Hoaxes, Hype, and Hysteria
While Americans were barbecuing over the Labor Day weekend, the Usual Suspects were busy cooking up new wars, from Iraq to Ukraine. While this is nothing new – after all, evil never sleeps – one thing I did notice: the stunning lack of imagination on their part. It was, in effect, the equivalent of a bunch of summer reruns: tired formulaic retreads that weren’t all that convincing in the first place.
Take the latest war propaganda centered on the alleged "threat" to our precious bodily fluids supposedly posed by ISIS, the War Party’s latest bogeyman. As polls showed a stubborn reluctance on the part of the American people to re-invade Iraq, the neocons came up with a not-so-new one: they claim a laptop computer ostensibly captured from ISIS by the "good" jihadists – the so-called Free Syrian Army, which is armed and trained by the US – contains plans for constructing "weapons of mass destruction," i.e. biological weapons. They’re even calling it the "laptop of death" – a phrase that ought to ring a bell for those who follow these sorts of things.
That’s the same phrase used to describe yet another purloined laptop, this one supplied by the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, an Iranian terrorist group that, for years, has been feeding the War Party bogus "intelligence" about Tehran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program. That tall tale was debunked in 2011 – yet another case of MEK cobbling together old outdated data, adding a dash of forgery, and shaking well enough to fool the credulous.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but what if the dog can pass off an old hoax as a new one? And that’s why I’m here: to remind you.
Speaking of America’s Good Jihadists, a.k.a. the Syrian Free Army, I was struck by this nugget from an account of the killing of Douglas McAuthur McCain, an American fighting for ISIS in Syria, in the New York Times:
"The rebels who killed him were fighting for the Free Syrian Army, a rival group backed by the United States, and they went on to behead six ISIS fighters – but not Mr. McCain – and then posted the photographs on Facebook."
Yes, these are the "moderate" Syrian rebels, backed by your tax dollars and the prestige of the United States government. Oh, but don’t worry, kids: they’re our barbarians – so beheading is okay, even praiseworthy, since they’re doing it on behalf of spreading "freedom" and "democracy."
And speaking of hoaxes, here’s a biggie: they’re telling us that the long-awaited Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine has finally arrived! Yay! You can almost hear the sigh of relief all the way from Washington. The War Party’s journalistic camarilla – which has been telling us for the past six months or so that Putin’s move was "imminent" – yelped "we told you so!" in unison. Neocon hysteric Anne Applebaum screeched that this proved that we have to prepare for "total war" with nuclear-armed Russia – which, she claims, is planning to "use nuclear weapons to bomb Poland and the Baltic countries."
There’s just one problem with this alleged "invasion" – there’s zero evidence for it. Normally when one country invades another, troops pour over the border, missiles strike their targets, and the invaders proclaim their victory. So where are the Russian tanks, the missiles raining down death, the tens of thousands of troops marching in to take possession of their newly-conquered territory?
They’re nowhere to be seen. The best NATO could come up with was a series of murky satellite photos showing a column of military vehicles going somewhere from some place else – and that’s it. Apparently the Ukrainian army is so under-equipped that the poor things don’t even have a single cell phone camera to take a quick shot of the invading hordes. (This just proves they need more American aid!) Washington avers that one thousand Russian troops are now in Ukraine – but why would Putin send in such a paltry "army" and risk defeat? Why not just send in the troops, as he did in Crimea, and be done with it?
Oh, but the new cold warriors have a ready answer for the absence of solid evidence: this, we’re told, is no regular old-fashioned conquest. In this case, it’s a "new" kind of invasion – a "stealth invasion." Which just goes to show that words can be twisted to mean their exact opposite.
Yet this "stealth" angle elides an important element of any invasion plan: the political benefits to be had at home. These are, by the way, the only benefits to be had if Putin decided to annex ramshackle east Ukraine, with its profitless Soviet-era industries and desperately poor populace. So why isn’t he up there beating his chest and scoring points by telling the Russian people he’s the kind of strong leader who can stand up to the West?
The War Party has sunk to a new low: they’re stealing from Hollywood! If this isn’t outright plagiarism of the plot of "Wag the Dog," then it’s damned close. If I were the producers of that movie, I’d sue – but that’s just me.
While our war propagandists lack originality, you have to give them credit for persistence: these guys never give up. When one lie is exposed, another quickly takes center stage – and if the War Party does this in the belief that the memory of the American people is lamentably short, then who can fault their logic?
That’s why Antiwar.com is a vitally important resource for those of us who want to put an end to our foreign policy of global intervention. Our online archives are a detailed record of the War Party’s now-debunked fabrications, a charge sheet stretching all the way back to the mid-1990s.
And our readers apparently realize the value of this resource – because, unlike the War Party’s bought-and-paid-for "journalists," we depend on a growing base of grassroots supporters to keep this operation afloat and expanding.
Amid all the navel-gazing discussion by "mainstream" scribes about how to sustain a news operation in the face of a technology that has changed the face of journalism, Antiwar.com’s success in building a new model has gone largely unremarked. As mainline journalists bemoan the decline of their industry, Antiwar.com has pointed the way forward for new media by building a news organization that abandons the old subscriber-advertiser-dependent revenue stream and bases itself, instead, on reader donations.
Of course, bloggers have been doing this, with the by-now-traditional "tip jar," for years, but I believe we were among the first to apply it to a broader-based news-and-opinion site – and make it work.
It has worked for over fifteen years. Every time we pass the goal in our quarterly fundraising drives I feel an immense satisfaction in the fact that our readers have given us yet another vote of confidence.
From where I sit, it looks as though our late summer fundraising drive is very close to the goalpost. My thanks to all who gave: I can’t even begin to express the depth of my gratitude. And I want to point out that none of us here at Antiwar.com take your support for granted: we work overtime to earn your support by reporting the facts as we understand them and never failing to question the "conventional wisdom" – no matter where it takes us.