On first hearing, it was a toss-up which was the biggest lie in Bush's speech to the special forces troops at Ft. Bragg Tuesday evening: that we are winning the war in Iraq, that we are there to fight terrorism, or that we are "bringing liberty" to the people of Iraq.
Clearly the whole purpose of the address, which was televised nationally, was to try to staunch the hemorrrhaging of public support for a war begun with lies that has so far cost almost 1800 American soldiers’ lives, that has no end in sight, and that we clearly are losing.
The lie that the war was begun to combat terrorism is so ridiculous at this point it doesn't need discussion. Even the administration has conceded that Iraq had nothing to do with international terrorism prior to the invasion, and to the extent that there is an international terrorist focus on Iraq today it was created by the U.S. invasion and occupation of that country.
My choice for biggest lie is the "bringing liberty" claim.
All you really need to do to recognize the absurdity of this claim is to note that this week the U.S. announced plans to construct new prisons in Iraq for an anticipated 16,000 prisoners.
New prisons! 16,000 prisoners! This is our contribution to democracy? And note that these are American prisons we are talking about. American prisons in a supposedly "sovereign" Iraq!
They must have the American model of "democracy" in mind here. We are, after all, a country that keeps over 2 million people behind bars at any given time, many of whom are being held for years or even decades for non-violent offenses. We are also a country that, in all but a handful of states, bars anyone who has been in jail for a felony or class III misdemeanor from ever participating again in the election process--we permanently terminate their citizenship rights, that is.
The so-called democracy we are allegedly bringing to Iraq at the point of our guns, cannons, gunships and bombs (which have already killed upwards of 100,000 civilians and leveled entire cities), is currently little more than a bunch of Shi’ia and Kurdish officials elected last January by voters who were in many cases bribed or coerced into voting, who now meet in the Green Zone of Baghdad under the armed protection of the U.S. military. It is a "government" whose members daily have to pass through checkpoints manned by American troops who frisk them each day as if they were potential terrorists.
Some democracy. In the old days we called such puppet regimes colonies or, more recently, client states.
Bush also contradicted himself in his speech, saying that the war in Iraq was the main front in his so-called War on Terror. Trying, rather patheticaslly, to sound like Winston Churchill in the dark days of World War II, he claimed America had brought the war on terror to Iraq, and vowed "…we will fight them there, we will fight them across the world, and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won."
But Iraqis themselves are understandably asking just who invited the U.S. to bring 140,000 heavily-armed troops to their country to turn the place into a front in this war on terror.
The whole "Vietnamization" plan for developing an Iraqi army to take over the fighting and dying from American troops is a mockery of any democratic ideal. The army being trained by the U.S. is not described as something to protect and defend Iraq; it is being described as something that will "take over the fighting from the U.S. military." It is simply a way of cutting U.S. casualties and making Iraqis die for American interests.
And the president and his supporters call this bringing liberty to Iraq.
The biggest giveaway that this whole claim about bringing liberty to Iraq is a fraud is what Bush did not say. Though many people, even in his own party, have been urging it, at no point in his speech did the president declare that the U.S. had no interest in staying in Iraq permanently. In fact, of course, exactly the opposite is true: as Iraqis well know, the Pentagon is quietly constructing permanent bases and airfields in the country, with plans to the place a major U.S. imperial outpost.
Liberty is pretty easy to define. It means people running their own country and having all the freedoms we enumerate in our Bill of Rights.
The U.S. is bringing no such thing to Iraq.
For the rest of this column and other stories by Lindorff, please go (at no charge) to This Can't Be Happening! .