Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould
Editor’s note: This article is the first part of a four-part series on Truthdig called “Universal Empire” — an examination of the current stage of the neocon takeover of American policy that began after World War II. Read Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.
“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate. (Abandon all hope ye who enter here.)”
–Dante, “The Divine Comedy,” Inferno (Part 1), Canto 3, Line 9
Before the Tomahawk missiles start flying between Moscow and New York, Americans had better educate themselves fast about the forces and the people who claim that Russia covered up a Syrian government gas attack on Syrians. Proof no longer seems to matter in the rush to further transform the world into Dante’s vision of Hell. Accusations made by anonymous sources, spurious sources and outright frauds have become enough. Washington’s paranoia and confusion bear an uncanny resemblance to the final days of the Third Reich, when the leadership in Berlin became completely unglued.
Tensions have been building since fall with accusations that Russian media interfered with our presidential election and is a growing threat to America’s national security. The latest WikiLeaks release revealed the tools the CIA uses for hacking. One theory is that the CIA’s own contract hackers were behind Hillary Clinton’s email leaks and not Russians. The U.S. has a long reputation of accusing others of things they didn’t do and planting fake news stories to back it up in order to provide a cause for war. The work of secret counterintelligence services is to misinform the public in order to shape opinion, and that’s what this is.
The current U.S. government campaign to slander Russia over anything and everything it does bears all the earmarks of a classic disinformation campaign, but this time is even crazier. Considering that Washington has put Russia, China and Iran on its anti-globalist hit list from which no one is allowed to escape, drummed-up charges against them shouldn’t come as a surprise. But accusing the Russians of undermining American democracy and interfering in an election is tantamount to an act of war, and that simply is not going to wash.
This time, the United States is not demonizing an ideological enemy (USSR) or a religious one (al-Qaida, ISIS, etc.). It’s making this latest venture into the blackest of propaganda a race war, the way the Nazis made their invasion of Russia a race war in 1941, and that is not a war the United States can justify or win.
The level and shrillness of the latest disinformation campaign has been growing for some time. But the American public has lived in a culture of fake news (formerly known as propaganda) for so long many have grown to accept fake news as real news. George Orwell saw this coming, and here it is. As a big supporter of U.S. military intervention in Cuba and an avowed practitioner of “yellow journalism,” in 1897, William Randolph Hearst admonished the illustrator he’d sent to Cuba who’d found no war to illustrate: “You furnish the pictures, and I’ll furnish the war.” Hearst eventually got his war, and America’s experiment in imperialism was off and running.
Americans should know by now that their country’s wars are fertile ground for biased, one-sided, xenophobic, fake news, and the United States has been in a permanent state of war since 1941. Although the targets have shifted over the years, the purpose of the propaganda hasn’t. Most cultures are coerced, cajoled or simply threatened into accepting known falsehoods demonizing their enemies during wartime. But no matter how frequently repeated or cleverly told, no lie can hold if the war never ends. The legendary cold warrior, Time and Life magazines’ Henry Luce, considered his personal fight against Communism to be “a declaration of private war.” He’d even asked one of his executives whether or not the idea was probably “unlawful and probably mad.” Nonetheless, despite his doubts about his own sanity, Luce allowed the CIA to use his Time/Life magazines as a cover for the agency’s operations and to provide credentials to CIA personnel.
Luce was not alone in his service to the CIA’s propaganda wars. Recently declassified documents reveal the CIA’s propaganda extended to all the mainstream media outlets. Dozens of the most respected journalists and opinion makers during the Cold War considered it a privilege to keep American public opinion from straying away from CIA control.
Now that the new Cold War has turned hot, we are led to believe that the Russians have breached this wall of not-so-truthful journalists and rattled the foundation of everything we are supposed to hold dear about the purity of the U.S. election process and “freedom of the press” in America.
Black propaganda is all about lying. Authoritarian governments lie regularly. Totalitarian governments do it so often nobody believes them. A government based on democratic principles like the United States is supposed to speak the truth, but when the U.S. government’s own documents reveal it has been lying over and over again for decades, the jig is up.
Empires have been down this road before, and it doesn’t end well. Americans are now being told they should consider all Russian opinion as fake and ignore any information that challenges the mainstream media and U.S. government on what is truth and what is the lie. But for the first time in memory, Americans have become aware that the people Secretary of State Colin Powell once called “the crazies” have taken the country over the cliff.
The neoconservative hitmen and hit-ladies of Washington have a long list of targets that pass from generation to generation. Their influence on American government has been catastrophic, yet it never seems to end. Sen. J. William Fulbright identified their irrational system for making endless war in Vietnam 45 years ago in a New Yorker article titled “Reflections in Thrall to Fear.”
The truly remarkable thing about this Cold War psychology is the totally illogical transfer of the burden of proof from those who make charges to those who question them. … The Cold Warriors, instead of having to say how they knew that Vietnam was part of a plan for the Communization of the world, so manipulated the terms of the public discussion as to be able to demand that the skeptics prove that it was not. If the skeptics could not then the war must go on—to end it would be recklessly risking the national security.
Fulbright realized that Washington’s resident crazies had turned the world inside out and concluded, “We come to the ultimate illogic: war is the course of prudence and sobriety until the case for peace is proved under impossible rules of evidence [or never]–or until the enemy surrenders. Rational men cannot deal with each other on this basis.” But these were not rational men, and their need to further their irrational quest only increased with the loss of the Vietnam War.