It is very distressing to many Canadians to see the Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly and Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains twittering like tweens from Washington with those they clearly consider to be the heroes of modern American history, war criminals Henry Kissinger and Colin Powell. It brings the Trudeau government no honour to portray people such as these as someone to emulate.
March 19 was the 13th anniversary of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. It is well known that it was justified by lies about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) told by Colin Powell, then Secretary of State for the Bush II administration and formerly .Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman of the Bush I administration during the Persian Gulf War. According to an exhaustive investigative project, Powell issued 244 false statements about WMD in Iraq and 10 about Iraq’s links to al Qaeda. (Charles Lewis, 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity, New York: PubicAffairs/Perseus, 2014)
As evidence of the United States’s willingness to lie to its own people, its allies, and the “international community,” let us offer just one example.
These lies were presented by Powell to the United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003 to present what he called definitive secret intelligence proving the existence of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons in Iraq. He gravely warned of nefarious Iraqi germ weapons that threatened the world. The Secretary of State even went out of his way to try to emulate the famous moment, on October 23, 1962, when Ambassador Adlai Stevenson introduced photographs taken by a low-flying U-2 spy plane showing Russian missiles in Cuba. Powell came with his own blowups of satellite reconnaissance photos and fanciful drawings of bio-warfare vans. The audio and video displays Powell used to show his evidence falsely claiming Iraq possessed mobile bioweapons labs and was linked to al-Qaeda and reinforce his speech were slick and dramatic, with fast cuts and professional editing shown on big-screen monitors. Powell even fingered a little phial of white powder that everyone took to be anthrax. Apparently to add to the credibility of his presentation, Powell placed behind him the Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, who appeared in virtually all television pictures of Powell’s speaking. Tenet made no comment, but his presence seemed to imply that what Powell had to say came with the full backing of the CIA.
Author Craig Unger noted in The Fall of the House of Bush (2007) that the effectiveness of the disinformation was boosted by “the tremendous presence, charisma, and stature of Colin Powell. For Powell to come before the UN and lend his gravitas and moral authority to the Bush administration’s case for war gives that case tremendous credence it had heretofore lacked.” The invasion of Iraq killed hundreds of thousands of people and left devastation, chaos and fratricide to this day.
Canadian newspapers such as the Globe and Mail and the National Post, both of which campaigned for war, reprinted the entire transcript of Powell’s speech verbatim, complete with the fake graphics, to disinform the Canadian people.
Powell, the one with the public dove persona, is the man who also did and said the following:
- He recommended the 1989 invasion of Panama to President George H. W. Bush, an action that violated international law and was certain to kill thousands of civilians (estimates vary from 1000 to 4000 dead).
- He was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – the principal military adviser to the president, the secretary of defence, and the National Security Council – during both the 1989 invasion of Panama and the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War, both of which involved violation of the UN Charter and the Geneva Convention, as well as of basic human rights. As the highest military officer in those conflicts, he is responsible for those violations. He never expressed opposition to any of the warmongering and destructive policies involved.
- Just six days after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Powell presented a new strategy document to Bush, proposing that the US shift its strategic focus from countering the Soviet Union to ensuring US world dominance. Bush accepted this plan in a public speech, with slight modifications, on August 2, 1990, the same day Iraq invaded Kuwait.
- He propounded the infamous Powell doctrine: “When you have to intervene, do so with maximum force.” Given the way the US wages war, with planes dropping bombs from 30,000 feet up, with an incredible array of technological firepower, what this really means is “kill civilians.” Over time, the US has been killing a larger and larger percentage of civilians in its wars, directly from the bombing and indirectly because of the almost total destruction of infrastructure, as in Iraq and Yugoslavia. Using maximal force in accord with the Powell doctrine is the reason for this.
- In 1990 he helped specifically to scuttle the Soviet deal that could have averted the ground war in Iraq, proposing to Bush a strategy for going ahead with the invasion while placating the Soviets.
- When asked by a reporter how many Iraqis had been killed in the American bombing, he said, “It’s really not a number I’m terribly interested in.”
- After the Persian Gulf War, he threatened the FMLN in El Salvador with US military force if they didn’t effectively capitulate to the El Salvador government.
- In early 1992, Powell told members of Congress that the US required “sufficient power” to “deter any challenger from ever dreaming of challenging us on the world stage.” He said, “I want to be the bully on the block.”
- Powell’s first combat assignment in the Vietnam War was in the “strategic hamlet” program. In 1968, he was charged with responding to a letter by Tom Glen, a soldier in the Americal division, which charged American soldiers with indiscriminately shooting at the enemy, and with severe beatings and torture of civilians. Powell wrote a response denying the allegations, claiming that “relations between Americal soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent.” This is the division which committed the My Lai Massacre. In his memoirs, he defends the common US practice in Vietnam of forcibly displacing people and destroying their homes – the “strategic hamlet” program. He also defends the practice of murdering unarmed male Vietnamese. His knowledge of these practices made his dismissal of Glen’s charges particularly egregious.
As for Kissinger
As for Kissinger, besides his key roles in the coup and reign of terror in Chile in 1973; the deaths of millions of people from the most barbaric and depraved bombing campaigns against Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia; as well as many lesser known crimes such as giving official approval to the Indonesian massacres in East Timor, he is also the man who said the following:
- “The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.” — March 10, 1975, to the Turkish Foreign Minister Melih Esenbel in Ankara, Turkey.
- “It’s wave after wave of planes. You see, they can’t see the B-52 and they dropped a million pounds of bombs … I bet you we will have had more planes over there in one day than Johnson had in a month … each plane can carry about 10 times the load of World War II plane could carry.” — April 15, 1972, in a meeting with Richard Nixon on the bombing of Vietnam.
- “It is an act of insanity and national humiliation to have a law prohibiting the President from ordering assassination.” — 1975, at a National Security Council meeting.
- “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.” — 1970, discussing the election of Salvadore Allende as President of Chile.
*Revised and expanded an article in TML Weekly. File from Nowar Collective <http://www.nowarcollective.com/gulfwarfactsheet.htm>
Subscribe to receive TML Weekly by e-mail at cpcml.ca