Mainstream Media As a A Military Weapon
The US would not be what it is without its media. Indeed, US mainstream media isn’t just a coconspirator and a partner to US imperialism, it is a vital part and enabler of it. Decades of nonstop propaganda by US mainstream media has created an utterly absurd and infantile worldview among most Americans. There are basically two major viewpoints among them about the US – its role in the world, its policies, its actions and its place in history. A majority have been led to believe that the US is a benevolent force in the world that uses its power and influence to spread democracy and human rights. They believe that unlike super power empires of the past, the US does not try to use its power to enrich its ruling elite, but on the contrary, it goes out of its way to help other nations, even to its own detriment. According to this view, the US is on a mission, as if from God, and has the historic obligation to rule and police the world and punish evil doers, as it alone decides who they are and what their punishment should be. It’s little wonder when empires become too powerful, they believe and claim to be doing God’s work. Whereas previous empires got rich and powerful through wars of conquest and by looting places they conquered, the US, they believe, has got wealthy and powerful through innovation and entrepreneurship and technological knowhow!
According to this view, the US promotes and works for peace, but when pushed by intransigence of other nations and when its interests are threatened, it will go to war. US interests are usually understood as the free flow of goods and trade through international waters and airspace that the US and its allies rely on for their economies, its “right” to patrol such waterways and airspace, and secure the interests of American corporations. This view makes no distinction between what they call “national” or “American” interests and interests of American corporations operating outside its borders around the world. While proclaiming the “need” to “protect US interests” by any means available or possible, when it comes to waging wars, they are believed to be not for corporate interests or for making the economic elite richer, as it’s believed to have been the case with previous empires, but for benevolent reasons, such as to help free other nations from their brutal dictators, to take democracy to them so they can be free or to fight terrorism for the peace and security of everyone. On the one hand, they acknowledge US pursuing its interests aggressively in international affairs and, on the other, when it comes to wars that it engages in, they attribute them to completely innocent and benign reasons, such as removing a dictator, rather than defending the interests of US corporations. They see no contradiction between the interests of US corporations and those of the working people, here or abroad, and accept wars as necessary for keeping “our freedom” and “way of life”, which is constantly under “threat” by those who envy “our freedoms”. Both major US political parties in power and the entire US mass media hold and promote this viewpoint and use it as the basis for explaining US actions in international affairs. This mindset helps the US continue its belligerence and militarism that’s causing mass destruction, terror and nonstop wars.
A second group of people that are considered more liberal or even progressive, holds that US wars are not always for the right reasons or against the right country and do not always benefit its people or bring them democracy. They see and cite dictatorships that the US has close and friendly relations with, sells arms to and supports and cooperates with, such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Gulf kingdoms, who are not exactly models of democracy. They also point out that the US does at times overthrow democratically elected governments, which they attribute to “wrong” and “bad policies” and contend that those are exceptions to the rule and resulting from bad judgement or “bad intelligence”. They believe that, notwithstanding occasional “errors” in judgement, overall, the US is “exceptional” and a force for good and has good intentions and stands for good and noble values around the world, such as democracy and freedom.
They may believe, for example, that the war against Iraq, was wrong and a “mistake”, that didn’t produce any benefits for the US – as if that’s the standard to judge such wars with, leaving aside the question of whether that assumption is even correct or not – though the intentions are believed to have been good and just. Most in this group have also come to view the war in Vietnam as not such a good idea, although, they do support most other wars, such as on Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yugoslavia, the first Iraq war and in Korea, and most agreed with the devastating sanctions on Iraq by Clinton and on Iran by Obama. They also consider Russia a “threat” and specifically Putin a “dangerous thug” that has to be confronted and stopped. They also have similar feelings about China.
Most support Israel and don’t have a good understanding of the occupation, ethnic cleansing and atrocities being committed against Palestinians or the scale of US aid to the “Jewish state”, or have no opposition to it, because it’s “our ally” and helps in our “war on terror”. Some may express concern about its settlement building or overreaction to attacks by Palestinians who justly resist the occupation, but still think that Israel must be supported and aided. Some go as far as advocating a more “even-handed” approach to the “conflict” (a favorite term of the media) between Israel and Palestinians and some may even want to “pressure” Israel to not build any more settlements. Many displayed consternation and concern over the Israeli attack on civilians in Gaza in August of 2014, which killed 2,300 people, mostly civilians. Some may express the need for an eventual Palestinian state, “side by side Israel”, but only through negotiations and only after meeting Israel’s “security requirements” and on Israel’s terms and definition of what a Palestinian “state” should look like, which would be anything but a state, by any definition. They accept that position because that’s what’s been offered to them as a “solution”, rather than one democratic and secular state that would treat everyone the same, regardless of their race, religion or ethnic background. The general statement that they’re “our ally” and “friend”, coupled with the claim that it’s a “democracy” seems to suffice. Nothing else seems to matter. No questions asked and facts matter none. That’s how they’ve been trained to “think”. The phrase “our ally” seems to trump everything else, including unimportant and useless things called facts.
The opposite also is true. Just call Iran a “terrorist state” or “our adversary” and even a war on them might be acceptable. Were Iran or Russia or China to occupy a nation and treat its population the way Israel treats Palestinians, the US would organize a coalition to go to war against it, rather than give it all the weapons and military equipment they want. Actually, we don’t have to speculate. We all saw the reaction of the US and its imperialist allies when Russia had Crimea rejoin her, which it previously belonged to, still had a majority population of Russians and did it after a vast majority voted for it in a referendum. The level of hypocrisy is stunning.
Some progressives also believe holding foreign prisoners in Guantanamo Bay indefinitely without a charge or trial is a “stain” on the “American conscience”, an embarrassment and “un-American”, something that’s unbecoming of the US. Some also believe that “some” of the wars waged by the US, such as in Vietnam, Libya or Iraq, might have been wrongheaded and mistakes or waged for the wrong reasons, rather than systemic or for empire and dictated by corporations and the ruling elite for profits and geopolitical positioning. Some may say the Iraq war was for oil, but they put it squarely on the administration’s shoulders, which changes every few years and with it supposedly the policies. Some would acknowledge that some of these wars and interventions create instability in the already volatile Middle East and giving ammunition to terrorists to recruit more members to their cause, but again, they describe them as isolated policy errors, rather than systemic and due to the requirements of the capitalist economic system and imperialism, which is bigger than an individual president who serves for a few years and leaves intact the empire and the corporations that run it.
Although some believe in less confrontation and belligerence and more diplomacy, they believe Russia and China are “threats” and “adversaries”, if not now, will be eventually and must be dealt with. They also think Iran must be prevented from acquiring nuclear technology at all cost, though they may only go as far as calling for harsh and devastating sanctions as punishment, rather than a full-fledged war.
Domestically, some liberals show concern about widening the economic gap between the rich and poor and the disappearance of the middle class, but trust that capitalism will, with correct leadership in the White House, overcome this problem and continue to create jobs and provide economic security to its people. Although they see the widening income and wealth inequality and money in politics as a problem, they see no connection between imperialism and its endless wars for profit, on the one hand, and the widening gap between rich and poor, persistent poverty and fading away of the middle class, on the other.
Some go further and advocate free universal healthcare and even free college education, similar to European countries, raising of the minimum wage to “living wage” and creation of jobs by spending money on infrastructure. They also call attention to global warming and ruining of the environment. However, to them, such concerns, including huge military spending or endless wars are a matter of policy that can be changed rather than systemic and tightly tied to the economic system. They believe somehow and sometime, corporations got too strong, too much money and lobbying got into the system and especially into politics and elections and corrupted the system, creating the all powerful oligarchy that’s making the rich richer and poor poorer. They don’t connect these issues to the economic system of capitalism. They believe they can be reformed and made better, without any systemic change, meaning without any change in the economic system or relations.
The revolutionary left which makes the connection between the economic system in its advanced stage of imperialism and the policy of endless and multiple wars, frequent economic crises, disappearance and impoverishment of the middle class, ruining of the environment and growing terror and danger of another world war, is small, marginalized, fractured and ineffectual. What’s even worse, some of them fall for the lies and propaganda of US imperialism, such as about the war in Syria and before that Libya. Some of them also go along with US demonization of Russia and China. Instead of recognizing US imperialism as the biggest danger to humanity and the planet and putting their focus on it, they call out Russian “imperialism” and foolishly end up supporting the coup regime of fascists in Ukraine, calling their CIA assisted coup “revolution”. That also happens to be their position on the war waged against Syria by the US and its allies using Islamist terrorists and mercenaries, who get arms, funding and support by US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. I’m glad these “leftists” aren’t many. I’d hate to see the US get even the “leftists’” support in their criminal wars for regime change.