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David Horowitz - Columnist

David Horowitz is a noted author, commentator and columnist. His is the founder of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture and his opinions can be found at Front Page Magazine. [go to Horowitz index]


The Big Lie Campaign
Liberal media wages its own version of the truth...
[David Horowitz]

As wars go, the conflict in Iraq was (and is) as good as it gets. A three week military campaign with minimal casualties, 25 million people liberated from one of the most sadistic tyrants of modern times, the establishment of a military and intelligence base in the heart of the terrorist world. What well-meaning person could oppose this? In fact there is none. It was one thing to worry about the war before the fact, as Brent Scowcroft and others did, that a military conflict could lead to eruptions in the Muslim world and a conflagration out of control. This was opposition based on honorable intentions, which events have effectively answered.

But the current opposition to the war after the fact has no such justification in real world events. The war has had enormous beneficial effects with minimal negative consequences. A terrible tyrant was taken down. The filling of mass graves with 300,000 corpses were stopped. Plastic shredders for human beings were deactivated. Prisons for four to twelve year olds were closed. A democratic constitution has been drafted. Two-thirds of al-Qaeda’s leadership is gone. There hasn’t been a terrorist attack in America in more than two and a half years, something no one would have predicted after 9/11. By any objective standard, the Bush war on terror is a triumph.

These real world considerations are why the campaign waged by the Democratic Party and a Democratic press against the Bush war policy is based not on any analysis of the war itself, but on maliciously concocted claims about the prewar justification for military action. For purely political agendas, the Democrats hope to attempt to convict the Administration of “misleading the American public” and wasting American lives through deception and fraud, and thus to defeat the President at the polls in November.

This is the campaign of the Big Lie and its success depends on the very fact that it is a big lie. Its aim is to shift the very terms of the argument to a terrain favorable to the critics who have been refuted by the events themselves – a terrain entirely irrelevant to the reality of the war itself. To respond to this campaign would require of its targets candor and courage, because the only way to confront it is to impugn the integrity, honesty and goodwill of those who so maliciously prosecute it. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration does not seem up to this task of calling its critics to account. This is why it is on the defensive and in serious trouble in its political campaign.

How does this Big Lie operate? A look at today’s top headline in the New York Times (whose example is faithfully followed in most of the nation’s press) illustrates it well: “Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie.” That is the news of the day – similar in its negative spin for the Bush campaign to the news of the last 30 or 60 days as well. The Times headline refers to the report of the 9/11 commission that Mohammed Atta did not meet with Iraqi government officials in Prague prior to 9/11 and that it could find no evidence that Saddam was involved in the 9/11 plot. The Times “News Analysis” accompanying the account draws this conclusion: “In questioning the extent of any ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda, the commission weakened the already spotty scorecard on Mr. Bush’s justifications for sending the military to topple Saddam Hussein.”

Actually this Times reportage is several lies in one. First, the panel did not conclude that there was no al Qaeda-Iraq tie. It concluded that it could not find an al Qaeda-Iraq tie in respect to the attacks of 9/11. This is entirely different from the claim that there were no links between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi regime. There are in fact extensive links, which Stephen Hayes and others have detailed.

But that is just the beginning. The bigger lie in this particular claim is that Mohammed Atta’s visit to Prague was one of “Mr. Bush’s justifications for sending the military to topple Saddam Hussein.” Mr. Bush made no such claim, certainly not in connection with a justification for the war in Iraq. (The Times actually prints Bush’s references to Iraq and al-Qaeda links on February 8, 2003, none of which mentions 9/11.) The justification for sending the military to topple Saddam Hussein was the violation of UN Resolution 1441 – and 16 UN resolutions before that. Resolution 1441 authorized the use of force as of December 7, 2002, the deadline that had been set by the Security Council on November 8, 2002.

Anyone doubting that Saddam violated this resolution can consult the recent memoir written by chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix, Disarming Iraq. Blix opposed the military option right to the end. But he states very clearly in his book that Saddam failed to meet the requirements of UN Resolution 1441, that he showed his contempt for them in fact, and that they were a legal justification for force.

The lie about al-Qaeda is just one of a tissue of lies concocted by Administration critics about the rationale for the war in Iraq, each of which is designed to distract attention from the moral worthiness of the war and the critics’ own unhappiness with the war on terror itself. The Times’ “News Analysis” also cites the failure to find WMDs as a further undermining of the Administration’s rationale for the war. But WMDS were not the rationale for the war. The rationale for the war was Saddam’s violation of UN Resoloution 1441, which called for compliance or “serious consequences.” Saddam did not comply. The consequences followed.

The President’s rationale for the war was contained in his September 12, 2002 address to the United Nations General Assembly. He did not refer to an al-Qaeda link. He did not refer to an “imminent threat” (the third malicious falsification put forward by proponents of the Big Lie). What the President said was this: “The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?”

The UN resolutions that Saddam had defied were constituent elements of the truce that Saddam had signed at the end of the Gulf War and the condition under which the allied forces allowed him to remain in power. Saddam violated that truce. The 2003 Iraq war was in fact the resumption of the hostilities of 1991 that had been interrupted to allow Saddam the chance to comply. (In fact, they were only partially interrupted since the United States and Britain flew continuous sorties over Iraq throughout the decade of the 1990s). Many critics of the war argue that Saddam should have been appeased once more, and given more time to comply. That is a reasonable (if morally distasteful) argument. To claim that the Bush Administration misled the American people and waged the war under false pretenses is not.

The critics of the Bush Administration have used their lies about the rationale for the war to call the President a liar, a fraud, a deceiver and a traitor. These are terms that apply to the critics themselves. But the Bush Administration has not had the gumption to use them (or their political equivalents). The Bush Administration had better rethink this reluctance if it intends on retaining power in November. American voters are not going to be able to sort out these lies for themselves in the absence of a strong case by the Bush team.

Prior to the inception of hostilities in Iraq in March 2003, the Democratic Party with honorable exceptions like Senator Lieberman and Minority Leader Gephardt was a party of appeasers, demanding more time and more offerings to the Baghdad butcher to avoid a military conflict. From the day Baghdad was liberated in April 2003 and continuously through the present, the Democratic Party and its willing press have constituted a chorus of saboteurs, attacking the credibility, integrity and decency of the commander in chief, exaggerating, sensationalizing and magnifying every American setback or fault -- with the guilt orgy over Abu Ghraib the most egregious example – effectively tying the hands of American forces in the field and encouraging the enemy’s resistance. The hard left actually celebrates this resistance. The soft and cowardly left merely encourages it while pretending not to notice what is doing.

In either case – and in both cases – what we are confronting in this spectacle is an unprecedented event in American political life. In the midst of a good war and a noble enterprise, a major American party is engaged in an effort to stab its own country in the back for short term political gain, and is willing to do to so by the most underhanded and unscrupulous means. CRO

This opinion piece first appeared at by permission of David Horowitz.




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