“What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence is an index into his desires -- desires of which he himself is often unconscious. If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence”. (Bertrand Russell)
So it is with Messrs. Bush and Blair which have acted time and again on the flimsiest of evidence to reshape Middle East into what they desire it to be: a neo-colonial possession to supply oil while at the same time helping their rich to get richer. You may disagree with this statement, especially, if you have been listening to so much propaganda about spreading democracy in the Muslim world in general and Middle East in particular. So I ask you to look at the following arguments and then decide if the actions taken so far point to fighting terrorism, spreading democracy or hegemony.
In 1996 the newly elected prime minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu commissioned a study group called ”Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000" to formulate a strategy for Israel in the coming decades. The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies’ which included Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser, created the Israel’s strategy paper titled: “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”.
The paper contains six pages of recommendations for Benjamin Netanyahu and some of the more relevant suggestions are presented bellow:
1. Only the unconditional acceptance by Arabs of our rights, especially in their territorial dimension, "peace for peace," is a solid basis for the future.
2. An effective approach, and one with which American can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon.
3. Work closely with Turkey and Jordan to contain, destabilize, and roll-back some of its most dangerous threats. This implies clean break from the slogan, "comprehensive peace" to a traditional concept of strategy based on balance of power.
4. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right
In 1997 another set of Neo-Conservatives that included personalities such as Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz Elliott Abrams, Lewis Libby, Eliot A. Cohen and others, created a think-tank organisation by the name of “The Project for the New American Century”. They stated their vision of the new world in their “statement of Principles”. To their credit, they were very honest about their goals. They said:
“We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership. As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world's preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievements of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?”
The authors of the Clean Break, and the New American Century were friends, and fellow travellers. It is therefore not surprising to see that they soon recognised the complementary nature of these two strategies for the Middle East. Of course I leave the question of who influences whom to the reader; suffice to say that when it came to Israel and the Middle East, they both shared a common vision.
Immediately after the creation of the New American Century, the Neocons started their campaign for a change in American policy. Statement after statement called for a fundamental change, but the Clinton administration was not buying it. Of course with election of George Bush everything changed. One must not forget that a founding member and signatory to the “statement of Principles” was Jeb Bush, President’s brother, and another member Dick Cheney was the Vice President. It would not be far-fetched to assume that the Neocons, in 2000, still believed in the rightness of their strategy. Already by then the “Road Map to piece” and the Arab-Israeli negotiations was dead, and the new strategy of “Clean Break” was being implemented.
Now Israel was given the green light to go ahead and openly implement their vision of Peace-for-Peace instead of the Land-for-Peace.
Then came the golden opportunity: the infamous 9/11. Now the stage was set to begin to change the world and protect America’s “interest”. Now, what is it that the world needs most and of which 25% goes to America? Oil of course. Where is that Oil? Middle East. Who lives there? Muslims.
It is a fact that people in general, regardless of their nationality, race or creed, will not wage war on others without being either angry or frightened. People will not go to war for money alone; fear and anger have to be there. To create the fear and anger the Neocons started their propaganda campaign. According to Joseph Gobbles, Nazi Minister of Propaganda "The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly ... it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over." The Neocons had already formulated the points:
- Muslims are dangerous,
- they, i.e. Muslims, are trying to destroy our (US, UK, Australian) way of life
- all Arab and Muslim governments in the Middle East that are not subservient to US are illegitimate,
- these governments were somehow involved in terrorism and 9/11,
- the defence of Israel is the defence of Western values (i.e. US values).
Only after convincing people of these allegations, could they proper move to reshape the Middle East. The people had to be convinced that Neocons’ way was the only way forward. To achieve this, a two prong campaign was waged against the people of the United States, UK and Australia. While people such as Rupert Murdoch and his media empire were used to demonise the Muslims and quash any American (as unpatriotic or soft) who dared to question the reasons behind the government’s actions; the US and other governments set about scaring the people to death by constantly warning people of imminent terrorist attacks.
Suddenly the people were bombarded with negative images of Muslim “terrorists” that were out there to get them. The fear factor was also increased by the government’s colour coded warnings or announcements by police chiefs that they know of several terrorist plans to bomb civilians. One day it was New York, then Los Angeles, then somewhere else. Every week there were constant reports of terrorists planning this and that attack on unsuspecting citizens. News media, the government, the so called experts, the series (such as 24 hours) on TVs depicting Muslims as terrorist, and other means were used to scare the people into submission. Then when the people were really scared, the government came with its anti-terror laws such as Patriot Act, rubbing people of some their most basic civil liberties.
The Propaganda Machine
I can very well understand, if you are sceptical of this. But just look at all the films and discussions by the so called “experts” in the news and see if you can detect the message. It is a message of fear that is repeated over and over again. This message is nicely inserted in the popular movie plots. Just look at all the series that have been released by major film studios, and see if you can find one that contains anything even remotely favourable to Arabs, Muslims, or Islam. And then look at all the movies and see if you can find one bad Jewish character in them.
The Muslims are always portrayed as terrorists, terrorist sympathisers, or refugees running from Islam. In some films even the hero happily uses torture to extract information from the Muslim terrorist in order to save innocent people. You may watch these films and see it as fun, but unconsciously you are being prepared to believe the stereotypical caricature of the Muslims.
In contrast you see that the Jews are always portrayed as honest, religious, and educated people. Jews make up a very small percentage of the US population (2.2%), yet from the films you get the impression that they represent around 25% or more. Don’t get me wrong, I say good for them. They have worked hard to get into a position to improve their public image by using the media. After years of being portrayed as shylocks and such, it is refreshing to see them portrayed as good, honest, hard working citizens. I just mention them here to show how the media is portraying different people and how that may determine your view of these people. And just to be clear about it, I should say it loud and clear here that I hate anti-Semitism or any kind of racism and condemn it in all its forms. What I am talking about here is the manipulation of unsuspecting people by a small group for political and financial gains.
Of course, we hate the thought of being manipulated and controlled. We don’t want to believe it. Our intellectual autonomy, after life itself, is one that we cherish most. We accept the overt manipulations by the advertisers, for we believe that we are in control. After all, no-one can fool me, right? That is why we pay for French bottled water, drink Pepsi and buy Nikes, and all because we are in control. In today’s world, the greatest illusion for an individual is that of being in control of one’s thought and opinion.
There exists a power that reaches into every home and into every mind and tries to manipulate and influence our opinions and perceptions of the reality. This power is called the mass-media. We all acknowledge the influence of this power on young minds. We protect our children from images, language or contents that we deem unsuitable; thinking, rightly, that the young mind is all too impressionable and susceptible to believe the stuff that they are exposed to. Yet, we leave ourselves open to manipulation without blinking an eye; for we believe that they can not fool us. But unfortunately we are being fooled on a grand scale. After all, the greater the lie, the easier it is to accept it as the truth.
To show you how a few people can manipulate so many, I have to list just a small section of this vast propaganda machine that is employed to make-up our mind for us.
The sad truth is that a handful of powerful groups control the expanding media and leisure market spanning film, television, book publishing, music, new online media, theme parks, sport, the print media and even the theatres. For example the US media market is controlled by only 6 conglomerates: Time Warner, General Electric, Walt Disney, Bertelsmann AG, Viacom, and News Corporation.
These companies, or rather their owners, set the agenda and control the dissemination of information to the public. Imagine the power these people have. It is no wonder that Presidents and Prime Ministers go hat in hand asking for an audience with the owners. These politicians know that these people are the ones that shape our perception of reality. So they go presenting their CVs, hoping to be accepted.
For example, every year Mr. Murdoch (the greatest friend of Israel) the owner of the News Corporation is described as television’s “most powerful man in the world with the capacity to reach more than 110 million viewers across four continents.” Murdoch’s network owns more than 175 newspapers, journals and magazines on three continents, publishes 40 million papers a week and dominates the newspaper markets in Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Every year he holds a company meeting in a place of his choosing. This year it was in Pebble Beach, California.
According to Guardian, “Murdoch wields considerable clout, which is why Tony Blair is likely to address the Pebble Beach conference, just as he did, controversially, when the gathering was held in Sydney in 1996. As the political climate changes on both sides of the Atlantic, Murdoch continues to be courted by those seeking to gain or retain power. Blair's attendance will be viewed as a sign that Murdoch is not yet ready to abandon his paper's support for New Labour, but it could also be interpreted as a snub to Gordon Brown.
Murdoch is aligning his interests, as ever, with those who are most likely to benefit from a change in public opinion - hence his flirtation with presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. He is even hosting a fundraising event for the New York senator later this year.”
You just have to look at Fox News, Sky News, or read the New York Post, Sun, or the Australian to understand what Mr Murdoch wants you to believe. He is one of the staunchest supporters – among other media tycoons-of the Neocons cause.
Mr. Murdoch controls – among other things- the following:
International Book Publishing
HarperCollins Publishing, including HarperCollins U.K.; HarperCollins Canada; and HarperCollins Australia. U.S. imprints include Perennial; Quill; Regan Books; Amistad Press; Hearst Book Group (acquired 1997); includes William Morrow; Avon; HarperCollins Children's Book Group; and Zondervan Publishing House (world's largest commercial Bible publisher).
Fox Sports Networks (21 networks covering major U.S. cities); Fox Sports Net (cable network with 60 million subscribers); Madison Square Garden Network (40 percent) with Cablevision; Speedvision (34 percent); Outdoor Life (34 percent); the Health Network (50 percent), with Liberty Media; Fox Family Worldwide; FOX News Channel; Fox Television Stations 22 stations (largest TV group in USA), Fox Entertainment, Fox Kid's Network,
Fox Sports; Fox Filmed Entertainment: TV and film production from Twentieth Century Fox; Fox Animation Studios; Fox 2000; and Fox Searchlight; Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment; Twentieth Century Fox Television; Twentieth Century Fox Licencing and Merchandising , and The New York Post
BSkyB (40 percent); Vivendi, as a result of its takeover of Universal has to divest its 24.5 percent stake in BskyB; Sky Digital, 150 channels and services including Sky One Sky News; National Geographic Channel (50 percent); The History Channel (50 percent); Paramount Channel (25 percent); Nickelodeon U.K. (50 percent); Premium channels including Sky Movies; Sky Movies Gold; Sky Sports, The Times; The Sunday Times; The Sun; The News of the World
More than 100 national, metropolitan, suburban, regional and Sunday titles: The Australian; The Weekend Australian , The Daily Telegraph; The Sunday Telegraph Sportsman; Cumberland Newspaper Group (20 titles in the Sydney suburbs); Herald Sun; Sunday Herald Sun; The Weekly Times (30 titles in the Melbourne suburbs); The Courier Mail (41.7 percent); The Sunday Mail (41.7 percent); Gold Coast Bulletin (41.7 percent); The Cairns Post Group (41.7 percent); North Queensland Newspaper Group; Townsville Bulletin; Quest Community newspapers (17 titles in the Brisbane suburbs); Northern Territory News; Sunday Territorian; Centralian Advocate; The Suburban; The Mercury; The Sunday Tasmanian; Tasmanian Country; Treasure Islander; Derwnet Valley Gazette and the Sunday Times.
The above list is only a part of a vast propaganda machine that is working hard to get us to fear and hate and pay with our money and blood, so that the dreams and visions of a few can be realised. People everywhere, be they Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, or atheist, will rather work and help each other than kill one another. Nothing is more vile than killing for money and power. Where do you think the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the unnecessary war in Iraq has come from and more importantly, where has it gone? The money has gone from millions of poor American, English and Australian pockets into a few rich and large pockets.
In the process parents have lost their children, wives have lost husbands, children have lost their parents, and many millions have become homeless. And as though this was not enough, the seeds of hatred have been sown in the heart of over one billion people. People think that like in the movies, when a war is finished, the victims somehow just vanish or cease to exist. But the millions of Iraqis who have been robbed of their loved ones and now have to endure a civil-war are not likely to just forgive or forget; just as the Palestinians have not forgotten or allowed to forget. For more information you can look at this. I bet 99.9% of us haven’t a clue of what life under occupation is like.
But let us just forget about the victims and consider the bystanders. The people in the Muslim world also watch TV and read Newspapers. Do you think that people in Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey or Jordan don’t see what they are being portrayed as? Do you think they don’t see the situation in Iraq, or Lebanon? If we were treated and portrayed in the same way, we would also react in the manner: with anger and frustration.
The war on terror is used like a beautiful magician’s assistant, to distract the public while the magician does his tricks. As long as people are scared and busy with Osama Bin Laden, no one will be noticing the systematic erosion of their civil liberties, or the increasing inequality, or declining quality of their lives. Who cares if 37.0 million Americans live in poverty? Who cares if over 13 million families including 26.5 million children are living at the edge of the poverty (median income = $38000)? Who cares if the top 10% own 71.5% of everything in US ? As long as you are afraid of the evil “terrorists” and are engaged in an unending war, you will not care.
Perhaps, Joseph Goebbels, the master propagandist of the third Reich was correct in his theory that:
”If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
To be continued…
Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar
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