8. Control of information
9. Enemy images
|5,000 years of increasing monopolization of the culture of war by the state|
The History of the Culture of War
To some extent media propaganda is directed by secret government infiltration of the media. Only once has the U.S. Congress held substantial hearings into government infiltration and manipulation of the media. This was the 1975 hearings of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the Church Committee after its chairman, Senator Frank Church. Few people would know about the Church Committee hearings were it not for an article by the reporter Carl Bernstein, although Bernstein's report was not accepted for publication by "main-line" media and he was only able to publish it in the alternative press, the Rolling Stone Magazine (see Bernstein 1977). The Bernstein article reveals that the Church Committee found extensive secret CIA infiltration of the mass media, including the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc. The data revealed by Bernstein and the Church Committee were only the tip of the iceberg, however. As Bernstein says, the Committee was blocked from going further with its investigation:
"Despite the evidence of widespread CIA use of journalists, the Senate Intelligence Committee and its staff decided against questioning any of the reporters, editors, publishers or broadcast executives whose relationships with the Agency are detailed in CIA files.
The mass media, in recent times, has been increasingly used as an important weapon of choice in what is called "psychological warfare." A particularly detailed description is provided by the article CIA Psychological Warfare Operations: Case Studies in Chile, Jamaica, and Nicaragua published by the psychologist Fred Landis in Science for the People Magazine, January/February 1982. Unfortunately, the article is not available on the Internet. It is rich in detail, and the following quotation gives only an overview:
"In the last decade, four American nations have chosen a socialist road to development. -- Chile, Jamaica, Nicaragua, and Grenada. In the first three cases the CIA responded, among other actions by virtually taking over the major newspaper in that country and using it as an instrument of destabilization . . "
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Landis article are the illustrations from the front pages of newspapers after they are taken over for psychological warfare. They headline stories of atrocities and violence that can only strike fear into the viewer. What is so remarkable is the extent to which these types of themes may be now be found the front pages of major "tabloid" newspapers and the screens of right wing television networks, not only in countries under attack, but in the countries of the North including North America and Europe. In these cases the media has become an agent of psychological warfare that instills a climate of fear in the average citizen, and as it has been said, "fear is the language of empire."
One particular way that the mass media supports the culture of war is to perpetuate the myth that warfare is inevitable because it is part of human nature. For some detail on this, see Adams (1989).
Enemy images have been promoted throughout history. After World War II, the main enemy images were those of the Cold War: the enemy of "godless communism" in the West, and the enemy of "capitalist imperialists" in the East. Those of us who opposed the Cold War found ourselves in opposition to an enormously complex propaganda machine that needed an enemy in order to justify national policies.
There was a remarkable moment at the end of the Cold War when, at a summit meeting, the Soviet premier Gorbachev told the American President Reagan that "I am going to deprive you of your enemy." At that point it became urgent for the West that a new enemy had to be found in order to justify the war machine.
The new enemy was found: the Islamic world. In an influential article in the journal Foreign Affairs, the Harvard professor Samuel Huntington came up with the phrase "clash of civilizations" that had been developed in his association with CIA think-tanks. And, after a few years, the new enemy image was reinforced by the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001.
Under the umbrella of these two sets of over-arching enemy images, there are dozens of other sets of enemy images related to local wars and histories of wars, ranging from Tutsi versus Hutu to Cuba versus the United States.
Enemy images are propagated by the mass media and educational systems, as described in other sections of this book, and they are so pervasive that we come to take them for granted, forgetting how they may have changed from one generation to another and how yesterdays' enemy has become today's ally.
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