Panama, 1989: Model for the coming Iran War?

There’s a scene in the award-winning documentary film, The Panama Deception, in which what is purported to be Manuel Noriega’s desk is shown, littered with drug paraphernalia and pornography, ostensibly demonstrating what a depraved man he was, and why George Bush Senior had to attack his consequently unacceptably misled nation.

Then a U.S. citizen with abundant Latin American experience appears on screen.

He relates how, back in the early ‘70s, photographs of that same desk were produced to slander Chile’s duly-elected Marxist president, Salvador Allende, who was violently deposed by a rightwing coup in which the CIA and major corporations were proven to have been heavily complicit.

Noriega was certainly an unsavory figure, but his true crime, like that of Saddam Hussein, was that he finally became unwilling to abet Washington and Wall Street’s long-standing, profiteering machinations against his own country and people.

Had both figures remained dutiful pawns, neither would have incurred U.S. wrath, and they’d have been entirely free to wallow in the personal decadence of their choosing, while retaining their status as “friend”.

The Panama Deception goes on to show how hysteria whipped up against Noriega was manipulatively used to completely obscure the Bush administration’s blatantly imperialist purpose, and to hide the terrible fact that a withering U.S. invasion to supposedly “get” one person entailed mass carnage and war crimes about which few U.S. citizens are even remotely aware.

Even though they’re still the subject of abiding outrage in the rest of the world.

“What happened in El Chorrillo in 1989?” is a question that will elicit only blank stares throughout the United States.

That a densely-packed barrio was brutally shelled and burned, at a dreadful cost of hundreds if not thousands of innocent Panamanian lives, has been effectively hidden by our imposed, singular fixation on a particular “strongman,” who’d been propagandistically likened to the Devil himself.

Most Americans will never see footage of whole families crushed alive in their cars by U.S. tanks, apartment buildings being torched in savage succession, or weeping survivors crowded around mass graves from which their blackened, shrapnel-riddled loved ones were grimly extracted.

Likewise, we have no realistic image of what’s actually occurring in George Bush Junior’s similarly misrepresented war, where authoritative estimates put the overall Iraqi death toll at roughly 1.2 million souls.

Repentant Iraq veterans recently tried to tell us about pervasive atrocities they themselves had committed, but their “Winter Soldier” testimony was censored by the mass media.

Meanwhile, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to be portrayed in that dark light through which we saw Noriega and Saddam.

He’s presented as the epitome of evil, and we’re afforded no countervailing information that might compel us to favor diplomacy over yet another gratuitous, unprovoked conflict in which multitudes of noncombatant men, women, and children would needlessly be killed.

Of course, we’re conditioned to not even think of potential civilian casualties in the countries we attack.

The only deaths that seem to matter are those of our “hometown heroes,” whose sacrifice is always couched in the most glorious terms imaginable, never mind the ugly realities of neo-colonialism being forced on
nation after nation by the objectively miscreant United States.

If only we could appreciate who the “bad guys” in this world actually are.

But no, we’ll evidently continue to send our sons and daughters to kill somebody else’s kids — and their parents as well — just so American plutocrats and gangster capitalists can will exploitatively derived fortunes to their pampered progeny.

No obscenity — certainly not that which was fraudulently attributed to Noriega and Allende via that contrived black-ops desk — can begin to compare to a criminal American foreign policy that’s increasingly indistinguishable from Hitler’s world-dominance ambition.

What have Iranians ever done against us, other than angrily seizing our embassy when we refused to return the hated, deposed Shah to face justice for his copious crimes?

We’re the ones who overthrew Iran’s populist leader Mossadegh in 1953, replacing him with the Shah’s brutally repressive regime. We shot down an Iranian commercial airliner in 1988, killing all 209 aboard. We backed Saddam in waging a devastatingly costly war on Iran.

And now, in preparation for a murderous onslaught that many analysts say will certainly be launched before Dubya leaves office, that same old Panamanian wool is being pulled over our eyes once again.

When will we ever learn?

Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets since the '60s. Read other articles by Dennis.

10 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. sk said on June 4th, 2008 at 10:01am #

    Anyone interested in learning how a “surgical strike” designed to capture one man (or was it a pineapple?) flattened of the barrio pobre of El Chorrillo can watch this Academy Award winning documentary.

  2. Ali said on June 4th, 2008 at 1:55pm #

    There is no any other way except overthrowing repressive regimes in middle east it is your fault you Americans for having petrol for your road trips always backed or ignore criminals dictators in this region if you promoted democracy by any means todays we could live like any other civilized nation could you please look at long list of social problems in middle eastern countries which are made mostly intentionally by ruling regimes to keep people under brutal control and king of criminals. bad and nasty regimes is Islamic regime in Iran which is mocking all the world making trouble for every body and destroying Iran there is no way except overthrowing them and bush did right job for the first time in western history the problem was lack of planning and preparations but removing those regimes was a right decision which history will judge about that after dust settled. don’t forget dictators will look to overseas after repressing their own people

  3. Shabnam said on June 4th, 2008 at 10:16pm #

    Mr. Rahkonen:
    Thank you for your objection against any strike on Iran by the US. The invasion of Islamic countries has produced more than 1.2 million deaths and 4.5 million refugees in Iraq alone, thousands of deaths in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Neocons and their associates have destroyed Iraq, a modern state with highly educated people where the American soldiers were surprised to see people with PhD in Chemistry working in the police station, women with PhD in microbiology and other discipline working in scientific research centers, a country with more than 80 percent literacy at the time of invasion to less than 34 percent literacy now, all in the name of DEMOCRACY. A large number of the university professors have been killed which is very suspicious because these educated people were not active in politics, therefore, it is obvious that the enemy of Iraqi people who came from far away countries targeted their human capital, robbed their museums and libraries to remove their contribution to civilization to rob them of their IDENTITY to make sure that Iraq is destroyed completely so they can erect another Iraq according to their image. All these crimes against humanity have been sold to the FOOLS as DEMOCRACY.
    According to the eye witnesses and some of the evidence released by the westerners themselves, Bush and his neocon friends have committed crimes in Iraq including execution, car bombs, and rape of both sexes, all in the name of DEMOCRACY. This type of crimes against humanity is not new and people of the world have seen it in other places such as Vietnam, Japan, Iran, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Chile and other places, all in the name of DEMOCRACY for those who are FOOLISH enough to trust these mass murderers to help them to topple regimes around the world to serve their interests.
    Who are these people who are willing to help these criminals to peruse their goals in the Middle East and beyond?
    These people are educated and are living in the west holding a western citizenship or still in the country and usually are labeled as “the reformists” who are interested in “liberalism” and market economy and have been received a lot of attention from the west either through “awards” for their destabilizing work which may lead to financial support of the west or a passport to let them leave for the west.
    We have seen terrorist groups such as Mojahedin, Komoleh and PEJAK, the Kurdish terrorists, where have ties with neocons and Israel Lobby who have cooperated with the US and Israel to destroy Iraq and its people to divide the country through invasion to establish their own tribe. These groups are involved in destabilization and partition of countries in the region to bring about MAP CHANGE to benefit Israel against Arabs and Iranians to conclude the “new middle east” where contains few small non-Arab states to support an apartheid state against Arabs. The Kurds, who are widely seen as another Israel, are pushing for another war in order to expand their territory which I am sure they will take this wish into their graves. Mojahedin is another group presented by Patrick Clawson, servant of the Zionist and deputy director of the Washington Institute for the near east policy, as a group who has abandoned its terrorist past , therefore, legitimate to be used in regime change are also interested in another war to assume power in Iran. But Mojahedin are considered TRAITORS and are not trusted by Iranian People. Another group is the monarchists who have lost their power due to the Iranian revolution in 1979 and are supported by Kenneth Timmerman, a Zionist activist, and Michael Leaden from National review who are working hard in concert with Lieberman, Norman podhoretz and others to destabilize Iran through harsh economic sanction, demonization of its leaders, launching terrorist activities inside the country such as planting bombs in a mosque in Shiraz 3 weeks ago by their agents, using the constructed minorities such as Kurds, Baloch and Ahwazi, to bring terror in provinces such as Khuzestan, Kurdistan, Sistan and Baluchestan. The British have been implicated in helping the Ahwazi terror group. Bush and his associate have also used the whore house, United Nation, to force the
    “international community” to cooperate and create “crisis” on Iran’s legitimate enrichment program but forget about Israel’s nuclear bombs more than 500 of them according to Vanunu who said: “ Israel is making 10 nuclear bombs each year” thus he believes Israel’s nuclear bombs are against the world peace not the Iran’s nuclear energy program” to speed up dissatisfaction among the Iranian population due to unemployment, economic hardship to bring civil disobedience which usually leads to arrest and imprisonment to maintain law and order.
    Those who have repeated the Zionist lies “MOCKING ALL THE WORLD MAKING TROUBLE FOR EVERY BODY” should ask the war criminals first to invade Israel to remove this racist and terrorist regime to end apartheid state in order to bring justice to Palestinian and peace to the region and then to invade Washington and other western capitals to arrest all the WAR CRIMINALS who have killed millions of people and have caused nothing but war and destruction for the past few centuries in the world and have installed majority of dictators around the world including the Arab head of states, the Kurdish terrorists and puppets such as Ilham Aliev in Azerbaijan, US citizens who have been forced on central Asian states such as Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, Alexander SaaKashvili in Georgia, and to close down centers of torture, military bases and get out of the Central Asia, middle east, Africa and then leave other people alone in their struggle establishing democracy for themselves. Iranian people who fought against the Shah, a dictator supported by the US, and forced him out of the country were disappointed to see the CIA and MI6 staged a coop against Mossadegh, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, in 1953 to bring the dictator back for another 25 years but the Iranian people forced the US poppet, the Shah, for ever. The Iranian people are determined to establish democracy in Iran on their own and never trust the war monger and the fifth columnist as enablers.
    The following link is a letter written to Obama to expose the Iranian neocons and tell him that Iranians are against any strike on Iran.
    Israel would be stupid if dares to attack Iran because any attack on Iran most likely invites strong reaction against Israel and her supporters. This is a PROMISE. That’s why I think they will focus on campaign of lies and deception for the next few months and in September, we will witness another “terrorist act” to frighten the population to sell McCain as president on basis of “security” to the public. To be successful or not depends on number of fools they can get.

  4. Ali said on June 5th, 2008 at 5:18am #

    Shabnam and people who defend political Islamic entities throughout the world for sure doesn’t live in such countries they enjoy from high quality of life and peace and civilization of western countries but depends to cash flow they drop some words for Islamic dictators they always forget about misery of middle eastern people and for sure they never talk about prices that western countries paid for their today prosperity they always cry about deaths which are ridiculously mostly killed by there fellow Muslim brothers they never care about women rights and their problems in Islamic countries they are always soaking into the conspiracy theories to prove themselves if in Iraq people get killed its price of centuries of oppressions killings mostly carried out by Muslims there is no Merci in this religion because of oil rich dictators can survive as well as dear shabnam no one dare to oppose them they have power money and weapon to kill whoever the want they have money to silence medias to jail dissidents if you look at Iran net migration is -4 per1000 that shows you the situation if you look at those 4 , 3 of them are doctors or engineers that is called brain drain but in Iran it is not drain it is scape if you look at visa applicants from Iran for Canada, us, Australia and other western countries you certainly understand scale of intellectuals scape from Iran killing of university professors and other educated people in Iraq is carrying out by shittes and Sunnis extremists who are supported definitely by Iran defending of Islamic regime in Iran is most foolish job for any one who is looking at mullahs pocket it will bring shame for that person in todays global village world but everyone who sold his mind will sell everything.

  5. Sickofit said on June 5th, 2008 at 11:32am #

    From 1945 to 2005, the United States attempted to overthrow 50 governments, many of them democracies, and to crush 30 popular movements fighting tyrannical regimes. In the process, 25 countries were bombed, causing the loss of several million lives and the despair of millions more.

    How is it possible that those who make war, drop bombs, make thousands of nuclear arms, torture in their jails, and wiretap—that is to say, the biggest violators of human rights in the world—can try and impose their model on everyone else?

    American people continue leading their ‘American Dream’ lives while being led to their own destruction along a road paved with celebrity trivialities and banal stories of nothingness that passes for news in their country.

    Never has it been more true the age old saying, “For those who do not learn history they are doomed to repeat it.”

  6. Exposer said on June 5th, 2008 at 1:59pm #

    You forgot to mention how Ahamdinejad and the Iranian government are imprisoning Iranians by the HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS, executing them by the hundreds on a DAILY basis, and otherwise looting and raping Iranians for three decades.

  7. Exposer said on June 5th, 2008 at 2:03pm #

    I have read your almost EXACT post in a bunch of other sites. You seem to be one of those Islamic Republic of Iran propaganda Department employees.

  8. Exposer said on June 5th, 2008 at 2:20pm #

    Correction, my last post was for Shabnam, not Ali.

    Sorry Ali, I confused the names.

    I just want to make an additional note to all readers: Islamic Republic of Iran security and information minsitry has created a department with hundreds of full time employee that target US and European internet sites in order to feed them with pro-Iranian government propaganda.


  9. John said on June 5th, 2008 at 2:21pm #

    This is a well written and informative article. However, it will only make a difference if it is brought to the attention of those Americans who are either conservative or ignorant of these issues. So, emial this article to someone who might be enlightened by it.

  10. Carl said on June 7th, 2008 at 1:34pm #

    I would like to have subjects/topics such as this and so many other similar subjects and topics discussed at High Schools and Universities on a regular basis. It is important the truth needs to be exposed, so many of our young people are in the dark regarding what is actually accuring around the world now days.