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[casi] "Verbal Weapons of Mass Distr(a)ction"

"Reality control" they called it in Orwell's

------------------Fwd Message------------------
From: (Economic Democracy)
Subject: Verbal Weapons of Mass Distr(a)ction: "Disarming" Public Debate
Date: 14 Jan 2003 01:13:40 -0600

Verbal Weapons of Mass Distr(a)ction: "Disarming" Public Debate

Those who control our language, control the parameters within
which public discourse, debate, and indeed, our own thinking can

Referring to virtually every head of state -- including the most
brutal and repressive regimes and dictatorships, particularly
those our tax-dollars finance as "allies" -- by their full name or
last name, while referring to one head of state by their first
name, is a rather obvious example.

Probably Manuel Noriega, (formerly on the CIA-payroll until he
became too independent and refused -- for his own reasons, not due
to moral ones -- to continue helping the US secret arming of
health clinic bombing, literacy volunteer murdering and raping
terrorists in Nicaragua) would have been "Manuel" had it not been
for the fact that "Noriega" has a much more sinister sound while
"Manuel" sounds almost too everyday.

The phrase repeated ten thousand times, "Weapons of Mass
Destruction," (WMD) is another interesting case of language
control since it contains some magical properties. For example,
tautologies and syllogisms do not apply to this term. After all,
if all men are mortal, and Aristotle is a man, then Aristotle is
mortal. Yet, while WMD normally refers to nuclear, chemical, and
biological weapons, and while Washington possesses such weapons,
particularly the world's most potent arsenal of nuclear weapons,
it does not follow, nor can one utter, or even think, that
Washington possess Weapons of Mass Destruction, let alone that it
is the world's leader in Weapons of Mass Destruction. Nor does the
UK nor France seem to possess "Weapons of Mass Destruction" though
in fact they do, in official Reality they do not.

The aforementioned however are far from the most potent verbal
Weapons of Mass Distraction (vWMD). To truly distract the masses
-- and indeed all of us -- from being able to think clearly, much
more is necessary.

The more often a phrase or notion is repeated, and the more it is
stated with the confidence normally reserved only for the most
self-evident proclamations or strings of logic, the more it merits
a careful look. This is particularly true of the phrase: "Iraq
must be disarmed".

Certainly, Oscar awards are due to both the Bush circle and media
anchors for repeating that they had "certainly not decided" on
whether to attack Iraq, although, incidentally, every step is part
of a "heads I win, tails the Iraqi people lose" game plan and,
incidentally, "regime change" is the admitted objective.

However the phrase that is repeated over and over again is: "Iraq
must disarm" or "Iraq must be disarmed" or best of all, "If Iraq
does not disarm, then we will act to disarm Iraq"

But wait a minute.

If Iraq "does not disarm" -- whatever that means -- is Bush's plan
to use UN resolutions or military force to enter Iraq's plants,
factories, and facilities and confiscate, take over, or destroy
any materials related to WMD? Of course, that is not what he

If it was what he meant, that is, going in to take away and
destroy existing or potential WMD materials, then it could be
honestly referred to as a policy of "if Iraq does not disarm, then
we will disarm Iraq ourselves". Plainly that is not what is meant,
and the often-repeated phrase is far from honest.

What, exactly, is meant then?

Well, Bush is going to bomb. An honest phrase would be a little
less palatable then: "If Iraq does not disarm, we will bomb Iraq".
That is even more unpalatable than "Iraq must disarm," after all.

"Iraq must disarm" already raises some questions: why do other
countries (which happen to either not possess oil, or already be
"allies" or ExxonMobil) -- why do they not have to disarm? Why do
Pakistan and India not have to disarm -- while Iraq does?

But "Iraq must disarm, or we will bomb Iraq" is even less easy to
sell to the American public, for then the question is: if a
country does not disarm, is it ok to bomb it? Do we ever apply
that logic to other countries (let alone to allies, let alone to

But wait. Although "We will disarm Iraq" is a euphemism for
bombing Iraq, "bombing Iraq" is itself a sort of a euphemism, as
it hides more.

Is Bush planning to merely Bomb Iraq? After all, US and UK planes
have been bombing Iraq on and off regularly since right after the
Gulf War of 1991.

What everyone knows is that George W "Regime Change" Bush is
planning to do is to bomb the country to smitherines -- killing
untold thousands of civilians from a safe distance to avoid
Vietnam "body bag" Syndrome -- and then to do more. Namely, to

And not just to invade, but to overthrow the current government.
The current government is certainly a brutal one -- but despite a
well orchestrated media blitz to portray "Saddam" as a grave
threat to the very existence of the entire galaxy -- his regime is
one of many brutal dictatorships in the middle east, let alone in
the world -- and a far, far weaker one than the much better armed,
much better financed, and much more economically powerful Iraq of
pre-1991 which for some reason Bush Sr. felt was fine and dandy to
support militarily, economically, and diplomatically, even sending
Rumsfeld over with a message of "friendship" despite knowing of
the "Beast of Bagdad's" record.

Thus a more honest phrase would be, "Iraq must disarm, or else, we
will bomb, invade, and overthrow  the government" -- an even less
palatable phrase which the American public could probably notice
is quite the non-sequitor, on top of being not only lawless but
strangely incongruent with a lack of a similar policy towards
Kurd-slaughtering Turkey, the main source of the 9/11 terrorists
(Saudi Arabia), the killer of countless Palestinian civilians
(Israel) among others.

Thus, "Iraq must disarm, or else we bomb, invade, and overthrow
it" doesn't roll off the tongue as easily as "Iraq must disarm, or
we will disarm Iraq ourselves", the latter on the surface sounding
so logical.

But hold on. Is Bush "merely" planning to  bomb, invade,
overthrow, and then let free elections and democracy come to Iraq?
As reviewed in Chomsky's 1991 "Deterring Democracy" and "What We
Say Goes," Bush Sr. slammed the door quite hard in the face of the
Iraq democratic opposition groups over and over again before and
after the Gulf War. Unlike puppets which can be paraded before the
public, the real anti-Saddam democratic opposition could not be
counted on to ask "how high?" when Washington said "jump", so as
the New York Times reported, "an iron-fisted dictator" ruling
Iraq, but one who is obedient the way Bush Sr's x-pal Saddam used
to be, is preferable for Washington than true democracy in  Iraq.
Furthermore, key "ally" Turkey will not play Washington's games if
it leads to democracy in Iraq given that independence if not
autonomy that Kurds in Iraq, and hence in Turkey, would then
demand and perhaps get. So democracy is out.

What is planned is a military dictator, probably with a stronger
veneer of democracy than Saddam, and one who will go along with
Washington's wishes to control the oil in Iraq -- the world's
second largest reserves after Saudi Arabia's.

Therefore "If Iraq does not disarm, we will disarm it" must be
revisited again, and alas it become still less palatable: "If Iraq
does not disarm, we will bomb it, invade it, overthrow it, and put
in an undemocratic regime which will bend to Washington's and
Texas' oil interests"

One must have serious doubts as to whether Bush would be able to
sell this far more honest, and far more unpalatable phrase to the
American public -- notwithstanding the incredible feats of the US
corporate media is capable of.

Yet, having corrected its facts, even this unsavory phrase needs
at least one more correction concerning its hidden illogic. Before
turning that this matter, it's worthwhile noting how the above
verbal Weapon of Mass Distraction (vWMD) has been remarkablely
effective. It has, indeed, succeeded in shifting the very terms
of the debate  to the point where the official doves and even many
in the anti-war movement have adopted implicitly if not explicitly
a stance that is worthy of a true war-monger:

One such dove wrote that "Arguing that unless overwhelming
evidence of a secret Iraqi weapons programme emerges, an
American-led military campaign would be hard to justify.
"Without proof", he told the French newspaper Le Monde, "it
would be very difficult to begin a war""

("Greece Steers EU down path of Peace")

How did we arrive at the point where the doves implicitly concede
that, should "proof" be found that Iraq possesses WMD, then it
must be bombed, invaded, overthrown, and an US-oil-friendly
dictator installed? The answer again is vWMD; since this non
sequitor is merely the unraveling of the euphemistic "If Iraq does
not disarm, then it must be disarmed", and since this euphemism
has been swallowed wholesale by anti-war leaders and even many
citizens, Bush has succeeded in reaching the point where ANTI-war
folks concede in this case what even the biggest war-mongers
normally do not dare declare: "if a country possesses WMD, then we
get to bomb, in fact, overthrow, and puppet-install"

Has that ever been applies as "the "logic" to any country?

Admittedly the hawks take this even further: if Iraq did not
perform the impossible feat of accounting for every last pound,
indeed, every last ounce of material, then according to them, it
is in "material breach" ; if it is in "material breach" then "Iraq
did not disarm, so it must be disarmed"; "it must be disarmed' in
turn reads, "we bomb, invade, overthrow, and put in a dictator we

Thus admittedly the hawks go further: if Iraq did not perform the
impossible feat of accounting for every last half-ounce in the
country (let's remember the Pentagon has several Billion dollars
unaccounted for...), then the only alternative is to bomb, invade,
overthrow, and put in a dictator we like".

Thus Bush and and co. have already won the debate to the extent
they have successfully shifted it to whether or not there is the
impossible "full" disclosure  to determine whether we disarm
(bomb, invade, overthrow, and install) rather than how Iraq could
really be disarmed, which is simply to continue the inspections.
The inspections after all have been more successful than the Gulf
War in disarming Iraq, with 90% of the programs dismantled
according to the former head of military inspections, so the
obvious solution is to continue on-going inspections which (like
in any other country) can never find every last half-ounce a
scientist might chose to keep in his home, but could take the 90%
success to ever higher levels and reach a level of safety and
confidence by the international community that it rarely has
anywhere else.

Thus the vWMD allows Blair to declare that the UN "will disarm
Iraq" and that  he is convinced the UN will back "military action"
against Iraq if Baghdad fails to give up WMD" (BBC). The plan
again is not for the UN to allow the use of force to confiscate
and destroy, or even bombing of some factories. All of this is
euphemism for a UN "ok" for US-UK "disarming" that is, for massive
bombing, invasion, overthrow, and "installation  of a "friendly"
but iron-fisted "ruler" over Iraq.

There is one last important revision which must be made the the
phrase they love to use, "if Iraq doesn't' disarm, it must be
disarmed [read: bombed, invaded, overthrown, and a puppet
installed]", namely about the underlying (il)logic.

One Hawk tells us that "I don't see how the inspectors have a
reasonable chance of finding a small object in a large space," he
said. "We are talking about stocks of chemical and biological
weapons - possibly work on nuclear weapons - and this can all be
done in any one of several million structures in Iraq.  Unless the
inspectors know exactly where to go, the chance that they will
find anything is practically zero" a tacit admission that Iraq's
chances are practically zero of "proving" it has no WMD since it
can't "prove" some tiny amount does not exist "in any one of
several million structures" any more than inspectors can prove the
non-existence. You can only prove existence. (he adds, "It seems
to me that either Saddam will turn over these weapons at the very
last minute or there will be military action.")

This impossibility of proving innocence does not stop the hawks
from insisting that this impossibility be carried out however:
"The Washington Post article quoted the senior US figure as saying
that Iraq would not be in the clear even if inspectors failed to
find banned material. 'What we're saying is that with the Iraqi
record, there is a presumption of guilt and not innocence,' the
official said. 'The idea that the inspectors have to find
something, or that we have to show them where to go to find
something, is incorrect.'"

One wonders whether BBC Online failed to notice the nearly back to
back juxtaposition of these two statements -- that it's
practically impossible to prove innocence, and that the burden of
proof (in this unique case) is on Iraq to prove its innocence.

Another BBC commentator was at least honest enough to notice the
"head I win, tails you lose" nature of the ultimatum: If Iraq does
NOT add to its 12,000 page declaration, then the Bush regime has
already determined that "we have proof, which we won't share" and
that that declaration isn't good enough and is in "material
breach" (read: "we get to bomb, invade, overthrow, and
install..(BIOI)") If on the other hand Iraq adds to the
declaration, then that is proof that it was "hiding" something,
thus we must "disarm" Iraq (read:...)

Understanding this says nothing about what you think of Saddam and
his brutal regime, but speaks loudly about the incentives being
given to Saddam. These are insane incentives to give if one truly
wants to find WMDs and to really disarm Iraq. They are the
incentives you give if you want an excuse to "disarm" (BIOI)

The real aim of course is to try to squeeze as much "admission"
out of Iraq so as to eliminate as much as possible Iraq's only
deterrence against being overthrown (anything powerful enough to
be a deterrence, whether or not its biochemical or nuclear, would
be called WMD) -- and furthermore, to maximize the intelligence
for Bush's war machine to make the bombing, invasion, overthrow,
and running the country afterwards, as easy as possible.

In other words, the very moment Bush is 100% sure that Iraq has no
WMD or other such deterrence, or as close to 100% as he thinks he
can get -- is precisely the moment that Bush will want to go
ahead, and is thus precisely the moment that Bush will insist that
they must "disarm" Iraq. Thus the moment Bush is most sure that
Saddam poses the least threat, is precisely the moment that Bush
will insist to the world that Saddam is the biggest threat. This
incredible level of dishonesty would not be so grotesque, of
course, it if were merely Bush and Saddam -- rather than thousands
to tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian women, men, and children
whose blood would be spilled by this lie.

Having addressed the factual euphemisms, what then of the logical
euphemisms of "Iraq must be disarmed"?

The CIA itself admitted that Iraq does not pose a significant
threat, and is very unlikely to use WMD. And the CIA itself added
furthermore that, if attacked in the way Bush intends, it would be
much more likely to use WMD. Furthermore, ugly and brutal as
Saddam's regime is, it has been tested like few other countries
have been. These tests show very clearly that while brutal, they
are not suicidal. They have not used WMD since 1991 despite the
constant bombing raids by the US and UK, and more dramatically,
they haven't used WMD during the Gulf War itself when under
massive bombing by the U.S.

Bush's "disarm Iraq" option however, means something else: an
overthrow of Saddam Hussein. More to the point, unlike 1991, this
would be "going for broke" by Bush to not just force Iraq out of a
country it invaded, but to utterly destroy the government. What
then would Saddam have to lose? More than that, Bush would not
just destroy Saddam's government and overthrow it, but the idea as
we all know would be to lead to Saddam's personal death, or if
miraculously he is captured alive, to subject him to either the
death penalty or at best life in prison following a "show" trial
making Slobodan's seem like a picnic by comparison. What then
would Saddam have to lose?

Supposing that some WMD are found then. The only rational course
of action is to cite this as evidence that inspections WORK and
should be continued. It is an irrational non sequitor to say that
Iraq must be "disarmed", read: bomb/invade/overthrow/install.

But it's worse than irrational. It's madness. The existence of any
so called WMD would mean that Bush's "answer" would be to corner
Saddam's back against the wall: "we are going to overthrow you,
get rid of you, personally kill you, that's why we're coming in,
not to expel you from Kuwait, this time" -- so Saddam literally
would have nothing to lose, and every reason to "go for broke" in
response to Bush's "go for broke".

It is immoral to put oneself in Saddam's shoes, when he is such a
brutal man? No, it is not immoral to ask, "What are the likely
consequences of what Bush plans? What position would Saddam be put
in and what does that tell us about the likely outcome of what
Bush plans?" Indeed, if we care about lives, about the lives of
Iraqis, Americans, others in the region, and of avoiding an
environmental disaster, it is immoral *not* to put oneself in
Saddam's shoes intellectually, not out of any sympathy for him as
a person, but to think rationally about the Bush regime's plans
and the grave danger to the region (and perhaps the world) which
they pose.

For the answer to "If you're against Bombing Iraq, what are you
for?", see
but we hasten to add that even had we NOT had the solutions
outlined there, that would not be a reason to bomb Iraq. The
mortal burden of proof is on those who advocate bombing; it's not
that one bombs the US or bombs Iraq or some other country "unless"
another way is found. On top of that, as outlined above, the
present "bombs away" course not only promises more anti-US
terrorism if followed, but leads to a very dangerous "go for
broke"  situation that threatens the entire region, which has
still not recovered from the environmental (let alone human)
devastation of 1991, let alone being "ready" for something
potentially far more destructive.  -HB

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"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities
committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for
not even hearing about them." -- George Orwell

"Those who can make you believe absurdities
can make you commit atrocities" -Voltaire

"And so we're told that this is the golden age..
.And gold is the reason for the wars we wage" -U2

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