This is not a journalistic critique of American foreign policy, or a forensic analysis of US strategy in a specific region.
There are some excellent independent journalists & analysts doing such work, and I draw on their output regularly…but that’s not what this is.
This is my opinion; the viewpoint of a UK citizen, informed by 64 years spent observing how individuals, groups and organisations behave, what motivates their behaviour, and how you know when they’re lying.
They’re lying…egregiously & systematically. This piece is about that.
“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism”
When Major-General Smedley Butler wrote that in 1935, he had recently retired from the US Marine Corps as the most decorated soldier in US military history; he had been instrumental in thwarting a coup against President Franklyn D. Roosevelt in 1933, and he was in the process of writing his ‘judgement piece’ on America’s foreign interventions: ‘War is a Racket’. To call him ‘qualified’ to judge the motives underpinning American wars would be a vast understatement:
“I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents”
Eighty-five years later his successors in the Pentagon are operating on 7 continents, not three, they have over 800 military bases in eighty countries, with a total of 1,339,500 active military personnel. The US has a defence budget of $770 billion and is ‘officially’ involved in six kinetic wars: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. It is also conducting economic warfare against Russia, Venezuela & Iran, and this is not an exhaustive list…America currently has 32 active sanction programmes.
In short, Washington has learned virtually nothing in the 85 years since General Butler issued his warning, except this:
The hegemony of the US is sustained through military power and economic coercion, but this requires the continued subservience of the media and the consent of the majority of citizens across the west.
Public reactions are managed accordingly. We are supposed to support the Hong Kong protests (anti-China), condemn the Iraqi protests (anti-America) and totally ignore the French protests…because we might ‘see ourselves’ in the anger of the French people, and the protests might spread…
Thus, the maintenance of the empire is dependent upon propaganda. LYING: loudly, persistently, & unashamedly; without any pesky interference from something as innately human as ‘conscience’. Propaganda is a job best suited to psychopaths.
Maintaining the number of lies necessary to conduct six kinetic wars, 32 sanction programmes, and a number of ‘psyops’ that we’re not supposed to know about…sorry chaps we do…is clearly a huge challenge.
It’s tempting to think that the ideal liar is someone who never gets caught. This is unrealistic for those who have to lie publicly. The ideal public liar is someone, who, when they DO get caught out, is able to change the goalposts…to repeatedly divert attention onto the next ‘excuse’, until investigators run out of steam & give up, or the plot becomes so convoluted that only the most attentive observers are able to keep track of it.
Peter Mandelson in the UK was good at this. Henry Kissinger was masterful.
The discredited OPCW report on Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma in April 2018 is a current example of how this process works…and fails…when faced with integrity and persistence.
Anyone who has followed the twitter debates between ‘Mail on Sunday’ journalist Peter Hitchens, and Professor Scott Lucas of the University of Birmingham, will have observed that however discredited Lucas’s arguments become, his response is generally a convoluted distraction that fails to address the issue…and thus leads to further obfuscation. Fortunately, Lucas is not very good at it; and as a result, his bullshit is glaringly apparent.
By contrast with amateurs like Lucas, the President of the United States has some real ‘pros’ at his disposal. Washington sits at the centre of a vast propaganda network that was in its infancy in 1935, when ‘news’ of world events took an age to reach the general population, and the possibility for informed opposition existed only for an elite few. The internet finally put paid to that reality, which is why we see repeated attempts by government and platform providers to ‘outlaw’ certain subjects, viewpoints and people. But that’s a whole other subject in its own right…
This network includes government agencies, think-tanks, universities and media organisations that churn out the same ‘indispensable’ view of America’s place in the world: The US has a right, and a duty, to intervene wherever it wishes and whenever it wants. It is always right, and most importantly…it is never wrong. It is the planetary cop and the arbiter of ‘acceptable’ policy.
The current ‘public face’ for Washington’s war propaganda is the Secretary of State, Michael R. Pompeo, former Director of the CIA, and 3-term Congressman for Kansas, District 4.
Pompeo’s prior career in business was in the manufacture of aircraft parts and oilfield equipment. As a result of this, and his association with organisations such as Koch Industries, Bain Capital, Raytheon & Lockheed, Pompeo has a fat address book, some powerful corporate ‘sponsors’ and an insider’s view on how the Military Industrial Complex works.
Pompeo’s worldview is rooted in his belief in an evangelical ‘end-of-days’ prophecy known as ‘the Rapture’: a time of great upheaval during which the anti-Christ will appear, followed by the second coming of Christ, who will separate ‘the blessed’, from ‘the cursed’. The former will inherit the ‘Kingdom’, the latter will be condemned to everlasting fire with the devil and his angels. A pre-requisite for the return of Christ is the belief that Jerusalem must be Israel’s capital. The United States moved its embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem last year, to the great satisfaction of Pompeo and his ‘best buddy’, Israel’s Prime Minister, the apartheid war-criminal, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Now…on a personal level, I really don’t care if Pompeo worships God, Allah, Jehovah, ‘Reason’, or a block of cheese. But I definitely DON’T want a guy who believes his wars are sanctified by the ‘Supreme Being’…in position to steer the foreign policy of the world’s largest military power. I would add that I’ve yet to find any passage in the gospels where Christ says ‘Blessed are the Regime Changers’.
My view is that Pompeo, along with any other ‘leader’ who thinks that their nation, tribe, religion or ideology is ‘special’, ‘chosen’, ‘exceptional’ or ‘indispensable’…is a dangerous psychopath…a person who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the guy with the nuclear codes.
Here is Pompeo talking about his religious beliefs and their relevance to US Foreign policy:
At any one time the empire will be promoting a number of ‘myths’ that encapsulate the beliefs and attitudes that they wish the masses to hold…about America…about the world…about ‘our enemies’…etc. They often take the form of simple phrases, easy to understand & easy to repeat; propaganda works through repetition.
Here are three blatant lies that are being ‘sold’ around the world as I write this piece. There are many more, and I encourage you to listen out for them. When you hear one ask yourself: What, and whose, purpose does it serve for me to believe this?
Myth 1 – America is a force for good in the world
This is an old one that is wheeled out when it is becoming glaringly obvious that “America is NOT a force for good in the world”. Here is the State Department trying to kill 3 birds with one stone…the inference being that Donald Trump & Mike Pompeo are forces for good in the world too. ”Trust us, we’re sincere” is about as slimy as it gets.
Myth 2 – We are looking for a peaceful & democratic solution
This one is currently being used to mask intentions in Venezuela and in Iran. In Venezuela the variation is: ‘we want democratic and fair elections’. In Iran: ‘we just want Iran to behave like a normal nation’. To be clear: what the empire wants in both cases is regime change.
Myth 3 – The people of Country X love us, and we love them
This is normally seen in its subtler forms “We stand with the people of Iran in their noble fight for freedom blah blah”…or “The people of Venezuela know that the United States is with them as they take their heroic stand in the fight against Maduro’s tyranny blah blah”.
To be clear: Washington stands with and for itself.
Many of you will have read this next quotation from President Eisenhower’s final address to the nation before leaving the White House. I reprint it NOT to remind us of how prescient he was, but to make another point entirely: Ike waited until his last day in the Oval Office before issuing this warning. What does that say about the power of the office of the presidency?
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together”
So if the President of the United States cannot change this, what can I say to end this piece? Should I try to conjure a solution? Should I express hope? Should I just say ‘it beats me’?
Well…here’s what I DO know:
This problem is systemic. Taking Pompeo out of the State Department, replacing Trump in November, will not change these realities:
So what do I think?
And in the meantime, I think every person that takes these warnings seriously, needs to pay close attention to what is being said, to what is being done, and to challenge the bullshit whenever and wherever it appears.
And that’s what I intend to do. Good luck.
Host Ross Ashcroft met up with community organizer and civil rights activist, Larry Hamm in Newark, New Jersey, to discuss how the issues around injustice are as pertinent now as they were during Dr King's time.
Could it be that the word and the idea 'Democracy' need to be repeated endlessly because people now no longer feel they actually live in one?