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Brent Flynn: Keep Your Eye On The Ball

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

By Brent Flynn
Practically Rational

Talk about revisionist history. It's as if the whole world is Winston Smith, the main character of George Orwell's book "Nineteen Eighty-Four." We are being asked to forget what we know to be true in order to remain loyal to the United States government's official version of reality.

Although Bush hasn't officially declared victory in Iraq yet, it's just a matter of time.

The ease with which our military toppled Saddam's regime will be held up as proof that the neoconservatives were right all along and that the "defeatist" liberals were once again on the wrong side of history. The scene of jubilant Iraqis taking sledgehammers to the statue of Saddam Hussein in Fardus Square is the new justification for our pre-emptive invasion of Iraq and, supposedly, irrefutable evidence that US soldiers are liberators, not conquerors (Never mind that there were fewer than 200 Iraqis present at the event and that the more widespread reaction of Iraqis to liberation has been burning and looting).

But not so fast, there. Nobody said we couldn't whip Saddam--not even the bloodiest bleeding heart liberal. And I don't remember anyone arguing that Iraq would be better off if Saddam Hussein remained in power. No, it was always about the legality of a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, the true intentions of the Bush administration, and what would happen after the fighting stopped. Oh yeah, and then there was the small matter of the death, destruction and chaos that would be a direct result of the war.

Despite the fact that the official title of the invasion was "Operation Iraqi Freedom" and the sole focus of the media right now is the liberation of an oppressed people, that wasn't the reason why we circumvented the UN and strained relations with our closest allies to invade Iraq. We were told it was a matter of national security. Saddam, the evil madman, had the most dangerous weapons of mass destruction and wouldn't hesitate to use them. He posed such a grave threat to the most powerful nation in the history of the world (that's us) that we could not sit idly by while the danger grew. Every day that we waited Saddam grew stronger.

I didn't buy that argument then and now that we have seen how fragile the Iraqi military is, I have an even harder time believing it. We have initiated two massive conflicts against Iraq and in neither situation did the Iraqi military put up a significant fight, nor did Saddam use his alleged arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. In this latest military action the very existence of Saddam and his regime were threatened but no weapons of mass destruction were used.

Now we are being told that finding the chemical and biological weapons that are supposed to be there--and were the stated reason for invading--is not our top priority. Our top priority has been to secure the oil wells. Which is interesting because we were told that the war had nothing to do with oil and one of our major concerns was supposedly that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction could fall into the hands of terrorists. So if we really believe that is a possibility, shouldn't we be securing those weapons first--even before we secure the precious oil wells? And if the reason for invading was to help the people of Iraq, why didn't we secure the hospitals? They have been looted of medicine and supplies while US Marines watched from the sidelines.

We have to keep our eye on the ball because the government and media are trying to juke us out of our pants.

Just before the fall of Baghdad, a government minister in England was preparing the world for the news that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But that's okay because a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 69 percent of Americans still support the war even if no weapons of mass destruction are found.

It is no secret that Americans are gullible, but some of us still have functioning brains…don't we? This is the oldest trick in the book: the "bait and switch"--also known as the ol' switcheroo. And the use of this tactic is not limited to justifying the most recent invasion.

We are reminded of how tortured and oppressed the Iraqi people were under Saddam's rule by the constant media coverage of their emotional reactions to the fall of his regime. But how many Americans have forgotten that it was a CIA coup that brought Saddam Hussein's Baath party into power in the first place? How many have forgotten that it was the United States that helped Saddam consolidate his power as a counter balance to the Islamic fundamentalist government of Iran? But more importantly, how many times did our government and media remind us of these historical facts? Still thinking? The answer is zero.

The Reagan administration turned a blind eye to the torture of Iraqis and assisted Saddam's regime in the use of chemical weapons against Iranian troops and Kurdish civilians during the '80s. The picture of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein in 1984 is just one example of many Bush administration officials' complicity in the crimes against humanity committed by Saddam Hussein. The combination of Operation Desert Storm and 12 years of sanctions are responsible for the deaths of 500,000 to a million Iraqis. We bear great responsibility for the suffering of the people of Iraq.

While the "liberation" of Iraq from Saddam's tyrannical rule is a good thing in and of itself, there is no guarantee that the new government will be a true democracy free of US control. And our government's unwillingness to address its role in creating the monster of Saddam Hussein indicates that it has not learned a lesson from history and, quite the opposite, is hell bent on repeating it.

Unlike the fictional world of "Nineteen Eighty-Four," the majority of the world's population doesn't have such a short memory. It is only in the United States where you will find so many people willing to forget the past. But it is not only ignorance that enables our government to do what it does. Many Americans simply don't care what happens in the Middle East as long as they get their SUV and tax cut.

I guess being the world's only superpower means you don't have to justify your military adventures to anybody and you damn sure never have to say you're sorry.


- Contact Brent Flynn at if you would like to receive future columns weekly via email. His website is at

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