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A 21st Century Cold War Calls for 21st Century Propaganda

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When it became apparent that U.S. global hegemony was being replaced by a multipolar world, the American ruling class decided it would be necessary to restart a 21st century cold war with Russia and China. Even before this new level of warfare became the priority, it was apparent to U.S. elites that if a long-term era of tensions between great powers were to be engaged in, it would require much greater governmental control over information provided to the domestic population.

This was the reasoning I believe the U.S. was using when it carried out the early-to-mid 2010s policies which have since led to a new cold war. The story of how the current cold war started follows in the same pattern as the run-up to the last one during the 1940s: the emergence of a threat to U.S. hegemony, a campaign to demonize Russia and its allies, and a period of escalating tensions, correlated with the creation of a new propaganda apparatus by the U.S. government.

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Expanding propaganda power to prepare for upcoming geopolitical maneuvers

To assemble the propaganda arsenal that it would need throughout the first cold war, the U.S. created the CIA, an unaccountable institution that began covertly influencing world politics from its founding in 1947. In 1948 the CIA created a covert action wing, called the Office of Policy Coordination, which was led by Wall Street lawyer Frank Wisner. The office's secret charter described its purposes as:

""propaganda, economic warfare, preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation procedures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world."

Through these tools, the CIA has since been spreading psychological operations (psyops) within American foreign propaganda outlets like Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia, as well as assimilating much of the American press through projects like Operation Mockingbird.

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With 2013's amendment of key parts of the Smith-Mundt Act, the government freed this propaganda network to covertly broadcast messages to the American people with official legal impunity. Prior to then, the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 had banned the domestic dissemination of U.S. government-produced propaganda. But when representatives Mac Thornberry and Adam Smith passed the "The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012" by slipping it into the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, a routine piece of legislation that gets voted on and signed annually, that restriction was lifted. On July 2nd of 2013, the government finally began spreading its propaganda messages under the new rules.

The change was immediately visible. In July of 2013, John Hudson of Foreign Policy reported that the U.S. had begun the "unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption." Since then, the repeal of the propaganda ban has created many strange and troubling trends for the American media, such as the emergence of a revolving door between intelligence officials and cable news stations, the government assimilation of formerly independent outlets like Vice News, and the enablement of Silicon Valley oligarchs like Jeff Bezos to partner with the military/intelligence complex while simultaneously exerting control over the media outlets they own (The Washington Post, in this case).

"Since 2013, newsrooms across the country, of both the mainstream and 'alternative' variety, have been notably skewed towards the official government narrative, with few outside a handful of independently-funded media outlets bothering to question those narratives' veracity", Whitney Webb of Mint Press News wrote last year about the propaganda ban repeal.

"While this has long been a reality for the Western media (see John Pilger's 2011 documentary 'The War You Don't See'), the use of government-approved narratives and sources from government-funded groups have become much more overt than in years past."

It's clear that the motivation behind the repeal of the ban was at least partly to get the U.S. government ready to manage a society which would soon be in an escalating state of great power conflict. In his initial press release on the bill, Thornberry said:

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"We continue to face a multitude of threats and we need to be able to counter them in a multitude of ways. Communication is among the most important. This outdated law ties the hands of America's diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible and transparent way. Congress has a responsibility to fix the situation."

At a moment when the U.S. empire was already in a state of rapid decline, and when Russia and China were subsequently turning into more effective perceived adversaries, I suspect this statement from a House neocon reflected a larger plan among the ruling class to create a propaganda apparatus for the coming new era of warfare.

Indeed, in the last six years it's been very much necessary for the U.S. empire to expand its efforts to control the sentiments of its own citizens. This recent escalation of government-engineered mass persuasion has involved not just propaganda, but censorship as well. And its emergence six years ago correlates with the U.S.-created proxy wars that started the new cold war.

The ramifications of the U.S. coup in Ukraine and regime change war in Syria

The fact that another cold war between the U.S. and Russia was imminent became clear when Washington began its latest attempt at regime change in Syria. In 2011, the terrorist groups that the U.S. had been arming and training started an ongoing campaign to destabilize Syria, having provoked armed conflict with the Syrian government in an attempt at violent revolt. Washington's proxy war on Syria was motivated both by a desire to advance Israel's interests, and by its larger-scale "need" to maintain control over Eurasia amid China's rise. Naturally, Russia's interests in Syria clashed with those of the U.S, and naturally this wouldn't be the end of Washington's provocations.

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Rainer Shea is writing articles that counter the propaganda of the capitalist/imperialist power establishment, and that help move us towards a socialist revolution.

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9 people are discussing this page, with 17 comments  Post Comment


lila york

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Right on all counts. THe FBI just issued a statement outlawing dissent - that is the upshot. A good start to undoing this atrocity is informing the public that they are being intentionally lied to and propagandized. 99% of the public would be shocked to know that.

Submitted on Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 at 2:22:25 PM

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lila york

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Next - we need to get the Smith Mundt Modernization Act nullifed and end the propagandizing of the public. Congress and the White House need to be informed that unless they do this, none of the 350 million of us will ever again believe a single word uttered by the government or any US news outlet spewing this garbage.

Submitted on Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 at 3:17:23 PM

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David William Pear

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It is heartening that such a young person such as Rainer could figured out what took me 50 plus years to learn. That means there is hope. His example needs to be studied to see how and why he did it, and use that information to turn other young (and old farts) heads (and butts) to the light.

Submitted on Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 at 5:07:43 PM

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lila york

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Reply to David William Pear:   New Content

I agree . But this knowledge requires immediate action on our part. If the Smith Mundt Act is not restored to its original purpose and propaganda is not outlawed, and the FBI statement criminalizing dissent is not revoked, we can all kiss our asses goodbye because America will be over.

Submitted on Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 at 5:23:27 PM

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Devil's Advocate

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Reply to lila york:   New Content

Trying to outlaw the blatant propaganda at this point might not even be possible.

Your government has legalized propaganda, and they obviously had a motive for doing this, and the desired effect has unfolded. Naturally, they're not just going to roll over and reverse Smith-Mundt. But even if they did...

The situation has already been so bastardized that all truth has been labeled as propaganda. Any new regulation of propaganda would just end up shutting out the truth anyway. And, they'll still have all the "authoritative" parties in place, deciding for everyone else what is "truth". (Naturally, it will be THEIR truth.)

This was likely another part of that desired effect. Not only will nothing change, but the truth could actually end up being literally against the law.

Submitted on Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 at 6:20:12 PM

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lila york

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My thinking is this - the American public was never notified of this law. CNN never mentioned it. There are probably not more than a handful of people who are aware that the government has been intentionally lying to the public and feeding the media false information to justify illegal wars and coups since 2012. Just as the US dollar rests solely on blind trust in its value, network news coverage and government pronouncements rest on trust in the truth of the statements. Once that is gone, the whole thing blows up. That is what is needed now. We need to find a way to get this information out in a huge way. Imagine if it were conclusively proven that Dick and Bibi planned the 911 attacks. And all of those soldiers died for a lie. All of those innocents in the towers died for a lie. What would that do to trust in government. We need a shakeup on that scale.

Submitted on Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 at 10:47:56 PM

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You'll get no argument from me on any of that. That's where the energy needs to be directed - waking up the masses!

Despite how everything looks right now, the flow of information cannot really be stopped. Some of it will, of course, have to "go underground" in a few small ways, but I think that is already what is starting to happen now.

People are waking up. People are ditching Facebook. People are beginning to learn how important encryption and decentralization are becoming to regaining their rights.

This effect will increase, as more people get pissed off with "Big Brother" and his "Thought Police" interfering in their speech, invading their privacy, and taking away their security.

Remember I said that with every step they take to improve their grip on our communications, they "out" themselves more and more as the liars they are. Any group helping them do this (I'm talking to you, Google, Facebook, and Twitter!) will be abandoned as quickly as they were first embraced.

Submitted on Monday, Aug 12, 2019 at 1:28:03 AM

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Rainer Shea

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It warms my heart to see that I've inspired you like this!

Submitted on Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 at 7:33:39 PM

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Please tell us what inspired you? Thank you so much!

Submitted on Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 at 9:30:26 PM

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Reply to David William Pear:   New Content

Obviously his bullshit detector is in full working order. Pity most Americans neither have one or know why they should.

Submitted on Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 at 9:50:35 PM

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Rainer Shea

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I got inspired to become a political writer after experiencing the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016. I've become disaffected from Sanders since then (he repeats all of the anti-Russia narratives that this article discusses), but the energy of the people who supported him continues to inspire me to make change. It shows me there are a lot of people in this country who want to fight the system.

Submitted on Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 at 11:29:36 PM

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Reply to David William Pear:   New Content

David, you know what? Ever since I first saw some of the writing of Rainer and looking at his picture I thought to myself, is this for real? Is he really that young? If so, how and why did he get to know what he does and how and why does he write so well. Anyway, that does not matter. He is who he is and he be what he be. In spite of the rather dreary things he writes about, I find it refreshing.

Submitted on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2019 at 7:24:17 AM

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b. sadie bailey

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Another exemplary piece of writing and thinking that is a pleasure to read, even while it lays out hard truths that seem to "surprise" or even "shock" most U.S. people; but for us, it's a breath of fresh air in an atmosphere of suffocating lies. I learn something new from every well-researched article that Rainer Shea writes.

Lila York is right about the need to seize the moment with no time to waste. The seeming hopelessness of the task makes it all the more imperative to try to educate people and help them wake up, as this articles and some of the people here on Op-Ed do. It's heartening that one so young understands what's going on and writes so lucidly, and also doesn't blame everyone over 60 for the problems we face today. The ongoing greed and injustices are part of a continuum, as are the voices speaking out against them.

Submitted on Sunday, Aug 11, 2019 at 10:44:38 PM

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Michael Dewey

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Seems to me America's fate and destiny is for the fruits Empire breaks enough American backs. Then society will wake up and demand all troops head back home. I've been calling for a year of jubilee party, since first reading of one in Isaiah 25 when the veil will be removed from all eyes. After that am quite sure them with insight from the 60's-70's peace and freedom dreams will shine brightly in Daniel 12:3 when given control of the TV. This Number Nine Dream is the about the swingtown way of life would like to see this broken promised land get down too and start exporting overseas with Thanks Giving Dinners of repainting sent to countries we have destroyed or who are most in need.

Submitted on Monday, Aug 12, 2019 at 1:17:37 PM

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Not much of a biblical dude here, but I do know much of it and quote the obvious when it applies (who knows which version, which language, or speaks the original language? All critical for anyone truly serious).

However, me being Daniel (seemingly forever in the lion's den!) had to look this one up:

Daniel 12:3 New International Version (NIV)

3 Those who are wise[a] will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. click here

I actually see this happening, with folks like Tulsi and Marianne speaking loud and clear, among many others.

P.S Meanwhile, I'm sure my devout Catholic mother had this in mind when she named me click here P.P.S. For the mathematically inclined, I was born on August 8, 1947 (when much was going on politically, to say the least). Assuming nine months from conception to birth, do the math and check the dates. I forget what prompted me to check this a few months ago, but knowing my long-gone mother, I wouldn't be surprised if it was intentionally timed. đŸ™„

Submitted on Monday, Aug 12, 2019 at 7:03:08 PM

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What was Dec 8th 1947?


I see others besides just Tulsi and Marianne with the right message. Many more will come from the Rock and Roll community. People we know and love so much we made them rich. Lots of it will be about learning to live as a brotherhood of mankind, which looks like giving people "space" can go a long ways. I don't mind using Bible stuff that certainly applies to these latter days, later than ever before. There are a whole bunch about better days that only take some walls come down to make reality.

Submitted on Monday, Aug 12, 2019 at 7:48:35 PM

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lila york

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I put together a brief call to action on this issue and linked to this article, which should be read by everyone.

Submitted on Monday, Aug 12, 2019 at 10:31:31 PM

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