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Part Two ........
If it looks like the war that was supposed to capture Osama bin Laden dead or alive has become a war on Afghans, well, that's just because the Taliban, backward, medieval, unworldly, are masters of deception. Through guile they've lured us all into believing innocents are being blasted away, displaced, and threatened with starvation. |
But isn't it always that way? The other side, no matter how small, no matter how poor, no matter how devastated by war, crippled by sanctions, weakened by IMF reforms, is always cunningly able to manipulate perceptions, twist the truth, exaggerate, tell tall tales, while Washington, with its ready access to the media, to PR firms, to spin-doctors, to overnight polling, struggles to get its message -- and the truth -- out.
The 1.5 million Iraqis the UN says have died from sanctions-related causes? Iraqi propaganda.
The thousands of Yugoslav civilians who died during NATO's 78-day air war against Yugoslavia in 1999? Propaganda.
The war crimes the US committed against the Serbs and Iraqis, against Afghans and Sudanese? Propaganda.
When NATO missiles destroyed the Serb Radio-TV building, killing civilians inside, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the attack was necessary to shut down Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's "propaganda machine." But Serb Radio-TV was relaying pictures of the extent of devastation NATO bombs were wreaking on civilian infrastructure, and people. Not soldiers, and police, but old ladies, and children, and, well, people who looked like you and me. It made people in the West wonder whether bombing was the answer. It made them ask questions and squirm in discomfort and wonder about the war's morality.
And one thing you can't have is the public going soft on you. No sir! You don't want a repeat of what happened to former president Lyndon Johnson. When he looked out his window in 1968 to see hundreds of thousands of protesters, he knew, then and there, the Vietnam war was lost.
Astonishingly, the attack on the Serb broadcasting building, a blatant war crime, has never been the object of a war crimes indictment, but then hundreds of war crimes committed by the United States in other wars have been sheltered from prosecution, too. It helps when you have a veto over the Security Council. It helps when you refuse to approve an International Criminal Court that could impartially prosecute war crimes, demanding blanket immunity from prosecution as the price of your approval.
Instead, the Hague Tribunal, a creation of the UN Security Council, and therefore under the control of the principal members of NATO, threatened to indict Milosevic for the attack. Milosevic knew of the attack in advance, the Tribunal's chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte charged, and failed to warn the civilians inside, a cynical ploy to use their deaths for propaganda purposes.