Oprah Winfrey, Warmonger?
Fedwa Wazwaz, AlterNet
November 6, 2002
There is a Sanskrit proverb that says, "When understanding is demented, destruction is near." One of the major misunderstandings that exist today is the definition of freedom. Many have come to accept that freedom translates to the ability to make choices. However, what value is a choice made with a demented understanding of reality?
Take for example our choice to wage war against Iraq. On Oct. 9, TV personality Oprah Winfrey used her program to market the war. Winfrey ran video clips in a sound-bite manner by "experts" as a "moral" obligation to rid the world of Saddam Hussein.
One person in the audience found the courage to comment that the show seemed to be "propagandizing" in favor of war. Winfrey replied that the program was simply laying out the facts so members of the audience could reach their own conclusion. There was a brief clip by Scott Ritter, the former U.N. weapons inspector on Iraq, to falsely lend credibility to her program. Yet, certain facts were missing.
For example, Ritter believes Iraq no longer possesses viable weapons of mass destruction. And there is no evidence, but only conjecture and speculation, that Iraq has that capability.
Is this really a humanitarian mission, as Oprah would like us to believe, or are there other motives driving this war?
Let's see what hidden agenda lays behind those pro-Israeli "experts" who were pushing for war. In 1996, an Israeli think tank called the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies published a paper by Richard Perle and Douglas Feith titled, "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," which advised incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to renege on the Oslo Peace Process.
Perle is now the chairman of the Defense Policy Board at the Pentagon and Feith holds one of the top four posts at the Pentagon as under-secretary of policy.
The paper is basically a plan by which Israel would "shape its strategic environment," beginning with the removal of Saddam Hussein and putting in place the Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad.
Iraq is "the tactical pivot," as a recent presentation at the Pentagon put it, for re-mapping the Middle East on Israeli-American interests. Destabilization of other "despotic regimes" will follow, according to plan.
So the plan to attack Iraq was plotted six years ago by pro-Israelis who now hold key positions in the Pentagon.
But there are other hidden agendas as well. Many high-ranking leaders of the religious right in America have been quite vocal attacking Islam, the Quran and prophet Muhammad publicly. Neither the Bush Administration nor any Republican leader has condemned their attacks or disassociated themselves from these extremists. In fact, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, with other members of Congress, spoke alongside these extremists at their Christian Coalition convention.
The extremists see Islam as a threat and any blow that can be given to a Muslim nation in favor of Israel is a winning point. They view this war as bringing the world ever closer to the second coming of Jesus.
And there is the oil factor. America and the oil companies stand to profit so much from this "moral" war. When was a humanitarian mission rewarded so well?
Besides the deaths of Iraqis and Americans, this war will spill anarchy in the region -- producing hotbeds for extremists, terrorists and further ethnic wars.
Look at this war from the minds of people in the region. If the American leadership chooses to join forces with religious extremists and pro-Israeli think tanks in this country to wage war against Iraq, Osama bin Laden's main recruitment slogan that the "Jews and Crusaders" are waging a war against Islam will become very credible.
So what conclusion did Oprah's audience reach when certain facts were missing from her program? Pro-war. Understanding any subject cannot be achieved by passively watching emotionally manipulative propaganda programs. We must question, analyze and verify the information. Are these sources biased? Are these "experts" using "the facts" to attain a political, religious or hidden agenda? Furthermore, what are the opposing arguments? And more importantly, what are the consequences to us and others?
If we continue to make choices with a demented understanding of these events, we will lead ourselves and the world to destruction and oppression, not freedom and peace.
Fedwa Wazwaz lives in Crystal, Minnesota. She is a programmer/analyst at the University of Minnesota, a member of Interfaith Minnesotans for Middle East Justice and communications director for the Islamic Resource Group.