A lot of ink has been spilled over the Iraq War, but one thing which has always been left understated is the sheer diligence of the ghouls involved. How did they manage to tell a lie so big, so convincingly that hundreds of thousands of young men pledged their limbs, lives or mental health to the task of making Dick Cheney’s mates rich and extending Tony Blair’s lease in Downing Street?
It was a majestic operation in organised depravity – the crime of the century – which like all great films only sets a sequel up for dismal failure.
America’s 2019 attempt to unite the world in hostility to Iran has, in contrast, been less than watertight.
On the 13th of June a second vessel was damaged near the Straight of Hormuz. Like the Norwegian ship damaged three months before, no parties involved corroborated the American tale of Iranian aggression behind this incident, this time on a Japanese vessel. More still, the CEO of the freight company taking the hit even directly contradicted it, claiming that the crew definitely saw an aerial missile or bullet hit the ship instead of a mine, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo purports.
A picture of the damaged vessel released by Reuters quite clearly shows that the ship was penetrated above water line, and unless Iranian mines have somehow learned to jump, this supports the much more plausible Japanese missile explanation rather than the American conspiracy theory. MSNBC couldn’t pick holes in this wafer-thin explanation that a child would intuitively meet with skepticism, despite apparently becoming experts in dezinformatsiya over the past three years. Rachel Maddow and other bastions of the hashtag resistance happily parrot the Trump narrative when the prospect of carpet-bombing some brown people in the name of freedom is on the table.
The same methods, talking points, and media avenues are being used to drum up war against Iran as were used in 2003, only this time employed by the dregs of the military-industrial complex brat pack such as Mike Pompeo, having exhausted its prime stock in the Dick Cheneys of this world long ago. The passion for neocolonial expansion is there but the ducks aren’t in a row. Not for lack of trying, John Bolton has failed to capture the same intoxicating fear as the post 9/11 window of opportunity. The stifling sense of American omnipotence no longer paralyses the sane voices in the international community, highlighted especially in Germany’s refusal to take the American explanation for the tanker crisis at face value.
Perhaps the rise of social media has made the job of stacking the general public more difficult? Would Alistair Campbell’s ‘dodgy dossier’ have been properly scrutinised if he had been getting ratioed on Twitter every day in 2003 like he is now? For all its flaws, social media has certainly democratised the media landscape and made it more difficult to bang the war drums, but a simple browse through Twitter makes it obvious that the xenophobia, fear and exhilarating unity of nationalism and conflict haven’t been eradicated by any means, in fact are possibly incited more easily.
Coupled with the failure of Juan Guaido’s US-backed coup in Venezuela, it’s easy to view this as symptomatic of deteriorating late stage American empire. Watching the US fail to overthrow a South American leftist government is like watching Germany lose a penalty shootout: a fundamental strand of their DNA fails to behave as you’d expect.
Overall, however, I think it’s more accurate to view the architects of the Iraq War, from Bush to Blair to the CEOs of Haliburton and Shell, as once-in-a-lifetime exceptional psychopaths whose success will probably never be replicated in our lifetime. Anyway, it’s roughly a year until the next US election and much too early to ride that sweet war bump in the polls to electoral victory. Expect them to bring out the big guns, possibly quite literally, in 6 months or so.
As the organiser of the largest demonstration in British history in 2003 against the Iraq War, now is probably a good time to join the Stop the War Coalition.