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Fear: A Political Tool

By Ghali Hassan

26 April, 2005

The rise of the politics of fear has become central to US imperial agenda.In order to sell its "war on terror" and the war on Iraq, the Bush administration turned to fear to manipulate the public. Just before the war on Iraq, US and British politicians played on people's fear of an imagined enemy and fabricate an "imminent threat" to justify a war of aggression against a defenceless nation. Fear is the instrument of those in power to manufacture consent in order to imperil civil liberties and pursue rejected policy.

The September 11 (9/11) attacks on the US were an "opportunity" used to cultivate fear and advance US imperial agenda. "The White House carefully manipulated public opinion, never quite lied, but gave the very strong impression that Iraq did it", Richard Clarke, Bush administration's counter-terrorism expert told CBS 60 minutes on March 21, 2004. A false 'link' was established between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks and used wickedly to play on people's fear.

Just before the US war on Iraq, a "code orange" terror alert was declared in the US. Anti-aircraft batteries were deployed in Washington, while New York streets were patrolled with machine-guns Special Forces. In Britain, tanks and armed troops were deployed at London Heathrow Airport. The pretext at the time was, 'a response to perceived increase in terrorist attacks', a fantasy, which proved to be the first lie in the war on Iraq. The obvious reasons were: To prepare the public to support an act of aggression against already demonised and defenceless nation, to warn the mass media to follow
the government war policy, and to provide pretexts for governments to pass legislations expanding powers of law enforcement agencies.

The 2001 Patriot Act in the US and similar offshoots in many countries (e.g. Anti-terrorism Acts in Canada and Australia) were created on fabricated allegations and enacted against dissent voices and minorities. Essentially, people are forced to trade their freedom and civil liberties for protection from an imaginary enemy. However, this is not entirely true. There is exception; "Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, and immigrants who are Arab or Muslim, they have borne the brunt of reduced freedom, reduced rights", said Professor Corey Robin of City University of New York. Thousands of innocent people have been detained, interrogated and deported. Hundreds of people have been arrested, tortured and illegally imprisoned without charges, and denied their right to fair trails. "Most American citizens who are white middle-class are not experiencing that at all", added Professor Corey Robin.

Fear played an important role during the US elections campaign. The Bush administration uses fear to frighten the population into total obedience and to maintain political power. In fact, the public is manipulated to accept just anything. The victims of this fear mongering are the "others". A survey
conducted by Cornell University found that nearly half of the Americans who responded to the survey say the US should 'restrict the civil liberties of Muslim Americans'. In the recent Australian election, the situation was not much different from that in the US.

Once politicians have frightened the population, they presented themselves as saviours, and strip people of their freedoms, of their dignity, and of their human rights. The detentions of innocent civilians are justified on the basis that, an imminent threat exists, and warning to others that dissent is not tolerated. Any one can be arrested and put in jail on the pretext to 'save the people'. The fabricated threat of terrorism "is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It is a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services and international media", argued Adam Curtis, Britain's leading documentary filmmaker.

Throughout the Cold War, which was a pretext for state of fear, Western secret agents and NATO collaborated in attacks against civilian targets, which blamed on left-wing groups in order to create panic and force the public to turn to governments for more security and protection. One of these right-wing groups who implicated in attacks on civilians, code-name Gladio. Only in 1990s, the existence of the group became known in Italy and the Italian Senate, amid public protests, had to close it down, because it 'was beyond democratic control'. In other words, the lies became too big to
hide from the public. (Cited in 'Secret Warfare: Gladio', by Daniele Ganser).

Lie after lie have been fabricated and promoted by warmongers and deceptive mainstream media outlets in order to convince the public that their fear is linked to a threat posed by Iraq. Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, most American citizens bought the lies of the Bush administration and not only succumb to the restriction on their civil liberties, but also supported a criminal war against the people of Iraq. The continuous demonisation of the Iraqi people serves to prop up domestic support for imperial policy and occupation. Iraq is portrayed in Western mainstream media as a violent sectarian war zone as if it is not the Occupation that encourages the violence and preys on sectarian divides. In his 25 years long rule of Iraq, Saddam killed and imprisoned far less people than Tony Blair or George Bush. An entire nation and a civilised society have been destroyed and decimated by a small group of white extremist ideologues, with disregards to humanity and civilisation.

The war on Iraq is also used as an instrument of fear to bully other nations into submission to US imperialist agenda. Both, the US and the British governments have publicly stated that the war on Iraq was "a lesson" to other defenceless nations. In other words, we are violent and we will use violence to get what we want. "Such is the viciousness that lies behind the façade of the British [and US] foreign policy", writes Mark Curtis, Director of the World Development Movement. Sadly, people in the West accepted the violence of their own governments with almost no resistance to the crimes committed in their name.

From March 2003 to October 2004, US forces have killed more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians, most of them innocent women and children, reported the reputable British journal, The Lancet. The only credible scientific study published so far. The estimate is very conservative in that it excluded the high civilians death in Fallujah, which was considered too high to include in the final analysis. The US forces self-immunity from prosecution makes it very easier for them to kill Iraqis with institutionalised impunity, as if Iraqis were not human beings.

Fallujah was fire bombed and destroyed by US forces. In violation of International Law and the Geneva Conventions, US forces used modern form of napalm bombs (MK-77 Mod 5), which ignites on impact to attack civilian population there. According to the Red Cross, more than 6,000 innocent civilians (men, women and children) have been killed, and the rest of the population is displaced refugees. A war crime termed "collective punishment" designed to instil fear in the Iraqi population passed with complete silence in Western capitals.

"American behaviour and self-perceptions reveal the ease with which a civilized country [US] can engage in large-scale killing of innocent civilians without public discussion", wrote Jeffery Sachs, Professor of Economics and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

It is a moral failure that the crimes against the Iraqi people continue to pass with complete silence in most Western countries as if the Iraqi people are "unpeople". The detention in Indonesia of an Anglo-Australian women accused of trafficking in drugs has attracted far more attention and media
hype than any newsworthy story in the last few months. The daily mass murder of innocent Iraqi men, women and children, as young as five, is not newsworthy enough to be covered in Australia's "free press". Consequently, the fear of drugs was completely removed and the media concentrated on
marketing the cliché of fear of the "others", the Indonesians.

Thomas Friedman, the New York Times most conspicuous warmonger, is telling Americans to be extra nervous now because the Iraqi people Resistance might try to attack America if they are losing in Iraq. Friedman's fascist theory is: "The more the Jihadists lose in Iraq, the more likely they are to use their rump forces to try something really crazy in America to make up for it". He added, "So let's stay the course in Iraq, but stay extra-vigilant at home". Friedman calls the Iraqi Resistance "Jihadists"; an American-created reductive word originated from the Arabic word means 'to struggle'. It could
be struggle peacefully against injustice or strife for spirituality, education and freedom. This kind of fear mongering is promoted and directed at American citizens to support their government ongoing atrocities against the Iraqi people, and Muslims in general. Friedman has no compassion and no
demonstrable awareness of human suffering. The US brutal occupation of Iraq, or Israel brutal occupation of Palestine does not detain him for a moment. His theory is not only criminal, but it is also misleading the (American) public and promoting fear of an imaginary enemy.

An imaginary enemy have to be constructed in order to manipulate the population in supporting ongoing acts of aggression. From the making of Bin Laden to the CIA "favourite terrorists" and warlords in Afghanistan, Bogymen and 'phantom terrorists' are created to provide pretext for fear. They remain useful alive than dead. The phantom of "Al-Zarqawi" is a CIA-created legend designed to divide Iraqis religious and political factions and justify a prolong occupation. The myth is promoted in Western mainstream media on daily basis. Iraqi sources suggest that most terrorist acts attributed to Al-Zarqawi were actually carried out by secret US and Israeli agents.

US intelligence agents in Iraq have admitted, that they are paying people off to make up stories about Al-Zarqawi to create sectarian divisions among the Iraqis: "We were basically paying up to $US10,000 (A$13,000) a time to opportunists, criminals and chancers who passed off fiction and supposition
about the fundamentalist anti-Shiites Al-Zarqawi as cast-iron fact, making him out as the linchpin of just about every attack in Iraq", one agent said: "Back home this stuff was gratefully received and formed the basis of policy decisions. We needed a villain, someone identifiable for the public to latch
on to, and we got one", reported Adrian Blomfield of The Age of Melbourne on 02 October 2004.

There is a conscious effort by the US Occupation forces and the mainstream media to distort the image of the Iraqi Resistance and reduce its members to merely "foreign fundamentalists" - as if the US forces and western mercenaries are not the real foreigners. Fundamentalists are also easy to
demonise than nationalists and resistance movements, who struggle for legitimate cause. There is no evidence to suggest that Al-Zarqawi exists, and much of the information was from unreliable sources. The promotion of Al-Zarqawi's myth was very high before and during the criminal US bombings
of the city of Fallujah.

As a result of US war and Occupation, fear is widespread in Iraq today, particularly among women and children who continue to be humiliated and abused in violent house-to-house searches being conducted by US forces. The ceaseless aerial bombings of Iraq since 1991 war have traumatized and
installed fear among Iraqi women and children.

The Iraqi people posed no threat to the United States or any other countries. It is the US, which occupies Iraq, imprisoned, tortured, and killed thousands (Iraqi men, women and children), seized Iraq's assets and oil resources, imposed an illegitimate elections and continues to threat the
lives of the Iraqi people.

The fabricated threat of terrorism "is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It is a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services and international media", added Adam Curtis. Fear is political means and like war must be rejected by any civilised society. The idea of hegemony or domination by one power is the construction of permanent fear on the rest of the planet.

The US doctrine of hegemony has failed in Iraq. The majority of the world despises the US militaristic power. The world is more dangerous today because of the threat of terrorism promoted by US policy. Had it not been for the Iraqi people Resistance against US war and Occupation, Syria and Iran would have been attacked by now. The Iraqi Resistance has also thwarted and discredited the US militaristic hegemonic agenda.

The fictional fear in the West is serving the ideology and interests of those who committed a murderous war of aggression against the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people have a legitimate right to defend their country and resist foreign occupation. Their actions of self-defence are legal within international law. What is to be feared is those who committed this murderous war of aggression will escape justice, and perhaps live to commit more crimes.

Ghali Hassan lives in Perth, Western Australia.











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