If anyone could match Goebbels' black arts of psychological warfare it was Cherne. In 1939 Cherne published a guide to industrial mobilization in Adjusting Your Business to War, prophetically forecasting the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 and on September 1st of that year completed a 3000-page report titled, Industrial Mobilization Plans for World War II, the very day that German troops crossed into Poland.
That same year Cherne asked an ambitious young prote'ge' named William J. Casey, the future director of the CIA, "How do you take a country like ours, stuck in depression, and convert it into an arsenal?" The answer was a highly profitable loose-leaf book called The War Coordinator. Operating through Freedom House and a second entity known as the International Rescue Committee, (IRC) Cherne and Casey's psychological-warfare campaign would ultimately transform universally held concepts like Freedom, Justice and Truth into exclusive American brands, which over decades of repetition and reinforcement would grow into the now sacred axioms of American exceptionalism.
Over the decades following World War II Cherne would attract the most powerful and influential figures in American business and politics to his causes. A listing of Freedom House trustees on its 50th anniversary in 1991 includes people as diverse as Andrew Young, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Albert Shanker, Donald Rumsfeld and James Woolsey. It has since become an exclusive clearinghouse for the neoconservative's international agenda.
Freedom House's narrative is no less than the narrative of the American century where, "It has fought on the side of freedom and against aggressors in struggles that can be evoked by simple words and phrases: the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine, NATO, Hungarian Freedom Fighters, the Berlin Wall, the Prague Spring..." and of course Afghanistan.
We experienced Freedom House's profound influence on the major media in the spring of 1983 in a televised Nightline program following a trip to Afghanistan with Harvard Negotiation Project Director Roger Fisher. We had brought Fisher to Afghanistan to explore the possibilities of a Soviet withdrawal of forces and discovered the Soviets were desperate to get out. But instead of expanding on Fisher's expert opinions about Soviet intentions, host Ted Koppel steered the discussion toward the CIA-backed Mujahideen by introducing a political officer of the Jamaat-i Islami, which Koppel described as "an anti-communist resistance group based in Pakistan... here in the United States under the auspices of two American organizations, concerned with democracy in Afghanistan, the Afghan Relief Committee and Freedom House."
Had Koppel and Freedom House really been concerned about democracy in Afghanistan, they would never have chosen the Jamaat-i Islami. Originally founded by the Pakistani theologian Abul Ala Maudidi in 1941, the Jamaat-i Islami's primary concern was not about democracy but replacing western-style democracy with an extremist Islamic Society.
According to testimony of Freedom House's Rosanne Klass at a congressional hearing in February 1988, Freedom House's real concern wasn't about ending the conflict in Afghanistan at all but about keeping the Soviet Union tied down indefinitely. So, Nightline's challenge to Roger Fisher's evidence of a Soviet willingness to leave Afghanistan in 1983 and its choice of the Jamaat-i Islami could only have been intended to discredit Soviet intentions and the potential for peace in Afghanistan.
In 1939 Leo Cherne and William Casey set out to wage a war of disinformation on Germany and Japan. When that war was over they turned their campaign onto the Soviet Union. Then in 1981 - after they'd helped to stoke up a disinformation campaign surrounding events in Afghanistan - CIA Director William Casey told the President of the United States, "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false."
Fifteen years ago on 9/11, the product of Leo Cherne and William Casey's disinformation war came home to America. Americans couldn't know what had just happened and still can't know because everything they'd been hearing for decades about the Soviet Union, about Afghanistan and Ronald Reagan's fiercely religious freedom fighters was admittedly false. By September of 2001 both men had passed on, but the false narrative where the lie became the truth and the truth became the enemy of the state lives on today. It comes as a steady flow of false information about America's latest enemies floods American minds as never before.
How did the American political system and foreign-policy apparatus become enslaved by a demented political class whose only recourse is to prepare for a third World War that can never be won? How can the American people defend themselves against a lie they would rather accept than face the stark truth that lives within our society like a cancer? Join us, as we explain how this dilemma came to be, who the players are and what they really want in the next installment of Psychological Warfare and the American Mind.
Copyright 2016 Fitzgerald & Gould All rights reserved
Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould are the authors of Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story, Crossing Zero The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire, and The Voice. For more information visit their websites at invisiblehistory and grailwerk.
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