Most people know that Iran, Russia and Venezuela all have vast oil reserves. And, they also know that Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are on Washington’s “enemies list.” So, why is it so hard for them to connect the dots? Can’t they see that the media only demonizes the leaders that stand in the way of the corporate agenda? If Iran’s biggest export was pistachios (rather than oil), no one in America would have ever heard of Ahmadinejad. Instead, every time poor guy makes the slightest miscue, his face is splashed across the front pages of US newspapers.
Chavez doesn’t have horns any more than Ahmadinejad has a pointy tail. It’s just propaganda cooked up by the media.
Israel has been itching for a fight with Iran for a decade. Everyone knows this. Still, “Joe Sixpack” still thinks that Iran is the “bad guy,” and that the Mullahs are secretly building atomic bombs so they can go to war with a country that has over 200 nuclear weapons. This is ridiculous. Iran’s not suicidal.
Of course, when the case is presented like this, people can see how crazy it really is. But then–half an hour later–they flip on the TV and hear the same lies over and over again and start to think that there’s some truth to it.
Edward L. Bernays figured it out a long time ago. In his book titled “Propaganda” Bernays argued that elites need to manage public perceptions to keep the masses in line. Here’s the opening passage from the book:
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized.” (Edward Bernays. Propaganda Liveright, 1928; Ig Publishing, 2004)
There you have it—lying is policy. Bernays believed that “engineering consent” was a better way to control behavior than violence. It’s easy to see how his theories eventually evolved into an entire industry–public relations.
Propaganda drowns out the truth; that’s how it works. It’s a way of saturating everything indiscriminately with the same lie over and over again. It’s ideological carpet-bombing. People know this, but they can’t resist. Eventually, the seed-thought takes root and grows wrapping its tentacles around the cortex leaving its victim mumbling the same mendacious gibberish that was broadcast just a half-hour earlier on the evening news.
The face of modern democracy is mostly public relations. Many people doubt that Presidents Obama or Bush have/had any real power at all. Would a two-year rookie senator with a background in community organizing really have been chosen to decide the fate of the world’s biggest empire? Would a man with Bush’s obvious limitations really be the one pulling the levers on issues of war and peace? It’s doubtful, but the farce goes on to preserve the illusion of “democracy.” The real power operates behind a curtain. The rest is public relations.
So, what do we really know about Iran that isn’t just PR-hype and lies?
What we know is that Iran poses no threat to the United States or Israel. None. The atomic watchdog agency, the IAEA, has said repeatedly that there’s “no evidence” that Iran has a nuclear weapons program or that Iran has diverted any of its low-enriched uranium to illicit activities. Iran is merely pursuing the peaceful use of nuclear energy to develop power plants which is explicitly approved under the terms of the NPT. In other words, Iran has kept its end of the bargain, whereas it antagonists (Israel and the US) have not.
So, should Iran cave in and allow itself to be bullied by the US and Israel or should it fight for its rights under the terms of the treaty?
Israel and the US know they don’t have a leg to stand. They know that Iran has been playing by the rules. That’s why they’ve concocted this ridiculous smear campaign against Ahmadinejad. That’s why we never read about “treaty obligations” or “compliance” in the media, just spurious accusations that Ahmadinejad is a religious fanatic, or Ahmadinejad is a anti-Semite, or Ahmadinejad wants to “wipe out” Israel or some other such nonsense. It’s all an attempt to divert attention from the fact that Iran sits on an ocean of oil and that Israel wants to expand its regional power. The rest is propaganda.
The same is true of Chavez. Chavez was the first world leader to offer to send food, medicine and doctors to the victims of Katrina. But no one heard about it, because it wasn’t reported in the US media. Bush rejected Chavez’s offer because Bush had other things in mind for the people of New Orleans. He wanted to test out his Nazi theories on martial law by cutting off vital supplies, and issuing “shoot to kill” orders for anyone suspected of looting. He wanted to herd thousands of poor, black people who lost their homes into the Superdome at gunpoint where they could live for nearly a week in squalid, prison-camp conditions, completely cutoff from the outside world.
Would the people have suffered as much if Chavez was in charge? Don’t bet on it.
Life has improved dramatically for ordinary working people under Chavez. According to economist Mark Weisbrot:
“The UN Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) found that Venezuela had reduced inequality by more than any other country in Latin America from 2002-2008, ending up with the most equal income distribution in the region.” (“The Venezuelan Economy: Media Sources Get it Wrong, Again”)
Washington hates Chavez because he’s raised living standards for the poor and because he won’t bow to the giant corporations. That’s why he’s pilloried in the media, because his socialist model of democracy doesn’t jibe with America’s smash-n-grab style of capitalism. Chavez has enacted land and oil industry reform, improved education and provided universal health care. He’s introduced job training, subsidies to single mothers, drug prevention programs, and assistance for recovering addicts. Illiteracy has been wiped out.
Chavez’s policies have reduced ignorance, poverty, and injustice. The list goes on and on. Venezuelans are more engaged in the political process than ever before. That scares Washington. US elites don’t want well-informed people participating in the political process. They believe that task should be left to the venal politicians chosen by corporate bosses and top-hat banksters. That’s why Chavez has to go. He’s given people hope for a better life.
Chavez’s social vision is at odds with the prevailing American/corporate view that allows Wall Street speculators to blow up the financial system without fear of reprisal, that permits big oil companies to despoil entire regions of the country and not be held accountable, and that allows lying politicians to drag the nation to a war with utter impunity. Chavez does not share that view nor does Ahmadinejad or Putin.
All three leaders would like nothing more than to get a break from America’s incessant meddling and belligerence. They don’t hate America and they are not our enemies. But they would like a little breather from the coups, the financial contagion, the kidnappings, the stolen elections, the propaganda, and the endless killing. Can you blame ‘em?