Throughout its history, America glorified wars in the name of peace.
From inception, they're perpetuated against one or more domestic or
They include mass killing, assaults and abuse. Pacifism's called
sissy or unpatriotic. Propaganda insists America's peace-loving. In
fact, more than ever today, it's addicted to permanent war and
Nonetheless, initiating them requires public support. Famed US
journalist Walter Lippmann coined the phrase "manufacture of
consent." It's a euphemism for mind control.
In 1917, George Creel first used it successfully to turn pacifist
Americans into raging German-haters. It works the same way now. In
1916, Woodrow Wilson was reelected on a pledge of: "He Kept Us Out
of War." Straightaway, he began planning US involvement.
In April 1917, he established the Committee on Public Information
(CPI or Creel Committee). It operated through August 1919. Its
mission was enlisting public support for war and undermining
Corporate America was so impressed, it recruited Edward Bernays, a
nephew of Sigmund Freud. He became a PR/propaganda pioneer. His 1928
book titled "Propaganda" said it's possible to "regiment the public
mind every bit as much as an army regiments their bodies."
"If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it
not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our
will without their knowing about it?"
He called the technique the "engineering of consent." He invented
the press release. One of his most successful campaigns involved
convincing women to smoke in public when it was considered taboo. He
pursuaded business that news, not advertising, best manipulates
He drew on Freudian psychoanalytic ideas. In an age of mass
production, he believed techniques were needed to distribute ideas
the same way. On behalf of United Fruit, his propaganda campaign
helped overthrow Guatemala's democratically elected Jacobo Arbenz
His pioneering PR techniques got Supreme Court Justice Felix
Frankfurter to describe him and Ivy Lee as "professional poisoners
of the public mind, exploiters of foolishness, fanaticism and
In his 1947 book titled, "The Engineering of Consent," he called it
"the very essence of the democratic process, the freedom to persuade
and suggest." In fact, it's used manipulatively more for ill, than
good, especially in selling war.
Australian-born social psychologist Alex Carey helped pioneer the
study of corporate propaganda. His seminal work is titled, "Taking
the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and
He said "The twentieth century has been characterized by three
developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy,
the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate
propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against
Using Deception to Launch Wars
Coalition to Oppose Arms Trade coordinator Richard Sanders said:
"Throughout history, war planners have used various forms of
deception to trick their enemies. Because public support is so
crucial (to wage war), the home population is also subject to
deceitful stratagems. The creation of false excuses to justify going
to war is a major first step in constructing public support...."
"The corporate media (are) central to the success of" manufacturing
consent. So is repetition to blot out other narratives. Media giants
and PR wizards are master mind manipulators, marshaling public
support for war.
It works the same way every time. Truth is suppressed. Public fear
is stoked. Patriotism and democratic values are highlighted. People
are manipulated to support war to protect national security. Wilson
claimed entering WW I "kept the world safe for democracy."
During the WW II buildup, anti-war proponents were called
subversives and Nazi sympathizers. Once begun,
anti-German/Italian/Japanese propaganda censored media and other
communications to enlist support. Other techniques included posters,
advertising, comic books and cartoons, leaflets, and films extolling
America and portraying the axis as bad guys.
Steven Casey's ground-breaking book titled, "Selling the Korean War:
Propaganda, Politics, and Public Opinion in the United States"
analyzed Truman and Eisenhower administration efforts to shape
public discourse, influence media coverage, and gain popular support
for limited conflict and anti-Soviet Cold War policies.
He also showed how Truman officials redefined war as it continued
with mounting casualties. His analysis used previously unavailable
archives, including government documents, papers of leading
congressmen, newspaper editors, and war correspondents. His book's
the definitive word on how public opinion was manipulated during
America's "forgotten war."
Noam Chomsky calls the Vietnam War "a classic example of America's
propaganda system." Major media scoundrels let doves and hawks
debate, but "(b)oth sides agreed on one thing. We had a right to
carry out aggression," but refused to admit it took place.
America's presence was called defense against enemy aggression.
"Like the Soviets in Afghanistan, we tried to establish" a pro-US
Saigon regime. Escalation led to invasion. Anti-war activists on
principle were banned from public discourse. "The debate was
essentially over tactics," not legitimacy.
Over time, anti-war sentiment grew, especially after the January
1968 Tet Offensive and June 1971 Pentagon Papers release. They
showed the Johnson administration lied to the public and Congress.
Gallup Polls showed 70% of Americans thought Vietnam was
"fundamentally wrong and immoral, not a mistake."
Opposition produced the "Vietnam Syndrome." Chomsky called it "a
grave disease in the eyes of America's elites because people
understand too much."
He also discussed months of propaganda preceding Congress voting on
contra aid in March 1986. He reviewed 85 New York Times and
Washington Post editorials and op-eds. All were anti-Sandanista.
Opposition opinion was suppressed despite Nicaragua directing
popular social services in contrast with repressive US allies
Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Of course, all wars are based on lies. When major media scoundrels
suppress truth, administrations get away with murder.
It was true in Central America, Grenada on the pretext of rescuing
medical students, manufactured incidents to oust Panama's Manuel
Noreiga, entrapping Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait that launched
the Gulf War, 9/11 as pretext to attack Afghanistan and continue a
decade of imperial wars against nonbelligerent states.
In April 2007, Washington Post writer Tom Shales headlined, "A Media
Role in Selling the War? No Question," saying:
"It's always depressing to learn that you've been had, but
incalculably more so when the deception has resulted in thousands of
Americans dying in the Iraq war effort" based on lies.
As in all wars, the more people rely on television for news, the
less they know, and more susceptible they become to government and
In their book, "Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in
Bush's War on Iraq," Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber showed how
manipulative propaganda sold the public on war.
Combining PR and media deception, Operation: Iraqi Freedom was
created. Deconstructing the process, they showed how top Bush
officials planned war prior to his election, but waited until
September 2002 for "product launch" to inform the public.
Using 'big lie" tactics, they associated Saddam with 9/11, forged
documents to allege WMDs, and worked secretly to create the
opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC). The PR Rendon Group coined
the term. It got millions in funding and worked closely with CIA
operatives. It became a driving force for war.
"Weapons of Mass Deception" exposed how aggressive PR and
manipulative media convince people to go along with policies harming
The Pentagon's very much involved. It spends half a billion dollars
selling wars. Truth's suppressed doing it. Lies launch them and
continue throughout conflicts. Anti-Syrian and Iranian rhetoric
replicates what preceded attacking Iraq and Libya.
On January 16, Russia Today (RT.com) reported how major media
scoundrels incite war on Iran. Appearing regularly on US television,
hardline figures push it. Alternative voices are shut out.
Warmongering’s constant. On-air voices cheerlead it. Slanted news
shuts out truth. Former MSNBC producer Jeff Cohen said pressure was
constant to support war in the run-up to the Iraq invasion.
A Final Comment
Things remain the same. Deceptive reports manipulate the public mind
on Syria and Iran. "There is no doubt that the mainstream media are
crucial in this idea of selling that the US is going to be in a
They're key in making Americans believe military intervention is
vital. Robert Parry said:
"I've worked at Newsweek as well (as AP) and other major US news
organizations. And what I saw, especially at places like Newsweek,
was this idea that the media was actually part of the establishment.
It was that the American people were to be guided more than
In fact, "political solutions" are alien to America's vocabulary.
War profiteers demand jingoism. A century ago people were
manipulated to accept war with Cuba. William Randolph Hearst hyped
the big lie about Spain sinking the battleship Maine when, in fact,
a coal bunker explosion did it.
Hearst, however, told his Havana illustrator: "You furnish the
pictures, and I'll furnish the war." To this day, lies launch them.
They're all based on lies to get people to go along with what
wouldn't be possible otherwise.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to
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