by John Spritzler



A man named Les Gelb is complaining that Americans just don't buy President Bush's arguments for waging war on Iraq. Mr. Gelb says in a December 19, 2002 interview that he's been going around the country giving speeches advocating war on Iraq, and that, "I have encountered enormous opposition to my terribly persuasive arguments...80 to 90 percent of audience members were against an invasion."

When anti-war individuals report this, one might figure it's a biased sample. What kind of people, after all, are going to come out to listen to Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Robert Fisk or Michael Moore, all of whom have reported large attendance at their anti-war speeches, even in supposedly pro-Bush regions of the country.

But Mr. Gelb is certainly not attracting a knee-jerk anti-establishment crowd. This is clear when one considers exactly who this man is and who he represents.

Les Gelb is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the premiere elite policy-making organization in the United States. When foreign leaders visit the U.S. they appear before the CFR before addressing Congress. CFR members pass in and out of the top government positions routinely. Since 1940 every U.S. secretary of state but one, and every secretary of defense (or war) and most of the directors of the CIA have been CFR members. Dick Cheney, Al Gore and Bill Clinton are all CFRers. The business elite runs the CFR. David Rockefeller (of whom it has been said if he were elected President of the United States it would be a demotion) is a Chairman emeritus of the CFR. Most of America's largest corporations have their directors, chairman or CEO in the CFR.

So when the CFR president complains on its official web site, geared to its distinctly pro-establishment audience, that "upwards of 80 to 90 percent of the audiences disagree" with Bush and believe he has "not made the case that Saddam is a serious threat," and that this remains the case after months of Presidential assertions and arguments and a special speech to the nation, it amounts to an abject admission by the ruling elite that they cannot persuade the American public to buy their warmongering lies. The evidence for the elite's propaganda defeat comes from many quarters besides his own personal experience, Gelb told his interviewer: "I have spoken to a number of congressional staffers and told them the same story I told you. They said to me that when their bosses - the senators and congressmen - return from their districts, they tell pretty much the same story." Americans, says Gelb, "worry about  'the day after' -- what happens after Saddam is gone. Will it set off a blood lust in Iraq? Will it set off terrorism against the United States?"

That so many Americans, in December of 2002, see through the administration's lies and do not "rally around our leader" when he calls for war is hugely significant, because everything normally required to produce a war fever is in play now. We have been traumatized by the September 11 terrorist attack -- an atrocity which killed more Americans on our own soil than even the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. To gauge how much September 11 might have propelled Americans towards war, consider that Pearl Harbor, with fewer casualties, single-handedly destroyed the American isolationist movement that had, till then, prevented FDR from leading the U.S. into WWII. We have been bombarded by a media blitz promoting a "war on terrorism." Hardly a day (or an hour) goes by that we don't hear about Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction. We're so saturated with the scary message we even know what the WMD abbreviation stands for without being reminded. Twelve years ago, after Gulf War I, the war mongers triumphantly announced the death of the "Vietnam Syndrome" (the refusal of Americans to support war.) Now they're not so sure. At a time when American support for war should be sky high, it can barely muster 20% of audiences coming to hear Les Gelb pontificate.

Were this nation anything even approaching a democracy, if "representative democracy" were anything more than a pretty name for what is in fact a dictatorship of a plutocracy, then the fact that "upwards of 80 to 90 percent" of the people don't want a war on Iraq would translate into a government decision to not wage the war. But no! When asked about the possibility of the government launching the war, specifically whether "The fact that the public may not be enthusiastic won't play a big role?" Gelb shot back, "It won't play a big role in whether or not to go to war." According to Gelb, "Unless all this pressure we are putting on Saddam results in Iraqis overthrowing him in the next six to eight weeks, the chances are very, very high the U.S. will be at war with Iraq by March."


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