Ernest Partridge, Co-Editor
The Crisis Papers.
August 14, 2007
"What happened [in Nazi Germany] was the gradual
habituation of the people, little by little, to being
governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in
secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated
that the government had to act on information which the
people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if
the people could not understand it, it could not be released
because of national security. And their sense of
identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it
easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would
otherwise have worried about it...
"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to
notice it... Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so
well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted'..."
They Thought They were
First, the Busheviks warned of the growing threat of an Iranian nuclear
bomb. But when they ran that flag up the pole, few in the media and the
public were found to salute.
So now, we’re told that the Iranian government is training and sending
lethal weapons to the Shiite “insurgents.” And so, in his press
conference last Thursday,
George Bush warned the Iranians that “there will be consequences for
people transporting, delivering ... highly sophisticated IEDs
[improvised explosive devices] that kill Americans in Iraq.”
This is just fine with Dick Cheney who,
McClatchy newspapers, is eager to attack Iran and is winning the
struggle with the diplomats to convince Bush.
That an attack on Iran would be an unmitigated disaster seems not to
trouble Bush and Cheney, who steadfastly refuse to take counsel from the
“reality-based community.” First of all, Iran is a country with twice
the area and four times the population of Iraq, and with an intact and
well-provided military. Next, the Iranians reportedly have advanced
missiles at the ready capable of sinking a multi-billion-dollar aircraft
carrier and bottling up the Strait of Hormuz, through which passes a
fourth of the world’s supply of petroleum. Furthermore, China, an ally
of Iran, obtains a significant portion of its petroleum from Iran and
will surely not sit still for this. And China, if sufficiently provoked,
can dump its dollar credits and embargo its exports to the US,
surely bring on a depression that would make the thirties pale in
And what of the rest of the industrialized world? They have seen the US
violate international law by launching two unprovoked wars, in
Afghanistan and Iraq. Would they tolerate a third? Contrary to the
Bushite megalomania, “the outside world” is not helpless. Even though
the US military budget is greater than that of all the rest of the world
combined, the United States can be brought to its knees without a shot
being fired. (See my
The Vulnerable Giant). An attack on Iran
just might be the final straw.
When Bush and Cheney fed us a pack of lies to justify the attack on Iraq
– the aluminum tubes, the WMDs, the Saddam/al Qaeda alliance, the
African uranium -- the mainstream media, including the “newspapers of
historical record,” The New York Times and The Washington Post,
swallowed them whole. And when Colin Powell presented these lies to the
UN Security Counsel, the mainstream media was unanimously gullible. The Editorial
response of The Los Angeles Times was typical:
Piling fact upon fact, photo upon photo Wednesday,
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell methodically demonstrated why
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein remains dangerous to his own people,
Iraq’s neighbors and, potentially, the Western world.
And the Washington Post:
Mr. Powell left no room to argue seriously that Iraq
has accepted the Security Council’s offer of a ‘final opportunity’
to disarm. And he offered a powerful new case that Saddam Hussein’s
regime is cooperating with a branch of the al Qaeda organization
that is trying to acquire chemical weapons and stage attacks in
So now it is starting all over again: unsubstantiated
allegations against the next victim-state, as preface to the next
disaster. “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me – you can’t get fooled
again.” (GWB). Unfortunately, it appears that the mainstream media might
be fooled again.
If so, then once again we have refused to heed Santayana’s oft-quoted
warning: having failed to learn from history, it appears that we
Americans are about to repeat it.
As I reflect upon the behavior of the mainstream media prior to the Iraq
war, and perchance prior to the pending attack on Iran, I am reminded of
William L. Shirer’s account of German public opinion and the part of the
Nazi press in shaping it in August, 1939, the month preceding the attack
on Poland and the outbreak of World War II. Is Shirer sending a warning
to us today?
You be the judge.
"In Berlin ... a foreign observer could watch the
way the press, under Goebbels' expert direction, was swindling the
gullible German people. For six years, since the Nazi "coordination"
of the daily newspapers, which had meant the destruction of a free
press, the citizens had been cut off from the truth of what was
going on in the world... For Germans who could read English or
French, there were occasionally a few copies of the London and Paris
journals available, although not enough to reach more than a handful
of persons. (Shirer: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, 563-4).
In Berlin, on August 10, 1939, Shirer wrote in his
How completely isolated a world the German people
live in... A glance at the newspapers yesterday and today reminds
you of it... Whereas all the rest of the world considers that the
peace is about to be broken by Germany, that it is Germany that is
threatening to attack Poland... here in Germany, in the world the
local newspapers create, the very reverse is maintained ... What the
Nazi papers are proclaiming is this: that it is Poland which is
disturbing the peace of Europe: Poland which is threatening Germany with armed invasion.
Shirer then quotes headlines in the German press:
“Complete chaos in Poland – German families flee –
Polish soldiers push to the edge of the German Border!” (Berliner Arbeiterzeitung, August 26, 1939)
“Whole of Poland in War fever! 1,500,000 men mobilized!
Uninterrupted troop transport toward the frontier!” (Voelkischer
Beobachter, August 27, 1939)
Four days later, following a staged “attack”on a German
radio station by SS troops in Polish Uniforms (Shirer, 595), the
Wehrmacht crossed the Polish border, and France and Britain, in alliance
with Poland, declared war on Germany.
The last grave threat to our Constitutional order, Nixon and Watergate,
was undone by a resourceful, courageous and independent press. No doubt
Cheney and the corporate oligarchs behind the Bushevik junta, reflecting
upon the Nixon fiasco, must have thought: “The next time we must have
the press on our side.” Mission accomplished!
If Bush and Cheney decide to attack Iran, and thus bring about the
collapse of the American economy and perhaps the onset of another world
war, we can’t say that we were not forewarned. If not by the mainstream
media, then by the few remaining voices of sanity in the press, the
internet, and the international media.
And by history.