"For most Americans, war has always been a sort of
Hollywood-esque abstraction..."

The Lies We Are Told

By Doreen Miller
YellowTimes.org Columnist (
United States)

(YellowTimes.org) – There is an age-old adage that is
well-understood and manipulated to the fullest by the
media, advertising agencies, the military,
politicians, indeed, anyone in a position of influence
and power. It has been used time and again over the
millennia to justify the invasions of other countries,
to initiate or enter into wars, and to gain ultimate
control over groups of people and countries. Hitler
skillfully wielded it to sway a whole nation to
persecute and attempt to exterminate the Jewish faith
whom he blamed exclusively for
Germany's problems.
Contrary to what one might expect, this all-powerful
axiom consists of three simple words: "Perception is

How a person perceives something leads in turn to the
creation of a set of beliefs which forms the basis of
one's behavioral decisions. The control of information
coupled with the knowledge that fear is a great
motivator sets the stage for power-hungry leaders to
begin practicing the ultimate in manipulation -
getting others to do their bidding.

Those in positions of power knowingly concoct
fabrications, half-truths, and outright lies, repeated
ad nauseam through carefully controlled media, to
create the fear-filled reality needed to further their
own personal, often repulsive, agenda. The leaders of
United States are by no means exempt from this
tactic, but are truly the masters of deceit.

U.S. leaders patriotically wave the mighty U.S.
Constitution before the hypnotized eyes of the
American populace, parade its noble and high moral
obligations of equality, self-determination and
liberty as the very fundament of the American spirit,
and tout
U.S. foreign policies as the embodiment of
these lofty ideals. The American people are taught
from a very young age that the intentions of their
government and military are good, just, and honorable.
After all, in the words of George W. Bush, we are a
generous, "freedom- and peace-loving" nation.

Constant platitudes about our wonderfully sublime,
brave, patriotic, and compassionate character are
intended to shield us from the unspeakable truth of
the very dark and evil side of our nation's history
and foreign policies.

A long, hard look in the mirror will reveal that we
are by far the most violent nation on earth. From the
moment of our birth, we are immersed in a culture of
violence and the glorification thereof as evident in
the amount of violence that is found on TV, in movies,
song lyrics, books, video games, etc. We have the
highest numbers of rape and murder in the world and
incarcerate the greatest percentage of our citizens.
We are the largest producer and exporter of weapons of
mass destruction and have the world's biggest military
budget comprising 36 percent of the total world
military spending and gobbling up more than 50 percent
of our own national budget, according to the Center
for Defense Information. (1)

Our history is desecrated by one long line of
participation - both directly and indirectly - in
genocides, wars, military invasions, CIA- backed
overthrows of democratically elected governments, and
the creation of militant insurgents, blood-thirsty
dictators and terrorist death squads trained and armed
at U.S. taxpayers' expense right here at Fort Benning,
Georgia, at the infamous School of the Americas. (2)

Yet, the average U.S. American hears very little of
what is actually being carried out in his or her name.
Compliant media owned by the same global,
profit-driven corporations that run our government see
to it that the
U.S. public is kept in the dark about
the nature and truth of
U.S. aggression around the
world. After all, we need to maintain our pure and
wholesome image. Perception is everything.

In the name of "national security," the
U.S. invaded
Panama more than twelve years ago in a military attack
dubbed "Operation Just Cause." This unforgivable,
internationally condemned act of aggression targeted
and systematically destroyed poor, heavily populated,
residential neighborhoods. Eyewitnesses report that US
soldiers "shot at anything that moved." Twenty
thousand homes were decimated, and it is estimated by
the Human Rights Commission of Panama that more than
4,000 people were killed. To date, fifteen mass graves
filled with hundreds of infants, women, children and
elderly, some of whom were executed Nazi-style - each
with a single bullet wound through the back of the
head - have been discovered throughout the
countryside. (3)

None of this has ever been adequately been brought to
the full attention of the
U.S. public. Michael
Parenti, author and professor, claims that during our
invasion of
Panama the media offered no critique, but
rather "just about total collaboration with the
administration." Why? It is because perception is
everything, and we certainly do not wish to tarnish
our false image of being a peaceful and freedom-loving
people. Instead, TV news gave us coverage of George
Bush Sr. standing before Congress, declaring the
operation a "success" by openly lying, "Today
democracy is restored.
Panama is free," upon which he
received a standing ovation. The truth is, there was
no democracy to "restore" as
Panama never was a
democracy to begin with! According to Rear Admiral
Eugene Carroll, Center for Defense Information,
Panama has never been a democracy since we created
Panama for our own purposes in 1903." The only thing
restored was
U.S. hegemonic rule over Panama secured
with a permanent
U.S. military presence.

John Stockwell, a former CIA station chief and author
of the book "In Search of Enemies," estimates that the
United States is responsible for the deaths of more
than 6 million people in various operations in
nations around the world. Our leaders blithely
justify all of this under the rubric of "national
security," a concept invented in 1947 with the
inception of the CIA.

A congressional investigation conducted by
in 1975 found that during the 14 years prior,
the CIA had been involved in 900 major and 3,000 minor
operations throughout the world. Extrapolated over the
CIA's 50+ year history, that amounts to more than
3,000 major and 10,000 minor covert operations carried
out in full contempt of
U.S. and international law.

Just recently,
Washington has vowed to continue its
murderous feeding frenzy by promising us a perpetual
"War on Terrorism." Like the War on Drugs, the War on
AIDS, the War on Poverty, or the War on Cancer, this
new War on Terrorism attacks only the symptoms and
ignores any in-depth investigation and elimination of
the underlying causes and grievances that give rise to
terrorism in the first place. Hence, it shall
ultimately fail, serving to bring us less peace and
security, not more. Responding to acts of terrorism
with government-sanctioned terrorism (modern warfare)
only leads to a vicious spiral of increasing violence
and retribution, as can be seen so clearly in the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Our "war" in
Afghanistan (if you can call it that as
Congress never did officially declare war), in spite
of military reports of "success," has in actuality
achieved none of its goals. All the
United States has
done is bomb a defenseless country. By analyzing media
reports, Marc Herold of the University of New
Hampshire estimates that close to 4,000 Afghan
civilians have been killed in the U.S. attempt to
capture "dead or alive" one "evil" man (formerly on
the CIA payroll). We have not apprehended Osama bin
Laden or Mullah Omar, nor have we dismantled the al
Qaeda network. We have not brought stability to
Afghanistan which continues to be troubled by
infighting and rivalries between warlords. We are
barely maintaining any kind of control within the city
Kabul, outside of which there continue to be
clashes with al Qaeda fighters.

Now, following on the heels of this "model success
U.S. leaders plan to attack Iraq to hunt down
and oust another inherently "evil" man, Saddam
Hussein, who until his invasion of
Kuwait was our
"good" ally against
Iran. Over the past several
months, the present administration has been stepping
up the intensity and exaggeration of claims of the
alleged threat that Saddam poses toward the
U.S. The
war hawks in
Washington are deliberately equating
unsubstantiated suspicions and hypothetical actions to
hard evidence in order to instill terror in the hearts
and minds of
U.S. citizens in an attempt to gain
public support for its invasion.

What the American people are not told is how utterly
devastated the infrastructure of Iraq is after the
Gulf War, twelve years of genocidal economic
sanctions, and routine bombing runs. According to
former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who has
Iraq every year since the sanctions were put
into place, "a major part of these aerial sorties has
been directed at civilians and civilian facilities."
In a July 29, 2002 letter to members of the UN
Security Council, Clark outlines how the U.S. has
destroyed Iraqi water systems, electric power
transmission, communications, residential and business
areas, transportation, food storage and manufacturing
facilities, schools, hospitals, mosques... in short,
every aspect of their society.

The economic sanctions insisted upon by the U.S. ban
such crucial items as chlorine needed to purify
drinking water and medical supplies and equipment
needed to tend to the sick. The majority of deaths are
among infants, children, the elderly, the sick and
Clark correctly identifies the sanctions
Iraq as "the greatest crime against humanity,"
and "a weapon of mass destruction" which has been "the
direct cause of the very cruel deaths of more than one
million people." (4)

I, too, have been told first-hand accounts by an Iraqi
woman of the horrendous living conditions and
suffering of her people. It is a country that has been
brutalized, terrorized, and brought to its knees at
the hands of the
U.S. , yet Bush proclaims it a
serious threat to our national security!

According to Bush's line of reasoning, the
U.S. should
have attacked and invaded the
USSR a long time ago as
it, with its intercontinental nuclear missiles, was a
definite threat to our security. However, the
USSR had
the full capacity to successfully defend itself,
Iraq, a much weaker, severely compromised
"enemy," is easy prey. Is that how the
U.S. asserts
its world dominance, by kicking a nation that is
already down and by killing thousands more of its
innocent civilians?

I am convinced that the only reason many Americans are
so gung ho for war (for what it's worth, at least that
is what the polls tell us) is that we have never
experienced the utter and indescribable horror of
modern warfare on the soil of our own mainland. We
have not suffered mega-ton, uranium depleted bombs
raining down on us from on high, army tanks in our
streets, artillery fire shattering our lives, cities
being laid to rubble and waste with nowhere for us to
run or hide, or the bloodied and mangled bodies of our
children and loved ones dying in our arms.

For most Americans, war has always been a sort of
Hollywood-esque abstraction, something "out there"
that takes place in other countries. Media war
coverage serves to maintain this false image of war as
a precise, high-tech, and non-bloody affair by
referring to bombings as "surgical strikes" and
dehumanizing the killing of innocent civilians -
somebody's loved ones, sons, daughters, sisters,
brothers, aunts, uncles, husbands, wives, parents and
grandparents - as "collateral damage." The way war is
depicted and glorified in this country is a direct
insult to our deeper moral and spiritual intelligence.

Ramsey Clark courageously speaks the truth when he
says, "This planet is deeply troubled, and the
greatest cause of that trouble is our own government."

S. Brian Wilson, a Vietnam veteran and peace activist,
was deliberately run over by a weapons train carrying
a shipment bound for South America while he was lying
on the tracks in protest in an attempt to stop yet
another delivery of murderous madness. He believed
that if the
U.S. was willing to spare just one life,
his own, then maybe there was hope after all.

I leave you with a call to activism in waging peace
and with some of Brian Wilson's compelling insight and
timeless, soul-searching questions to ponder: "We're
on a course leading to inevitable annihilation. … Do
we want to be part of this course of ultimate
destruction, or do we want to be part of hope and
affirmation and justice for all people of the earth…?
How can we continue as a civilization of 'We the
People' if we have to do it at the expense of maiming
and murder of people all over the world? … Are we
going to watch this happen again? Do we just go about
our business as usual and know that another 5,000
people will be killed in our name … [people] whose
lives are being threatened by our guns and our money
because we have to protect our 'national security'?"

[Doreen Miller lived, studied, worked and traveled
abroad for several years, and is currently a Senior
Lecturer and educator of international students. She
dedicates part of her time to serving the elderly and
Alzheimer patients. Mother, musician and poet, she
pursues an avid interest in Buddhist and Eastern
philosophy. She advocates human rights, social
justice, fair trade, and environmental protection.
Doreen lives in the
United States.]

Doreen Miller encourages your comments:


(1) See Center for Defense Information:

(2) See "School of the Americas, School of Assassins,"

documentary film narrated by Susan Sarandon

(3) "The Panama Deception," a documentary film
narrated by Elizabeth Montgomery. Found at the
following link:

(4) "Genocide by Sanctions," a documentary film
created in 1998. Also see Ramsey Clark's book
"Challenge to Genocide: Let Iraq Live." It can be
found at the following link:

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