There once was a country where the leaders enjoyed playing tricks on the public, and could always count on its friends in the "media" to play along. The joke was to tell the public the same old lie again and again, and see if anyone ever stood up to protest. The government knew that the public would put up with almost anything unless it involved pulling away the plate in front of them or shutting off their television.
Short of that, they would tolerate anything -- while ignoring warnings that they were being had -- because the popular culture had convinced them that "politics" was boring or somehow unfashionable and unworthy of their attention. Those few who prided themselves on being oh-so-informed were the biggest victims of all, because they were not sufficiently vigilant about their sources of information.
Hum That Tune
Most people in the United States today would agree that the Vietnam War was a debacle. Hundreds of thousands died, the other side won, and now thousands of Americans visit the place and come back with stories about the incredible graciousness of people on the bad end of seven million tons of American bombs.
Flash forward four decades. Only a portion of the American population understands that the Iraq war was a trick -- that it was never about Al Qaeda, or WMD, or furthering democracy. (For more, see this and this)
Unfortunately, our ability to learn lessons is severely constrained. It still seems to require that we be tricked -- and only years later discover we have been had.
Thus, few have yet realized what Libya was actually about (hum this tune: money money money money...muh-ney!). Only because of the death of the US ambassador and a brouhaha over its handling by the Obama administration, does anyone give even a second's thought to that war, in which the United States was a major participant. The American media has yet to wake up to what actually happened there, and why. (If you're curious, see pieces WhoWhatWhy ran at the time, here, here and here)
Few also have any idea that Afghanistan, the country we were told was so poor that the only possible reason to go in there was for security and humanitarian reasons, turns out to be, in terms of natural resources, one of the richest places on earth.
Now, virtually nobody in this country is paying serious attention to the US and its allies' tacit invasion of Syria. How often do you hear your friends and associates heatedly discussing this war?
Based on this pattern, we can reasonably assume that nobody will tune in to Iran until the war is actually on. In which case, all we will be asked to do is "honor our brave men and women in uniform." And we will do so, utterly ignorant of why they fight, kill and die. Just as the soldiers themselves remain unaware.
While You Were Talking About the Mayan Calendar...
We Americans tend to turn to one "super-narrated" media story at a time. So we rarely catch the bits and pieces that fly by but together form a shocking tableau.
Here are some developments over the past weeks, to catch you up.
The US and its allies are getting ready for war. According to the French weekly Le Point, France is preparing to send in special forces, to be joined by others from the US, UK and other NATO countries.
As if to confirm this, the German paper Suddeutsche Zeitung tells us that NATO's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a Dane but as always in the pocket of NATO's heavyweights, is trying to get foreign ministers of various European countries comfortable with the idea of intervention in Syria. Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and the Czech Republic are among those apparently resisting this inexorable force.
Letting someone like Rasmussen take the lead is an old trick. The US and Britain, sometimes with France or another country in league, prefer using surrogates to very gradually acclimate other countries to the inevitable. They start with some humanitarian point which may not even be a real one -- the idea that Syria is imminently going to gas its own people in order to cling to power. Once there is any kind of agreement on any point, then the objective is to gradually move the marker down the field, and before anyone realizes it, there you are at the end zone.