Don Williams
Photo by Justin Williams

Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at Opednews.com and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: http://www.mach2.com/williams/. Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email DonWilliams7@charter.net.


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Don Williams comments

Americans were duped before; it could be happening again
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   02/21/2003)

Are you being duped? Ask yourself that question before condemning those who oppose bombing, invading and occupying Iraq. It wouldn't be the first time your own government, including your president, has lied to justify war. It happens in every other generation.

This nation fought a war against Spain over a century ago because many in the media parroted the government line that Spaniards blew up the Battleship Maine in Cuba. Turns out that most likely was a mistake at best, a big fat lie at worst.

During World War I, Germans were depicted as brutal barbarians who reveled in nailing babies to fences and gouging out their eyes, and WWI was billed as "The War to End All Wars." Instead, it led directly to WWII, the rise of communism and the Cold War in the bloodiest century the world has ever known.

Many of today's hawks are too young to remember the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the big fat lie that plunged us into Vietnam in the 1960s. Look it up.

Then there was the Iran-Contra affair, a web of lies that helped shape the dismal dilemma we face now. Remember Iran-Contra? That was the covert operation of the Reagan-Bush administration in the 1980s to sell missiles to a radical Iranian government in exchange for its help in freeing American hostages held in Lebanon. Yes folks, our government dealt with terrorists and sold arms to radical Muslim governments. Money from the missiles we sold to Iran was used to arm the Contras in Central America. Some called them terrorists, but they were our terrorists, so we called them Freedom Fighters.

Reagan's National Security Adviser, John Poindexter, was convicted in 1990 of conspiracy, lying to Congress, defrauding the government and destroying evidence in the Iran Contra scandal. He got off on grounds that he had been granted immunity from prosecution by the same Congress he lied to. Incredibly, Poindexter now serves as director of the Pentagon's Information Awareness Office, which snoops on the electronic transactions of ordinary Americans.

It gets more mendacious. While Poindexter, Oliver North and others were secretly funneling weapons to Iran, our government also supported Iran's hated enemy, Iraq, selling the Iraqis cluster bombs and chemicals for weapons of mass destruction. Our government, including Donald Rumsfeld and others now surrounding George W. Bush, shamelessly played both sides against the middle in the 1980s, promoting trench warfare that resulted in about one million dead, crippled and emotionally scarred Iranians and Iraqis, including the Kurds, who likely were gassed by both sides.

Later, our government lied to make its case for the Gulf War. George Bush I widely quoted reports in 1990 that Iraqi soldiers had pulled hundreds of premature babies from incubators in Kuwaiti Hospitals. Remember that? Whether Bush knew it or not, the record is clear now that it never happened.

Our government claimed that same year to have a photograph showing 265,000 Iraqi soldiers and 1,500 tanks massed on the Saudi border ready to overrun that country's oilfields. That claim compelled the Saudis to let us use their country as a staging ground for the Gulf War. A prize-winning writer for the St. Petersburg Times went to the source of the photograph and exposed it as one more lie. The Bush I bunch also lied to the Kurds and other enemies of Saddam Hussein, promising we would liberate them if they rose up to oppose that hated tyrant, Saddam Hussein. Instead, Kurds were slaughtered by Iraqi helicopters as U.S. forces withdrew. We mostly protected the Kurds from further Iraqi vengeance, but the lies keep coming, to the Kurds and to us.

A New York Times poll shows that 42 percent of Americans believe Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attacks of 9-11. Our government helped create that impression in its obsessive drive toward "regime change" in Iraq.

If you love America, as I do, then you owe it to yourself and your children to seek the truth and reject even the lies told with the best of intentions by your own leaders.

Governments throughout history have lied, and many folks around the world have become smart enough to know it. Maybe that explains why, even as talking heads on CNN and ABC gushed over how brilliantly Colin Powell had made the case for war against Iraq--with his photographs of trucks and bulldozers and his little bag of phony Anthrax and his weird tape recordings--the world responded with the largest peace demonstration in history against a war that hadn't even started. It's one that doesn't have to start if the truth be told.