JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Smug, greedy, well-fed white men have invented a language to conceal their sins.—George Carlin
The typical war marketing slogans just aren’t cutting it these days; saber-rattlers, terrorist fears and color coded charts were captivating during Dubya’s first term, but after a long, budget-busting decade of U.S. invasions that bankrupted the country in several dozen ways, fear tactics barely spark a duct tape interest in even the hardiest, Palin-hugging Republican these days, except for Senator John McCain, who actually believes the U.S. is under perpetual attack and would bomb every other country to the tune of trillions of dollars more for defense. Time for retirement, John, one too many martinis have muddled your brain cells.
Americans have been asking the wrong questions, according to Pentagon advisors, questions that Congressman Ron Paul caught hell for which led to a bizarre blackout of his campaign because he dared to ask what no politician is allowed to ask: Why can’t we end these wars to help pay off the nation’s debt?
Oh dear, sorry Ron, but in the land of the free and the brave, you can’t talk about ending the wars, and you mustn’t bring up that intolerable, burdensome document called the Bill of Rights. So off he goes, (luckily not in a private plane) into retirement, swept out of the GOP congressional club that never quite accepted his strange, conservative views of cutting defense spending to balance the budget in the first place.
But he’s right about one thing, Americans want the wars and occupations to end.
By 2007, the old fears of Al Qaeda weren’t having the proper fear effect, like bad commercials, Americans turned it off, boring as the corporate network news that repeated that same video clip of five or six bearded Osama wannabes on monkey-bars. No doubt about it, the Pentagon needed to spice things up a tad if they were going to keep the war machine in high monetary gear. By 2008, “Support the Troops” changed to “Bring Home the Troops”. Even more alarming to the Pentagon boys was the lack of interest in patriotism: peace symbols began to replace American flags. In short, they were losing the PR war. The Pentagon had to think of new creative ways to influence a society that had become weary and skeptical of wars.
The trick is how do you justify perpetual and unpopular invasions of countries worth billions of dollars a month during one of the worst economic depressions in decades?
How do you make bombs loveable? How do you convince Americans that guns, tanks, drones, fighter jets, and all sorts of advanced super high tech weapons that obliterate large chunks of the earth, human beings and entire civilizations—are a Must Have American Dream?
For that answer, you need to turn to the expert, former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. He’s the professional architect of marketing wars and weapons. Indeed, thanks to Rummy, Americans spent an undisclosed figure, let’s just say a ton of their tax dollars on a magnificent Pentagon Propaganda Agency that works a lot like major movie production companies—only with the desired end to love, Love, LOVE the military—and their weapons. Lies are sold as truths, and truths are distorted and edited for the persuasive ‘military is awesome’ message. Briefly, propaganda is used to persuade or influence as opposed to educating the populace.
A military state requires an all-encompassing, pervasive and powerful propaganda enterprise that shapes and determines the climate of that society. In a war society, the process of conditioning begins at a very early age. Historically speaking, Sparta probably takes the prize for early military indoctrination and training. The minute a baby boy popped out of the mother’s womb, he was welcomed into the world with an infant-size spear and matching helmet, the first tangible objects of acquaintance were—weapons of destruction. And the first audible sounds uttered from the babe’s mouth were loud battle cries similar to Mel Gibson’s high-octave squeal in “Braveheart”. Certainly Sparta’s early indoctrination process would have thrilled Rummy.
Today, indoctrination has become a marketing science, and it can affect impressionable young minds in far more subtle ways than fear tactics. As we all know from its inception, media is the magic key to brainwashing the masses.
So what to do first? Pentagon told the cowardly congressional members to pass a secret propaganda act in the latest 2012 $642 billion defense budget authorization bill, H.R. 4310 which “includes the domestic use of propaganda in the United States. That is, the US government would be free to lie in its media efforts to promote unpopular actions. Iraq and Afghanistan spring immediately to mind: arguably we've been lied to for years about both invasions and their outcomes.”(nowpublic.com) H.R. 4310 essentially erases previous protective laws against domestic propaganda (Smith-Mundt Act 1984), as well as guidelines on information dissemination (Foreign Relations Authorization Act 1987).
The new law would give sweeping powers to the State Department and Pentagon to push television, radio, newspaper, and social media onto the U.S. public. “It removes the protection for Americans,” says a Pentagon official who is concerned about the law. “It removes oversight from the people who want to put out this information. There are no checks and balances. No one knows if the information is accurate, partially accurate, or entirely false.”
To make the point: 60 Minutes interviewed retired SEAL, Matt Bissonnette, who participated in the raid of Osama Bin Laden; his version of how Osama was killed differs from that of the official government account of what happened, casting the validity of the original story into doubt. Matt Bissonnette claims that Bin Laden died unarmed.
War is big business, and the military complex, the weapon contractors, Pentagon want those billions of dollars to keep rolling in despite the fact that this is all borrowed money, a debt of trillions of dollars.
But it’s not only about the federal government buying weapons with our tax dollars; in short, the U.S. Pentagon sells weapons to countries that can afford it. Last year, US arms sales amounted to 78 per cent of the global foreign weapons sales.
American weapons sales abroad tripled in 2011, reaching US $66.3 billion. Persian Gulf Arab countries are listed as the principal purchasers, with the largest customer being its ally Saudi Arabia.
The Gulf State bought weapons worth $33 million, with the goods ranging from F-15 fighter jets to missiles, a new study for Congress reveals. (RT.com, Rocket-propelled sales figures: US arms sales abroad triple to record highs)
Is it a coincidence that there are so many films glorifying CIA operatives of late? Is it a coincidence that there are military video war games for children and network shows such as NBC’s “Stars Earn Stripes” starring General Wesley Clark and a sexy cast that makes war look like a fun Olympic game? Is it a coincidence that jet fighters fly over football games? Is it a coincidence that recent articles have magically appeared about Guantanomo Bay with a gallery of photos that look like a summer retreat under the heading a NEW Guantanamo Bay? Oh, I get it: Why should the President shut down Gitmo when it’s had such a fabulous makeover?
Predictably, Republican and Democratic members of both Houses will always make defense spending a top priority at the expense of desperately needed public services. Defense is big money for a few elites in control, and those in control want a military corporate police state.
Perhaps the most insidious act of Pentagon secret plans is when the Agency targets your children. The Pentagon and CIA decided that they need to raise more spies so that they can infiltrate other countries in the future and do what the CIA is good at doing: making a mess of things so that the U.S. corporations can walk in and steal the goods, (read Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine). In order to do that—they not only raise kids to kill (soldiers), they have to produce some intelligent children too that can learn foreign languages. Now learning foreign languages is a wonderful thing, however under this Pentagon program, the purpose of teaching children these languages is to serve the NSA, CIA and Pentagon; it certainly is not for the common good of all people:
As reported in BusinessInsider.com: “American First Graders Are Starting NSA-Inspired Pentagon-Funded Language Classes”
The National Security Education Program (NSEP), within the Pentagon budget projection for Fiscal Year 2012, says its mission is to "provide a cadre of highly qualified candidates for employment in the national security community." …
Other languages include Chinese, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu and Farsi. The goal, as stated in official documents, is to provide curriculum in "less commonly taught languages" in order to grow a pool of "qualified language proficient candidates to the federal sector."…
But when does "grooming" children cross over into "coercing" them to serve the state?
Have the Pentagon’s media propaganda methods worked? You could argue that the role of government has radically changed since President Clinton left office. We have subconsciously accepted the ‘military state’ as an Orwellian representation of democracy and freedom. Pre-emptive invasions and the occupation of foreign countries are never questioned as “unconstitutional” by the mainstream media outlets—they are merely accepted as the framework of our culture. All things military are good. That is the subtle message that is conveyed in a variety of media ways.
As a result, our country is eroding, and our government provides no moral compass of what is just, fair and decent. The rising power of the industrial complex has morally and economically bankrupted this country. In a military state, there is no relationship with the natural world, or the moral. Our children live by commercial phrases formulated by a military and decadent society that is either violent (cage fighting) or sordid and ugly. For example, teenagers are accustomed to hearing our elected officials use the phrase, “take them out” as if they were talking about inanimate objects instead of human beings. Military language is intentionally dehumanizing.
The truth is the U.S. government is not supposed to be subservient to the Pentagon. We no longer recognize the true role the government should play in a democratic society. It should function much like President Bill Clinton’s Foundation. The government is supposed to protect our air and water from pollution, it’s supposed to rebuild eroding infrastructure, it should provide new schools and hospitals, and it should use our tax dollars to support a fair and decent health care system, teachers, police and fire workers, it should provide college educational opportunities for middle-class and lower income families.
Instead, we hear from elected officials that all such public services are to be slashed so that our tax dollars can endlessly support the CIA, NSA, Homeland Security, the Pentagon and all things military. We are deep in debt because the government is in the sordid business of wars and selling weapons more than any time in history, and protecting profits for their billionaires. We’re talking about priorities: Half the population is slipping into dire poverty. Americans, like third world nations, are sharing one bedroom apartments with 6-10 people. This is the face of America while billions of tax dollars are going to the Pentagon’s pet propaganda projects to convince Americans that a military state is a free and glorious state.
So if you’re wondering why we’re not hearing the old fear-rattle of “the big bad terrorists are coming to getcha!” it may be because i) it doesn’t work so well when half the population can’t afford groceries, and ii) propaganda has advanced to far more subtle and subliminal forms of indoctrination through media entertainment and news outlets.
How do you avoid falling under the Pentagon’s spell? Try to be conscious of the sly practice of propaganda—or—turn it off and stay informed by relying on trustworthy and independent organizations such as Truthout.org which are free from the Pentagon’s influence and corporate sponsors.
Jacqueline Marcus taught ethics and political philosophy for twenty years at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, California. Her book of poems, Close to the Shore, was published by Michigan State University Press. She is the editor of www.ForPoetry.com.