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The lies we are told (Read 416 times)
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The lies we are told
Aug 27th, 2002 at 8:07am
By Doreen Miller,

There is an age-old adage that is well-understood and manipulated to the fullest by the media, advertising agencies, the military, politicians, indeed, anyone in a position of influence and power. It has been used time and again over the millennia to justify the invasions of other countries, to initiate or enter into wars, and to gain ultimate control over groups of people and countries. Hitler skillfully wielded it to sway a whole nation to persecute and attempt to exterminate the Jewish faith whom he blamed exclusively for Germany's problems. Contrary to what one might expect, this all-powerful axiom consists of three simple words: "Perception is everything."

How a person perceives something leads in turn to the creation of a set of beliefs which forms the basis of one's behavioral decisions. The control of information coupled with the knowledge that fear is a great motivator sets the stage for power-hungry leaders to begin practicing the ultimate in manipulation - getting others to do their bidding.

Those in positions of power knowingly concoct fabrications, half-truths, and outright lies, repeated ad nauseam through carefully controlled media, to create the fear-filled reality needed to further their own personal, often repulsive, agenda. The leaders of the United States are by no means exempt from this tactic, but are truly the masters of deceit.

U.S. leaders patriotically wave the mighty U.S. Constitution before the hypnotized eyes of the American populace, parade its noble and high moral obligations of equality, self-determination and liberty as the very fundament of the American spirit, and tout U.S. foreign policies as the embodiment of these lofty ideals. The American people are taught from a very young age that the intentions of their government and military are good, just, and honorable. After all, in the words of George W. Bush, we are a generous, "freedom- and peace-loving" nation.

Constant platitudes about our wonderfully sublime, brave, patriotic, and compassionate character are intended to shield us from the unspeakable truth of the very dark and evil side of our nation's history and foreign policies.

A long, hard look in the mirror will reveal that we are by far the most violent nation on earth. From the moment of our birth, we are immersed in a culture of violence and the glorification thereof as evident in the amount of violence that is found on TV, in movies, song lyrics, books, video games, etc. We have the highest numbers of rape and murder in the world and incarcerate the greatest percentage of our citizens. We are the largest producer and exporter of weapons of mass destruction and have the world's biggest military budget comprising 36 percent of the total world military spending and gobbling up more than 50 percent of our own national budget, according to the Center for Defense Information. (1)

Our history is desecrated by one long line of participation - both directly and indirectly - in genocides, wars, military invasions, CIA- backed overthrows of democratically elected governments, and the creation of militant insurgents, blood-thirsty dictators and terrorist death squads trained and armed at U.S. taxpayers' expense right here at Fort Benning, Georgia, at the infamous School of the Americas. (2)

Yet, the average U.S. American hears very little of what is actually being carried out in his or her name. Compliant media owned by the same global, profit-driven corporations that run our government see to it that the U.S. public is kept in the dark about the nature and truth of U.S. aggression around the world. After all, we need to maintain our pure and wholesome image. Perception is everything.

In the name of "national security," the U.S. invaded Panama more than twelve years ago in a military attack dubbed "Operation Just Cause." This unforgivable, internationally condemned act of aggression targeted and systematically destroyed poor, heavily populated, residential neighborhoods. Eyewitnesses report that US soldiers "shot at anything that moved." Twenty thousand homes were decimated, and it is estimated by the Human Rights Commission of Panama that more than 4,000 people were killed. To date, fifteen mass graves filled with hundreds of infants, women, children and elderly, some of whom were executed Nazi-style - each with a single bullet wound through the back of the head - have been discovered throughout the countryside.

None of this has ever been adequately been brought to the full attention of the U.S. public. Michael Parenti, author and professor, claims that during our invasion of Panama the media offered no critique, but rather "just about total collaboration with the administration." Why? It is because perception is everything, and we certainly do not wish to tarnish our false image of being a peaceful and freedom-loving people. Instead, TV news gave us coverage of George Bush Sr. standing before Congress, declaring the operation a "success" by openly lying, "Today democracy is restored. Panama is free," upon which he received a standing ovation. The truth is, there was no democracy to "restore" as Panama never was a democracy to begin with! According to Rear Admiral Eugene Carroll, Center for Defense Information, "Panama has never been a democracy since we created Panama for our own purposes in 1903." The only thing restored was U.S. hegemonic rule over Panama secured with a permanent U.S. military presence.

John Stockwell, a former CIA station chief and author of the book "In Search of Enemies," estimates that the United States is responsible for the deaths of more than 6 million people in various operations in Third World nations around the world. Our leaders blithely justify all of this under the rubric of "national security," a concept invented in 1947 with the inception of the CIA.

A congressional investigation conducted by Senator Church in 1975 found that during the 14 years prior, the CIA had been involved in 900 major and 3,000 minor operations throughout the world. Extrapolated over the CIA's 50+ year history, that amounts to more than 3,000 major and 10,000 minor covert operations carried out in full contempt of U.S. and international law.

Just recently, Washington has vowed to continue its murderous feeding frenzy by promising us a perpetual "War on Terrorism." Like the War on Drugs, the War on AIDS, the War on Poverty, or the War on Cancer, this new War on Terrorism attacks only the symptoms and ignores any in-depth investigation and elimination of the underlying causes and grievances that give rise to terrorism in the first place. Hence, it shall ultimately fail, serving to bring us less peace and security, not more. Responding to acts of terrorism with government-sanctioned terrorism (modern warfare) only leads to a vicious spiral of increasing violence and retribution, as can be seen so clearly in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Our "war" in Afghanistan (if you can call it that as Congress never did officially declare war), in spite of military reports of "success," has in actuality achieved none of its goals. All the United States has done is bomb a defenseless country. By analyzing media reports, Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire estimates that close to 4,000 Afghan civilians have been killed in the U.S. attempt to capture "dead or alive" one "evil" man (formerly on the CIA payroll). We have not apprehended Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar, nor have we dismantled the al Qaeda network. We have not brought stability to Afghanistan which continues to be troubled by infighting and rivalries between warlords. We are barely maintaining any kind of control within the city of Kabul, outside of which there continue to be clashes with al Qaeda fighters.

Now, following on the heels of this "model success story," U.S. leaders plan to attack Iraq to hunt down and oust another inherently "evil" man, Saddam Hussein, who until his invasion of Kuwait was our "good" ally against Iran. Over the past several months, the present administration has been stepping up the intensity and exaggeration of claims of the alleged threat that Saddam poses toward the U.S. The war hawks in Washington are deliberately equating unsubstantiated suspicions and hypothetical actions to hard evidence in order to instill terror in the hearts and minds of U.S. citizens in an attempt to gain public support for its invasion.

What the American people are not told is how utterly devastated the infrastructure of Iraq is after the Gulf War, twelve years of genocidal economic sanctions, and routine bombing runs. According to former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who has visited Iraq every year since the sanctions were put into place, "a major part of these aerial sorties has been directed at civilians and civilian facilities." In a July 29, 2002 letter to members of the UN Security Council, Clark outlines how the U.S. has destroyed Iraqi water systems, electric power transmission, communications, residential and business areas, transportation, food storage and manufacturing facilities, schools, hospitals, mosques... in short, every aspect of their society.

The economic sanctions insisted upon by the U.S. ban such crucial items as chlorine needed to purify drinking water and medical supplies and equipment needed to tend to the sick. The majority of deaths are among infants, children, the elderly, the sick and frail. Clark correctly identifies the sanctions against Iraq as "the greatest crime against humanity," and "a weapon of mass destruction" which has been "the direct cause of the very cruel deaths of more than one million people."

I, too, have been told first-hand accounts by an Iraqi woman of the horrendous living conditions and suffering of her people. It is a country that has been brutalized, terrorized, and brought to its knees at the hands of the U.S. , yet Bush proclaims it a serious threat to our national security!

According to Bush's line of reasoning, the U.S. should have attacked and invaded the USSR a long time ago as it, with its intercontinental nuclear missiles, was a definite threat to our security. However, the USSR had the full capacity to successfully defend itself, whereas Iraq, a much weaker, severely compromised "enemy," is easy prey. Is that how the U.S. asserts its world dominance, by kicking a nation that is already down and by killing thousands more of its innocent civilians?

I am convinced that the only reason many Americans are so gung ho for war (for what it's worth, at least that is what the polls tell us) is that we have never experienced the utter and indescribable horror of modern warfare on the soil of our own mainland. We have not suffered mega-ton, uranium depleted bombs raining down on us from on high, army tanks in our streets, artillery fire shattering our lives, cities being laid to rubble and waste with nowhere for us to run or hide, or the bloodied and mangled bodies of our children and loved ones dying in our arms.

For most Americans, war has always been a sort of Hollywood-esque abstraction, something "out there" that takes place in other countries. Media war coverage serves to maintain this false image of war as a precise, high-tech, and non-bloody affair by referring to bombings as "surgical strikes" and dehumanizing the killing of innocent civilians - somebody's loved ones, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, husbands, wives, parents and grandparents - as "collateral damage." The way war is depicted and glorified in this country is a direct insult to our deeper moral and spiritual intelligence.

Ramsey Clark courageously speaks the truth when he says, "This planet is deeply troubled, and the greatest cause of that trouble is our own government."

S. Brian Wilson, a Vietnam veteran and peace activist, was murdered when a weapons train carrying a shipment bound for South America deliberately ran over him while he was lying on the tracks in protest in an attempt to stop yet another delivery of murderous madness. He believed that if the U.S. was willing to spare just one life, his own, then maybe there was hope after all.

I leave you with a call to activism in waging peace and with some of Brian Wilson's compelling insight and timeless, soul-searching questions to ponder: "We're on a course leading to inevitable annihilation. … Do we want to be part of this course of ultimate destruction, or do we want to be part of hope and affirmation and justice for all people of the earth…? How can we continue as a civilization of 'We the People' if we have to do it at the expense of maiming and murder of people all over the world? … Are we going to watch this happen again? Do we just go about our business as usual and know that another 5,000 people will be killed in our name … [people] whose lives are being threatened by our guns and our money because we have to protect our 'national security'?"

[Doreen Miller lived, studied, worked and traveled abroad for several years, and is currently a Senior Lecturer and educator of international students. She dedicates part of her time to serving the elderly and Alzheimer patients. Mother, musician and poet, she pursues an avid interest in Buddhist and Eastern philosophy. She advocates human rights, social justice, fair trade, and environmental protection. Doreen lives in the United States.]


(1) See Center for Defense Information:

(2) See "School of the Americas, School of Assassins," documentary film narrated by Susan Sarandon

(3) "The Panama Deception," a documentary film narrated by Elizabeth Montgomery. Found at the following link:

(4) "Genocide by Sanctions," a documentary film created in 1998. Also see Ramsey Clark's book "Challenge to Genocide: Let Iraq Live." It can be found at the following link:
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