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War and Torture

It is apparent that regardless of who is in power, conservative ideals are firmly entrenched not simply in the American psyche, but are an integral part of U.S. policies. One could blame liberals for not having a backbone when combating conservatives, but chances are that the real reason may be even more onerous; one likely explanation is governmental psychological warfare.

Why did Congress last week quietly approve almost another $100 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? Why are displaced Mexican migrants scapegoated for all the ills of U.S. society? Why does the United States escape blame for its insatiable thirst for drugs [in fueling the drug wars in Mexico]? Why is the United States always supposed to side with Israel, without ever having a debate? Why does “war as peace” continue to be U.S. policy?

With President Obama, things were supposed to be different; the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars were supposed to come to a screeching halt. Guantanamo would be immediately closed down and torture would unequivocally be denounced and those flouting U.S. and international laws would finally be held to account in a court of law.

Instead, we see vacillation or escalation on virtually every front. Just on economic grounds alone, one would think that shutting down both wars would be a no-brainer. So the question is logical; with Obama in the White House and Democrats in control of Congress, why do conservative ideals and policies – such as the right to permanent war – continue to be entrenched throughout the U.S. political landscape?

Most assuredly, the answer lies in the lies that this nation has swallowed as part of its national narrative. For example, several years ago, as I was finishing up my PhD studies, one of my professors was explaining how language and minds can be manipulated – simply by the words we employ and the order in which they are employed. Such a sophisticated process can pre-determine not only what we think and discuss, but when we do this. Who delivers the words and ideas can also influence how people will feel towards any given issue. One example is the use of Colin Powell [and his contrived account] to convince a skeptical world before the UN about the need to invade Iraq [Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld and Rice had zero credibility].

As the seminar professor was explaining this process, I raised my hand: “This sounds like psy-ops – like CIA work.”

At this, the professor laughed: “You must not be too familiar with our field. The great majority of all mass communications research is funded by the defense department.”

This confirmed what I had always suspected; this would explain how the Iraq War was sold – through an unquestioning media that simply acted liked stenographers – repeating complete fabrications, affirmed by “military experts” (in the employ of Defense contractors) that even grade school children could see through. Yet that would not have been enough to have convinced a skeptical public.

For such a special operation to work, fear, hate and ignorance had to be thrown into the mix, helping to advance the nonsensical argument that Iraq constituted a grave threat to the world. Yet, on the heels of the Cold War – in which the United States was pitted against a superpower that actually had a nuclear arsenal of thousands – Americans were supposed to be afraid of a country that, in effect, used slingshots as part of its air defense. While fear, hate and ignorance usually work in any society, all this was not enough to sell this war.

To sell the war – in fact, to sell the notion of a right to permanent worldwide war (The so-called War on Terror) – required bringing in three additional factors: God, hyper-nationalism and a “homeland.” If Bush could convince the public that God was siding with the United States against fanatical Arab/Muslim terrorists who were responsible for 9-11, then all that remained was to convince the public that it was their patriotic duty to support the president in this God-inspired civilizational war to protect the Fatherland against infidels. This civilizational Jihad or Crusade included warring against Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with 9-11 and that had not ever been a threat to the United States (see Rumsfeld’s “religious” memos to Bush at this week’s GQ Issue at: http://men.style.com/gq/features/topsecret)

This war – for the hearts and minds of Westerners – appears to have failed except amongst the FOX-TV-viewing public and its right-wing radio auxiliaries.

And yet, even with a change in administrations, conservative ideals and the conservative agenda continue to dominate the national agenda. Specifically, in regards to Iraq and Afghanistan – the wars continue and Dick Cheney and his ultra-conservative cohorts continue to dictate the nation’s political agenda. The reason: think psy-ops and think subterfuge. While we discuss the proprieties of torture and other enhanced interrogation techniques – we never get around to discussing illegal wars that have resulted in the deaths and maiming of tens of thousands and the displacement of millions. Within this context, we ignore the larger crimes against humanity by the Bush administration and instead debate whether torture works or not.

In a nation of laws – beyond a bad cliché, “going forward” – or not pursuing justice – has now become “conventional wisdom.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi advanced this nonsensical conservative idea when she refused to hold impeachment hearings. In a poetic sense of justice, her strategy of “not looking back” is coming back to bite her.  Rather than the architects of the criminal war being investigated, she now is on the hot seat. It is possible that this same “going forward” agenda – which has also been accepted by President Obama – may come back to derail the president’s seemingly naïve agenda.

ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ can be reached at: XColumn@gmail.com

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