power when unilateral preemption was first proposed was the ideal candidate. Not only would he place the architects of the unilateral preemption policy back into power, he also possessed the character attributes to implement it. He was a hypocrite who condemned affirmative action practices as "preferences" while benefitting his entire life from the preferences garnered through the Bush family name and wealth.
He was callous about risking the lives of innocents, boasting how the Texas judicial system had been infallible during his tenure as governor (a period when over one hundred people were executed) even though scores of the wrongfully convicted were being released from death rows across the country.
Most disturbingly he was a megalomanic who perceived his appointment to office by the United States Supreme Court as "divine province" instead of a defiance of the will of the majority of Americans.
Phase Two required the need to overcome the "Vietnam syndrome" that continued to make Americans reluctant to engage in wars on foreign soil for dubious reasons. This phase was accomplished by the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. While the national debate rages as to what "intelligence failures" led to these attacks, perhaps the more unsettling question is whether it was simply the magnitude of these attacks that was underestimated. One can almost hear proponents of unilateral preemption arguing that tolerating some form of attack might be essential to justify a war that could potentially prevent Al Qaeda from procuring a nuclear weapon.
While certainly a valid concern, the residual effects of such attacks would also permit power to be concentrated into the executive branch where the proponents of unilateral preemption hold power, make it "unpatriotic" to question the 2000 election, restore power to agencies whose past abuses resulted in restrictions upon their authority, and create a climate of fear and angry nationalism that is conducive to waging war.
Phase Three involved making unilateral preemption a reality. The bashing of the French, Germans, and Russians for failing to approve a United Nations resolution supporting the Iraqi war would have been almost comical if warfare was not so serious. The reality is that such a resolution was NOT desired, because it contravened the very heart of the Bush administration's new policy: UNILATERALISM. Iraq was fertile ground to implement this new policy. It was run by an obstinate and brutal dictator that few could sympathize with, it was a Middle Eastern country that fit nicely into the "sponsoring of terrorism" motif, and it was significantly weakened by years of sanctions.
Some may argue that Hitler had a proficient propaganda apparatus to promote his "great" lies, while America had an unfettered press that could freely analyze and question the Bush administration's reasons for desiring war with Iraq. But this ignores the economic realities of the media, particularly radio and television. With ownership of these media concentrated into fewer hands, ratings have become the paramount concern. Therefore it was not difficult to see them salivating over the profit potential of war, with its prospects of "entrenched reporters," "round-the- clock coverage," and the ability to exploit the troops for marketing purposes.
To think that great lies have not worked in America, one need only remember that the media manufactured the slogan "REMEMBER THE MAINE" to promote the Spanish-American war at the turn of the last century, they genuflected obsequiously when Joseph McCarthy (who carried a copy of MEIN KAMPF in his briefcase) exploited the "Red Scare" of the 1950s, and permitted Lyndon Johnson to exaggerate the Gulf of Tonkin incident to escalate American involvement in Vietnam.
So for people who dismiss those concerned about the disturbing direction America is taking as "conspiracy theorists," I would remind them of the saying, "Just because one sounds paranoid doesn't mean you're not being followed." Given that Clinton was impeached for his "small" lie, while Bush's popularity soars because of his "great" ones, perhaps another quotation is more germane: "Treason never prospers, because when it does none dare call it treason."
David R. Hoffman,
Attorney at Law and Associate Professor of Communications at Indiana University, USA,
Especially for PRAVDA.Ru
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