Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 18, 2002
Me good, you bad propaganda reigns
St Augustine tells a story about a pirate who was captured by Alexander the Great.
"How dare you molest the sea?" asked Alexander.
"How dare you molest the world?" the pirate replied.
No doubt the pirate lost the argument, although St. Augustine thought his answer was "elegant and excellent".
In this brief exchange between the emperor and the pirate, we are made aware of the double standard we currently apply to the concept of international terrorism.
The term originally referred to the violent acts of oppressive governments designed to ensure widespread submission. Only in this century has the term been restricted to apply to the acts of groups or individuals who seek to address systemic injustice through violent protest.
State terrorism is euphemistically referred to as "retaliation" or "pre-emptive strikes".
The focus of Western foreign policy shifted from human rights to international terrorism when the U.S. administration committed itself to a transfer of resources from the rich to the poor, support for the expansion of military industrial technology through public subsidy and increased global intervention.
Such policy shifts can only be implemented in a democracy if a gullible public is properly frightened by the potential threat of demonic forces against which they must defend themselves.
During the Cold War, it was relatively easy to frighten the populace with the imminent threat of a communist take over. Latin American dictators had no scruples about accepting massive U.S. military aid to oppress their own populations.
Church teachings about divine authority and eternal rewards had conditioned the people to obey.
Graduates from the School of the Americas in Fort Benning made sure deviants were efficiently dispatched. When this occurred with greater frequency, the Church could no longer be relied upon as an ally.
In Western societies where such crude means of coercion are lacking, governments rely on propaganda to manipulate and control their populations. The theory is that you might not be able to fool all the people all the time, but you can fool most of them most of the time.
The "me good, you bad" manufacture of consent is big business.
The most scandalous example happened when the Emirate of Kuwait hired an American PR firm to employ the daughter of its ambassador to appear before congress to give false testimony about Iraqi soldiers dumping premature Kuwait babies out of incubators. This lie convinced the public such inhumanity had to be punished by an all out military attack.
The subsequent Western atrocities have been carefully sanitized for public consumption. Crimes against humanity, executed on our behalf during the last few decades, have been so under reported that presidents only have to demonize their next target to instigate a frenzy of patriotic fervour.
The days of Alexander are long gone. The one remaining emperor can move his troops and those of his vassals, to every corner of the globe and to the outer reaches of space.
The last rival was defeated in 1989. In search of a worthy enemy, the empire is preparing itself for the apocalyptic battle of good against evil.
The war on drugs was a failure, but linked with a resolve to wipe out terrorists, subversives, infidels and rogue nations who molest the "peaceable kingdom", the scenario provides plenty of opportunities for spectacular heroics.
I only wish St. Augustine was here to provide some background commentary.
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