In his novel 1984, George Orwell portrayed
a future time in which the explanations of recent events and earlier history
are continually changed to meet Big Brother's latest purpose. Previous
explanations disappear down "the memory hole."
Sound familiar? Any American who pays attention can observe the identical phenomenon
occurring in the U.S. today.
Think about the Bush regime's changing explanations for the failed U.S. occupation
of Iraq. Shortly after Bush's May 2003 announcement of "mission accomplished,"
the mission revealed itself to be very much unaccomplished. Americans were told
that the cause of the snafu was a small Sunni insurgency of two or three thousand
at the most inspired by "die-hard Ba'ath Party remnants." Remember
the propagandistic deck
of cards identifying the most wanted down to the less wanted? Americans
were assured that once Saddam Hussein and his relatives and henchmen were rounded
up, our troops would be pelted with the promised flowers instead of roadside
When the roundups, trials, and executions failed to fix the problem, the "die-hard"
explanation disappeared. A new explanation, with no continuity to the old, took
The new explanation was that Syria was allowing foreigners to cross
its border into Iraq to commit jihad against the American troops. This explanation
lasted until it became all too clear, despite the propaganda, that the "foreign
fighters" were remarkably well accepted by, and concealed within, the Iraqi
communities that were suffering all the collateral damage of the conflict.
When it came time for the U.S. to create an Iraqi government, it was evident
that it would be one dominated by Shi'ites. Then, for a limited time, it was
permissible to recognize that the insurgency was popularly based in the Sunnis.
As the insurgency evolved into what the Iraq
Study Group [.pdf] described as a Sunni-Shi'ite civil war with U.S. troops
unclear on which side they stood, the Bush Regime and the captive media began
blaming al-Qaeda for the escalating violence. Americans were assured by the
Ministry of Truth that there wasn't a civil war, just outsiders stirring up
conflict. This enabled Big Brother to deny that there was a civil war and to
revive fear of terrorist attacks in the U.S. and UK, the new Oceania.
The al-Qaeda explanation was soon discarded into the memory hole. The explanation
implied that Oceania's invasion of Iraq had greatly expanded the ranks and strength
of al-Qaeda, thus contradicting big Brother's claim that his war in Iraq was
making Oceanians safe by stamping out terrorism. The al-Qaeda explanation had
to depart for another reason as well. Cheney, Israel, and the neocons, the rulers
of the new Oceania, plan
to attack Iran, and so the insurgency in Iraq is now being blamed on Iran.
The Ministry of Truth has accommodated the latest explanation, just as it did
all others before, without remarking on the funeral of the previous explanation.
All of a sudden, a new explanation appears and is repeated until it, too, goes
down the memory hole.
The American and British media work the same way as the Ministry of Truth in
Oceania. A day arrives when the "truth" no longer serves the empire
or hegemonic power or center of moral purpose in the world, or for short, the
regime. When that day arrives, a new explanation appears and is repeated until
it, too, is discarded down the memory hole.
In recent weeks Americans have been fed a series of reports from official sources
that Iran is arming both Iraqi insurgents and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Experts,
both within the government and without, who have been made more attentive by
the Bush Regime's false charges of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, have
disputed the news reports.
But the reports keep on coming. As I write, the latest
story is that the U.S. military "discovered a field of rocket launchers
near a U.S. Army base south of Baghdad armed with 34 Iranian-made missiles."
Can you imagine? The insurgents went to the trouble of lugging powerful missiles
within striking distance of a U.S. base and just left them there unfired to
be discovered by the Americans. To further serve Cheney's plan to attack Iran,
the media report states: "Earlier this month, U.S. commanders stepped up
the charges [against Iran], claiming that senior leaders of Iran's special forces
and of the Lebanese Shi'ite Hezbollah militia have trained Iraqi fighters and
provided other support."
Notice that none of the explanations fed to Americans over the years have ever
mentioned, even as a faint possibility, that the U.S. invasion and occupation
of Iraq might be the cause of the violence in Iraq.
Allegedly, the U.S. is a free and open country with a free press and a government
accountable to the people. Yet the information fed to the American people is
as thoroughly false as that fed to the citizens of Oceania
by Big Brother through the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's famous novel.
In Orwell's novel, despite the totalitarian power of the government, nothing
happens to people as long as they accept the government's intrusive monitoring
of their lives and do not become interested in truth or facts. In such a world,
truth and individuality pass out of human consciousness and become unimportant.
Citizens survive by accepting Big Brother's ever changing reality.
This is what the mainstream media in the U.S. and UK are enabling the new Oceania
to accomplish. It is pointless to complain about a few Judith Millers here and
there at the New York Times, or the obvious warmongers at the Weekly
Standard, Fox "News," and Wall Street Journal editorial
page. The entire corporate media is behaving as a Ministry of Truth.