A Free Press
or a Ministry of Truth?
By Paul Craig Roberts
-- --- In his novel 1984, George Orwell portrayed a
future time in which the explanations of recent events and
earlier history are continually changed to meet Big
Brother’s latest purpose. Previous explanations disappear
down “the memory hole.”
Sound familiar? Any American who pays attention can observe
the identical phenomenon occurring in the US today.
Think about the Bush Rfegime’s changing explanations for the
failed US occupation of Iraq. Shortly after Bush’s May 2003
announcement of “mission accomplished,” the mission revealed
itself to be very much unaccomplished. Americans were told
that the cause of the snafu was a small Sunni insurgency of
two or three thousand at the most inspired by “die-hard
Baath party remnants.” Remember the propagandistic deck of
cards identifying the most wanted down to the less wanted?
Americans were assured that once Saddam Hussein and his
relatives and henchmen were rounded up, our troops would be
pelted with the promised flowers instead of roadside bombs.
When the roundups, trials, and executions failed to fix the
problem, the “die-hard” explanation disappeared. A new
explanation, with no continuity to the old, took its place.
The new explanation was that Syria was allowing foreigners
to cross its border into Iraq to commit jihad against the
American troops. This explanation lasted until it became all
too clear, despite the propaganda, that the “foreign
fighters” were remarkably well accepted by, and concealed
within, the Iraqi communities that were suffering all the
collateral damage of the conflict.
When it came time for the US to create an Iraqi government,
it was evident that it would be one dominated by Shi’ites.
Then, for a limited time, it was permissible to recognize
that the insurgency was popularly based in the Sunnis.
As the insurgency evolved into what the Iraq Study Group
described as a Sunni-Shi’ite civil war [ PDF ] with US
troops unclear on which side they stood, the Bush Regime and
the captive media began blaming Al Qaeda for the escalating
violence. Americans were assured by the Ministry of Truth
that there wasn’t a civil war, just outsiders stirring up
conflict. This enabled Big Brother to deny that there was a
civil war and to revive fear of terrorist attacks in the US
and UK, the new Oceania.
The Al Qaeda explanation was soon discarded into the memory
hole. The explanation implied that Oceania’s invasion of
Iraq had greatly expanded the ranks and strength of Al
Qaeda, thus contradicting big Brother’s claim that his war
in Iraq was making Oceanians safe by stamping out terrorism.
The Al Qaeda explanation had to depart for another reason as
well. Cheney, Israel, and the neocons, the rulers of the new
Oceania, plan to attack Iran, and so the insurgency in Iraq
is now being blamed on Iran.
The Ministry of Truth has accommodated the latest
explanation, just as it did all others before, without
remarking on the funeral of the previous explanation. All of
a sudden, a new explanation appears and is repeated until
it, too, goes down the memory hole.
The American and British media work the same way as the
Ministry of Truth in Oceania. A day arrives when the “truth”
no longer serves the empire or hegemonic power or center of
moral purpose in the world, or for short, the regime. When
that day arrives, a new explanation appears and is repeated
until it, too, is discarded down the memory hole.
In recent weeks Americans have been fed a series of reports
from official sources that Iran is arming both Iraqi
insurgents and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Experts, both
within the government and without, who have been made more
attentive by the Bush Regime’s false charges of Iraqi
weapons of mass destruction, have disputed the news reports.
But the reports keep on coming. As I write, the latest story
is that the US military “discovered a field of rocket
launchers near a US army base south of Baghdad armed with 34
Iranian-made missiles.” Can you imagine? The insurgents went
to the trouble of lugging powerful missiles within striking
distance of a US base and just left them there unfired to be
discovered by the Americans. To further serve Cheney’s plan
to attack Iran, the media report states: “Earlier this
month, US commanders stepped up the charges [against Iran],
claiming that senior leaders of Iran’s special forces and of
the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah militia have trained Iraqi
fighters and provided other support.” [US finds Iranian
rockets aimed at Iraq base, Agence France Presse, July
Notice that none of the explanations fed to Americans over
the years have ever mentioned, even as a faint possibility,
that the US invasion and occupation of Iraq might be the
cause of the violence in Iraq.
Allegedly, the US is a free and open country with a free
press and a government accountable to the people. Yet, the
information fed to the American people is as thoroughly
false as that fed to the citizens of Oceania by Big Brother
through the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s famous novel.
In Orwell’s novel, despite the totalitarian power of the
government, nothing happens to people as long as they accept
the government’s intrusive monitoring of their lives and do
not become interested in truth or facts.. In such a world,
truth and individuality pass out of human consciousness and
become unimportant. Citizens survive by accepting Big
Brother’s ever-changing reality.
This is what the mainstream media in the US and UK are
enabling the new Oceania to accomplish. It is pointless to
complain about a few Judith Millers here and there at the
New York Times, or the obvious warmongers at the Weekly
Standard, Fox “News,” and Wall Street Journal editorial
page. The entire corporate media is behaving as a Ministry
COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Paul Craig Roberts ( paulcraigroberts @ yahoo.com ) was
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan
Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution :
An Insider's Account of Policymaking in Washington;
Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the
Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M.
Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors
and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
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