by Zafar Bangash (Book Review, Crescent International Vol. 49, No. 7, Muharram, 1442)
Robert Fantina: Propaganda, Lies and False Flags: How the US Justifies its Wars. Published by Red Pill Press (redpillpress.com) Otto, NC, US. 2020. pp. 267. Pbk: US$24
To understand the difference between the US’ self-crafted image as a force for good in the world, and its reality, Robert Fantina’s latest book, Propaganda, Lies and False Flags: How the US Justifies its Wars is essential reading. Incessant propaganda beamed through the pliant corporate media helps the US project itself as a beacon of light unto others. It claims to be the “leader of the free world” as well as the “exceptional power”. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans with little knowledge of the world swallow this propaganda.
Most Americans have not traveled even outside their own state, much less the country. George W. Bush had visited only two countries before he became president of the United States: Canada and Mexico. He was so woefully ignorant that when he first heard of the Taliban, he thought they were a rock band!
With ignorance so widespread among Americans, it is not surprising that most are unaware of the horrors their country has inflicted on other peoples under the pretext of delivering freedom and democracy. This is not to suggest that every American is complicit in the crimes committed by successive governments in Washington DC. But the brave souls that have spoken out or written about America’s crimes can be counted on one’s fingers. Denied access to mainstream media platforms, they exist on the fringes of the information highway. The Internet has broken the mainstream media’s near monopoly—and this is to be welcomed—but their voices are still not allowed to reach enough people in the US while the power wielders peddle the fiction that the US is the “most powerful democracy in the world.”
Robert Fantina is among those challenging the vicious lies of the corporate, military industrial complex. Cindy Sheehan, mother of Casey, the 24-year-old American soldier killed on the first day of duty in Iraq in April 2004, is also an outspoken critic. It is, therefore, appropriate that the heart-broken mother was invited to write the foreword to this book.
Author of numerous books, Fantina provides a wealth of information, meticulously documented, about America’s wars, crimes and genocides spanning more than two centuries. As former US president Jimmy Carter pointed out, America has been at war for 227 of its 244-year history in some 149 countries. This is a gory record of which most Americans are completely oblivious.
Fantina takes a broad sweep of American history starting with its first century and its genocidal war on Native Americans. Its 29 chapters are arranged under three sections. Section A covers the period 1755-1899 and deals with the European colonialists’ wars on the Native Americans, the War of 1812 (1812-1815), Mexican-American War (1846-1848), Spanish-American War (April 25, 1898-August 12, 1898), and other false flags from this period. False flag operations are not a new phenomenon but a regular tool in the ruling elite’s arsenal from the very founding of America.
Section B examines the period 1900-1950 at the end of which the US emerged as a global power. In seven chapters, Fantina deals with America’s wars on Cuba, Philippines, Nicaragua, Haiti, Dominican Republic and concludes the last two chapters with the First and Second world wars. At the end of the Second World War, the European colonial powers were exhausted and forced to abandon their colonial possessions.
The leading European colonial powers—Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and even two-bit players like the Netherlands, Belgium, and Portugal—had colonies but were left economically devastated. The US emerged as the pre-eminent military and economic power, along with the Soviet Union, after the war.
Section C of the book—the longest—deals with the period 1951 to the present and sheds light on America’s wars against a long list of countries. The CIA’s coups carried out to overthrow foreign governments viewed as not sufficiently subservient to the US are also highlighted. There is hardly a country the US has not threatened or attacked.
Appropriately titled, ‘The Killing Fields’, the author takes readers through the US chamber of horrors and the mass killings it has indulged in around the globe. Since the Second World War, the US has killed more than 20 million people (p.245). Other scholars report even higher figures saying the US has participated in the post-9/11 holocaust of 27 million mostly brown-skinned Muslim people.
While Muslims and Muslim-majority countries have been the principal victims of America’s wars of aggression, others have not been spared either. Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Angola, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, Grenada and Panama have all been administered large doses of American ‘benevolence’. In each case, lies and false flags have been used to mislead Americans to support wars of aggression.
Iraq is a good example. Fantina shows how propaganda was used to mobilise support for the war. Iraq was first lured into invading and occupying Kuwait (that used to be part of Iraq before the British colonialists sliced it off). This feat was performed by US ambassador April Glaspie who met Iraqi dictator Saddam Husain in July 1990 telling him “we have no particular opinion on Arab-Arab border conflicts like your border disagreement with Kuwait” (p.139). Glaspie then left Baghdad while Saddam ordered his tanks into Kuwait on August 2, 1990 occupying it in a matter of hours.
Most Americans had no interest in border disputes between Arabs in distant lands. Enter Nayirah, the 15-year-old “Kuwaiti hospital volunteer” who claimed in testimony before US Congress (October 10, 1990) that she had “witnessed” Iraqi soldiers snatch babies from incubators and left them to die on the hospital floor. “It was horrifying”, she testified through tears (p.140). This lie was fabricated by the PR firm, Hill & Knowlton (H&K). Nayirah, it later turned out, was not a hospital volunteer but the sheltered daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador in Washington DC. Coached by H&K about what to say before Congress, her teary-eyed “performance” deserved an Oscar. H&K was paid by ‘Citizens for a Free Kuwait’, a group financed by the Kuwaiti government.
It was this “testimony” propagated by H&K that swayed American public opinion in support of the war against Iraq. It needs to be borne in mind that from 1980 to 1988, the US had backed Saddam’s war against Iran even while Iraq was on the US “list of state sponsor of terrorism”. Iran was seen as a greater threat, hence the massive funding, arming and supply of chemicals to Iraq to manufacture mustard gas. The Iraqi regime used poison gas against Iranian troops and revolutionary guards from September 1983 until the end of the war in August 1988. This writer was the first to report the use of poison gas by Iraq against Iranian troops following a visit to the war front in October 1983 (Crescent International October 16-31, 1983. This information was made available to major media outlets in Toronto at the time but nobody was interested!)
Iran took the matter to the UN Security Council in 1984. The UN set up an inquiry commission that carried out its annual “investigations” and reported the use of poison gas but never once did it name the culprit: the Iraqi regime since it was backed by the US. It was only after the war when Saddam had outlived his usefulness that western governments and media outlets started to talk about his use of chemical weapons, prohibited under the Geneva Conventions!
Fantina meticulously details US wars on Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and a host of others as well as CIA-instigated coups. Americans sincere in preventing their country from launching wars against other countries should not only read this book but keep it handy when the Washington warlords call for support for another war somewhere in the world. Non-Americans will find ample proof of the criminal nature of the US ruling elite. They can begin to take steps to protect themselves against US aggression.
Fantina deserves credit for providing such a thoroughly researched account of US crimes worldwide that are justified through propaganda and lies. Information, it is said, is power. This book will empower people to debunk US propaganda and lies that are used to justify endless wars.