I bet that it’s been some time since you cared about what was happening in Iraq. After all, the media has barely covered the new wave of killing, the worst bloodshed since 2008.
What about the 3,852 civilian casualties in Afghanistan in the first half of this year? When was the last time you watched, read or thought about them?
And until last week, like the media, most Americans did not care about the two and a half years of civil war in Syria that killed over 100,000 people. Not until Obama declared, “Let’s bomb them.” Suddenly, the media is discovering how immoral these Syrian are. So bad that even without strategy or objectives, we must bomb them into submission.
In the daily media, there is little discussion why the British have decided not to support the US attack, nor why the Chinese and Russian support the Syrian regime. As if the media has taken a role to rally the people of America behind their fearless leader, whatever his indecisive decision might be. With some difference – not as big as we may want to believe -- that was the role of the media in totalitarian regimes. To be more concrete, let’s look at four of the principle that guided the dreaded USSR propaganda.
1. Internationalization of Socialism: In the USA, we call for the Internationalization of Democracy. The principle, however, has not change: let brainwash our people to believe that what we have here (whether we like it or not), is the best for others. After all, we can’t trust them to know what’s good for them.
2. Peace loving: The propaganda of the communist party in the USSR emphasized their yearning for peace, unlike the military ambitions of their archenemy, the USA. Many Americans (those who bothered to know, at least) found it surprising to discover after the fall of communism, that the Russian population had feared the US military ambition just as much as the average American feared the Russians.
3. Personality Cult: It’s amazing to hear how Obama is compared, by some media, to Lincoln, if not Washington. I wonder what the US would have looked like, if he really were the first president.
4. Toe the Party Line: With some exceptions, the truth in any conflict is never simple and hardly ever one-sided. But we can’t afford any doubt if America wants to practice its right to test its weapon in foreign lands. So let’s make sure that subtlety and complexity will not interfere with our judgment and remove them from the discussion altogether. Let’s make sure that the facts are presented only in a way that supports us. After all, the purpose of truth is to support our position, and we will change it accordingly.
Propaganda has always been the cardinal tool of dark regimes. In the USA, outside short periods, independent media has been the protector of democracy. Using it to serve political agenda will risk the very way of life that generations of Americans believed in and fought to preserve, a way of life that nowadays is not guaranteed any longer. Never has it seemed so fragile.