Five Part Series: 15th anniversary of 9/11, 2016
Building the Afghan Narrative with Black Propaganda; the People, the Process & the Product
By Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould
By definition, America's use of Psychological Warfare is described as the "The planned use of propaganda and other psychological actions having the primary purpose of influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior of hostile foreign groups in such a way as to support the achievement of national objectives." Of course this very definition is itself propaganda, a black lie which omits the fact that America's domestic population is just as often the target of psychological warfare as any "hostile foreign groups."
The state's use of psychological warfare to bend the population to war is as old, if not older than the existence of states themselves. But it was perhaps Nazi Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering whose statement while on trial at Nuremberg best summed up the cynical simplicity of the logic.
"Of course people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders, that is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger."
Psychological warfare in the form of propaganda comes in all shapes and sizes as well as shades of black, grey or white. America's coordinated use of psychological warfare began in earnest during World War II and ever since has grown and expanded into public relations, advertising, cinema, radio and television, electronic video games and now social media. Its pro-war boosterism extends over sports, religion, education, news and entertainment to form a seamless electronic cocoon-like web. It is employed on an ever growing list of those deemed as enemies of America as well as on a confused and agitated American public -- whose corporate news networks frame and manage an increasingly false narrative while engaging in a kind of Orwellian Kabuki Theatre of fairness and balance.
Americans were heavily propagandized to support a U.S. entry into World War II and again to accept the morality of deploying the atomic bomb to end it. Even Mickey Mouse was conscripted for America's total war effort along with the minds of America's youth. Following the war Americans were heavily propagandized to accept the Cold War, the need for maintaining a permanent army, navy and air force as well as the buildup of a nuclear weapons arsenal.
Since 9/11 Americans have been bathed in psychological warfare on Islamic terrorism, but so much evidence has emerged linking that terrorism to covert U.S. policy goals, tha the propaganda value has backfired.
The Bush administration can take credit for breaking the system in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, by using fraudulent claims as a pretext for the invasion. But for reasons that defy logic, the U.S. government continues to employ these methods despite them having been shown time and again to be fraudulent.
One has only to look to the U.S. role in Afghanistan in the 1970s to understand the background of the current crisis in American thinking; but without reexamining the real purpose behind America's long term involvement, today's disinformation wars will remain imponderable.
The origins of Washington's war in Afghanistan have always been strategic, long term and particularly black, obscured throughout the Cold War by a narrative adapted from Britain's 19thcentury colonial expansion in India.
After a fruitless effort in Vietnam in the 1950s and 1960s, America's psychological warfare campaign shifted its attention to Central Asia in 1973, when Afghanistan's king was overthrown by his brother in law and cousin, Mohammed Daoud. Aided by the Parcham faction of the Marxist/Leninist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), Daoud's takeover fit neatly into Washington's anti-communist manifesto, despite his overwhelmingly nationalist credentials. The role of the Communist party meant so little to the U.S. media at the time that it remained invisible in both Time and Newsweek's published reports of the coup. But to U.S. ambassador Robert G. Neumann, the presence of the PDPA meant that a "limited Great Game" with the Soviet Union was now back in play.