Macalester teaches Billy Joe Armstrong to differ from the hollow lies; Zarqawi == Emmanuel Goldstein

I missed the Green Day concert in St. Paul on Friday. It sounded like a hell of a good time, made particularly special by Billy Joe Armstrong's connections to the area: his wife is from New Brighton, and I have heard on reasonably good authority that he purchased a house on Summit Avenue. Star Tribune reported Saturday:

St. Paul was where he wrote some of the songs for the politically charged "American Idiot," the Grammy-winning album that is the best-selling nonrap CD of the past year, with more than 4 million copies sold. In the summer of 2003, he had walked around the track at Macalester College in St. Paul, writing the songs in his head.

This also tracks with what I've heard, that Armstrong was spotted a few times around the track - a more interesting celebrity sighting than that time Josh Hartnett came into the SuperAmerica and Grand and Cleveland when Alison was working. It would also explain why much of the album has a perfect rhythm for running. This song always made a lot of sense to me - it must have been because I was living down the street when he wrote it! :-)

So what's my real point today? The image of Senior Demon Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is an essential element of the Bush Administration's strategy to manage perceptions of their disastrous war - diverting blame and creating an attractive 'negative image'. Zarqawi is one of the principle Hollow Lies of the war.

Say, Hey!

Hear the sound of the falling rain / Coming down like an Armageddon flame / The shame / The ones who died without a name

Hear the dogs howling out of key / To a hymn called "Faith and Misery" / And bleed / The company lost the war today

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies / This is the dawning of the rest of our lives / On Holiday

Hear the drum pounding out of time / Another protester has crossed the line / To find / The money's on the other side

Can I get another Amen? / There's a flag wrapped around the score of men / A gag / A plastic bag on a monument

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies / This is the dawning of the rest of our lives / On holiday

Meanwhile, in the Information Age of Hysteria, we have perhaps the underlying principle of our government in a nutshell, as Ron Suskind put it before the election:

The [White House] aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

 Wikipedia En 0 04 ZarqawiEnter the Demon of our Times.

Let me offer a theory: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may actually exist, but his "existence" in the media is an essential element of the Bush Administration's Public Relations strategy to manage perception of the war. He is a personification of malevolent intent: if he wasn't around, we are told to believe, things would sort themselves out, so our motive has to be to crush him instead of confronting the Pentagon's essentially racist, disastrous policies. The Star Tribune carried a Washington Post/AP story on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's latest pledge to kill all the Shiites. Consider the following:

More bombings push Baghdad deaths near 200: Ellen Knickmeyer, Washington Post

BAGHDAD -- Insurgents believed to be allied with Al-Qaida in Iraq kept up bombings in the capital on Thursday, launching strikes that brought the two-day death toll close to 200.

The chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, said the surge in bombings represented the kind of occasional spikes in attacks that the military has been expecting "around certain critical events that highlight the progress of democracy."

In this case, an Oct. 15 referendum on Iraq's new constitution is only a month away.

"Remember, democracy equals failure for the insurgency," Lynch said. "So there has to be heightened awareness now as we work our way toward the referendum."

Police targeted

In the violence Thursday, suicide bombers killed at least 31 people in two attacks about a minute apart that targeted Iraqi police and Interior Ministry commandos, officials said. Insurgents also managed to land a single mortar round inside the Green Zone, the base for U.S. officials and Iraq's government. There were no casualties and only minimal damage, U.S. officials said.

A day earlier, at least 14 car bombs across Baghdad killed 167 people, the majority of them Shiite Muslim civilians -- the highest one-day toll of the war inflicted by insurgent attacks in the capital. Seven of the victims died overnight of their wounds.

An audiotape released on a website linked to Al-Qaida in Iraq after Wednesday's attacks said Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group had opened "all-out war" on Iraq's Shiite majority.

Attacks linked to Al-Qaida also hit the city of Ramadi, capital of the western province of Anbar, a stronghold of foreign-led fighters. Witnesses said Al-Qaida-allied fighters rocketed and shelled two U.S. military installations at Ramadi and traded fire with U.S. patrols in the city. The U.S. military reported one Marine killed and said a would-be car bomber also died. Iraqi emergency medical workers said Marine snipers killed six Al-Qaida fighters.

The two-day barrage of attacks attributed to Al-Qaida in Iraq, and the increasing control of towns in the west along the Euphrates River being asserted by foreign-led insurgents, intensified the U.S. military's focus on Al-Zarqawi.

U.S. commanders often have publicly denigrated his role in the insurgency to little more than that of a media-fostered figurehead. On Thursday, however, Lynch discussed Al-Zarqawi in some of the sharpest terms yet, calling him the Americans' main target and saying the United States was winning the fight against him.

"We believe we are experiencing great success against the most crucial element of the insurgency, which is the terrorists and the foreign fighters.
The face of that is Zarqawi and Al-Qaida in Iraq," Lynch said.

"We've got great intelligence which tells us where he's moving to and where he's trying to establish safe havens. As soon as we see him trying to establish a safe haven, we will conduct operations," such as the one underway against northwestern insurgent strongholds in Tal Afar, Lynch said. "We're using all assets under our control in conjunction with the Iraqi security forces to find him and kill him."

Now let us refer to a little bit from Orwell's 1984... As WikiPedia summarizes the teachings of Emmanuel Goldstein:

...the state of war creates a mentality that suits the Party well. A Party member should be "a credulous and ignorant fanatic whose prevailing moods are fear, hatred, adulation and orgiastic triumph. In other words it is necessary that he should have the mentality appropriate to a state of war." Though "the entire war is spurious...and waged for purposes quite other than the declared ones", even Inner Party members who potentially could know better passionately believe that the war is real and will "end victoriously, with Oceania the undisputed master of the entire world". .... There can never be any large-scale invasion of enemy territory, so that citizens of one superstate would come face to face with citizens of another and discover that conditions there are very much the same as in their own superstate: Even the prevailing ideologies are almost identical. To maintain the image of the enemy as a monster whose ideology is a barbarous outrage on common sense, all sides realize that "the main frontiers must never be crossed by anything except bombs"!

Since the war is a sham and each superstate is unconquerable, the ongoing "conflict" has no sobering effect on the oligarchies ruling the three superstates: .... "The rulers of such a state are absolute, as the Pharaohs or the Caesars could not be. They are obliged to prevent their followers from starving to death in numbers large enough to be inconvenient, and they are obliged to remain at the same low level of military technique as their rivals; but once that minimum is achieved, they can twist reality into whatever shape they chose." [Paging Mr Suskind...]

Thus, the war is actually "waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact". As far as the lack of any genuine outside threat is concerned, the superstates might just as well agree to live in permanent peace; then they would still be "freed for ever from the sobering influence of external danger" (the kind of danger that might force the rulers to behave somewhat responsibly). This, according to the author, "is the inner meaning of the Party slogan: War is Peace."

While I quietly alluded to this earlier, other people have been making this point for a while, but damn it, even the newspaper admits this "media figurehead" phenomenon is partly true. There's probably a real Zarqawi figure out there, but basically, these days I generally believe he is a media construction designed to provide a narrative that Joe Six Pack can understand. The exciting Zarqawi Chase (with, say, captured laptops and narrow escapes) is the kind of story that the NASCAR dad needs to stave off cognitive dissonance. The insurgency is not a failure of policy, it's not Rummy's and Myers' fuck-ups, it's this damn Zarqawi always trying to throw monkey wrenches in the system AKA "building democracy". Some might say it's a Leo Straussian Noble Lie to provide succor for the Bronze Masses. Let me throw in a Billmon post on this matter from a year ago:

The problem here is not with the Fallujans, the problem here is not with the coalition. The problem here is with foreign fighters, international terrorists, people like Zarqawi, who we believe to be in Fallujah or nearby.

Coalition spokesman Dan Senor: Press Briefing April 13, 2004

The security situation in Fallujah, Iraq, remains stable, and coalition forces there are engaged in a "robust hunt" for al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, believed to be in or near the city, coalition officials said today.

American Forces Information Service: 'Robust' Manhunt for Zarqawi Under Way April 13, 2004

Former regime elements can be former Ba'athists, they can be Iraqi extremists, they can be outside jihadists, they can be Zarqawi network folks as well.

Gen. Dick Myers: Press Briefing April 7, 2004

The terrorists, assassins are threatened by the Iraqi's people's progress toward self-government, because they know that they will have no future in a free Iraq. They know, as al Qaeda associate Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi put it in his letter recently, that we intercepted: "Democracy is coming"...

Donald Rumsfeld: Press Briefing April 7, 2004

A statement circulating in Iraq and signed by anti-U.S. groups last month claimed al-Zarqawi was killed earlier by American bombs in northern Iraq. A senior U.S. official denied the report of al-Zarqawi's death.

Associated Press: Al Qaeda tape takes credit for Iraq attacks April 6, 2004

The programmes of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure. He was the primal traitor, the earliest defiler of the Party's purity. All subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his teaching. Somewhere or other he was still alive and hatching his conspiracies: perhaps somewhere beyond the sea, under the protection of his foreign paymasters, perhaps even -- so it was occasionally rumoured -- in some hiding-place in Oceania itself.

George Orwell: 1984

 Main Images BeheadingAnd let us not forget Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's entry into the universe of the News Cycle came with the notorious Nick Berg decapitation video. This video had a number of strange anomalies in it, and I have suspected for quite a while that it was fake. My favorite alternate explanation was that the video was actually shot by US personnel inside Abu Ghraib prison (aside from the "Lawn Chair from Hell" connection) to distract attention from the exploding torture scandal.

Too conspiratorial? Such a video could never be fake? Then why does the great Zarqawi appear to have Two Legs, not One? Try the WikiPedia Nick Berg conspiracy theories page for even more! This WikiPedia paragraph essentially sums up my point:

There are rumors that Zarqawi is dead because no sightings of him have been confirmed since 2001. In one report, the conservative British newspaper Daily Telegraph described as myth the claim that Zarqawi was the head of the "terrorist network" in Iraq. According to a U.S. military intelligence source, the Zarqawi myth resulted from faulty intelligence obtained by the payment of substantial sums of money to unreliable and dishonest sources. The faulty intelligence was accepted, however, because it suited US government political goals, according to an unnamed intelligence officer.[14] The Zarqawi myth has also been purported to be the product of U.S. war propaganda designed to promote the image of a demonic enemy figure to help justify continued U.S. military operations in Iraq[15], perhaps with the tacit support of terrorist elements wishing to use him as a propaganda tool (a sort of Al-Qaeda Ronald McDonald).

I'm just going to wrap this up with a chunk from iconoclastic researcher Michel Chossudovsky, who wrote "Who is Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi?" at the Centre for Research on Globalisation:

The US intelligence apparatus has created its own terrorist organizations. And at the same time, it creates its own terrorist warnings concerning the terrorist organizations which it has itself created. In turn, it has developed a cohesive multibillion dollar counterterrorism program "to go after" these terrorist organizations. Counterterrorism and war propaganda are intertwined. The propaganda apparatus feeds disinformation into the news chain. The terror warnings must appear to be "genuine". The objective is to present the terror groups as "enemies of America."

The underlying objective is to galvanize public opinion in support of America's war agenda. The "war on terrorism" requires a humanitarian mandate. The war on terrorism is presented as a "Just War", which is to be fought on moral grounds "to redress a wrong suffered." The Just War theory defines "good" and "evil." It concretely portrays and personifies the terrorist leaders as "evil individuals". .....

To reach its foreign policy objectives, the images of terrorism must remain vivid in the minds of the citizens, who are constantly reminded of the terrorist threat. The propaganda campaign presents the portraits of the leaders behind the terror network. In other words, at the level of what constitutes an "advertising" campaign, "it gives a face to terror." The "war on terrorism" rests on the creation of one or more evil bogeymen, the terror leaders, Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, et al, whose names and photos are presented ad nauseam in daily news reports.

.....Al Zarqawi is often described as an "Osama associate", the bogyman, allegedly responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in several countries. In other reports, often emanating from the same sources, it is stated that he has no links to Al Qaeda and operates quite independently. He is often presented as an individual who is challenging the leadership of bin Laden. His name crops up on numerous occasions in press reports and official statements. Since early 2004, he is in the news almost on a daily basis.

Osama belongs to the powerful bin Laden family, which historically had business ties to the Bushes and prominent members of the Texas oil establishment. Bin Laden was recruited by the CIA during the Soviet-Afghan war and fought as a Mujahideen. In other words, there is a longstanding documented history of bin Laden-CIA and bin Laden-Bush family links, which are an obvious source of embarrassment to the US government.

In contrast to bin Laden, Al-Zarqawi has no family history. He comes from an impoverished Palestinian family in Jordan. His parents are dead. He emerges out of the blue. He is described by CNN as "a lone wolf" who is said to act quite independently of the Al Qaeda network. Yet surprisingly, this lone wolf is present in several countries, in Iraq, which is now his base, but also in Western Europe. He is also suspected of preparing a terrorist attack on American soil.

.....In Iraq, he is said to be determined to "ignite a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites". But is that not precisely what US intelligence is aiming at ( "divide and rule") as confirmed by several analysts of the US led war? Pitting one group against the other with a view to weakening the resistance movement. (See Michel Collon [1], See also [2] )

......What is the role of this new mastermind in the Pentagon's disinformation campaign, in which CNN seems to be playing a central role? In previous propaganda ploys, the CIA hired PR firms to organize core disinformation campaigns, including the Rendon Group. The latter worked closely with its British partner Hill and Knowlton, which was responsible for the 1990 Kuwaiti incubator media scam, where Kuwaiti babies were allegedly removed from incubators in a totally fabricated news story, which was then used to get Congressional approval for the 1991 Gulf War.

What is the pattern?

Almost immediately in the wake of a terrorist event or warning, CNN announces (in substance): we think this mysterious individual Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi is behind it, invariably without supporting evidence and prior to the conduct of an investigation by the relevant police and intelligence authorities.

In some cases, upon the immediate occurrence of the terrorist event, there is an initial report which mentions Al-Zarqawi as the possible mastermind. The report will often say (in substance): yes we think he did it, but it is not yet confirmed and there is some doubt on the identity of those behind the attack. One or two days later, CNN may come up with a definitive statement, quoting official police, military and/or intelligence sources.

Often the CNN report is based on information published on an Islamic website or a mysterious Video or Audio tape. The authenticity of the website and/or the tapes is not the object of discussion or detailed investigation.

Bear in mind that the news reports never mention that Al Qaeda is a creation of the CIA and that Al Zarqawi had been recruited to fight in the Soviet-Afghan war (This is in fact confirmed by Sec. Colin Powell in his presentation to the UN Security Council on 5 February 2003) (see details below). Both Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi are creations of the US intelligence apparatus. The recruitment of foreign fighters was under the auspices of the CIA.


Colin Powell's Address to the UN Security Council

In the months leading up to the war on Iraq, Al Zarqawi's name reemerges, this time almost on daily basis, with reports focusing on his sinister relationship to Saddam Hussein. A major turning point in the propaganda campaign occurs on February 5, 2003. Al-Zarqawi was in the spotlight following Colin Powell's flopped WMD report to the UN Security Council. Powell's speech presented "documentation" on the ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, while focusing on the central role of Al-Zarqawi: (emphasis added):

Our concern is not just about these illicit weapons; it's the way that these illicit weapons can be connected to terrorists and terrorist organizations...

But what I want to bring to your attention today is the potentially much more
sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder. Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network, headed by Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda lieutenants.

Zarqawi, a Palestinian born in Jordan, fought in the Afghan War more than a decade ago. Returning to Afghanistan in 2000, he oversaw a terrorist training camp. One of his specialties and one of the specialties of this camp is poisons.

When our coalition ousted the Taliban, the Zarqawi network helped establish another poison and explosive training center camp, and this camp is located in Northeastern Iraq. You see a picture of this camp. Graphic, above. [there were no WMDS at this camp according to ABC report, see below]

The network is teaching its operative how to produce ricin and other poisons.... Those helping to run this camp are Zarqawi lieutenants operating in northern Kurdish areas outside Saddam Hussein's controlled Iraq, but Baghdad has an agent in the most senior levels of the radical organization Ansar al-Islam, that controls this corner of Iraq. In 2000, this agent offered Al Qaeda safe haven in the region. After we swept Al Qaeda from Afghanistan, some of its members accepted this safe haven. They remain there today.


The Nicholas Berg Video

Barely a couple of weeks later (11 May 2004), Al Zarqawi is reported as being the mastermind behind the execution of Nicholas Berg on May 11, 2004. Again perfect timing! The report coincided with calls by US Senators for Defense Sec Donald Rumsfeld to resign over the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. It occurs a few days after President Bush's "apology" for the Abu Ghraib prison "abuses" on May 6. The Nicholas Berg video served to create "a useful wave of indignation" which served to distract and soften up public opinion, following the release of the pictures of torture of Iraqi prisoners. (See the intelligence assumptions underlying Operation Northwoods, a secret Joint Chiefs of Staff plan to kill civilians in the Cuban community in Florida, and blame it on Fidel Castro. (More: [3]))


Extending the War on Terrorism

Are "we winning or losing" the war on terrorism. These statements are used to justify enhanced military operations against this illusive individual, who is confronting US military might, all over the World. Al Zarqawi is used profusely in Bush's press conferences and speeches in an obvious public relations ploy.

You know, I hate to predict violence, but I just understand the nature of the killers. This guy, Zarqawi, an al Qaeda associate -- who was in Baghdad, by the way, prior to the removal of Saddam Hussein -- is still at large in Iraq. And as you might remember, part of his operational plan was to sow violence and discord amongst the various groups in Iraq by cold-blooded killing. And we need to help find Zarqawi so that the people of Iraq can have a more bright -- bright future. (Press Conference, 1 June 2004, emphasis added)

War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, but the Chase keeps it Interesting. Hedges:

We become the embodiment of light and goodness. We become the defenders of civilization, of all that is decent. We are more noble than others. We are braver than others. We are kinder and more compassionate than others -- that the enemy at our gate is perfidious, dark, somewhat inhuman. We turn them into two-dimensional figures. I think that's part of the process of linguistically dehumanizing them. And in wartime, we always turn the other into an object, and often, quite literally, in the form of a corpse.

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