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by Gary Sudborough
Thursday, Dec. 09, 2004 at 9:44 AM
One facet of corporate propaganda is the utilization of unfounded assumptions in an attempt to justify wars or other projects of the rich and powerful. Also, so-called free elections can be used to facilitate the corporate takeover and privatization of the economies of certain countries.
The US corporate media are very clever at how they manipulate public opinion. They continually use unfounded assumptions and then come to completely fallacious and asinine conclusions about world events. As an analogy, if one were to put garbage into a computer to analyze, one would then get garbage out. There exists a parade of so-called analysts, terrorism experts and military brass who constantly appear on US corporate television and reason from unfounded assumptions and naturally come to nonsensical conclusions. When reality blatantly contradicts their conclusions, as for instance, predictions about the success of operations in Iraq, they often reappear to spout even more nonsense in an attempt to redeem themselves. Notice that the corporate lackeys of the rich and powerful seldom have any guests who might challenge the veracity of their unfounded assumptions, or if they do, they have several opponents available with great lung power to shout them down. US corporate media spokespeople then have the unmitigated arrogance to claim that they are fair and balanced. There is a radio station here in Los Angeles which has the audacity to say that it gives perspective, analysis and answers on its world news segment. Considering that this segment last all of three minutes before being interrupted by a commercial, I really don't think they could analyze or answer anything of consequence. If it served the interests of power and privilege, their answer to 2 plus 2 could conceivably be five.
One of the more prolifically utilized assumptions is that the United States is very interested in bringing democracy to countries like Iraq and Afghanistan and would love to see free elections triumph in the Ukraine and the January elections in Iraq to proceed as scheduled. An initial assumption is that elections are equivalent to democracy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The recent US elections and all the shenanigans that occurred in Ohio and other states are a perfect example of that fact. Democracy is real power exercised by the common people and elections are far from assuring that result. Elections can be rigged and manipulated as the CIA did in Italy to prevent the Italian Communist Party from winning. More recent examples are their successes in the breakup of Yugoslavia and bringing to power a regime sympathetic to American corporate interests in Georgia. Now, an attempt in being made on the Ukraine to break it away from Russia. So-called free elections are just a tool like the World Bank, IMF and the Agency for International Development to advance the interests and agenda of powerful American capitalists in foreign countries. Once they get a collaborating regime in power, privatization of the whole economy can take place and state-owned assets sold for a pittance to American investors. As Naomi Klein has pointed out, Iraq's economy is being totally privatized. Monsanto is even making sure that Iraq's farmers use only their genetically engineered seeds and do not save seeds as they have for generations. This naturally greatly increases Monsanto's profits as farmers must buy seeds year after year and also buy the pesticides, weed-killers and fertilizers from Monsanto. A result of this is that only very large farmers can remain in business and small farmers become beggars or even commit suicide as many in India are doing at present.
American military power, rather than elections, are forcing this privatization in Iraq, but the US government obviously hopes that these so-called free elections will influence world opinion, stabilize Iraq so the plunder of resources like oil can proceed more efficiently and give legitimacy to a war that is an illegal aggression against a sovereign country and a violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions, not to even mention the torture at Abu Ghraib, the use of depleted uranium and the killing of an estimated 100,000 Iraqi civilians. It is similar to spraying perfume on a skunk. The corporate media with their near total blackout of the more unsavory aspects of the Iraq war and by their constant references to free elections in Iraq desperately hope the American people will smell the perfume and forget the skunk.
Another unfounded assumption by the corporate media is that American soldiers are in Iraq to help the Iraq people by compassionate activities like giving candy to children, building schools and other projects, protecting them from "terrorists" (actually their own fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers) and helping them hold free and fair elections. Considering the devastation that has been visited upon Iraq and its people by the US military and the poisoning of their land for 4.5 billion years with radioactive uranium, I would say this was similar to a mugger assaulting much weaker people, stealing their possessions and then handing them a lollipop as compensation. The fact that most Americans do not laugh out loud at such ridiculous assumptions is a tribute to decades of brainwashing about the benevolent intentions of US foreign policy.
The very idea of holding elections in Iraq is a propaganda bonanza for the US corporate media. They can proceed on the unsubstantiated assumption that most of the violence in Iraq is caused by undemocratic "terrorists" intent on preventing the Iraqi people from having elections and democracy. This obviously replaces the previous unsubstantiated assumption, before elections were even considered, of the violence being due to "hard-core" Saddam loyalists, foreign fighters, thugs, criminals, etc, which in turn replaces the previous obviously false assumption that the US invasion was due to weapons of mass destruction and contacts with Al-Qaeda. They will never entertain the idea that the violence in Iraq is a legitimate resistance to a colonial occupation of their country and the pirating of their oil. However, the Iraqi people remember their own history better than we remember our own. They know the British colonized their country starting in 1917 and the main British interest was in their oil. They also know that the British established puppet regimes and suspect Americans will do the same. Americans seem to have forgotten that we too fought an anticolonial war against the British and threw the tea of the East India Company into Boston harbor and were considered to be "terrorists" by the British.
There are unfounded assumptions regarding the use of two little pronouns, "we" and "our." The US corporate media say things like: "We militarily intervened in Iraq." I don't remember being consulted about the invasion of Iraq or having any vote about the decision. The US corporate media continually refer to "our" troops. They are not "our" troops fighting for "our" interests. They are the troops of the Rockefeller family and other members of the US ruling class and they are fighting for their interests, not ours. Very small things like the choice of words make a very big difference in people's perceptions of the world.
Finally, I would say that the Cold war was based on a fallacious assumption. The corporate media depicted it as a gigantic battle of democracy and communism. First, I would say that real democracy is only possible with a socialist or communist system as the tremendous differentials in wealth in capitalist countries preclude that possibility. Those who own the majority of wealth in a society run that society. Secondly, if the United States was really interested in democracy, why did it overthrow democratic socialist governments like Allende in Chile and replace them with brutal dictatorships? It contradicts the original assumption. I would depict the Cold War largely as an excuse to continue the 500 years of exploitation of the land, labor, markets and natural resources of the Third World and the so-called war on terrorism as the most recent excuse to do the very same thing.
Why would the corporate media analyze the world from unsubstantiated assumptions and create a fantasy world divorced from reality? All through history the elites in societies have known their position of wealth and power is very precarious. They are at the very top of a pyramid and they know if the bottom becomes too shaky, they could lose everything. Therefore, they have used all sorts of mechanisms to divert people from their real interests. They used religion as in the divine right of kings to rule. They have used racism to divide people and induce workers of various races and ethnicities to fight each other instead of them. However, their most potent tool is propaganda and with the advent of television and radio, they have achieved enormous success. Using unfounded assumptions to create a world of myths to justify horrendous slaughters of innocent people in wars desired by the US ruling class for profit and power is a big part of that success.
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