Criticizes the U.S. government’s state of perpetual war
Well-known journalist, whistleblower and anti-war activist Norman Solomon visited Ithaca College on Sept. 10 and discussed the United States’ government’s involvement in the Iraq war.
Solomon began with a clip from the film “War Made Easy,” based on a book Solomon wrote of the same name. The book analyzes U.S. military action and the intentional misdeeds of the U.S. government. Specifically, the book discusses how the U.S. government has disregarded the public’s opinion on the war in Iraq.
Solomon continued by discussing his position as an advocate for whistleblowers and how he’s fought the government in this capacity over the years. A whistleblower is a person who informs the public about a person or organization engaged in an illegal or immoral activity. Solomon has been a committed whistleblower since the 1980’s, writing for several alternative media publications, including The Pacific News Service. He is also the founder of the Institute for Public Accuracy, an organization that stresses the importance of progressive voices in mainstream media.
In his speech at the college, Solomon addressed the U.S. being in what he called a state of “perpetual war.” He said this is representative of a country that has always been fighting other nations for its own economic gain.
Solomon said the U.S. war machine has resulted in the suffering of a multitude of innocent people. According to Solomon’s film, 90 percent of all deaths in the Iraq War were civilians. Additionally, a project called Iraq Body Count found 174,000 Iraqis were killed between 2003 and 2013, with approximately 112,000 of those being civilians.
A poll conducted by CNN/USA Today in March 2003 found that 72 percent of Americans were in favor of the war in Iraq and 25 percent were opposed. However, the amount of Americans in favor of the war declined to 38 percent by 2008, according to the Pew Research Center. Solomon said despite the fact that most people in the U.S. were against the war, it persisted because the government was economically benefiting.
There were some in the government who spoke out against the U.S. war machine. Prior to the Iraq war, but post-9/11, California congresswoman Barbara Lee said, “Let us not become the evil that we deplore.” Lee was one of the few in Congress who advocated the U.S. not invade Iraq. Despite this commentary, the majority of the Congress chose violence above peace. Solomon made it apparent that the cause of this was the U.S. government’s greed.
Solomon claims that the government was, and still is, gaining huge amounts of money through war, and the profits generated are going to private companies who are invested in the war, thus boosting our national economy. More specifically, Solomon claims that as our economic gain from the Iraq War increased, U.S. engagement in the war also increased, and failed to end. Not only did Solomon define our government as a “cash cow,” but he emphasized that the government was not engaging in the war for its citizens, but solely for economic gain.
The U.S. government is greedy. It is thirsty for business and foreign wars because it benefits from them, even if that means death and civilian casualties. We need to consider this state of perpetual war before selecting the intricate parts of our government. As the election approaches, proceed with caution. Realize the implications of a president who is on the side of the war effort, supports big business and is inconsiderate of public opinion.
Our government plays an influential role in our society because it is involved in nearly every part of our existence, including media. Solomon spoke negatively of media in his speech, saying the mainstream media is “flawed, and prevents us from seeing the reality” of how the U.S. engages in war. It’s important to note we see things through the U.S. media, completely shifting the perception of wars occurring abroad. The media is what determines what we get to know and what is left out.
The media is selective of foreign news. However, we need to criticize the government instead of pointing fingers at our own media. It is important to inspect how our government is impacting the U.S. media, instead of blatantly blaming the media. Media bias is caused by government control. Because the government is in control of money and war, they are defining and controlling the media as well.
Though we live in a democratic society, attempts to be orderly and free seem to be persistently lacking. People in the U.S. are passionate about their freedom, yet the government is often discombobulated and controlling.
At the end of his speech, Solomon made it apparent that media is essential in society, as it is a way to reach people who are not politically active.
“Songs, speech, film, print … cultural fabric can change people’s perspectives,” he said.
Solomon believes that by raising awareness, we can actually determine the future of our country, rather than it being up to the whims of the government.
In 2002, Congresswoman Lee said, “We must use all the tools of American power in resolving disputes, including diplomacy.”
Consider this as you actively participate in elections, read mainstream media and engage in politics of any kind. We are the future: let’s not mess it up.
Kate Nalepinski is a sophomore journalism major who is ready to blow the whistle on the Ithaca winter. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.