Washington – Sometimes parody says it better than plain truth. Two stories this week in the celebrated American satirical magazine The Onion convey the bizarre scenario that is not unfolding across the world but in the mainstream US media.
In the first story with an imaginary Pyongyang, North Korea dateline, The Onion “reported” that “As the US continues to inch toward war with Iraq, a jealous and frustrated North Korea is wondering what it has to do to attract American military attention.”
“Bush says his number one priority is eliminating weapons of mass destruction, but he sure doesn’t act that way,” it “quoted” North Korean President Kim as saying. “Iraq may have weapons of mass destruction and may be developing more. The DPRK, on the other hand, does have weapons of mass destruction and isn’t about to stop making them any time soon.”
The second story was equally evocative. Under the headline “Saddam Enrages Bush With Full Compliance,” it said President Bush expressed frustration and anger Monday over a UN report stating that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is now fully complying with weapons inspections.
“Enough is enough,” The Onion spoofed a “determined Bush” telling reporters. “We are not fooled by Saddam’s devious attempts to sway world opinion by doing everything the UN asked him to do. We will not be intimidated into backing down and, if we have any say in the matter, neither will Saddam.” Bush added that any further Iraqi attempt to meet the demands of the UN or US will be regarded as “an act of war.”
For many, The Onion “reporting” cuts closer to the truth than the ratcheting of the mainstream American media which is being accused of complicity with the Bush administration’s war mania.
If you heard or read the reporting in the US of the UN weapons inspectors work last week, you would have been hard-pressed to learn that they said Baghdad was agreeing to almost all their demands including aerial surveillance, interviews of scientists, surprise presidential inspections etc.
Instead, the media here took the cue from the administration in emphasizing Iraq’s “material breach” – the marginally excess range of its missiles and some missing chem-bio agents that inspectors cannot find and Iraq says it does not have. In effect, Iraq is being asked to prove a negative – that it does not have WMD.
“It has finally become intolerable to listen to or look at news,” writes the political philosopher Edward Said. “I’ve told myself over and over again that one ought to leaf through the daily papers and turn on the TV for the national news every evening, just to find out what “the country” is thinking and planning, but patience and masochism have their limits.”
Ironically, while the United States is celebrating President’s Day on Monday, commemorating the birthday of its first president who swore to always tell the truth, the current Washington lot is widely seen as being mendacious in their effort to manipulate world opinion. US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s case before the UN, Said said, touched “a new low point in moral hypocrisy and political manipulation.”
However, two things appear to have stalled the Bush administration’s war machine springing into action this week.
The US East Coast has been blanketed by snow – more than two feet in many places – serious enough to disrupt Presidential travel. It took mother nature to prove even presidents are mortals as a Bush motorcade took two hours to return from nearby Camp David to the White House.
That was just in time to tune in to reports of worldwide anti-war protests so large and widespread that even the blind-sided American media could not ignore it.
The New York Times, of the few papers to have conveyed a range of opinion, including some of the most corrosive critiques of the Bush war, said in its Monday edition that “there may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion.”