A free press or a Ministry of Truth?
By Paul Craig Roberts
Online Journal Guest Writer
Jul 18, 2007, 01:35
In his novel 1984, George Orwell portrayed a future
time in which the explanations of recent events and earlier history are
continually changed to meet Big Brother�s latest purpose. Previous explanations
disappear down �the memory hole.�
Sound familiar? Any American who pays attention can observe
the identical phenomenon occurring in the US today.
Think about the Bush Regime�s changing explanations for the failed
US occupation of Iraq. Shortly after Bush�s May 2003 announcement of �mission
accomplished,� the mission revealed itself to be very much
unaccomplished. Americans were told that the cause of the snafu was a small
Sunni insurgency of two or three thousand at the most inspired by �diehard
Baath party remnants.� Remember the propagandistic deck of
cards identifying the most wanted down to the less wanted? Americans were
assured that once Saddam Hussein and his relatives and henchmen were rounded
up, our troops would be pelted with the promised flowers instead of roadside
When the roundups, trials, and executions failed to fix the
problem, the �diehard� explanation disappeared. A new explanation, with no
continuity to the old, took its place.
The new explanation was that Syria was allowing foreigners to cross its border
into Iraq to commit jihad against the American troops. This explanation
lasted until it became all too clear, despite the propaganda, that the �foreign
fighters� were remarkably well accepted by, and concealed within, the Iraqi
communities that were suffering all the collateral damage of the conflict.
When it came time for the US to create an Iraqi government,
it was evident that it would be one dominated by Shi�ites. Then, for a limited
time, it was permissible to recognize that the insurgency was popularly based
in the Sunnis.
As the insurgency evolved into what the Iraq Study Group
described as a Sunni-Shi�ite civil war [ PDF ] with US troops unclear
on which side they stood, the Bush Regime and the captive media began blaming
Al Qaeda for the escalating violence. Americans were assured by the Ministry of
Truth that there wasn�t a civil war, just outsiders stirring up conflict. This
enabled Big Brother to deny that there was a civil war and to revive fear of
terrorist attacks in the US and UK, the new Oceania.
The Al Qaeda explanation was soon discarded into the memory
hole. The explanation implied that Oceania�s invasion of Iraq had greatly
expanded the ranks and strength of Al Qaeda, thus contradicting big Brother�s
claim that his war in Iraq was making Oceanians safe by stamping out terrorism.
The Al Qaeda explanation had to depart for another reason as well. Cheney,
Israel, and the neocons, the rulers of the new Oceania, plan
to attack Iran, and so the insurgency in Iraq is now being blamed on Iran.
The Ministry of Truth has accommodated the latest
explanation, just as it did all others before, without remarking on the funeral
of the previous explanation. All of a sudden, a new explanation appears and is
repeated until it, too, goes down the memory hole.
The American and British media work the same way as the
Ministry of Truth in Oceania. A day arrives when the �truth� no longer serves
the empire or hegemonic power or center of moral purpose in the world, or for
short, the regime. When that day arrives, a new explanation appears and is
repeated until it, too, is discarded down the memory hole.
In recent weeks Americans have been fed a series of reports
from official sources that Iran is arming both Iraqi insurgents and the Taliban
in Afghanistan. Experts, both within the government and without, who have been
made more attentive by the Bush Regime�s false charges of Iraqi weapons of mass
destruction, have disputed the news reports.
But the reports keep on coming. As I write, the latest story
is that the US military �discovered a field of rocket launchers near a US army
base south of Baghdad armed with 34 Iranian-made missiles.� Can you imagine?
The insurgents went to the trouble of lugging powerful missiles within striking
distance of a US base and just left them there unfired to be discovered by the
Americans. To further serve Cheney�s plan to attack Iran, the media report
states: �Earlier this month, US commanders stepped up the charges
[against Iran], claiming that senior leaders of Iran�s special forces and of
the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah militia have trained Iraqi fighters and provided
other support.� [US finds Iranian rockets aimed at Iraq base, Agence France
Presse, July 14,2007]
Notice that none of the explanations fed to Americans over
the years have ever mentioned, even as a faint possibility, that the US
invasion and occupation of Iraq might be the cause of the violence in Iraq.
Allegedly, the US is a free and open country with a free
press and a government accountable to the people. Yet, the information fed to
the American people is as thoroughly false as that fed to the citizens of Oceania
by Big Brother through the Ministry of Truth in Orwell�s famous novel.
In Orwell�s novel, despite the totalitarian power of the
government, nothing happens to people as long as they accept the government�s
intrusive monitoring of their lives and do not become interested in truth or
facts. In such a world, truth and individuality pass out of human consciousness
and become unimportant. Citizens survive by accepting Big Brother�s
This is what the mainstream media in the US and UK are
enabling the new Oceania to accomplish. It is pointless to complain about a few
Judith Millers here
and there at the New York Times, or the obvious warmongers at the Weekly
Standard, Fox �News,� and Wall Street Journal editorial page. The
entire corporate media is behaving as a Ministry of Truth.
Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the
Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side
Revolution : An Insider's Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation
and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown:
Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the
co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The
Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the
Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter
Brimelow�s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of
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