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READING BETWEEN THE LINES
Why Bush didn't fool us about Iraq

By Lance Selfa | May 20, 2005 | Page 9

THE "SMOKING gun" that proved the Bush administration planned to "fix the facts" to justify a war in Iraq it had already decided to wage finally hit the Washington Post May 13, more than a week after it appeared in the British press.

The top-secret British intelligence memo of a July 2002 meeting showed the Bush administration had already made up its mind to attack Iraq. Of course, this means that what transpired over the next nine months--in the U.S. Congress and the United Nations (UN) Security Council--was a charade aimed at finding support for a decision that had already been made.

At the time, Socialist Worker wrote stories warning that war was coming and that the Bush administration's justifications for it were lies. At the same time, the mainstream press, represented by the likes of CNN, the New York Times and the Post, were regurgitating the White House line that Bush hadn't yet made up his mind.

Why would a publication like Socialist Worker, working with infinitesimally smaller resources and without any "inside Washington" connections, have gotten the story essentially correct, when the rest of the mainstream media failed?

For one thing, bringing a clear socialist understanding to the way the world works helps us to "read between the lines" of what appears in the mainstream press. The SW stories cited above were based on Pentagon leaks that appeared in sources like the Post and the Times. SW identified these leaks as being closer to the truth than did the mainstream media, which tended to relegate them to background noise against U.S. claims about Saddam Hussein's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and its denials of the existence of a plan to attack Iraq.

As the nonexistence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq became obvious, the Washington Post and the New York Times issued apologies and self-criticisms of their failures to be "more skeptical." But they had already served their purpose as conveyers of Pentagon lies. And a thousand apologies won't change their willingness to do the same again.

Certainly Socialist Worker wasn't the only publication on the left that outdid the mainstream media. Many Web sites and alternative news publications did the same. But Socialist Worker offers something that most of these other kinds of publications don't offer: an open and forthright statement of socialist politics that attempts to convince its readers of a particular worldview.

In the fall of 2002, as the buildup to war began, liberal organizations convened by the Internet lobby MoveOn.org created a coalition that urged the U.S. to "win without war," supporting UN weapons inspections in the place of war. At the time, Socialist Worker criticized these efforts because they tended to accept the administration's claims that it was really interested in stopping Iraq's weapons production.

As the "smoking gun" memo from British intelligence shows, the British--the U.S.'s key ally--knew the Iraq claims were flimsy. Meanwhile, other publications and Web sites saw in "Win Without War" a positive alternative to the war Bush was planning.

Socialist Worker didn't have some special insight into the inner workings of the White House or the UN. But our openly stated political positions on U.S. imperialism in the Middle East led us to the conclusion that Bush wanted war no matter what.

Therefore, any attempt to appeal to the U.S. government to "win" without war was doomed to fail. Earlier this year, MoveOn.org dropped opposition to the occupation of Iraq altogether. For us, "politics" is essential because we depend on an active, informed readership that can challenge conventional wisdom.

If you have a political commitment to Iraqi self-determination and understand the U.S. war as imperialist, as SW does, then you won't be taken in by Bush rhetoric about democracy and terrorism. This is why the politics in Socialist Worker aren't an optional extra, but are fundamental to the paper's purpose.

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