We are back in 1964, and Uncle Sam is playing the same old game of deceit and outright lies in order to justify a premeditated military agenda.
In the summer of that year, the Americans were playing war games off the Vietnamese coast, harassing North Vietnamese boats in Tonkin Gulf and teasing Hanoi’s radar systems with mock attacks to make them reveal their placements for the purposes of a future confrontation.
It was all part of 34A, a programme of covert operations against the North that included mining harbours, blowing up bridges and other acts of sabotage in an attempt to provoke the North into a fight. Eventually, what came to be known as the Tonkin incident happened, and the US produced a version of it that showed the Americans as the victims of acts of aggression mounted by the “Communists from the North.”
After the first “retaliatory” attacks by the US military, president Lyndon Johnson could gloat, “I did not just screw Ho Chi Minh. I cut his pecker off.” The rest is history, as they say. The world witnessed the inexplicable military escalation in Southeast Asia, where hundreds of thousands of young people on both sides lost their lives and limbs for something that is still hard to wrap one’s head around. The lies told by the US administration to justify this war of aggression were not new, and they were not to be the last either.
In the months leading to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, we witnessed the lies told by the Americans, led by Collin Powell at the United Nations, about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. In the end, though the UN refused to swallow this lie, George W Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, the toppling and hanging of Saddam.
Lies are instruments of governance all over the world, but the American government seems to have a special bond with untruths. I think of Powell and wonder what he must be telling his grandchildren now about his role in that UN shouting match with Dominique de Villepin, the French foreign minister; does he have feelings of shame?
I will not ask that question of George W, and most certainly not of the current president, Donald Trump, whose own citizens are keeping a lie-o-metre on him: The Washington Post has tallied more than 10,000 lies for just the three years he has been in office, and it is suggested that in each successive year he tells more lies than the preceding year. In other words, this is a man that is incapable of telling the truth to save his own life.
Now, given the history of lies produced by American rulers over the years, exacerbated by the incumbency of a pathological liar, how much credence should the world give to claims by Trump and his acolytes that Iran has attacked oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman?
There is something unsettling about these claims. By scrapping the comprehensive nuclear deal that Iran signed with a number of Western powers – a deal Iran seemed to be respecting – Trump was refusing to accept the loss of one important target of his wrath, and, possibly, of American military hardware in the Gulf area.
SPOILING FOR A FIGHT
I think the US war machine is spoiling for a fight. There are low-key wars around… in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen, in Somalia, in Mali, in Cameroon, in South Sudan and elsewhere where insurgents and failed/failing states are at each other’s throats and are both dependent on Uncle Sam for materiel and other supplies.
But these are all meagre pickings. Iran would be it, a real tough nut to crack, necessitating the moving into overdrive of all the weaponry-producing factories that the lobbyists on Capitol Hill are working for. Incidentally, Trump’s choices to fill the longstanding empty post of defence secretary include those Capitol Hill lobbyists.
Apart from defending the interests of the Zionist state of Israel in its occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people, a confrontation with Tehran would jerk into overdrive the weapons industries in America.
It was the American president Dwight Eisenhower who warned of the emergence of the military-industrial complex back in 1958. It has now become a gluttonous behemoth that devours all before it, and lies are what it uses to prey on the world.
Now they are telling us that Iran, the main pillar of Shia Islam, is in bed with Al Qaeda, the staunchly Sunni organisation that considers Shias as apostates! Anything goes!
Jenerali Ulimwengu is chairman of the board of the Raia Mwema newspaper and an advocate of the High Court in Dar es Salaam. E-mail: [email protected]