Waging Peace: Combatting War Propaganda and Propagandists (Part One)

Waging Peace: Combatting war propaganda and propagandists (Part One)

Calvin Mulligan October 25, 2023 (c) All rights reserved

“The first casualty of war is truth.” (Hiram Johnson)

The other war

Pick a war — any war — and you’ll find that apart from the kinetic war fought against an official enemy, another war is being fought every bit as intensely. The goal of this war is to capture the hearts and minds of the members of the public. This conflict pits committed peace seekers and truth seekers against the global Powers-That-Be (PTB), their war propagandists and their partisans. And like it or not, it’s this contest which ultimately determines how long the military conflict and blood shedding can be sustained.

The work of the war propagandist is fabricating a compelling narrative supported by sufficient lies, disinfo, false flags or other forms of theatre to secure a beachhead in the public mind. Our job, assuming you count yourself among the world’s peace warriors, is to expose them and their deceptions and reveal the truth to the world. We have serious work to do as history is replete with examples of our adversaries’ stunning successes — far too many in my lifetime alone. There’s one fabrication that I must never forget because its consequences were so devastating.

On October 10, 1990 and a seemingly traumatized young Kuwaiti girl testified in a quivering voice before the United States Human Rights Congressional Caucus regarding her first hand encounter with invading Iraqi soldiers. “…Nayirah claimed that after the Iraq invasion of Kuwait, she had witnessed atrocities at the hands of Iraqi soldiers. I recall recoiling at her gut-wrenching testimony: “They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators and left the children to die on the cold floor. It was horrifying”. Her story was corroborated by Amnesty International. Accounts of Iraqis pillaging Kuwaiti hospitals and brutally removing babies from incubators as they did so, had been advanced earlier by Kuwaiti officials in communication with the UN and President George Bush. The incubator story had legs and spread. The only problem was that subsequent investigation failed to uncover any evidence her story was true.

Some background is in order. Nayirah’s testimony was given under the guidance of PR firm Hill and Knowlton. H and K insisted that it had no reason to question her story (really?) and it just  “provided witnesses, wrote testimony, and coached the witnesses for effectiveness”. H and K had been hired by a Kuwaiti astroturf PR committee called the Citizens for a Free Kuwait. All in all, H and K collected $12 million for its services. In the run up to Nayirah’s testimony, H and K conducted focus groups to determine the best strategy to influence public opinion. The study found “that an emphasis on atrocities, particularly the incubator story, was the most effective.”

Bingo! The baby-incubator story was ultimately cited by American politicians and US media as justification for going to war in support of Kuwait. It was reported President Bush referenced the incubator story six times in subsequent speeches and seven senators cited the story as the reason for their voting to give the Bush administration authorization for the Gulf war. It wasn’t a new tactic per se as propaganda in one form or another has been used to ignite and justify wars (manufacture consent in the words of Herman and Chomsky) for decades before and after the Iraq-Kuwait war. (Vietnam War, War in Lebanon, Libya, Iraq 2, Yemen, Somalia, Syria and the recent NATO proxy war with Russia in the Ukraine.) Does anyone seriously believe we can end wars without exposing the audacious deceptions of war propagandists?

When will they ever learn?

It was telling, albeit disheartening to read last week that according to a CNBC survey conducted October 11-15th, “nearly three-quarters of Americans believe it is either somewhat or very important for the U.S. government to provide military aid to Israel in its war against Hamas.” Wow. Is this the same country that’s essentially bankrupt, where food bank lineups grow each month, the real estate market is crashing, and millions of middle class Americans struggle to make ends meet? Is this the America that describes itself as predominantly “Christian”? And is this the same America that’s been lured since 1990 into endless bloody wars in the Middle East courtesy of war propagandists and pawns like Nayirah?

The results of the CNBC survey clearly suggests that the war propagandists are winning the information war. I don’t know the demographic breakdown of the survey respondents, but certainly, my generation, Baby Boomers, should know better. We helped make Pete Seeger’s, “Where have all the flowers gone” an anthem of the the anti-war movement of the sixties. And yet, more than five decades later, the credulous sheeple are being mindlessly herded into the war-makers’ corral. Again I find myself asking the question Seeger posed in the song’s refrain: Oh when will they ever learn? Oh when will they ever learn?

Learn what?, you might ask. Well, we the propagandized seemingly have a lot of lessons to learn … about the PTB, their penchant for war-making, and the tactics of propagandists. Perhaps we might we also learn why or how it is that we are  played for fools time and time again. That would be a start. And then we might consider how we could become genuine peace warriors and bring an end to the mad marathon of war. Thank God, we have credible sources and inspiring examples to draw upon. One shining example of a true peace warrior is Canadian Graeme MacQueen, a McMaster University professor of peace studies and the man behind the movie, “Peace, War and 9/11”.

Lessons from the life and work of Graeme MacQueen

More than anything else, MacQueen’s life and work tell us that beyond attending peace rallies and summits, signing petitions and lobbying politicians, the peace warrior diligently exposes the deceptions of war propagandists and the war system they serve. During the last two years of his life, MacQueen collaborated with a colleague in producing a film revealing the results of his personal investigation of 9/11. As you may recall, 9/11 was presented to the public as a “Pearl Harbour”-like attack on America and justification for righteous vengeance against Arab terrorists.

Ironically, the comparison to Pearl Harbour is apt given that as MacQueen describes it, the original Peal harbour was a “managed” event designed to bring America into WWII. Similarly, 9/11 was orchestrated to sell a frightened American public the “War on Terror.” Unfortunately, the recent CNBC survey suggests that the public’s appetite for war propaganda remains unsatiated even today. The majority response to the conflicts in Ukraine and now Israel confirm’s MacQueen’s observation: “If you’re an uncritical flag waver, then you can be manipulated into doing anything.” And it seems that a majority of Americans have been deftly manipulated. Is there anything more disheartening than seeing unwitting family members, friends and colleagues being quietly herded into the MSM echo chamber and hearing the door click shut behind them?

Ignorance is no excuse for our continued complicity in wars orchestrated by the global PTB. Can’t we see that ultimately, it amounts to complicity in our own destruction — spiritually, economically and geo-politically. The dark magic whereby the PTB ignite the passions of the populace in order to fuel conflict is no longer a mystery. In fact, their methods have remained largely unchanged for decades, presumably because they work so well.

Logically, the training of any warrior begins with a study of the enemy and his methods. One could start with viewing the MacQueen’s documentary, “Peace, War and 9/11” narrated by MacQueen himself (Link). Among other things, it teaches us that war-makers aren’t interested in the truth or the public interest. And when official war narratives are held up for scrutiny, they shatter like glass given the lack of evidence.

Another useful source for the instruction of the aspiring peace warrior is a book entitled: War and Antiwar: Making sense of the global chaos (1993), by Alvin and Heidi Toffler. The book describes six common tactics employed by the masters of perception management. The six constitute a powerful analytic lens for assessing mainstream news reports on any war including the latest ones. Those equipped with this lens will be able to readily differentiate between even-handed, objective reporting and skewed partisan promotion of an official war narrative.

To Be Continued. Next: The devil’s craft: Perception management

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