"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

War Is Peace

Although 1984 was a Cold War document that dramatized the threat of the Soviet enemy, and has always been used mainly to serve Cold War political ends, it also contained the germs of a powerful critique of U.S. and Western practice. Orwell himself suggested such applications in his essay on "Politics and the English Language" and even more explicitly in a neglected Preface to Animal Farm. [1] But doublespeak and thought control are far more important in the West than Orwell indicated, often in subtle forms but sometimes as crudely as in 1984, and virtually every 1984 illustration of Ingsoc, Newspeak and Doublethink have numerous counterparts in what we may call Amcap, Amerigood, and Marketspeak. The Doublethink formulas "War Is Peace" and a "Ministry of Peace" were highlights of Newspeak. But even before Orwell published 1984, the U.S. "Department of War" had been renamed the "Department of Defense," reflecting the Amcap-Amerigood view that our military actions and war preparations are always defensive, reasonable responses to somebody else's provocations, and ultimately in the interest of peace....


“A good case can be made that propaganda is a more important means of social control in open societies like the United States than in closed societies like the late Soviet Union... This system of thought control is not centrally managed... It operates mainly by individual and market choices, with the frequent collective service to the national interest arising from common interests and internalised beliefs.” (Edward Herman)

World Tribunal? What World Tribunal?

Media Lens has detected a recent shift in media reporting. It is hard to quantify, but there is a palpable uneasiness amongst media professionals at the increasing rise of the ‘blogosphere’ and internet-based ‘alternative’ media sites. Joe and Jo Public are increasingly aware that the news and commentary distributed by the BBC, ITN, Channel 4 news and the liberal broadsheets, are protecting major war criminals in London and Washington.

A blanket of almost total media silence covers Bush and Blair’s crimes in Iraq, and their support for relentless corporate exploitation around the globe. These war criminals continue to be presented as world-straddling father figures who could “solve” poverty in Africa and so become the beloved figureheads of a “great generation”.

Consider that virtually the entire British media ignored the deliberations of the World Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul from June 24-27. Modelled on Bertrand Russell’s tribunal on the US invasion of Vietnam, the tribunal consisted of hearings into numerous aspects of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. A jury of conscience from ten different countries listened to the testimony of 54 advocates. This jury declared the war one of the most unjust in history:

“The Bush and Blair administrations blatantly ignored the massive opposition to the war expressed by millions of people around the world. They embarked upon one of the most unjust, immoral, and cowardly wars in history. The Anglo-American occupation of Iraq of the last 27 months has led to the destruction and devastation of the Iraqi state and society. Law and order have broken down completely, resulting in a pervasive lack of human security; the physical infrastructure is in shambles; the health care delivery system is a mess; the education system has ceased to function; there is massive environmental and ecological devastation; and, the cultural and archeological heritage of the Iraqi people has been desecrated.” (World Tribunal on Iraq, ‘Press Release about Jury Statement,' June 27, 2005)