Saturday, November 19, 2005

A tangled web of deception

In the US, independent bloggers are forcing the mainstream media to belatedly take up the task of unraveling the tangled web of deception spun from the White House and lately, US journos have begun writing about issues that should have been raised three years ago.

But in Australia, the Murdoch Packer dominated media is still woefully remiss in its reporting of the political fraud that led to an illegal invasion and culminated, to quote retired US Army General William Odom, in the “greatest strategic blunder” of modern times.

Instead, the Australian media dutifully regurgitates the “stay the course” mantra, a “course” that former CentCom Chief, retired US Marine General Anthony Zinni, said is “headed for Niagara Falls”.

For example, consider this recent piece by The Australian journalist, Paul Kelly, an article entitled “In Iraq for a long haul”, in which Kelly debunks the notion that withdrawal from Iraq is likely any time soon.

“It is wrong,” Kelly writes, “to believe that Prime Minister John Howard and [Foreign Minister Alexander] Downer are looking for a quick departure from Iraq. Quite the reverse. [...] Howard’s message on Iraq is clear: to see the job through.”

But nowhere in his 1200 word opinion piece does Kelly address the crucial question, what is the “job”? Does anyone have a clue, apart from “talking up the training of Iraqi security forces”, what we are actually doing in Iraq?

Is there some way to gauge the progress of our “job” in Iraq?

Before the invasion, Kelly was writing about the threat of Iraq’s WMD and the need to disarm Saddam. Now he is writing about the need to stay in Iraq indefinitely, in order to “see the job through”, but what job? Certainly not the job of disarming Iraq.

The mediocrity of Kelly’s analysis would not be so disturbing if he was just some regular media hack, but Kelly is widely considered to be an authoritative journalist. His failure to scrutinize the ever shifting rationales and political manouvering of the war party highlights the pitiful standard of mainstream commentary in this country.

When Howard says “we won’t cut and run until the job is done”, is there a journalist who will dare or bother to ask, “exactly what job is that?” They probably won’t get a straight answer, but it is their job to ask. They never do.

When Howard says, “everyone agreed Saddam had WMD”, is there a journalist who will ask, “what about the UN weapons inspectors, Hans Blix and Al Baradai, did they agree?” No, they won’t ask that, because the honest answer might embarrass the prime minister.

It is perhaps not surprising that our mainstream media hacks have remained silent for so long on the question of how and why we were dragged into the unending occupation of Iraq.

After all, they helped get us there, though they’re loath to admit it. Murdoch himself inveighed against caution and common sense in an interview with Packer’s Bulletin magazine, when he predicted that the greatest thing to come from war in Iraq would be $20 a barrel for oil.

The litany of lies the government used to mislead our nation to war cannot be simply waved aside or swept under the carpet. The pattern of fabrication, exaggeration and misrepresentation is far too complex and deliberate to be dismissed as just the result of faulty intelligence.

There was clearly a coordinated campaign to betray honesty, decency and reason in pursuit of an ideological agenda, a blatant geopolitical scam devised with reckless disregard for the consequences, certainly a crime by any civilised standard.

The free press, which likes to portray itself as some kind of watchdog for the public interest, has behaved more like a lapdog for the vested interests that profit from war.

Still to this day, the mainstream media in Australia is reluctant to review its own performance in the lead up to war, or admit the role it continues to play in protecting the government from criticism and maintaining support for our involvement in the occupation of Iraq.

It is no criticism of our armed forces to point out that Australia’s contribution in Iraq is little more than a token gesture of Howard’s devotion to Bush and a demonstration of our subservience to the US.

But where, in the Australian press, will you find an intelligent, objective analysis of the economic and geostrategic consequences of defining Australia’s foreign policy to suit US national security interests in general, or the Bush Cheney agenda in particular?

It’s not there, because it would be deemed “anti-american” by Downer and “unaustralian” by Howard, and therefore not fit for publication. The journalists and editors, apparently, know whom to please.


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