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Be Very Afraid: Bush Productions is going into action........
by Saima Alvi
25 August 2002 09:34 UTC
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Be Very Afraid: Bush Productions is going into action
------------------------------------------------------
 
by Robert Fisk; UK Independent; August 17, 2002  

I have always been a sucker for wide-screen epics.
Ever since my Dad took me to see Quo Vadis  which
ends with centurion Robert Taylor heading off to his
execution with his bride on his arm  I've been on the
movie roller-coaster. My dad didn't make a great
distinction between the big pictures and B-movies; he
managed to squeeze Hercules Unchained in between Ben
Hur and Spartacus. But the extraordinary suspension of
disbelief provided by the cinema carried me right
through to Titanic, Pearl Harbor and Gladiator. Awful
they may be. Spectacular they are.

But the important thing, as my dad used to tell me,
was to remember that the cinema did not really imitate
reality. Newly converted Christian centurions did not
go so blithely to their deaths nor did love reign
supreme on the Titanic. The fighter pilots of Pearl
Harbor did not perform so heroically, nor did wicked
Roman emperors die so young. From John Wayne's The
Green Berets, war films have lied to us about life and
death. After the crimes against humanity in New York
and Washington last September, I suppose it was
inevitable that the Pentagon and the CIA would call on
Hollywood for ideas  yes, the movie boys actually did
go to Washington to do a little synergy with the local
princes of darkness. But when Vice-President Cheney
and Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld turned up together
for the premier of Black Hawk Dawn, I began to get
worried.

After all, if the Bush administration is so keen on
war, it better work out the difference between
Hollywood and the real thing. Yet what we've been
getting is a movie version of reality, a work of
fiction to justify the prospect of "war without end".
It started, of course, with all the drivel about
"crusades" and "war against terror" and "war against
evil", the now famous "they hate us because we are a
democracy", the "axis of evil" and most recently  it
would be outlandishly funny if this trash hadn't come
from the Rand Corporation  the "kernel of evil". The
latter, by the way, is supposed to be Saudi Arabia,
but it might just as well have been Iran, Iraq, Syria
or anywhere west of the Pecos. Along with this tosh,
history is being falsified. Even a crime movie
supplies a motive for the crime but after 11
September, Bush Productions would allow no motives to
be discussed. The identity and religion of the
perpetrators was permissible information: they were
Arabs, Muslims. But the moment any of us suggested
glancing towards the area from which these Arabs came
 an area rich in injustice, oppression, occupation
and UN-sanctioned child death  we were, as I've
described before in this column, subjected to a
campaign of calumny.

As Bush's regional enemies grew in number to include
not just al-Qa'ida but Iraq and Iran and their allies,
a fabric of stories began to be woven. Last June, for
example, we had Donald Rumsfeld spinning tales about
Iran. At a press conference in Qatar  these lies can
be spun, please note, just as well in the Arab world
as in the West  Rumsfeld told us that Iranians "are
engaging in terrorist activities and transporting
people down through Damascus and into the Bekaa
Valley. They have harboured al-Qa'ida and served as a
facilitator for the movement of al-Qa'ida out of
Afghanistan down through Iran."

Now the implication of all this is that al-Qa'ida men
were being funnelled into Lebanon with the help of
Iran and Syria. Yet we know that Iran, far from
"transporting" al-Qa'ida men to Syria, has been
packing them off to Saudi Arabia for imprisonment and
possible death. We know that the Syrians have locked
up an important al-Qa'ida official. The Americans have
since acknowledged all this. And, save for 10 Lebanese
men hiding in a Palestinian camp  who may have no
contact with al-Qa'ida  there isn't a single Osama
bin Laden follower in Lebanon.

So Hezbollah had to be lined up for attack. The
Washington Post did the trick with the following last
month: "The Lebanon-based Hezbollah organisation, one
of the world's most formidable terrorist groups, is
increasingly teaming up with al-Qa'ida on logistics
and training for terrorist operations, according to US
and European intelligence officials and terrorism
experts." This tomfoolery was abetted by Steven Simon,
who once worked for the US National Security Council
and who announced that "there's a convergence of
objectives. There's something in the 'zeitgeist' that
is pretty well established now." Except, of course 
zeitgeist notwithstanding  it is simply untrue.

The Washington Post had already lined up the
Palestinians as America's enemies  again "terrorism
experts" were the source of this story  by telling
its readers in May that "the sheer number of suicide
belt-bombers attacking Israel this spring has
increased fear among terrorism experts that the tactic
will be exported to the United States".

A similar theme was originally used to set up Saddam
Hussein as an al-Qa'ida ally. Back in March, George
Tenet, the CIA director, stated that Baghdad "has also
had contacts with al-Qa'ida", although he somewhat
diluted this bald statement by adding that "the two
sides' mutual antipathy toward the United States and
the Saudi royal family suggests that tactical
cooperation between them is possible". Note the
discrepancy here between "has also had contacts" and
"is possible".

On the West Bank, Rumsfeld has already talked about
the "so-called occupied" territories, a step down from
William Safire's outrageous column in The New York
Times last March in which he admonished us not to call
the occupied territories occupied. "To call them
'occupied' reveals a prejudice against Israel's right
to what were supposed to be 'secure and defensible'
borders," he wrote. Now we have Condoleezza Rice,
President Bush's National Security Adviser, telling us
that "Arafat is somebody who failed to lead when he
had a chance. Ehud Barak gave him a terrific
opportunity to lead. And what did they get in return?
Arafat started the second intifada instead and
rejected that offered hand of friendship".

Now it's true that Ms Rice's knowledge of the Middle
East gets dimmer by the week, but this palpable
falsification is now the Washington "line". No
mention, you'll note, that Arafat was supposed to
"lead" by accepting Israeli sovereignty over all of
Jerusalem, no mention of a "right of return" for a
single refugee, of the settlements built illegally
outside east Jerusalem in Israeli hands, of the
10-mile-wide Israeli buffer zone round "Palestine", of
scarcely 46 per cent of the 22 per cent of Palestine
under negotiation to be given to Palestinians.

It's not difficult to see what's going on. It's not
just al-Qa'ida who are the "enemy". It's Iraq, Syria,
Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia. Bush Productions are
setting up the Arab world. We are being prepared for a
wide-screen epic, a spectacle supported by Hollywood
fiction and a plot of lies. Alas, my dad is no longer
with us to remind them all that cinema does not
imitate reality, that war films lie about life and
death.

http://zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=15&ItemID=2232

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