War Propaganda and the State
R. Cort Kirkwood
by R. Cort Kirkwood
killing of Saddam Hussein's sons occasioned another farrago of propaganda
from the War Party.
deed done, we heard, pro-Saddam "guerillas" would stop murdering
American occupation troops. The "guerillas" immediately murdered
three boys from the Army's storied 101st Airborne.
was propaganda of the moment to justify the war at hand. Over the
years, however, a more insidious cant has gnarled the American mind:
When American troops fight, they always fight to "defend our freedom."
a naked lie requiring puerile innocence to believe. But we never
stop hearing it.
some recent mail about my
touchy column on mothers in the military.
than one correspondent wrote that journalists are lucky American
soldiers man the global ramparts to protect free speech. Aghast
that journalists exercise that right, they insisted that American
misadventures in such remote places as Bosnia and Iraq guard the
unpatriotic Fourth Estate from a dark night of censorship.
broader corollary suggestion was that American expeditionary forces
defend American freedom in general. Apparently, when American troops
grapple with outlaw Serbian thugs, Somali warlords and Arab dictators,
they are stopping the barbarian hordes from sailing into the Chesapeake
Bay and marching on the capital city.
groups propagate this mythology, acceptance of which must be total.
Anyone who disagrees is ungrateful and unpatriotic.
hard and unpopular as it is to say, this received wisdom is preposterous.
troops in Iraq are not protecting our right to free speech or civil
liberties. Nor did the first Gulf War.
of others? Perhaps we might conclude likewise about Vietnam and
Korea, although at least we fought a Communist menace that subjugated
half the planet and promised same for the United States. Then again,
we lost both, with no apparent diminution of our conventionally
War II? We can say the Axis hit first, but that truth leaves an
important question unanswered: Was the United States ever in danger
of imminent invasion? No.
War I? A total waste of life, but Americans happily warbled the
refrain of Cohan's "Over There."
truth is, American presidents have always been a monumentally greater
threat to free speech and civil liberties than foreign enemies.
The police-state tactics of Lincoln, Wilson, FDR and now George
W. Bush well prove it.
it this way: An Iraqi has never threatened to kill me over a controversial
column. An American has.
purpose of propaganda is to engender worship of the military to
believes the troops fight for our freedoms; critics are seditious.
We cannot question "our commander-in-chief," although he lied about
the reason for going to war. Sound familiar?
isn't patriotism, it's nationalism and jingoism. Admiration is one
thing, but uncritical worship and lies about "protecting our freedom"
are another, the point not being to diminish the oft-bloody sacrifice
of Americans who bravely serve.
die, often in great agony; they suffer irreparable physical and
mental wounds. They deserve undying gratitude.
lying about why they die, or why they serve, cheapens their sacrifice
and obscures their valor and heroism. It also invites needless sacrifice
and death, such as what we witness in Iraq.
dangerous result of war propaganda is unreflective sentiment and
blind obedience to a State that endangers our liberties far more
than a second-rate military power.
columnist R. Cort Kirkwood [send
him mail] is managing editor of the Daily News-Record
in Harrisonburg, Va.
© 2003 LewRockwell.com
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