War & Torture

Subterfuge and the science of repeating lies

By Roberto Rodriguez
Published on LatinoLA: May 19, 2009

War & Torture

It is apparent that regardless of who is in power, conservative ideals
are firmly entrenched not simply in the American psyche, but are an
integral part of U.S. policies. One could blame liberals for not
having a backbone when combating conservatives, but chances are that
the real reason may be even more onerous; one likely explanation is
governmental psychological warfare.

Why did Congress last week quietly approve almost another $100 billion
for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? Why are displaced Mexican migrants
scapegoated for all the ills of U.S. society? Why does the United
States escape blame for its insatiable thirst for drugs [in fueling
the drug wars in Mexico]? Why is the United States always supposed to
side with Israel, without ever having a debate? Why does "war as
peace" continue to be U.S. policy?

With President Obama, things were supposed to be different; the Iraq
and Afghanistan Wars were supposed to come to a screeching halt.
Guantanamo would be immediately closed down and torture would
unequivocally be denounced and those flouting U.S. and international
laws would finally be held to account in a court of law.

Instead, we see vacillation or escalation on virtually every front.
Just on economic grounds alone, one would think that shutting down
both wars would be a no-brainer. So the question is logical; with
Obama in the White House and Democrats in control of Congress, why do
conservative ideals and policies such as the right to permanent war
continue to be entrenched throughout the U.S. political landscape?

Most assuredly, the answer lies in the lies that this nation has
swallowed as part of its national narrative. For example, several
years ago, as I was finishing up my PhD studies, one of my professors
was explaining how language and minds can be manipulated simply by
the words we employ and the order in which they are employed. Such a
sophisticated process can pre-determine not only what we think and
discuss, but when we do this. Who delivers the words and ideas can
also influence how people will feel towards any given issue. One
example is the use of Colin Powell [and his contrived account] to
convince a skeptical world before the UN about the need to invade Iraq
[Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld and Rice had zero credibility].

As the seminar professor was explaining this process, I raised my
hand: "This sounds like psy-ops like CIA work."

At this, the professor laughed: "You must not be too familiar with our
field. The great majority of all mass communications research is
funded by the defense department."

This confirmed what I had always suspected; this would explain how the
Iraq War was sold through an unquestioning media that simply acted
liked stenographers repeating complete fabrications, affirmed by
"military experts" (in the employ of Defense contractors) that even
grade school children could see through. Yet that would not have been
enough to have convinced a skeptical public.

For such a special operation to work, fear, hate and ignorance had to
be thrown into the mix, helping to advance the nonsensical argument
that Iraq constituted a grave threat to the world. Yet, on the heels
of the Cold War in which the United States was pitted against a
superpower that actually had a nuclear arsenal of thousands
Americans were supposed to be afraid of a country that, in effect,
used slingshots as part of its air defense. While fear, hate and
ignorance usually work in any society, all this was not enough to sell
this war.

To sell the war in fact, to sell the notion of a right to permanent
worldwide war (The so-called War on Terror) required bringing in
three additional factors: God, hyper-nationalism and a "homeland." If
Bush could convince the public that God was siding with the United
States against fanatical Arab/Muslim terrorists who were responsible
for 9-11, then all that remained was to convince the public that it
was their patriotic duty to support the president in this God-inspired
civilizational war to protect the Fatherland against infidels. This
civilizational Jihad or Crusade included warring against Iraq, a
nation that had nothing to do with 9-11 and that had not ever been a
threat to the United States (see Rumsfeld's "religious" memos to Bush
this week's GQ Issue.

This war for the hearts and minds of Westerners appears to have
failed except amongst the FOX-TV-viewing public and its right-wing
radio auxiliaries.

And yet, even with a change in administrations, conservative ideals
and the conservative agenda continue to dominate the national agenda.
Specifically, in regards to Iraq and Afghanistan the wars continue
and Dick Cheney and his ultra-conservative cohorts continue to dictate
the nation's political agenda. The reason: think psy-ops and think
subterfuge. While we discuss the proprieties of torture and other
enhanced interrogation techniques we never get around to discussing
illegal wars that have resulted in the deaths and maiming of tens of
thousands and the displacement of millions. Within this context, we
ignore the larger crimes against humanity by the Bush administration
and instead debate whether torture works or not.

In a nation of laws beyond a bad clich?, "going forward" or not
pursuing justice has now become "conventional wisdom." House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi advanced this nonsensical conservative idea when she
refused to hold impeachment hearings. In a poetic sense of justice,
her strategy of "not looking back" is coming back to bite her. Rather
than the architects of the criminal war being investigated, she now is
on the hot seat. It is possible that this same "going forward" agenda
which has also been accepted by President Obama may come back to
derail the president's seemingly na?ve agenda.

About Roberto Rodriguez:
Rodriguez can be reached at
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