Glenn Greenwald on Iraq: Is U.S. “Humanitarianism” Only Summoned to Control Oil-Rich Areas?

14.08.2014 - Democracy Now!

We discuss the situation in Iraq with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. In a recent article for The Intercept, “U.S. ‘Humanitarian’ Bombing of Iraq: A Redundant Presidential Ritual,” Greenwald reviews news headlines related to U.S. military action in Iraq over the past two decades. He cites a 1991 New York Times headline, “U.S. and Allies Open Air War on Iraq; Bomb Baghdad and Kuwaiti Targets; ‘No Choice’ But Force, Bush Declares,” and a CNN headline from 2003 titled “Blair Likens Saddam to Hitler.” Then, closer to the present, he cites a Daily Beast story titled “ISIS ‘Worse Than Al Qaeda,’ Says Top State Department Official.”

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We continue to look at Iraq now as we turn to our next guest, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. One of his recent pieces for The Intercept at First Look Media is titled “U.S. ‘Humanitarian’ Bombing of Iraq: A Redundant Presidential Ritual.” In it, he runs through headlines from media coverage of Iraq starting in 1990. He cites a 1991 New York Times headline, “U.S. and Allies Open Air War on Iraq; Bomb Baghdad and Kuwaiti Targets; ‘No Choice’ But Force, Bush Declares,” and a CNN headline from 2003 titled “Blair likens Saddam to Hitler.” Then, closer to the present, he cites a Daily Beast story titled “ISIS ‘Worse Than Al Qaeda,’ Says Top State Department Official.”

AMY GOODMAN: Well, to talk more about this “redundant ritual,” Glenn Greenwald is joining us via Democracy Now! video stream from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Glenn, welcome back to Democracy Now! Talk about the U.S. coverage and the—what you feel is the response to President Obama announcing more strikes in Iraq.

GLENN GREENWALD: There’s so much propaganda that constantly inundates U.S. media coverage of our political leaders. That’s not a secret. But I think, of all that propaganda, the one that always shocks me the most is the idea that U.S. military force is going to be deployed for humanitarianism and humanitarian goals. And that’s true for two reasons. One is that every single war, literally, throughout history, just about, is justified on the pretense of humanitarianism. I mean, Hitler, when he invaded Czechoslovakia and other neighboring countries, said he was doing so to protect the human rights of German minorities. Al-Qaeda says that they bomb the U.S. to protect the rights of Muslims around the world. Over and over, this is the justification of aggression and brutality and violence, that, oh, it’s being done for humanitarian ends.

And that’s so much true that in 2004 Noam Chomsky wrote an article essentially making that point, and in response, Samantha Power, who’s now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and an advocate of all sorts of interventions, she conceded the point. She said much blood was shed in the last century by United States forces or proxies in the name of righteous ends, because every state justifies its wars on the grounds of self-defense or altruism; Chomsky is correct that any, quote, “profession of noble intent” is predictable and therefore carries no information.

And the second point is that all you have to do is look at the things that the United States does in that region, as Patrick Cockburn was just saying. I mean, the U.S. just got done feeding arms and munitions to the Israelis to kill 2,000 civilians in Gaza. Hillary Clinton, in 2009, said, “President and Mrs. Mubarak are close personal friends of my family.”

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