Retired U.S. Army Lt. General William Odom is a Vietnam Veteran who, in the late 1970s, helped Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski use mujahedeen zealots to “give the Soviets their Vietnam” in Afghanistan. In the mid-1980s, Odom worked for Ronald Reagan as Director of the National Security Agency.
One week ago, this very same General Odom held a press conference in Washington, D.C. “The invasion of Iraq,” Odom announced, “will turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history.” And, according to Odom, the sooner the U.S. withdraws all its troops from Iraq, the better off everybody involved will be. The later, the worse. “Cut and run,” treated as an unthinkable option even in many “liberal” circles, Odom opined, is the clearly proper course of action in Iraq.
In the corporate media, these stunning conclusions were judged to be not newsworthy. None of the major outlets reported on Odom’s press conference. Search the websites of CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC for “Odom,” and you’ll get multiple stories about how retired superstar Scottie Pippen is trying to help coach Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom, but zero, zilch, zip hits about General Odom’s momentous statement.
Hence, the story of a conservative expert (and unprosecuted war criminal) pronouncing the Iraq occupation the worst military disaster in U.S. history went unreported, while pre-season basketball niceties grabbed headlines. Cats all over town are falling down laughing as they put this fact together with all the right-wing talk about “liberal bias.”
This is all the more disgusting and infuriating as, in this very same week, George W. Bush has summoned the chutzpah (or stupidity) to start delivering speeches about how the U.S. must perpetuate its illegal occupation because Iraq has become the main launching pad for the world’s mujahedeen! (“Help, this house is on fire!” shouted the arsonist with the gas can and matches in his pocket.)
In 20 years of keeping track of the capitalist media and its remarkably effective “filters” on the news, I cannot remember a starker case in point: Capitalism and capitalist media are both dire threats to human survival. Money-making can’t be a top priority for doing anything right, let alone properly informing the public about affairs of the state. If we don’t demote it very soon, we are in major-league trouble, as none other than Lt. General William Odom is indirectly telling us.
Michael Dawson works for pay as a paralegal and sociology teacher in Portland, Oregon. He is presently writing a book, Automobiles Ueber Alles: Corporate Capitalism and Transportation in America, forthcoming from Monthly Review Press.