The last 50-odd years of American history have time and again demonstrated the ugly reality that when the collection of government officials, think-tanks, and media cheerleaders that make up the military industrial complex are itching for a confrontation, they don't let anything as petty and insignificant as the truth stand in their way.
When President Lyndon Johnson needed a pretext to jump into the quagmire of Vietnam, we suddenly discovered that Ho Chi Minh's forces had fired on U.S. vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin.
To whip up support for what became "Desert Storm" in 1990-91, we were told that Saddam Hussein's troops had cruelly murdered little tots in Kuwait City by disconnecting infants' incubators, among other atrocities.
By 2003, that same Saddam had purchased enough uranium oxide in Africa to make a nuclear device capable of hitting Western targets on 45 minutes notice. A detailed map of 18 separate caches where his weapons of mass destruction were stored was provided by then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Similar horror stories were told of Libyan ex-leader Moammar Kadafi when the U.S. set out to overthrow his government and kill him.
There is only one problem with these very scary tales: They are each and every one complete lies. Not one iota of truth can be found in any of them.
Perhaps the most galling whopper of all was the claim, repeated ever more hysterically by former president George W. Bush and vice president Dick Cheney, that the Iraqi government was the chief sponsor of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
The recently declassified 28 pages of the official report on that incident reveal to all but the willfully blind that the actual culprit in the mass murder was none other than the Saudi government, which had been embraced by both the Bush and Obama administrations as our great ally in the War on Terror.
Now, some of these same paragons of integrity are again churning out a blizzard of pro-war propaganda, this time over Syria. Here's how debate moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC put it in a question to Hillary Clinton:
"Just days ago, the State Department called for a war crimes investigation of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and its ally, Russia, for their bombardment of Aleppo…If you were president, what would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo? Isn't it a lot like the Holocaust where the U.S. waited too long before we helped?"
An actual independent journalist (yes, there are some!) named Robert Parry hit the nail on the head. He wondered: What if Ms. Raddatz had asked Hillary the following, more honest question?
"The situation in Aleppo presents a heart-rending and nettlesome concern. al-Qaeda fighters and their rebel allies, including some who have been armed by the United States, are holed up in some neighborhoods of eastern Aleppo. They've been firing rockets into the center and western sections of Aleppo and have shot civilians seeking to leave east Aleppo through humanitarian corridors.
"These terrorists and their (so-called) moderate rebel allies seem to be using tens of thousands of civilians still in east Aleppo as human shields in order to create sympathy from Western audiences when the Syrian government seeks to root the terrorists and other insurgents from these neighborhoods with airstrikes that have killed both armed fighters and civilians. In such a circumstance, what should the U.S. role be, and was it not a mistake to supply these fighters with sophisticated rockets and other weapons, given that these weapons have helped al-Qaeda in seizing and holding territory?
If former secretary of state Clinton had called for a no-fly zone in answer to that question, Mr. Parry said that the obvious follow-up would be: "Wouldn't such an intervention constitute an aggressive war against Syria in violation of the U.N. Charter and the Nuremberg principles?
"And wouldn't such a strategy risk tipping the balance in favor of al-Qaeda and its jihadist allies, possibly even its terror spinoff group, the Islamic State? And what would the United States do if its destruction of the Syrian air force led to the black flag of jihadist terror flying over Damascus as well as all of Aleppo?
Would a Clinton administration send in U.S. troops to stop the likely massacre of Christians, Alawites, Shiites, secular Sunnis and other heretics?
Finally, Mr. Parry asked: "Would your no-fly zone include shooting down Russian aircraft that are flying inside Syria at the invitation of the Syrian government? Might such a clash provoke a superpower escalation, possibly even invite nuclear war?"
If this line of questioning upsets either the current administration or a prospective future one, then good. It is precisely the failure of a docile press to follow up on these kinds of considerations that could lead us into a disaster bigger than Vietnam, Iraq and Libya combined.