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"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up."

Arthur Koestler 

Entries in Propaganda (98)

Friday
Feb032012

Lusitania 

Although President Wilson campaigned on the slogan “He kept us out of the war,” in fact he wanted the US to be involved. He was constantly offering to mediate, an offer that no one took seriously. After his reelection in Nov 1916, by April 1917 Wilson proposed war. He gave two reasons for the war, the attempt to get Mexico to attack the United States outlined in the Zimmerman Telegram, and the unrestricted submarine warfare Germany conducted around Great Britain.

One cannot always count on one’s opponents being stupid, but it does happen. The Zimmerman telegram intercepted by British Intelligence is a good example. This telegram proposed that if Mexico attacked America they could count on German support to claiming Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. There was no way that the Mexican government would ever try to attack the United States, no matter what encouragements were offered by Germany. In a final act of stupidity, Ambassador Zimmerman actually admitted that he had written the telegram proposing that Mexico attack. If there ever is a Hall of Shame for dumb politicians, Zimmerman will have his own exhibit, maybe even his own wing. 

The other reason for the war listed by Wilson was submarine warfare. An example of this was the sinking of the Lusitania. A history website tells us about it 

As always, there is more to the story than this. Near the start of the war in August 1914, the British, wanting to leverage the might of the Royal Navy, imposed a blockade of German ports. This blockage was very effective, causing starvation in Germany and the eventual deaths of 763,000 civilians, according to official statistics. Germany responded with the only advantage she had, which was her submarine service, the most advanced in the world. Germany declared the North Sea and the area around the British Isles a British “military area” and warned that any ships entering this area, including those from neutral countries, were subject to submarine attack.

While the sinking of the Lusitania killed over 1000 people, the British Navy killed far more with their blockade. How dare the “Hun” attack an innocent ship! 

Most passengers were unaware of two crucial facts about the Lusitania. First, she was secretly subsidized by the British government, and in return was built to meet with specifications to allow her to be converted to an Armed Merchant Cruiser if the need arose. She had magazines for powder and ammunition, and gun mounts concealed underneath her decks. Second, on her final voyage she was carrying contraband (military cargo), including 4.3 million rounds of Remington .303 cartridges, used in both rifles and machine guns. Passengers were not aware of the contraband, but the Germans, via their spy network, almost certainly were. In fact, the German Embassy in Washington took out an ad in the New York newspapers, warning people not to book passage on the Lusitania. The German notice was printed next to a Cunard Line advertisement for the voyage, and caused a stir. Many people took heed, and the Lusitania was only at about half capacity on the final voyage.

This is how propaganda works. Even when every word is true and accurate, it can still be false by only selectively citing what you want the public to hear. WWI was an easily avoidable war. The reason it happened was the division of Europe into sides or alliances. When a junior partner in the German alliance had their head of state assassinated, war became inevitable since Germany felt that an ally in the Austro-Hungarians was needed. Interestingly, Serbia, where the assassination took place, basically gave Austro-Hungary everything they wanted. It was not enough. 

As most historians will admit, like A.J.P. Taylor for example, WWII was directly caused by the horrid peace treaty of Versailles at the end of WWI. Once there is a “them” and an “us,” war can continue from generation to generation. 

This is how the media works. An incident happens and then it is twisted to serve the purpose of war. 

 

Wednesday
Feb012012

Remember The Maine. The Hell With Spain

Spanish CartoonOne of the better examples of a false flag operation is the sinking of the Maine in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898. The Spanish were immediately blamed after the explosion. No one knows what happened. The most likely explanation is that coal dust ignited. This caused a fire that exploded the munitions in the ship. The Spanish had zero reason to get the US more heavily involved in the Cuban revolt.  

Admiral Hyman G. Rickover investigated the explosion years later:  

Admiral Hyman G. Rickover became intrigued with the disaster and began a private investigation in 1974. Using information from the two official inquiries, newspapers, personal papers and information on the construction and ammunition of Maine it was concluded that the explosion was not caused by a mine. Instead spontaneous combustion of coal in the bunker next to magazine was speculated to be the most likely cause. The Admiral published a book about this investigation, How the Battleship Maine Was Destroyed, in 1976.

The Wreckage of the MaineThe first official Navy report blamed a mine. A second report, done after the war when no propaganda was needed, concluded that it was an internal explosion. Oops. 

As with 9-11, some concluded that the US Government sank its own ship. No one knows what happened. 

The explosion provided the needed slogan and propaganda for war. It does not matter how the explosion occurred. It served the purpose of justifying the war. (I have blogged about the Spanish American War before.)

The Media frenzy was manipulated: 

One of Remington's More Well Known WorksFrederic Remington, an artist hired by Hearst to provide illustrations to accompany a series of articles on the Cuban Revolution, soon became bored with seemingly peaceful Cuba and wired Hearst on January 1897:

"Everything is quiet. There is no trouble. There will be no war. I wish to return." To which Hearst's reply was: "Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war."

I had heard this story before but did not realize it was the famous artist Remington that Hearst hired. Propaganda is the purpose of Media, owned then as now by the wealthy. 

The war was very popular among Protestants in America—just as war is popular among evangelicals today. The Spanish being Catholic made them suspect in the popular prejudice. Islam being opposed to Israel is the current template by which everything is viewed and justified. To oppose Israel is to oppose God, they say. 

So here is the pattern we will see in the justification of war. An event is staged, or occurs and its importance exaggerated, and this is used to justify the desired war. The incident is used to inspire the patriotism of the masses, who will be needed to fight the war. This pattern will continue in the other incidents I will discuss.

The Front Page Of Hearst's New York Journal

Monday
Jan302012

War—What Is It Good For?

The answer to the question I posed in my title will be a series of posts over the next week or so. The answer is that it favors the elites that run the country. 

Goering at NuremburgHere is what Herman Goering, head of the German Air Force during WWII, said about it:

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

-- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

Since you can't really trust internet quotes, I checked and it appears that he did say this to a reporter at his trial at Nuremberg.

How did the Nazis lead the German people around by the nose? They used "false flags." Here is how Wikipedia describes a false flag operation:

False flag (aka Black Flag) operations are covert operations designed to deceive the public in such a way that the operations appear as though they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is flying the flag of a country other than one's own. False flag operations are not limited to war and counter-insurgency operations, and can be used in peace-time. 

Reichstag After WWIIIn 1933 an unemployed communist immigrant set fire to the German Parliament, the Reichstag. It is not clear if he acted alone or with others. It is not even clear if he actually set the fire. Many think that he was framed. It seems most likely that he did set the fire. What the Nazis did afterwards is what I am referring to. They used it as an excuse to suspend civil liberties. They arrested all prominent communists, including all communist members of the Reichstag itself. By coincidence, this gave the Nazis a majority in parliament. 

The fire was used by the Nazis to seize power. It was probably set by the communist acting alone, but that did not matter. It was the excuse that was needed by the Nazis to justify their actions. 

Of course if no handy arsonist happens to come along, one can be invented. This is what the Nazis did to justify their invasion of Poland. They invented attacks and border incidents. Here is how Wikipedia describes one such incident:

Much of what is known about the Gleiwitz incident comes from the sworn affidavit of Alfred Naujocks at the Nuremberg Trials. In his testimony, he states that he organized the incident under orders from Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Müller, the chief of the Gestapo.

On the night of 31 August 1939, a small group of German operatives, dressed in Polish uniforms and led by Naujocks,seized the Gleiwitz station and broadcast a short anti-German message in Polish (sources vary on the content of the message). The Germans' goal was to make the attack and the broadcast look like the work of anti-German Polish saboteurs.

To make the attack seem more convincing, the Germans brought in Franciszek Honiok, a German Silesian known for sympathizing with the Poles, who had been arrested the previous day by the Gestapo. Honiok was dressed to look like a saboteur; then killed by lethal injection, given gunshot wounds, and left dead at the scene, so that he appeared to have been killed while attacking the station. His corpse was subsequently presented as proof of the attack to the police and press. 

I have decided that it is not enough for me to assert that the public is being manipulated. I need to show how this manipulation has worked in history. Most of America's wars are based on false flags and propaganda. Sometimes these supposed incidents are invented. Sometimes the incident occurs. Sometimes the incident is forced on the other side to make them act first. The Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq all fit this pattern, as we will see over the next two weeks.

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