23July2018

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No Spirit Of Liberty – The Salisbury Case, Corbyn And The Need For Dissent

Fifteen years ago this month, the US-led 'Shock and Awe' offensive began against Iraq, supposedly to disarm the country of its 'weapons of mass destruction'. The illegal invasion and subsequent brutal occupation led to the loss of around one million lives, created millions of refugees, destroyed the infrastructure of a country already ravaged by over a decade of cruel UN sanctions, and contributed significantly to the rise of Islamic State. All of this might never have happened were it not for an intense campaign of propaganda and deception in which the so-called 'mainstream' media, including 'impartial' BBC News, were enthusiastic participants.

In the Guardian, Martin Woollacott had declared of Saddam's supposed 'WMD':

'Among those knowledgeable about Iraq there are few, if any, who believe he is not hiding such weapons. It is a given.'

This conformity throughout the corporate media was remarkable. Ardent armchair war supporter David Aaronovitch, also writing in the Guardian, confidently asserted:

'If nothing is eventually found, I - as a supporter of the war - will never believe another thing that I am told by our government, or that of the US ever again.'

As the Downing Street Memo showed, intelligence and facts were 'fixed around' the pre-existing policy of invasion. The Chilcot Report, finally released in 2016, was damning of the way Tony Blair's government took the UK into war. Analysis of the report published last year by Sheffield University's Piers Robinson, emphasised the fundamental deception at the heart of the 'war on terror':

'9/11 was exploited in order to pursue a regime-change policy against countries unconnected with Al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalist terrorism.'

Iraq was not a one-off. As we have documented, an onslaught of media propaganda facilitated the 2011 devastation of Libya, the deaths of up to 25,000 Libyans, including the brutal murder of Gaddafi, and a refugee crisis that has seen thousands drown trying to make the perilous sea crossing to Europe. The rationale for 'intervention' was the alleged threat of a massacre by Gaddafi's forces in Benghazi.

The Guardian's Jonathan Freedland had declared:

'If those nations with the power to stop these pre-announced killings had stood aside, they would have been morally culpable. Benghazi was set to become another Srebrenica – and those that did nothing would share the same shame.'

After 'something' had been done, the BBC's Nick Robinson observed that Downing Street:

'will see this, I'm sure, as a triumphant end. 

'Libya was David Cameron's first war. Col. Gaddafi his first foe. Today, his first real taste of military victory.'

(BBC, News at Six, October 20, 2011)

In September 2016, a report into the Libyan war was published by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons. In contrast to the near-total uniformity in media coverage at the time, the parliamentary report concluded that:

'the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence.'

As with Iraq, virtually an entire country's infrastructure had been destroyed by the West's 'intervention':

'The result was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL [Islamic State] in North Africa.'

Cynical geopolitics and media disinformation campaigns have also characterised the ongoing war in Syria, with confident and immediate declarations of Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons (for example: see here, here and here). Rational challenges to this establishment consensus, and reasonable questions raised, have elicited howls of outrage from establishment politicians and commentators. Dissent simply will not be tolerated.

The parallels with the confident and immediate declarations of Russian responsibility for the nerve agent Novichok poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on March 4 are disturbing.

Read more: No Spirit Of Liberty – The Salisbury Case, Corbyn And The Need For Dissent

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