Truth Is Already A Victim...
And The War Hasn't Started

By Eric Margolis
Contributing Foreign Editor Toronto Sun

SAN FRANCISCO -- Once the United States overthrows Saddam Hussein and "liberates" Iraq, it will then proceed to spread democracy, human rights, and enlightenment throughout the Mideast. So vows the Bush administration's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, an academic expert on Soviet affairs.
One hopes her preposterous assertion is simply part of the administration's propaganda buildup before invading oil-rich Iraq.
Truth is indeed the first casualty of war. Recall in 1990 the famous tearjerker about Kuwaiti babies thrown from incubators by evil Iraqi soldiers, a canard that ignited war fever across America, but turned out to be a total fabrication. Or White House claims to have photographic evidence of an impending Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia. These claims were also phony, but they succeeded in stampeding the petrified Saudis into allowing the U.S. to permanently station military forces in the kingdom, where they remain to this day.
If Rice really believes the U.S. will bring democracy to the Mideast, she must also believe in the tooth fairy. Such naivete is unacceptable in a senior policy maker.
Unsurprisingly, Rice's silly claim was greeted from Morocco to Iran with profoundest derision by the very people she aspires to "liberate." In fact, the Bush administration's stated goal of bringing democracy to the Arabs faithfully echoes claims by Victorian Britain's imperialists that they were conquering and exploiting Africa and Asia only to bring the benefits of Christianity and western civilization to benighted heathen.
Fifty years ago, Middle Easterners would have believed Rice. After World War II, they hailed the United States as the symbol of honest government, decency, generosity and opposition to colonialism. When America's great president, Dwight Eisenhower, ordered the British, French and Israelis to end their 1956 aggression against Egypt, the U.S. was a supreme hero across Asia and Africa.
In the ensuing half-century, the U.S. has gone from hero to supreme villain. America's ever-growing support for Israel was half the reason, but the other half was the U.S. policy of keeping oil prices low, and supply high, by imposing despotic surrogate rulers on the region.
The U.S. has dominated the Arab world for the past 50 years. What has it done to promote democracy or human rights there, Miss Rice? Name one democracy, one nation ruled by laws, one nation not run by the secret police.
Take a tour of the Arab states under U.S. "protection."
Morocco - A medieval monarchy, as brutal as Iraq, with thousands of political prisoners tortured and confined in underground dungeons.
Algeria - Sunk in a nightmare civil war. When Algeria held the Arab world's first free vote in 1991, Islamic parties won. The army, backed by France and the U.S., annulled the elections and has ruled since.
Tunisia - A military dictatorship.
Egypt - Home to 40% of all Arabs, and intellectual heart of the Arab world, is a military dictatorship with a ruthless secret police. They routinely torture and murder opponents. Many thousands are held in political prisons, the press is censored and parliament is a sham. As in the case of Iran under the late Shah Reza Pahlavi, the FBI, CIA, and NSA all assist Egypt's secret police in repressing opposition and keeping the military regime in power. Ayman al-Zawahri, 9/11 chief planner, was tortured for years in Egyptian prisons.
Jordan - Decent and well-run, but no democracy. The U.S.-backed king and his Bedouin army rule a nation that is over 60% Palestinian.
Saudi Arabia - A feudal monarchy of 7,000 princes. Political opponents are muzzled or charged with drug dealing and beheaded. The Saudis sell oil to the U.S. and its allies on the cheap. In exchange, they get protection against their neighbours and their own people. Saudi Arabia buys billions of U.S., British and French arms it cannot use and keeps $100 billion in the U.S. financial system. Osama bin Laden claims the West steals Arab oil. He says oil should cost US $300 a barrel, not $20-30 - true terrorist talk to SUV owners.
Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates - all tiny feudal monarchies inherited by the U.S. from the British Empire. Oman, another monarchy, is discreetly run by British intelligence, MI6.
Arab nations not under direct or indirect U.S. domination - Libya, Syria, Yemen, Sudan - are also nasty dictatorships (Yemen less so). Lebanon is a tribal/feudal society dominated by Syria. Saddam's brutal Iraq was a close U.S. ally from 1979-90.
Now, suddenly, Rice and the neo-conservatives who are pulling the Bush administration's strings, claim they will bring the balm of democracy to the wretched Arabs.
But why now, after half a century of fostering petro-despotism? Why the sudden conversion on the road to Baghdad? At the very same time the Bush administration is busy shoring up Pakistan's military dictator, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and maintaining a U.S.-imposed regime in chaotic, "liberated" Afghanistan whose leader, Hamid Karzai, must be protected by teams of U.S. bodyguards from his own unloving people.
In the buildup to the 1991 war against Iraq, George Bush Sr. promised a Palestinian state. This time around, the whopper du jour is democracy and freedom for all Arabs, and especially Iraqis. Why, just recently, George W. Bush promised Palestinians democracy - provided, of course, they didn't re-elect Yasser Arafat.
Eric can be reached by e-mail at


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