U.S. Credibility Gap

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There is a common observation about the local weather one will hear if he travels around the United States. You will be told, “If you don’t like the weather here, stick around a few days (or weeks) — it will change.”

Unfortunately, the same can be said about the explanations from the Bush administration or the military about current affairs of great national and international importance. Not only do the stories, the policies and the explanations change, but we often see curious patterns of explanation that wreak of deliberate dishonesty or, if you will, propaganda. Among the patterns one will see in this regard, a couple stand out:

First, make statement of fact. When it fails to come true, deny making the statement.

Or, make a statement of policy with an explanation of the reasoning and premise of the policy. When problems arise with the policy or the explanation, shift to an alternate explanation and pretend the first explanation was never given at all.

Examples:

Donald Rumsfeld and military advisors predicted a quick victory, within hours (or at maximum days) of the start of Allied operations. When quick victory did not occur, denials are issued regarding ever claiming having said that victory would be rapid.

Ditto predictions of minimal Iraqi resistance. When unexpected fierce resistance occurs, the administration and the military change story to saying they expected heavy resistance all along.

Regarding necessity of war — early explanation of urgency for war focused on Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction. When no proof of such weapons could be found by inspectors, emphasis shifted to “liberation” of Iraqi citizens from repressive regime.

Regarding adequacy of military strength of coalition forces — originally the force was completely adequate for quick victory. After unexpected resistance, 100,000+ additional soldiers are requested for campaign.

Regarding pace of advance into Iraq — first reports indicate stupendous feat of reaching Baghdad area within only a few days. Then, after facing heavy resistance, value of rapid advance is forgotten and plans laid for siege of Baghdad. According to Generals, war plan was SO FLEXIBLE that polar opposites in strategy could all be accommodated in the same war plan, and no “problems” exist whatsoever in prosecution of the war.

Status of Saddam Hussein after “decapitation of regime” aerial attack –probably dead, probably alive, probably dead, probably alive; doesn’t matter if dead or alive; probably dead, probably alive; will be dead soon if not already.

Use of precision munitions — weapons highly accurate, civilians never targeted; civilians killed by accident or by weapon failure; weapons highly accurate, civilians never targeted; hundreds of civilians killed so far by precision munitions.

Attitude of Iraqi population — just waiting for “liberation” and to take up arms against regime; civilians firing on coalition forces; paramilitary forces attacking tanks from civilian vehicles; taxi driver “murders” Marines with suicide bomb; but civilians still waiting for opportunity to overthrow regime.

Reaction to Iraqi chemical weapons suits after discovery — horrible and threatening; American troops regularly don chemical protection gear which is kept readily available.

Security of supply lines from Iraqi counterattacks — no problem, according to U.S. generals; request sent for reinforcements and reports of food and supply shortages to U.S. units.

Ecological problems associated with this warfare — U.S. emphasizes potential threat of oil field fires and deliberate release of oil to environment; massive tank and mechanized warfare degrades biological soil crusts in desert and massively wreck ecology of fragile desert; large-scale use of depleted uranium spreads radioactivity waste for 4.5 billion years.

“Fairness” doctrine of warfare — U.S. decries use of civilian disguise, suicide bombings, paramilitary attacks and ambushes; claims “air superiority” for massive bombing and missile campaign against which Iraqi military and civilians are essentially totally defenseless.

Expected future pace of conflict — generals say should be quick and violent; lay plans for siege of Baghdad (to no doubt result in massive civilian suffering: siege designed to promote Iraqi overthrow of regime, while world’s most powerful military stands back and watches.

Multiplicity of differing strategic goals continue to be restated at whim – regime change, liberation of Iraqi citizens, disarming wpm’s, (economic interests of U.S. never mentioned, despite clear evidence that it is the primary policy cause of war).

Impacts on war reporting on American psyche — “embedded” journalists act as Pentagon spokespersons; complaints over too much realism in reporting; gruesome photos “inappropriate” (though gruesome war-oriented movies glorifying U.S. warfare are routinely shown at home); “feelings” of next of kin play role in reporting of raw numbers of casualties, according to military spokesperson (are next of kin keeping tallies of total casualties?)

Illegalities of Iraqi war actions emphasized by U.S. military; illegality of war itself stressed by activists and dissidents; illegalities of U.S. military actions (cluster bomb use, depleted uranium use, prisoner of war treatment, etc.) emphasized by Iraqis and world at large.

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Bottom line — almost NOTHING said by the U.S. government can be taken at face value as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Realization of this causes knowledgeable public and world citizens to seriously doubt ANYTHING stated by the Bush administration or the U.S. military.

The writer is a member of several falconry and ornithological clubs and organizations. He contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from California, USA.

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