In 2002, the official Bowling For Columbine website boasted of the following segment: “Learn all about America’s illustrious history of war, violence and fear.” This line was later removed from the website, however the description accurately sums up the intent behind the segment. In reality, the Wonderful World montage is terrible history, making false and unsubstantiated claims, distorting the reality of real events and figures.
1953: U.S. overthrows Prime Minister Mossadeq of Iran.
The first clip of the tired old man stumbling about suggests that Mossadeq was unfairly targeted and subsequently bullied but in reality this first panel of the montage is a gross misstatement of fact, and a blatant attempt at what can only be described as revisionist history.
The Truth: Mohammed Mossadeq was a power-hungry wannabe socialist dictator who had come to power through dubious means. Originally appointed Prime Minister in 1951, Mossadeq was dismissed from office a year later for unconstitutionally trying to take control of the armed forces. After being fired, Mossadeq took control of Iran’s elected parliament and ordered Shah Reza Pahlavi, Iran’s constitutional monarch, to re-appoint him as Prime Minister, to which the Shah obliged. Once back in power, Mossadeq openly declared himself to be a communist and moved to implement a series of devastating nationalization schemes that threw out western investment and badly crippled Iran’s economy, creating tripple-digit inflation. As time went on, Mossadeq began to greatly consolidate his power, ramming a bill through Parliament that granted himself dictatorial powers, and forcing the Shah to grant him full control over the armed forces. He proceeded to hold a blatantly rigged referendum to “ratify” his actions, and claimed he had obtained victory with 98% of the vote.
Finally, when the Shah tried to intervene, Mossadeq exiled him, and seized absolute control over the nation.
NATO, led by the United States and Great Britain, were clearly distressed at the antics of Mossadeq, both for his illegal seizure of western assets, and his clearly-stated intentions of transforming Iran into a radical socialist republic, presumably with close supervision from Moscow. Iran had great oil wealth, but Mossadeq ended his country’s petroleum sales to Britain, following his forcible seizure of British oil firms in Iran. The only country that was in a position to benefit from Mossadeq’s actions was the Soviet Union. Without oil sales to the west, it seemed inevitable that Iran and it’s collapsing economy would have no alternative but to be absorbed into the Soviet sphere.
It was at this point that according to Moore the US “installed” the Shah as “dictator.” The text is misleading because for whatever his faults, the Shah had always been Iran’s constitutional Head of State. Mossadeq had no right or public mandate to overthrow Iran’s legal ruler, nor did he have any right or public mandate to even be Prime Minister, let alone implement his radical Soviet-style reforms.
The Churchill and Eisenhower administrations assisted the Shah’s return from exile, and return to the throne. They did not “install” him, they returned him to the position he had legally held since 1941.
The Iranian monarchy was an institution over 400 years old. By showing the Shah in an uncharacteristic outfit of a uniform and using the claim “US installs”, Moore portrays him as a U.S.-made military dictator, as opposed to a legitimate king that had been ruling Iran for the last 12 years.
1963: US backs assassination of South Vietnamese President Diem.
The term “backs” is misleading and would be more accurately described as “did not do enough to prevent.” While the Kennedy Administration supported the coup that overthrew Diem’s regime, there is little evidence to suggest they had any interest in seeing him killed.
Regardless, Diem was a dictator and a great enemy of the left-wing during his reign. While in power he was a staunch anti-Communist, who opposed the expansionist actions of North Vietnam’s Communist regime. Most leftists were thus happy to hear of Diem’s assassination. Moore hopes no one remembers, and tries to feign outrage over an event that his contemporaries view positively.
Diem’s death was a tragedy, but the real reason is because it served as a buttress to the North’s efforts to conquer South Vietnam.
September 11, 1973: US stages coup in Chile.
Democratically elected president Salvador Allende assassinated.
Dictator Augusto Pinochet installed. 5,000 Chileans murdered.
The Chilean revolution of 1973 has become a mantra of anti-American leftists. However, inspecting the facts closely reveals that the coup, despite its violent nature was neither totally unjustified nor unexpected.
Much like Arbenz, Moore’s “democratically elected president” of Chile was hardly a grand defender of democracy. Receiving only a small plurality of the votes (31%) in the 1970 national election, the Socialist Party candidate for President, Salvador Allende was appointed to his position by the Chilean Congress. In the following years Congress would come to regret their decision, as Allende waged an unprecedented war on private property, the constitution, and democracy, as he tried to single handedly radically reform Chilean society, without any sort of public mandate to do so.
Allende tried to turn Chile into a Marxist dictatorship, along the lines of Castro’s Cuba. Castro and Allende were close friends, and shortly after Allende became president he invited Castro for a month-long “working visit” to Chile. Allende’s rule polarized Chile, with terrorist attacks and guerrilla warfare becoming a daily occurrence among various political factions. Congress tried to remove Allende and reverse his socialist policies, but the president refused, and instead tried to crack down on popular dissent.
His numerous illegal activities were enough to anger the Chilean military to rise up against him, and on September 11th 1973 Allende was deposed. He later committed suicide in his office with a gun that had been given to him by Fidel Castro. There is no proof that he was assassinated, in fact, all evidence and testimony seems to prove just the opposite.
The coup was not happily embraced by Washington, despite what Moore may suggest. For years, America had been funding Chilean opposition parties (both right and left-wing) with the intent of preventing Allende’s election, and the transformation of Chile into a Marxist state. The military coup and General Pinochet’s subsequent dictatorship displeased Washington because it indicated that the millions they had spent financing Chile’s democratic opposition parties had been a colossal waste of money. The coup was the direct result of Allende’s own actions, and although the Nixon administration was pleased to see the Marxist threat in Chile disappear, there remains no solid evidence that the Pinochet regime was in any way “installed” by any agents of the United States.
It is unknown where Moore pulled the “5,000 Chileans murdered” statistic from. All available evidence seems to suggest that around 2,000 to 3,000 Chileans lost their lives in the revolution and subsequent dictatorship, and even then many of these deaths came as a result of violent clashes between Allende’s Cuban-backed Marxist guerillas and the Chilean military during the course of the coup itself.
1981: Reagan administration trains and funds “contras”. 30,000 Nicaraguans die.
The Contras were a band of peasant guerrilla fighters, dedicated to brining democratic rule to Nicaragua after Daniel Ortega’s left-wing thugs took control of Nicaragua’s interim government and proceeded to try and turn it into a Marxist state. Ortega had both the economic and military backing of Cuba and the Soviets, making it a clear threat to its neighbors, and the Nicaraguan people’s hopes for democracy.
Thanks to America’s backing, the Contras were able to undermine the rule of Ortega and his thugs, and force the dictator to hold elections. He lost badly, and Nicaragua has been a democracy ever since.
1989: CIA agent Manuel Noriega (also serving as President of Panama) disobeys orders from Washington.
U.S. invades Panama and removes Noriega. 3,000 Panamanian civilian casualties
Noriega was a CIA paid informant, and used to be an intelligence provider for the United States. However, he was never at any time a “CIA agent” and did not hold any sort of formal employment with the CIA, nor did he have any job in which he was given “orders” to obey or disobey.
Noriega was never in his entire career “President of Panama.” He was the country’s most powerful political figure, Army Chief, and held many other military titles, but was never president. This is not just a minor technicality, either. In 1984 Noriega helped rig a presidential election in which Nicolas Ardito Barletta became President of Panama. Less than a year later, Barletta resigned and VP Eric Arturo Delvalle became president. Delvalle actually tried to fire Noriega, but Noriega got the Congress to impeach him, and replaced him with Manuel Solís Palma. Then, in 1989 there was another presidential election, which the Noriega-backed Palma lost, and democratic opposition candidate Guillermo Endara won. Noriega got his “Dignity Battalion” thugs to beat up Endara, smashing him in the head with a pipe and beating many of his other supporters. Another hand-picked Noreiga crony was again installed as President. When Noriega was arrested, new elections were held, and Panama finally got a democratically elected President, instead of more Noriega puppets.
Panama remains a democracy to this day thanks to US intervention.
As shown here again, Michael Moore uses a flippant technique of portraying murdering enemies of America as harmless (see his thoughts on Bin Laden, Hussein, and islamo-facist terrorists in general) and he makes no exception of Noriega first showing him walking with a kiddish smile and hand gesture and here tossing flowers to a crowd. The portrait makes America an unnecessary bully that stomped into Panama and created so much misery all because of this smiling flower thrower.
By the 1980′s the CIA’s relationship with Noriega had rapidly deteriorated to the point where it doesn’t seem anyone regarded him as much of an asset. The reason America invaded Panama was due to Noreiga’s imprisonment, harassment, and killing of American troops and civilians who were legally stationed in Panama, as well as his role in the drug trade, financing left-wing terrorist groups in neighboring countries, and his December 1989 declaration of war on the United States.
Moore’s claims that Noreiga’s downfall can be attributed to his simple disobedience of “orders from Washington.” In reality, Noriega had been actively working against the United States for years. America initially responded to Noriega’s actions by implementing harsh sanctions, supporting coup attempts, and repeatedly issuing warrants for his arrest on drug-related charges.
Eventually, the Bush Administration responded to Noriega’s aggressive acts by forcibly invading Panama, arresting the general, and reinstating democratic rule. Noriega was arrested following the invasion, and in 1992 he was found guilty of numerous counts of drug charges, money laundering, and racketeering, and sentenced to 40 years in a US prison. Panamanian courts have found him guilty him in absentia on similar charges, as well as several murders.
Moore’s claim of “3,000 Panamanian civilian casualties” is ridiculous and unsubstantiated. Though casualties were high, most realistic estimates pin the number of deaths at around 300-400.
The point is that the Panama political situation, in fact the entire US invasion of Panama, was an extremely complex situation, which Moore does not present with the slightest hint of accuracy.
He tries to describe the situation using a few snappy phrases, but they’re all incorrect. Noriega was not a CIA “agent,” he was not “President of Panama,” and his arrest did not come as a result of “disobeying” any “orders.”
1990: Iraq invades Kuwait with weapons from the U.S.
The not so subtle implication, is that the United States either wanted or otherwise caused Iraq to invade Kuwait and thus financed the venture, which is completely unsubstantiated.
Furthermore however, the statement isn’t even true in the sense that Iraqis military used in the attack on Kuwait was hardly one bulked by the United States. It’s true that the US once supplied aid to Iraq and later in history fought Iraq in the Gulf war – but remember that Moore is making the argument of US hypocrisy and policy mishandlings and mistakes. Moore conveys the impression that the tanks in the video the text is dubbed over are (or very well could be) American – thus – how foolish that we built up our enemy and now have to fight our own weaponry. The truth is that Saddam Hussein’s weapons came largely from the Soviets (50%), not the United States by far. The tanks in the very short clip are all Russian tanks (all of them).
The aid provided by the US to Iraq prior to their illegal invasion of Kuwait is less than 1% as we were #16 on the list of weapons suppliers.
1991: U.S. enters Iraq.
Bush reinstates dictator of Kuwait.
Even Moore has a hard time spinning this one against America. The U.S. “entered” Iraq after that country’s dictator had illegally invaded the peaceful nation of Kuwait.
There is no evidence to suggest Moore’s claim that any type of order to reinstate the Emir came from President Bush. America, and a vast UN collation of nations drove the Iraqi army from Kuwait, and allowed the nation’s Emir to return to the throne. The Emir was Kuwait’s legal ruler, and not a dictator. He currently presides over one of Middle East’s freer nations (4) – certainly freer than Iraq was under Saddam (5) and appears to be gradually instituting several democratic reforms.
Regardless, America’s mandate was to free Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, and restore its rightful ruler to power. The fact that the rightful ruler of Kuwait was an un-elected monarch is not the fault of the U.S.
1998: Clinton bombs “weapons factory” in Sudan.
Factory turns out to be making aspirin.
Bombing the medicine factory in the Sudan was not the disaster Moore makes out to be. The Clinton Administration had been given intelligence indicating that the factory was being used to manufacture chemical weapons for Saddam Hussein’s regime. The factory was thus demolished.
President Clinton and his advisors had gone to extreme lengths to avoid civilian deaths, attacking at night, when all employees had left. To date, the only confirmed casualty of the bombing was the factory’s night watchman. Whether or not the factory was being used to manufacture chemical weapons remains disputed, but most Defense Department officials maintain it was a legitimate target.
2000-01: U.S. gives Taliban-ruled Afghanistan $245 million in “aid.”
The sequence concludes with the statement that the U.S. gave $245 million in ‘aid’ to the Taliban in 2000-01. As I’ll explain, the way he words it keeps the scene from being a case of libel, while, at the same time, allowing his “message” to be kept intact.
The video shows a truck full of middle eastern gun toters – presumably terrorists – making it clear what is meant by the word ‘aid’. In reality, there’s no reason for the word ‘aid’ to be in quotations. Indeed there is viable argument in the wisdom of giving money to brutally run countries – even when under supposed good intentions. Logic says that the ruling regional warlords will seize control of it and use it to their own advantage. In fact this very argument has been used by hawks in opposition to sending humanitarian aid to Iraq Saddam Hussein, where as Moore, in the panel at the top of the page, chides the sanctions on the US had on Iraq. Looks like Moore could be the star of a similar segment just on himself – but that aside – isn’t it an unwise foreign policy move to do to give the Taliban money in ‘aid’.
In fact, that money was not given to the Taliban government, but rather to U.S. and international agencies (2) that distributed humanitarian aid (3) to the people of Afghanistan. But Moore chides this contribution and ties it to 9/11 in the very next shot of the montage. -So in other words, the fact that the United States gave money to Food For Peace and for girls’ schools for Afghan refugees is supposed to prove that America deserved (since it brought it on) to be attacked by Al-Qaeda.
It’s impossible that Moore could not know the difference between financial aid to a dictatorship and humanitarian aid to refugees, which makes this leaping twist of reality an underhanded lie. The next shot is of the plane hitting the World Trade Center in flames.
Again, in Moore’s persuasive eye, it’s Americas fault for getting attacked on 9/11. Osama Bin Laden actually used no ‘expert CIA training’ to murder anyone on September 11th. Moore is simply reminding you that the CIA had some kind of dealing with him earlier so he can make, what looks like a very solid point.