Bush Didn’t Lie | National Review Online:
I'm not going to go through the whole titular list here in detail, but propaganda takes many forms and ultimately it always has a very high cost for the people that become anesthetized to the always complicated, uncertain, and messy world of actual data and information. I will return to the specific of WMD.
We tend to think of propaganda in only the most blatant forms -- the old Tariq Aziz "Iraq is winning the war", or USSR claims of superior production, science, medicine, etc. The slightly more subtle forms are even more dangerous because they prevent large masses of people from dealing with a closer model of reality that could allow them to advance, or at least stave off the myriad disasters that result from not dealing with the real world.
When someone says "settled science", "Bush lied, people died", "We won't see Ebola in the US", and a broad range of other simple pronouncements, they are dealing in propaganda -- maybe because they are directly trying to mislead you, maybe because they themselves are under the spell already, or most likely because they have nothing that transcends the very broken and imperfect reality of the real world and DESPERATELY want to believe that "there are experts / power / government / science / ???" that have managed to make this mortal coil into a meaningful and understood reality that they can bank on.
But in their soul, they know it is not so, so they fight those that deal with reality as it is -- messy, largely unknown, meaningless (when taken in only it's own context), unpredictable, capricious, dangerous and totally uncaring.
Paradoxically, nobody can deal with reality as it is without having something that transcends it, so they can achieve enough distance to allow objectivity -- for thousands of years, religion was that mechanism, with various philosophies providing a weak second place, and Christianity being the undisputed ruler as to actually SUCCESSFULLY allowing reality to be managed and often subdued in the service of the transcendent infinite.
In the past few days, more information has been coming out ( http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/10/14/world/middleeast/us-casualties-of-iraq-chemical-weapons.html) on what was known to widely read conservative readers and readers of this blog for a long time http://bilber99.blogspot.com/2006/06/of-course-iraq-had-wmd.html.
BUT, for propaganda to really fog the brain, it must create a MYTH , which is actually the only way we ever relate to the world, it has just been given a bad name by the myth-makers on the left scurrying to replace the "myths" of religion, western culture, classical Greece and Rome, science (the ordered universe) with the "models" of today's "sciences" -- humans ONLY operate in the world of model/mythology, as in "a simplified story about the world that is explanatory enough to allow people to operate successfully, but is less than fully "factual" in it's detail".
I deal with computers with a more complete model than "95%+" of the rest of the world because I studied computer science and worked in the field for 30 years which included low level boot operations, assembly language programming and machine language patches. The ESSENCE of successful modern economics is SPECIALIZATION driven by private property and Ricardo's law of comparative advantage. I was able to apply my specialized skill and be paid for it, so 95% of the rest of the world can deal with computers with a MUCH less detailed model (myth).
We all deal with 99.999% of the world at a pretty high level model -- which is all we can do given our limited brains and the overall complexity of the world, but it can trip us up very badly when the models we are presented are architected to be false. The core of the "Bush Lied" statement is the myth (this one based on very very little fact) that W went to war ONLY over "AN ACTIVE WEAPONS PROGRAM" -- the basis of this lie is covered in detail in this article http://ace.mu.nu/archives/352462.php ... essentially we went to war because we KNEW Saddam had WMD, and HE DID ... thousands of rounds of it, not the hundreds that were disclosed. So why didn't the W administration publish this information?
My guess is that the major reason is the same one that caused Reagan to never try to combat the "Reagan sleeps in meetings" myth (he was the boss, if he was tired, he cancels the meeting), or W to combat the "Mission Accomplished" myth (the banner was the ships, not Ws). When the opposition controls 90%+ of the press / education / entertainment storytelling industry and is actively on the job creating their mythology, whatever you say is only going to get people to revisit the media mythology and ignore the facts of the day going forward more than they are already. One of the highest costs of having a party as dominant as TP is that the healthy give and take of real complex information vs one-liner myths is effectively suppressed long before the dominant party reaches total control.
Trying to make the "we told you so" case would not have worked at all for the "50%+" of people that were NOT going to buy that we went to war because we KNEW that Saddam had WMD and we were of course CORRECT -- because he did, everyone in the world knew it because he had used them, and stockpiles of thousands of rounds were and still are being discovered. This is no surprise to those that deal in reality and it is only another cause for myth-making in the case of "news" outlets like the NYTs ... the myth has to be updated a bit to " focus on we ONLY were told that we were going to war because of an ACTIVE WMD program".
People are very unwilling to give up their myths ... to those already in the thrall of "Bush Lied", there are no facts that will change their mind -- not even 100K dead in a US city due to sarin from Saddam's stockpiles, because in their minds, ONLY "active weapons program" sarin would count as having been a reason to invade Iraq!
The current level of media bias, plus the level of public willingness to believe in the "myth of the day" prevents us from taking reasonable actions (like a temporary flight ban) to prevent ebola from killing people in the US, continual tax and spend policies that destroy our economy, and focus on warming that "may happen" in 100 years ... although hasn't happened as predicted in the past 15, rather than energy policies for the present good. The list is much longer -- as we slide to one party rule with a media in lock step, the set of issues over which rational discussion is effectively suppressed becomes ever larger, and our exposure to reality "surprising us" increases proportionally.
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