Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hearts and Minds: The Other War Our Government Has Been Waging

Ever wondered what happened to that other war, the one for “hearts and minds,” that our government has been fighting – what it is, whether or not we’re still in it, who it affects, and how the U.S. is faring? Though you may not realize it, this war is as real as the ones in the Middle East, despite its rhetorical camouflage, and it is one that affects us as much today as it does every other person on the planet, not just those in that war-torn region. Valentine’s Day seemed the perfect day to reflect on this war for our hearts and minds since, like the wars on terror and in Iraq and Afghanistan, it hasn’t gone away with the passing of the Bush Administration, as many of us had hoped it would, even though we were told explicitly that it never would. Here, I offer my thoughts somewhat belatedly (due to the inopportune yet predictable upper respiratory infection I somehow managed to acquire with, as usual, no predisposing factors other than my propensity to speak out against our fascist government).

The war for hearts and minds began with Bush’s creation of the innocuous sounding Office of Public Policy-cum-Diplomacy to replace his wartime communications office in 2001. Bush appointed Charlotte Beers, former head of advertising giants J. Walter Mather and Ogilvy, as undersecretary for public policy to head his Office of Diplomacy and turn America into an “elegant” brand (Time, November 14, 2001). Beers’ tenure was short. She resigned in March, 2003, and her office was a magnet for criticism. The GAO dutifully reported in September, 2003, that it had wasted millions of dollars, leading us to believe – rightly, or deliberately wrongly – that the agency was both ill-conceived and mismanaged and might therefore soon go the way of the Dodo bird. Even still the programs Beers initiated – some known, such as Radio Sawa, and some not, as the way propaganda goes – still exist and are now managed by the Office of Global Communications (New York Times, March 3, 2003; Counterpunch, August 13, 2003; Rich, 2006, pp. 31-32; Guardian, July 31, 2002). The only thing we know for sure is that this White-House-directed office still exists. ''He [Bush] told us that we were going to be at this for a long, long time,'' one participant in the February 19, 2002, meeting that established the then unnamed Office of Diplomacy said, ''that we were setting a template for future presidents, that we had to think big, strategic, historic thoughts.'' (New York Times, February 20, 2002) Now, everyone knows that radio was used by the Axis powers during World War II, but we hear little about the Allies’ formidable counterparts in its own broadcasting propaganda machine. “Axis Sally” and “Tokyo Rose” are probably the most famous radio personalities that figure in our collective consciousness of the bad guys’ wartime spin to build their esteem in the minds of those whom they conquered as well as to discourage Allied soldiers by inflating their battlefield successes and minimizing the Allies’ triumphs. But such propaganda tools weren’t unique to the Axis powers, and they did have their American counterparts. American propaganda has come a long way in the last fifty or so years, thanks to the burgeoning spy technology industries and campaigns to keep you ignorant of these technologies, which have been developed using and deployed against U.S. citizens. Your government has so much power working to create a fantastical vision of the United States in the collective consciousness, we might as well live in Duloc. Since we can’t, it would behoove us to look at some of the tools our government uses in this other never-ending war in case we ever find ourselves sick and tired of living in a fantasy world where none of us is free (as we do today). First, though, let's review the history of politicians' use of the hearts and minds imagery and why they continue to use it.

Digby gives us a terrific summation of the evolution of the use of the hearts and mindsrhetoric, including it’s transition from a rallying cry for revolutionaries to propaganda used to pacify “counter-insurgents.”

Founding Father John Adams first used the terms "hearts” and “minds” together to describe the American revolution, when he wrote to his fellow subjugated citizens of the British empire to persuade those yet unconvinced of the need for revolution, “. . . in the minds and hearts of the people, a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations.” One hundred sixty years later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt then used the term “hearts and minds of the people” to rally a dispirited country in the midst of the depression. “In these days it [national unity] means to me a union not only of the states, but a union of the hearts and minds of the people in all the states and their many interests and purposes, devoted with unity to the human welfare of our country.”

British Gen. Sir Gerald Templer was the first to invoke the sense of mission to subjugate those under British colonial rule to its will using the hearts and minds rhetoric in its contemporary counter-revolutionary sense, when he discusses his strategy for victory over Malayan rebel forces during the Malayan Emergency in June, 1952. “The answer [to conquering the counter-insurgents] rests in the hearts and minds of the Malayan people.” In 1965, Lyndon Johnson was the first American president to use the hearts and minds counter-revolutionary rhetoric to speak about dividing the populace in Southeast Asia to curb communism: “. . . ultimate victory [in Vietnam] will depend upon the hearts and the minds of the Vietnamese,” he declared.  When you hear an American president use the "hearts and minds" rhetoric today, what he is actually doing is dividing insurgents from counter-insurgents - us from them - usually, the exact opposite of his hypocritcal profession of unifying the country.

Though our forefathers used the phrase, “hearts and minds,” in a much different manner than we see our leaders using the phrase today, both groups of men understood the things for which they were using the symbol of the heart and the symbol of the mind to be will and consciousness, respectively – that motive force that underlies all human activity and the integrative factor that puts it to use when the external world impinges on one’s interpersonal one. Hearts and minds. Will and consciousness. Rhetoric decoded.

Today’s American war for hearts and minds, or will and consciousness, officially began long before the invasion of Iraq and is, as a PSYOP program designed by the CIA and implemented by the U.S. military throughout the world, including our own country, a cornerstone of training for the new Iraqi security forces. But it’s also a lot more. In “A Nation Challenged: Hearts and Minds” Elizabeth Becker and James Dao write that President Bush’s decision to transform his White House Office of Wartime Communications into a permanent Office of Global Diplomacy was based on his objective “to spread a positive image of the United States around the world and combat anti-Americanism, . . . “ [emph. added; New York Times, February 20, 2002], and combat is exactly in what it is engaged. That's why PSYOP was developed by our military -- the people in charge of combat.

We already know the classic PSYOP measures used by our government to combat those opposed to its warmongering, including covert counterintelligence against American citizens. Today’s hearts and minds campaign is waged no differently, and, in fact, Bush tells us that himself: “. . . [its] major goal, officials said, is to stem what the White House sees as a rising tide of anti-Americanism” by use of “the media, the Internet and a range of covert operations to try to influence public opinion and government policy abroad, including in friendly nations.” [emph. added; New York Times, February 20, 2002] Certainly, there can be no friendlier nation to America than itself, and those of its citizens who appear unfriendly to the government, Bush also tells us, are as likely to become our government’s targets as any Arab, Iraqi or other: “If you’re not with us, you’re with the terrorists.” That was our Commander-in-Chief’s declaration of war against our nation’s very own citizens – against you, should your will and consciousness happen to be in opposition to those of him and his cabal.

To most of my regular readers, these things will come as no surprise. I’ve reiterated the how’s and wherefore’s of our targeting over and over again, though it’s hardly necessary for me to have done so. To those new to this blog and unaware of the extent of the fascist repression we suffer at the hands of our government and its minions, much of what is recounted here may be difficult to believe, which is why I try to include as many references to others’ work as possible. But fascism, as a phenomenon, is hardly new, and it has its distinct hallmarks, all of which can be seen to exist in the current, as well as former, administrations, such as the Office of Global Communications.

We’ve already seen how propaganda was used during World War II to craft the perception of military superiority of each combat force, but consider that our image of fascism today is inextricably linked to that period of world history. One can’t go a single day without finding a program on Hitler, or Nazi Germany, or their white supremacist legatees, the skinhead gangs, while flipping through the cable channels: Hitler and the Occult, Hitler’s Managers, The Last Days of the Third Reich, The Hunt for Hitler. If it’s not on The History Channel, it’s on the Discovery Channel, or Biography, or the FBI channel, or the military channel. Because the picture of the archetypal fascist is Hitler, and because this particular image is omnipresent, when you think fascist, you think Nazi. But that’s not all you think. You also think, when you see this flood of Nazi history, that fascism is a problem relegated to the now very distant mid-20th century European history books, and that we good Americans defeated it. And that’s the most successful propaganda out there today because fascism is still very much alive. Fascism has never gone away, just as it’s never been the exclusive province of Europeans. Your government propagandists know that mind persists, and they want to give yours no opportunity to reflect on evidence that fascism does as well, which is why they’ve been working so hard to persuade you that fascism isn’t here now, or that fascism exists here only in a nascent group of zealots waiting in the wings.

This essay is too little space to review all the propaganda related to our own dispiriting epoch, so we’ll move on to explore another of the techniques used in the war for hearts and minds by today’s American government, another of the hallmarks signifying its fascism. To do so, I’ll use not simply my own experience but the experience of others, too.

It was an unusually hot, mid-spring day in 2006, and I was at my city’s annual “peace fair,” an event this fascist regime stages every year to convince those of its deluded populace with the power to fight its corruption that it need not concern itself with how the city is run. I was reviewing the literature at one organization’s table when an elderly man sidled up next to me. We’ll call him Mario.

“The Bush Administration – it’s just like Hitler,” he grumbled, turning over a leaflet on the table in front of us. “Just like it.” I had trouble recalling what of late Bush had done to earn our condemnation; Congress had recently renewed the Patriot Act, which it did again in 2009. That’s the opus of the unmaking of America that most people who consider Bush comparable to Hitler cite as representative of his leading fascist characteristic, his propensity to use the judicial system to legitimate his undemocratic, inhumane and uncivilized policies. My face must have been a blank. He continued.

“When I was a boy, my parents moved back to the village in Italy from where they came, and when I was 16, the Nazis came. They said to me, ‘You will join us, and you will get one of your friends to join us, or we will shoot someone in your family every day until you do.’ What could we do? All of us boys went with them the next day – all of us, and many of the older men.”

Stalk, or be stalked.” Force is a common ploy used by today’s SS to recruit the populace – to win their “hearts” by bending the will of the people into alignment with theirs. These groups of vigilantes are contracted out by our government, and, like Blackwater in Iraq, operate under no hindrance of civil law. They incent landlords for access to targets’ dwellings so they can destroy, over long periods of time, furniture, furnishings, precious momentos. They even kill the targets’ family members. People who stalk willingly are certainly sociopaths, but to where can someone who refuses to do the bidding of stalkers turn? Who, after all, wants to lose members of their family? Civil law enforcement is certainly no help, nor are other government agencies, who stand feebly by, or even aid these SS-like vigilantes.

Sometimes, the incentive offered to citizens to persecute their law-abiding fellow citizens is less overt. Maybe your house needs aluminum siding, or you can’t seem to find the right fertility treatment to give you the family you’ve always wanted. ‘Gaslight one of our targets and -- presto! Here’s that great deal on siding, or the fertility regimen that actually works.’ Everyone wins – except the law-abiding target who’s doing nothing but trying to revive civil society.

That’s how the heart, or will, of those who may be opposed to our fascist American government is conquered by it. Now, to the minds.

We’ve already discussed some forms of broad messaging propaganda that is used by our government to convince us what it does around the world is noble, honest and freedom-enhancing (when, in actuality, it does all it can to undermine "democratic" governments who get in the way of big businesses). W even justified the invasion of Iraq to the United Nations General Assembly in September of 2005 by envisioning the transformation of the Middle East, a region of the world known for its political and civil repression of ordinary citizens but one that nevertheless did not attack the U.S., which used to be the only determinant for our Commander-in-Chief to declare war on a sovereign nation: “Across the world," Bush declared, "hearts and minds are opening to the message of human liberty as never before.” This is where W betrayed the real reason he and his cabal were anxious to conclude the transformation his father had begun but never finished – his fear that democracy would happen organically in strategic Middle Eastern countries, as it had erupted in Syria and Turkey, without the opportunity for him and his cabal to place their own factotums in the governments of those countries so they could refashion them in the image of the current American government's perverse idea of democracy.

TV and radio campaigns representing all manner of American falsehoods are broadcast all the time: the American military is a great career choice for your child; the economy is correcting; banks need bailouts. And when the ball of confusion is too much to think about, there’s endless sporting events and holidays to distract us. Panem et circenses. But some minds resist even the most pervasive messaging and require manipulation on a case-by-case basis, ensuring not simply that broad messages are received as intended but also, discrete ones as well. Mind, you will recall, persists, as our government well knows, and it is more supple than government would wish. Its nature indicates more measures for its taming than simple broad messaging such as TV ads and news story spin, which is why Bush warned his new cabinet officers in the Office of Global Communications they “. . . would be at this [propagandizing] for a long, long time.” Mind persists, and any message vying for its attention needs to persist as well.

Take the case of silent sound technology, which even advertising agencies use today, though you’d never know about this if you watched programs such as Jesse Ventura’s Conspiracy Theory. Silent sound, or holosonic audio spotlight, is sound delivered directly to the part of your brain that interprets audible sound but is completely inaudible.  Now, it's possible for you to be messaged in a library to be quiet, in a store to buy a particular product (or, at least, not to shoplift it), and if that wasn't bad enough, yes -- it's true -- there is technology that can actually read your thoughts remotely.  Ventura produced an episode of his show in 2009 on the Air Force’s HAARP program alleging it was developing similar capabilities in un-American secrecy (along with the capability to control the weather). The program contained not just outdated information but no information on the current use of silent sound. Sadly, it also contained out-and-out lies proffered by mind control expert, Nick Begich, who said our government began developing mind control technology in the “1960s” when it actually began studying LSD in the 1940s and brainwashing techniques in now famous cases in the 1950s. Begich, Ventura notes, is the brother and son of Congressmen and, as such, are as suspect in their work as is Ventura.

There is no doubt that the use of these last-enumerated technologies constitutes torture. The unwitting people upon whom their development has been tested are bioslaves, and those upon whom they have been used are political prisoners no different than Chinese nationals who were sent to reeducation camps by Chairman Mao, no matter where in the world their victimization takes place. Today, that group potentially includes us all, but so long as debates rage over whether water-boarding Arabs constitutes torture among human rights activists here and abroad, and people outside the United States shrug their shoulders and turn away from action that compels the United States to uphold the Geneva convention for terror suspects in their custody, those of us who’ve been targeted by our government for EM psychotronic torture don’t stand a chance in hell of gaining anyone’s notice, never mind, help.

So there you have it – the truth behind our government’s war for our hearts and minds, how they have been waging that war, and against whom. If all of this information is new to you, congratulations – you’ve been conquered by the highly successful war for our hearts and minds. Now all you have to do is ask yourself whether conquered is what you want to be, or you can simply give up, as so many Germans did during the Third Reich’s reign, and live with your Hitlers and the hell they will cause you.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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