Have you heard of “perception management”? Simply put, it means persuasion on the basis not of facts but of lies (or suppression of facts).
During the 1980s, Reagan decided to “kick the Vietnam syndrome“, a condition from which the US public was suffering, sick to the heart of the horror and shame of the Vietnam war, so that future presidents would find it very difficult to pursue the nation’s foreign policy goal of maintaining global hegemony.
In Reagan’s case, the challenge was to convince the US public to support US martial activities in Central America. As Robert Parry subsequently wrote (in 2014):
In that sense, propaganda in pursuit of foreign policy goals would trump the democratic ideal of an informed electorate. The point would be not to honestly inform the American people about events around the world but to manage their perceptions by ramping up fear in some cases and defusing outrage in others – depending on the U.S. government’s needs.https://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/12/30/endless-war-and-victory-perception-management
Various tactics were used, one of them being:
to weed out American reporters who uncovered facts that undercut the desired public images. As part of that effort, the administration attacked New York Times correspondent Raymond Bonner for disclosing the Salvadoran regime’s massacre of about 800 men, women and children in the village of El Mozote in northeast El Salvador in December 1981. Accuracy in Media and conservative news organizations, such as The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, joined in pummeling Bonner, who was soon ousted from his job.Ibid
During its wars, the US Government found new ways of limiting television viewers’ insight:
One solution involved imposing strict control over the movements of journalists. The government could no longer afford to allow – as it had in Vietnam – enterprising reporters to run around the battlefield, going wherever they wanted and speaking with whomever they pleased.https://theconversation.com/how-the-pentagon-tried-to-cure-america-of-its-vietnam-syndrome-83682
An important group targeted by perception management consisted of the many who were saddened and shocked by revelations of crimes against humanity. We have therefore been seeing, with increasing frequency, the waging of what Joseph Darda calls “humanitarian wars”. In his paper Kicking the Vietnam Syndrome Narrative: Human Rights, the Nayirah Testimony, and the Gulf War, he quotes George Bush, who in 1990 was preparing for yet another war:
With a war on the horizon, Bush took the proclamation [his own presidential proclamation designating December 10 as Human Rights Day] as an opportunity to situate the looming Gulf War in a human rights context. “In a world where human rights are routinely denied in too many lands,” he observed, “nowhere is that situation more tragic and more urgent today than in Kuwait.” Listing the atrocities reportedly committed by Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait, Bush concluded, “As long as such assaults occur, as long as inhumane regimes deny basic human rights, our work is not done.” The Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait was not merely a threat to Kuwaiti sovereignty but also, Bush alleged, a threat to the sanctity of human rights everywhere. Americans could not feel secure in their own liberal rights until these rights were restored to the citizens of this small, oil-rich state in the Persian Gulf. Thus, the United States’ intervention in the Middle East was not really a war but, as Bush continually stressed that fall and winter, a unified “stand in defense of peace and freedom.”https://josephdarda.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/darda-kicking-the-vietnam-syndrome-narrative-human-rights-the-nayirah-testimony-and-the-gulf-war.pdf
Next, I quote someone who appreciated George Bush’s appeal to humanitarianism. On the face of it, he sounds like a humane fellow. Only the name of the source, (hoover.org) gives us pause:
The Bush administration made its case for military action, and, after considerable debate, the American people, through their representatives in Congress, gave approval. The administration also made its case to the United Nations, highlighting the damage that inaction would inflict on prospects for peace in the long term.
Although the dangers of careless military activism are easy to imagine, the cost of passivity is more difficult to discern. In the 1990s, the Vietnam syndrome helped delay and limit U.S. military intervention in the Balkans. Those delays and limits extended murderous Serbian repression and actually accelerated ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Failure to intervene militarily often permits humanitarian crises to continue and leads to more dangerous conflicts.https://www.hoover.org/research/kicking-vietnam-syndrome
I have previously written about the bombing to kingdom come of Libya, a vicious NATO operation performed allegedly to protect demonstrators. This was definitely a case of successful perception management, since the public hardly raised an eyebrow at the devastation in NATO’s wake.
Of course, one very important reason to go to war is “self defence”. For some years now, the USA has been spreading its network of military bases in the Far East – obviously for “self-defence” (in case the humanitarian plight of the Uighurs fails to capture sufficient public sympathy). I quote Glenn Greenwald, mocking the self-defence rationale:
I was looking at a video earlier today of George Bush and others saying that the reason we had to go fight in Iraq and invade Iraq is that we’d rather fight them over there than fight them over here. And I saw a video earlier today of California Democrat Adam Schiff saying exactly the same thing about the U.S. proxy war in Ukraine. Namely, the reason we must fight Russia over in Ukraine is that, if we don’t, we’ll have to fight them over here. Presumably, the Russian army is on the verge of attacking the American homeland right after it gets done trying to hold a town or two for more than three months in Ukraine, confident that it can conquer the American homeland, despite spending 1/15 in its military of what the United States spends.https://rumble.com/GGreenwald (Sorry, I failed to take a note of the post)
More recently, “freedom and democracy” has supplanted humanitarian justification of destabilisation activities – bellicose or otherwise. During the Euromaidan Protests, Senator John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator Chris Murphy visited Kiev to “show solidarity” to the demonstrators. McCain dined with opposition leaders, including members of the ultra right‐wing Svoboda Party, and later appeared on stage in Maidan Square during a mass rally. He stood shoulder to shoulder with Svoboda leader Oleg Tyagnibok.
John McCain — repeat: a US Senator — enthusiastically addressed the protesters — Ukrainian protesters in Ukraine, not in the USA:
Ukraine will make Europe better and Europe will make Ukraine better.
We are here to support your just cause, the sovereign right of Ukraine to determine its own destiny freely and independently. And the destiny you seek lies in Europe,https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/15/john-mccain-ukraine-protests-support-just-cause (bold text is my highlighting)
He told CNN:
What we’re trying to do is try to bring about a peaceful transition here, that would stop the violence and give the Ukrainian people what they unfortunately have not had, with different revolutions that have taken place – a real society. This is a grassroots revolution here – it’s been peaceful except when the government tried to crack down on them, and the government hasn’t tried that since.
I’m praising their ability and their desire to demonstrate peacefully for change that I think they deserve.Ibid (bold text is my highlighting)
Now, there is every reason to question how “peaceful” this so-called “peaceful transition” was. After all, quite a few protesters and some police officers were killed. We have been told that they were killed by officers defending (the Democratically elected) president Yanukovich. Apparently, the story is being compellingly disputed by Ukrainian-Canadian political scientist at the University of Ottawa, Ivan Katchanovski. Read the abstract of his paper and/or download it here.
However, his peer-reviewed paper has been ignored by mainstream media (which has proven its stalwart ignorance of late). It is truly quite fascinating. No less fascinating is the story of its suppression and the suppression of another of his papers, that of the 2014 Odessa massacre.
To conclude, for now, my exploration of applied perception management in Western foreign policy matters, I bring to your attention an investigative journalist’s address on March 24 this year, to the UN security council about the OPCW examination of the dreadful deaths by mysterious means in Douma, Syria, in April 2018.
So! The final OPCW report appears to have been a cover-up. For what? Why? What/who killed the victims in Douma?
There are still nearly 1000 US troops in Syria. What are they doing there? Who is currently controlling Syrian oil? What are the effects on the Syrian population of US sanctions?
Every day, to this day, Syrian civilians are being killed or maimed by land mines. And the nearly 20 Israeli attacks on Syria over the past year have not helped.
The regime change attempt in Syria was motivated and presented to the public as defence of human and civil rights. I put to you, though I cannot provide documentation — because investigative journalism is now becoming illegal in a growing number of “Democratic” countries — that the regime change attempt was largely orchestrated by the USA for reasons that are totally non-humanitarian. The result was death and devastation.
Meanwhile, the arms race is on, full speed. And the engines of perception management are running at maximum capacity.
Please do not bring any more children into this world. I put to you that bringing children into the world now is turning into an act of parental egoism, the victims of which will be those same children.