Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Use of Weapons

So President Bush is to announce his long awaited new strategy for Iraq today (actually 2am, Thursday morning in British money).

If you aren't intending to stay up to watch his speech, here's an exclusive BSSC preview.

Bush's trusted cabal of foreign policy advisers are ideologically committed to the use of violence as the main means to achieve their objectives. They believe that the U.S. government's current difficulties are due to the fact that they have not used enough violence, that their problems would be solved if they could really take the gloves off and let rip. That's one of the reasons why they are so hostile to the "liberal" media; TV pictures of the actual consequences of the U.S. use of violence in far away places, beamed into the living rooms of the American public, act as a restraint on their ability to pursue their agenda.

The conviction that violence is the primary solution is held with religious fervour and no amount of real world evidence or rational argument will shake their faith in the power of violence. This week's attacks on "suspected terrorists" in Somalia are an expression of that belief.

Bush is essentially going to announce more of the same as the solution to Iraq's problems.

These same advisers, this same mindset, will also be the main influence on President Bush's decisions on policy towards Iran. In an earlier post, I highlighted this report from the NYS which claimed that the U.S. government had captured intelligence which showed that Iran has been playing Sunni against Shiite in Iraq in order to provoke civil war. The claims made in that article have spread like a rash.

Mel Phillips, unsurprisingly, has swallowed them whole, even going so far as to say that it is "blindingly obvious " that Iran is "the principle instigator" of the current war. As Mel doesn't allow comments on her own site, I decided to ask one of her supporters on the CiF thread ( why it was that this apparently hugely significant find had been announced by anonymous officials to the NYS. Why, I asked, had Bush himself not made any reference to these claims. No answer was forthcoming but this oddity did nothing to dent Sluijser's confidence in the essential truth of the claims made in the article.

There is one possibility (other than the obvious one that the claims are entirely spurious). It has been exactly one week since the NYS claimed that the U.S. government has this damning intelligence. I can't find the link now but I read one anonymous official tell the Washington Post (I think) that President Bush's comments on Iran in today's speech would be "informed by" the claims made in the NYS article. Is Bush saving this bombshell for today's speech?

If he goes on record with these claims, I'll be extremely surprised and I'd still want the captured documents made available to independent experts for translation and corroboration before giving any weight to them. It is, however, far more likely that he will insinuate that the claims are true without actually saying so directly. Frothing warmongers will then complain that he didn't go far enough, that he should have made the case explicit, that he should have published the captured intelligence, without considering possibility that he didn't do any of these things for the very good reasons that the intelligence doesn't actually exist.

In the campaign to build popular support for the invasion of Iraq, this method, using anonymous briefings and playing to the prejudices of friendly journalists and warbloggers, was how the direct link between Saddam and the September 11th attacks was created in the minds of the American people (some of them at least). When Bush says he never claimed that there was such a link - "This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda" - he's not lying. All he ever did was imply one; his army of useful idiots did the rest.

Unless I'm very much mistaken, it's all just a little bit of history repeating.


sam_m said...

I fear you may be chasing your tail getting wound up about either the New York Sun or Melanie Phillips. I don't know either carry that much influence.

The NYS article gets as far as page 2 to observe that the captured Iranians were there at the invitation of the Iraq Govt. Presumably these guys and by page 3 has a named former State Dept analyst saying you should be cautious about the conclusions you draw.

What is curious is that the two Iranian "diplomats" were held in a raid on a compound belonging to Abdul Aziz Hakim who, a month before, had met Bush at the White House.
Why would the US Army raid someone who'd just met the Pres.??

CuriousHamster said...

It's true that I've been slightly obsessed with this article but two things bug me about it. The first is the question of where the NYS got the story from.

I strongly suspect that they weren't lying when they claimed their sources were intelligence officials. Journalists (like Con Coughlin)do sometimes pass on disinformation from their intelligence services. This sort of thing happened before the Iraq war and it looks like it might be happening again now.

The second point is about circulation. I agree about the NYS (and Mel) but it's the way these claims are spread by the credulous which really does the damage.

For example, I found the article originally via Iraq the Model, a very popular blog in some circles. Other high profile blogs have also linked to the article. Technorati says 129 links but given its unreliabilty, that's certainly an underestimate. The article will als ohave been doing the rounds via email.

And then there's other forms of media. Ynet and Newsmax are two examples of media outlets who have reported that "the NYS says..." and many others will have too. The story may have only appeared in a provincial rag but it'll have reached much further than that.

This sort of nonsense is not going to convince sceptics of course, but that's not the point. This is "dog whistle" stuff; it's aimed at people who are predisposed towards believing it, the same people who make up Bush's "base". As long as he can keep enough of them onside, he probably feels he can go ahead with military action against Iran.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into it but it worries me, particularly after what we saw in 2002/03.

prince said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CuriousHamster said...

Bloody Spam.