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Issue #1657      September 24, 2014

Culture & Life

From the other USA

Because of the power of the monopoly media, who despite their differences usually speak as one on important issues (especially those affecting their class power), we tend to think of the USA as a monolith that speaks with a uniform voice, the voice of imperialism. This view overlooks the vibrant and hardworking (if highly disunited) opposition in the US, an opposition much of which sees itself as Marxist despite decades of anti-Communist propaganda.

The articles from which I sourced last week’s Culture & Life generated some interesting comments from people who read the original material on the Common Dreams website and made the essential links to other examples of US imperialism’s lies and propaganda. For instance, someone calling himself Kepler93, referring to ads on American TV showing US Navy warships breasting the waves accompanied by the superimposed slogan “A Force for Good”, noted that “They had to re-brand [the Navy] after blanketing Baghdad and its public utilities with Tomahawks in the shock and awe attack on Iraqi society. Never mind that the government that controls it is anything but a force for good, but a good propagandist sells the sizzle rather than the rancid steak.”

Apparently enough people reacted poorly to the “Force For Good” slogan that the Pentagon subsequently changed it: Now the US Navy’s ads show an aircraft carrier and flash in its wake the slogan: “100% on watch!” (Against attack by the ISIL navy, no doubt.)

And reader Tom Carberry added the sardonic suggestion: “The US military pays soldiers so little many have to seek food stamps and housing assistance (like Walmart employees in uniform). The soldiers act like a Potemkin village to convince citizens of the legitimacy of perpetual war for corporate profit. Instead of the Pentagon getting a huge cut out of the military budget, why not just give the money directly to corporations? Think of all the money we would save in military salaries and pensions.”

Kepler93 also pointed out another trick of present-day US propagandists, that of referring to everyone who “serves” in the military as a hero. Distinguishing between the actions of a mercenary army and those who risk their lives for ordinary people, Kepler93 says: “As far as I know, there are very few true military heroes. The only people who I can say come even close to being heroes are people who become firefighters.”

And a rather cynical Maxwell Tom Carberry put forward the ironic view that “the time has come for all citizens to be required to directly purchase weapons from the various suppliers.” This boost for militarism could be supported, he suggests, by “hand grenade giveaways and tickets to one happy winner of an Abrams Tank” during the half-time shows at football games and the like. Taking the idea even further he suggests that “to get your drivers’ licenses and insurance cards you would now have to provide proof of your weapons purchases.” A Republican controlled Congress would, he thinks, “be all over this and the Dems would eagerly get on board albeit with ‘some precaution for infants’ and calls for labeling.” [I noted he was cynical.]

With the US relying more and more on mercenary proxy armies (as in Syria, Libya and now Iraq, not to mention parts of southern Africa and Latin America), a reader with the pseudonym RedRavenSounds raised the fanciful if intriguing idea: “The thing about a mercenary army, is that it is an army for hire. What happens if some other country (one that might perhaps have a positive cash flow) wants to hire said army for hire, for double or triple what they are getting currently – and turn it against the country that had hired them originally?”

And reader minitrue took that idea a step further: “Another thing to think of: what often happens when the employer can’t meet the mercenary payroll? Probably the same thing that happens to the guy who can’t pay his loan shark.” That prompted this succinct response from a reader identified as nicho: “You could refer to The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Mercenary armies, religion-dominated government, overextending of the empire, environmental degradation.”

To which reader TR added the further comparison with the USA today where so many people are dependent on food stamps and soup kitchens: “And amidst all that, one of the few things that actually helped to keep Rome from falling apart so fast was the monthly bread ration. Without the bread ration, the mob in Rome would likely have rioted constantly.” Keeping this analogy going, Kapricorn4 noted that “Food stamps and TV fulfill much the same function as bread and circuses.”

RedRavenSounds responded by pointing out that the US military-industrial-complex (MIC) learned its lessons in the Vietnam War when massive US ground-troop involvement was all played out in full view of the tele-visual media. “The horror show we have now is a result of the lessons learned from SE Asia.”

To which reader Maxwell added: “In Cambodia, Jimmy Carter and his national security aide, Zbigniew Brzezinski made an ‘untiring effort to find peaceful solutions’ by initiating a joint US-Thai operation in 1979 known as Task Force 80 which, for ten years, propped up the notorious Khmer Rouge under the all-purpose banner of anti-Communism. ‘Small wonder present US-originating stories about the Khmer Rouge end abruptly in 1979,’ says journalist Alexander Cockburn.

“Interestingly, just two years earlier, Carter displayed his ‘respect for human rights’ when he explained how the US owed no debt to Vietnam. He justified this belief because the ‘destruction was mutual’.”

Reader Jonny James felt it was time to cut to the chase, saying that something he calls “Neo-fascist inverted-totalitarianism” means “extorting the public, asset-stripping public infrastructure and giving huge amounts of wealth and finance to private interests. [Sounds like capitalism to me.] The parasites will not stop until the host collapses or dies.” [Yep, that’s capitalism.]

And the final word was added by reader Ned B: “Business and government working together closely to control the people. Isn’t that the definition of fascism?”

It’s certainly the definition of the USA.

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