Cheerleading for War

Cheerleading for War – by Stephen Lendman

When America goes to war, managed news goes with it spreading rumors, half-truths, misinformation, and willful deception about targeted nations, regimes and leaders, whether despots or democrats. Whoever first said it, the first casualty of war is truth, and then some as John Pilger once observed saying:

“Journalism is the first casualty. Not only that: it has become a weapon of war, a virulent censorship (and willful misreporting) that goes unrecognised in the United States, Britain and other democracies; censorship by omission, whose power is such that, in war, it can mean the difference between life and death for people in faraway countries….”

Managed news, in fact, jeopardizes free and open societies by substituting fiction for facts, carefully filtered reports for truth, and cheerleading propaganda for real journalism. As a result, wars of aggression are called liberating ones. Civil liberties are suppressed for our own good, and patriotism means going along with lawless governments, reigning death and destruction on defenseless nations for imperial, not noble, reasons.

Media support backs them, notably in America where dominant electronic and print reporting marches in lockstep with government policy, right or wrong.

As a result, dominant information sources (the major media) are in crisis as leading media scholar/critic/activist Robert McChesney once observed, saying:

“Going to war is arguably the single most important decision any society can make. The track record of the US news media in the twentieth century is that they often went along with fraudulent efforts to get the nation into one war or another” from WW I to today.

Each time with no exceptions, “administration(s) in power believed that (truth wouldn’t enlist) support (for) war. So they lied. The Pentagon Papers (exposed it about Southeast Asia) in shocking detail.”

Post-9/11 through Obama’s war on Libya, “the very debate over whether to go to war” is absent. Obama decides. The media salute, and public opinion is manipulated to say amen. Never discussed are justifiable reasons, choosing diplomacy over militarism, America acting as judge, jury and executioner, and cui bono fruits of war. Without them, they’d be none.

Said another way, absent the power and profit benefits, who’d wage them, especially capitalist America, generously enriching war profiteers that fund politicians for bottom line friendly policies.

As a result, government is unaccountable to the electorate. Democracy is the best money can buy, and wars are always imperial, not liberating ones, especially ones America wages.

Today, round the clock media coverage supports them. Long before television, media critic AJ Liebling said, “People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news.” Today it’s mostly TV, the dominant managed news source, supporting power, not truth, functioning as a propaganda system for elitist interests, especially on matters of war and peace.

Cheerleading 101

A March 21 New York Times editorial headlined, “At War in Libya” highlights it, saying:

“Col Muammar el-Qaddafi has long been a thug and a murderer who has never paid for his many crimes, including the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.” Thug and murderer, yes. Downing Pan Am Flight 103 proved false. He had nothing to do with it, clear evidence The Times suppresses to willfully lie to readers.

Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi was bogusly convicted for the December 21, 1988 bombing, then released last August because of terminal cancer and sent home to Libya. In fact, Scottish judges who convicted him knew he was innocent, saying so in their final opinion. In addition, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission’s investigation uncovered multiple reasons for believing his conviction was a gross miscarriage of justice, including no credible evidence of his involvement.

No witnesses, video, documentation, fingerprints or other corroboration linked him to the bomb inside a suitcase downing the plane. Even the court admitted:

“The absence of any explanation of the method by which the primary suitcase might have been placed on board KM180 (Air Malta to Frankfort) is a major difficulty'” in the case.

Further, misreporting claimed Gaddafi admitted fault. In fact, he said Libya would take responsibility for the crime, solely to have international sanctions against him lifted.

The dominant media know it, including The Times, but never reported it. Instead, they distort, exaggerate, lie, and, and suppress uncomfortable truths to support state and corporate interests, even at the cost of innocent lives.

As a result, The Times editorial praised Obama’s decision to bomb, never questioning why, whether alternatives should have been considered, or rule of law considerations. Instead, it admitted:

— “no perfect formula for military intervention;”

— the importance of “us(ing) it sparingly;” and

— abstaining in Bahrain, Yemen, other regional uprisings, and Occupied Palestine is justified.

In contrast, it called Libya “a specific case,” saying Gaddafi “is erratic, widely reviled, armed with mustard gas and has a history of supporting terrorism,” ignoring other worse regional despots than him, notably Israeli leaders armed with nuclear weapons, other sophisticated ones, no shyness about using them, regularly attacking Palestinians, besieging Gazans, and waging lawless wars on Lebanon and Gaza with impunity.

In fact, Times and other major media reporters, op-ed, and editorial writers wholeheartedly support them, a chilling example of hypocrisy and biased journalism.

On March 23 Washington Post editorial headlined, “Confused in Libya,” saying:

“The only solution to Libya’s crisis….is the removal of Mr. Gaddafi from power. (Obama) still seems to lack a coherent strategy for accomplishing that aim.” He needs to “(e)xercise US leadership….many (unnamed) Arabs have been puzzled and even outraged by (his) manifest reluctance to support a revolution (in fact, a US/UK-instigated insurrection), aimed at overthrowing one of the region’s most vile dictatorships,” ignoring other worse regional ones.

On March 20, a Wall Street Journal op-ed headlined, “GOP on Libya: What’s Obama’s Goal?” saying:

“Republican lawmakers are glad (Obama) is intervening in Libya, but they’re not happy with how (he’s) carry(ing) out (his) decision to do so.” The same day, House Speaker John Boehner said:

Obama “has a moral obligation to stand with those who seek freedom from oppression and self-government for their people,” what’s, in fact, absent throughout the region, yet unmentioned in media commentaries or official statements.

Fox News contributor Bill Kristol wants ground troops in Libya as well as bombing. Ahead of hostilities, convicted Iran-Contra felon Elliot Abrams called Obama’s response “feeble….a non-response,” promoting war based on false information he cited. Bill O’Reilly headlined a commentary, “Getting Gaddafi,” wanting him ousted for the wrong reasons. Other figures on the left and right agree, supporting a lawless agenda to do it.

Peter Dale Scott expressed other concerns, comparing Libya to Iraq, saying:

“Both countries had a monstrous dictator. Both were subjected to no-fly zones. (They) don’t deter the dictator. In due course, this evolves into a massive intervention in which the government is overthrown and the opposition goes into an internal civil war while simultaneously attacking the invaders.”

Diana Johnstone asked “Is This Kosovo All Over Again?” saying:

Despite enormous differences, disturbing similarities include:

— right or wrong, vilifying a leader;

— “the ‘we must do something’ chorus;”

— evoking “crimes against humanity (and) genocide;”

— “leftist (narrow vision) idiocy,” mindlessly cheerleading for war;

— “refugees,” using over-the-top unexplained exaggeration;

— resurrecting bin Laden, despite compelling evidence he’s dead; and

— spurning negotiations, mediation, and diplomacy to pursue war, Washington’s favorite pastime.

As a result, expect protracted hostilities ahead, perhaps killing thousands, injuring and disabling many more, and causing widespread destruction and contamination from toxic munitions.

Once ended, Gaddafi may be gone, either dead or tried like Saddam then killed, and Libyans left no better off than Iraqis and Afghans, suffering horrifically under imperial occupation, a fate no one deserves.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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