Lying and Deception in the Iraq War – and Today

The Big Lie is common in America today. The election was stolen from Trump. Climate change is a hoax. Biden is the new FDR. America can’t afford a $15 minimum wage or health care for all. The biggest lies of all involve wars. Take the Afghan War. The U.S. military is already preparing a new stab-in-the-back myth. You know the routine: We were on the road to victory until Biden pulled out the troops. As you can see from this article that I posted five years ago, America clearly was losing in 2016, and things have only grown worse as the Taliban has grown in power and influence.

Isn’t it time we stopped lying to ourselves? The truth, harsh as it may prove, really will help to set us free.

Bracing Views

pic-arendt2 Hannah Arendt, cigarette in hand (Arendt Center, Bard College)

W.J. Astore

(This is part 2 of 2 of an essay dealing with lying, politics, and war, inspired by Hannah Arendt’s writings on The Pentagon Papers.  For part 1, click here.)

After the Vietnam War, the U.S. government oversaw the creation of a post-democratic military, one that was less tied to the people, meaning that the government had even less cause to tell the truth about war.  Unsurprisingly, then, the hubris witnessed in Vietnam was repeated with Iraq, together with an even more sweeping ability to deny or disregard facts, as showcased best in a statement by Karl Rove in 2004.  The actions of the Bush/Cheney Administration, Rove suggested, bypassed the fact- or “reality-based” community of lesser humans precisely because their premises (the need to revolutionize the Middle East and to win the War on Terror through violence) were…

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18 thoughts on “Lying and Deception in the Iraq War – and Today

  1. Why aren’t big lies advanced by the self-interested not challenged in the mainstream media? This video brilliantly shows why. In brief, if you’re willing seriously to challenge powerful entities and mainstream narratives, you’ll never get hired by MSNBC, CNN, CBS, and the like. And if somehow you’re mistakenly hired, you’ll quickly find yourself demoted or fired if you fail to conform.


  2. I noticed that, in a couple places, you mention American officials’ “self-deception” regarding the rationale for invading Iraq. I’d argue that such a condition was extremely rare, if indeed it existed at all. Of a certainty, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and their entire cabal, which we know extended far into the Pentagon and the State Department, went into Iraq with clear eyes and nefarious intentions. Maybe, just maybe, Colin Powell merely wanted to believe, for a hot minute, but even he admitted that he knew the fix was in before he gave his famous yellowcake presentation. I don’t cut them the slack of allowing for self-deception; it was simply pure, intentional evil.


    1. Yes. Part of what I meant by self-deception among these masters of the universe is the idea they could control events. That history didn’t matter. That, as Karl Rove said, they could create reality in accordance with their wishes. In a word, cockiness; perhaps with a stress on the first four letters of that word.

      These men think they are “big swinging dicks” and can bull (or bullshit) their way ahead. And, to a certain extent, they did and do, lying all the way.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not so much a metaphorical matter of little-or-big “dicks” as “nut-less wonders vs brass balls.” As in:

        The Gelded Age
        (From The Triumph of Strife: an homage to Dante Alighieri and Percy Shelley)

        The tiny Texas tyro’s tantrums taint
        What once our country held in wise reserve
        Into a corner he proceeds to paint

        The nation’s laws he idly swore to serve
        Which leaves them less than merely empty noise
        Precocious playthings pious pimps preserve

        To feather friendly nests requires such ploys
        As ex-post-facto, one-time-only laws
        What Gelded Age has known such jaded joys?

        Like signing statutes stuffed with special flaws
        Designed by thieves to make theft less a chore
        Posterity our politician paws

        Removing risk from crimes that heretofore
        Contained at least enough as not to bore.

        Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2006-2010


    2. The idea of invading Iraq, and for that matter several other countries, goes back to around 9/11. At that time Donald Rumsfeld, Admiral Arthur Cebrowsky and Thomas P.M. Barnett at the Pentagon had worked out a plan to divide the world into a group of successful counties called the Core and those unlucky counties called the Gap whose resources will be exploited and nations ruined.

      Here is a description from Thierry Meyssan at the Voltaire Network:

      I can recall being aware of Barnett 20 years ago and seeing him giving Powerpoint lectures on ‘The Pentagon’s New Map’

      Also General Wesley Clark had warned about this plan. Just do a search on ‘Wesley Clark and seven countries in five years’

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Read the article you linked, Bart. Sounds as if this “divided world” strategy goes beyond even Cheney et. al.’s PNAC. Thoroughly frightening, to say the least, but it certainly explains a lot.


      2. For the United States — “the idea of invading Iraq” — or any other country for that matter — goes back much further than 9/11/2001. As Michael Parenti noted in Against Empire (1995):

        In 1907, Woodrow Wilson recognized the support role played by the capitalist state on behalf of private capital:

        “Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused”.

        Later, as president of the United States, Wilson noted that the United States was involved in a struggle to “command the economic fortunes of the world.”

        And speaking of US “ministers of state safeguarding concessions obtained by financiers” — in the 21st Century — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Victoria “cookie” Nuland recently paid a visit to Ukraine where, according to Pepe Escobar,
        Pictures of a Ukrainian Dream

        Leaked info on the closed-door meeting between Blinken and Comedian-in-Charge [President] Zelensky is no less than incandescent. Blinken seemed to have read a no holds barred riot act.

        Here are the guidelines. All Ukrainian state corporations must be controlled by the proverbial “foreign interests”. So board majorities must be either foreign or 5th columnists. The entire anti-corruption vertical drive must also be foreign-controlled. Same for the judicial system.

        Andriy Kobolyev – an American asset – must be reinstated as head of Naftogaz. Zelensky moved mountains to get rid of Kobolyev.

        Blinken demanded a massive push against every Ukrainian oligarch, so that huge chunks of Ukrainian economy are transferred to – who else – foreigners. Same for land privatization.
        . . .
        Blinken demanded that American assets should be untouchable by Ukrainian law, and named honored figures of civil society. Maidan cookie distributor Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland, also in the room, drew up a list of The Untouchables, and Blinken met with them separately.

        Finally, the giant ghost hanging over the whole trip to Kiev had to make itself known. In practice, Zelensky was invited to turn in everyone in Ukraine who helped bring information about Hunter Biden to the media via Rudolph Giuliani.
        . . .
        Contradicting these powerful, left unnamed “foreign interests” is simply out of the question. They now seem to be guided by a “take the money and run” logic, as in taking over the looting of Ukraine lock, stock and barrel before the whole thing – actually a failed state – blows up.

        Pity those oligarchs who thought they were going to loot the land through privatization. Instead the money is on a one way out journey. Follow the money. Follow the dream.

        As always with the US-centered Global Corporate Oligarchy: “The money is on a one-way-out journey. Follow the money.” As true for Iraq and Afghanistan as anywhere else the US has tried to “liberate” with “democracy” — at the point of a gun, bomb, or economic embargo (i.e., “sanctions”).

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Speaking of the triumph of big lies, just got this (predictable) news flash: “BREAKING NEWS ALERT
    The House GOP has voted to strip Representative Liz Cheney of her leadership post over her rebuke of former president Donald Trump’s election fraud lie.”

    So now subscribing to the big lie has become a loyalty test.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. About that Liz Cheney demotion from the number-three slot in the Republican Party’s Congressional hierarchy:

      “All the beliefs, habits, tastes, emotions, mental attitudes that characterize our time are really designed to sustain the mystique of the Party and prevent the true nature of present-day society from being perceived . . . In a Party member . . . not even the smallest deviation of opinion on the most unimportant subject can be tolerated” [emphasis added].

      Only one of the many trenchant and timeless insights by George Orwell from THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF OLIGARCHICAL COLLECTIVISM, the book-within-a-book from Nineteen Eighty-Four.

      Formerly, the so-called “Left” in America regarded 1984 as a dystopian nightmare while the ever-reactionary “Right” saw it as an operations manual. In America now — as anyone can plainly see — any sign of a working-class, anti-war “Left” has virtually disappeared, with the Democratic Party now as fully committed to Oligarchical Collectivism (in Newspeak: CorpGov) as the Republicans. “All Lies All The Time” by both right-wing political factions, just superficially “different” ones

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh, yeah. Regarding the Manufactured Mendacity and Managed Mystification ceaselessly deployed against the US population by its ostensible, putative (i.e., rumored) “political leadership”:

    Boobie Official Mendacity
    (from Fernando Po, U.S.A., America’s post-literate retreat to Plato’s Cave)

    The characters in government
    Will change from time to time
    As fashion colors change from green
    To slightly lemon-lime
    But lying never changes, like
    The meter of this rhyme

    The former Clinton government
    Once wanted to inflict
    The normal needless bombing on
    A country it had picked
    Because its petty potentate
    Our boots had never licked

    It seems that of the suspects whom
    We normally accuse
    One stood apart in infamy
    Thus him we would abuse
    Because he could not stop us so
    That made him great to use

    Inspectors roamed across his land
    Discovering not much
    Of mass-destructive weaponry,
    And gas, and germs, and such
    Thus did Saddam Hussein refuse
    To come through in the clutch

    So in frustration Bubba Bill
    Turned Madam Albright loose
    To use up some “diplomacy”
    Much like a hangman’s noose
    To threaten peace with war until
    War seemed our only ruse

    A decade’s worth of sanctions failed
    To bring the tyrant down
    But only starved his children which
    Caused few of us to frown
    If hungry Arab kids can’t swim
    We say: “Then let them drown”

    “We think the price is worth it,” said
    Ms Albright in her way
    Yet glib and airy phrases left
    No food upon the tray
    Just surly scorn for diplomats
    Who never have to pay

    But still those damned inspectors caused
    Our President to pout:
    To bomb might make them hostages
    Which could extend the bout
    To something more than half a round
    And not the hoped-for rout

    This Bubba Bill could not abide:
    So he asked the UN
    To have its people leave and tell
    Him where and how and when
    So he could blame their absence on
    Saddam and all his men

    To pull off this duplicity
    He needed lies to spout
    And so he took the muzzle off
    Of Madam Albright’s snout
    So she could lie and say Saddam
    Had forthwith “kicked them out”

    And so with the inspectors gone
    And nothing more to say
    The bomber pilots got to fly
    Three miles above harm’s way
    And blitz some helpless cities
    Just to earn their monthly pay

    Just so with Boobie Bumbler George
    Who also wanted in
    To knock about the whipping boy
    And all his clan and kin
    Yet once again inspectors proved
    An obstacle to spin

    They’d gone ahead and done their jobs
    And found no smoking gun
    Which vexed another President
    Who so much needed one
    To validate more lies and his
    Vendetta left undone

    “He tried to kill my daddy!” swore
    The vengeful Boobie Bush
    “I know because the CIA
    Has searched the Hindu Kush;
    And found out lots of stuff, so now
    I say shove comes to push”

    So Boobie George told the UN
    That its men hadn’t found
    What Boobie George and Dick and Don
    Knew lay somewhere around
    Someplace where only they could see
    On undiscovered ground

    And Boobie Condoleeza Rice
    And Colin Powell, too,
    Proved once again that Black folks lie
    Just like the White ones do
    Repeating what no one believed
    Exactly right on cue

    With summer coming on so soon
    And springtime cool so short
    The bombing had to start at once
    Lest hot weather abort
    Mad plans to land upon a ship
    Sent steaming back to port

    And so once more the snoops and hounds
    Packed up and left Iraq
    The UN wished to take no part
    In Bush’s planned attack
    Yet still the obvious and bald
    Required a little slack

    To cover for their rush to war
    The Bush Bunch needed spin
    They claimed they had no choice because
    They wanted so to win
    And bad Saddam had not allowed
    Inspectors to come in

    Thus here we have a sorry tale
    Of two groups sworn to tell
    No truth if they could help it
    And they could, so what the hell?
    And Boobies, anyway, had grown
    Accustomed to the smell

    Saddam Hussein had let a host
    Of spies stay at his inn
    But yet it didn’t change a thing
    Or mitigate his sin
    Bill lied about the “kicking out”
    And George the “letting in”

    The Presidents who work for us
    Decline to let us know
    The things we need to supervise
    Their fumbling tell-and-show
    So wars begin on schedule and
    The piles of bodies grow

    Bill Clinton swore one type of lie;
    George Bush another kind
    They both had lied so much that each
    Thought none would ever mind
    With Boobies all so fast asleep
    The bland could lead the blind

    If once their lips commence to move
    A lie we should suspect
    And if their lips should move again
    We should at once reflect
    That we can — in their moving lips —
    A naked lie detect

    Their lying we should not expect
    To bother them that much
    To make them tell the truth would be
    To rob them of their crutch
    If they could choose, they’d lie so that
    They wouldn’t loose their touch

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2005


    1. Phrased somewhat differently:

      Managed Mystification
      (From The Triumph of Strife: an homage to Dante Alighieri and Percy Shelley)

      The briefings feature bogus blowhard bunk
      As bureaucrats belch banal broadcast swill
      That illustrates the worthiness of junk

      Repackaged and resold as time to kill
      Lest any news inform the peasant folk
      Of just whose sticky fingers tap the till

      Or who has drained the egg of all its yolk
      With due care taken not to question terms
      Lest linkages arise which might evoke

      An image of a chain of wiggling worms
      That leaves the hapless sycophant impressed
      By nothingness which emptiness affirms

      Post-modern oxymorons coined and blessed
      A jaded jargon Jabberwocky jest

      Confucius said to rectify the names
      Before the work of government could start
      For if the language neither fills nor frames

      We squander both the science and the art
      In debt to dreary dogma dark and dank
      Which doesn’t leave us looking very smart

      Or left with any money in the bank
      To finance wars that we refuse to fund
      Posterity our failures will not thank

      When left by us a future moribund
      For he has all our few resources spent
      On fevered fetid fantasies fecund

      But still he drags his feet and won’t relent
      Much less to ask forgiveness and repent

      When those who see no clothing say they do
      And understand, they swear, no thing they know
      The emperor struts naked in full view

      With courtiers aquiver in the glow
      Reflected by his skin-tight birthday suit
      They wax ecstatic at the fashion show

      And swap clichés about low-hanging fruit
      Their guru mantras fly both thick and fast
      Which equally solicit and recruit

      A resonating echo chamber blast
      To deafen any chance that one might hear
      A rude request from some iconoclast

      The tiny question that they truly fear
      Like, why does this swell crowd act so damn queer?

      His history degree from Yale was made
      Grandfathered out of crony legacy
      To illustrate the nature of charade

      A skull and bones fraternal piracy
      That Harvard, too, would all too gladly stamp
      As proof of numbskull numerology

      That seeks new bullshit phrases to revamp
      And render quantitative measures dead
      Where “folks pay lots of taxes” oils the lamp

      By which his fiscal policy is read
      He dips again into the tax-cut well
      Since Yale put nothing in his empty head

      His Harvard sheepskin, too, he tried to sell
      As evidence that he could manage well

      Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2006-2010


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