Information Warfare: January 16, 2003


One of the most potent weapons in Information War is the "Big Lie." If you want to slander an opponent, just keep repeating a harmful lie loudly and frequently and eventually many people, without access to the facts (or any real interest in checking it out), will accept the "Big Lie." A current example of this is the accusation that the United States "armed Iraq." There is no proof for this whatsoever. Check the newspapers for the 1970s and 80s, when Iraqi built up its armed forces, and you will see that Iraq got all of its weapons from Russia, China, France, South Africa and several other countries in Europe and South America. Any listing of Iraqi weapons today lists no American weapons, except those they stole from Kuwait (and still refuse to return). But nothing went from the United States directly to Iraq. When an accuser gets cornered by these facts, they will go chemical, and point out that the United States sold Iraq some of the material it used to make chemical weapons. That's true, but that material (anthrax spores, industrial machinery and the like) was in support of Iraq's agriculture. Iraq has been a major farming area for over six thousand years. The "Fertile Crescent" and all that. During the 1980s Iraq asked the United States (the greatest agricultural producer in history) to help improve Iraq's agricultural productivity. Anthrax is common in the area (it's mentioned in the Old Testament and ancient Mesopotamian records). American agricultural aid provides help in identifying different strains of Anthrax and developing vaccines for people and farm animals. The United States is also a major developer and manufacturer of insecticides. Iraq has lots of insects that harm people and crops. Nerve gas is nothing more than insecticide reformulated to attack mammals. You sell someone equipment to manufacture insecticide, and the buyer can easily reconfigure the plant to make nerve gas. This sort of thing is called "dual use" and drives people interested in arms control nuts. But it doesn't mean selling insecticide manufacturing equipment is the same as selling weapons. In any event, most of the industrial equipment Iraq used for producing chemical weapons came from Europe. So, the next time someone throws a "Big Lie" at you, challenge them to prove it. They can't.


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