Manufacturing Consent and Resisting Hegemony

To begin this series of book memos, I will be discussing Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman’s 1988 masterwork Manufacturing Consent. This memo will discuss the core themes of the book, followed by a discussion about how the media theories presented here tie directly to recent events in global politics.

Background

The main topic of Manufacturing Consent is twofold. Firstly, the mainstream media follows a “propaganda model” that explains many biases in favor of the US security state. This model is shaped by five main factors: consolidation of information under corporate media, the use of Anti-Communism (and more broadly, fear of anything Anti-American) as a scare tactic, the bullying and blackballing of media members who speak out of line, the ability of advertisers to curate content under the threat of ad pulling, and (most importantly) the reliance on the State Department as a source for political news coverage[1].

Secondly, the mainstream media then uses this near-unanimous power to “manufacture consent” for the public (hence the title). What this means specifically is that the media intentionally misleads the public into a sense of security on a variety of social issues, and any sort of significant backlash is largely drowned out by how unanimous the leading narrative is. The diversity of thought in these circles is largely divided between jingoistic fanatics and centrists who still have faith in the security state but pin their alleged skepticism on logistics or other reasons that don’t directly challenge the powers of the US military apparatus[2].

The textbook example of this that Chomsky and Herman deploy is the coverage of the Vietnam War. From the war’s inception, true left-wing resistance to the war was virtually never seen in the media (despite being widespread across many parts of the American public). Media support for the war from both liberals and conservatives was entirely gung-ho in the early years. Even when events like the Tet Offensive cast the shadow of doubt, this doubt was not communicated by the media in the form of anti-war radicalism, but instead by liberals who considered the war to be an honest mistake in a noble fight against Communism. Walter Cronkite’s condemnation of the war as “unwinnable” in 1968 was an example of this, in that Cronkite initially supported the war but defaulted the strategic logic instead of objecting the inhumanity of the war itself. People who opposed the war on humanitarian or anti-imperial grounds were considered akin to “the wild men in the wings” and were never truly taken seriously[3].  

The Vietnam War is also emblematic of several tactics that the media uses in manufacturing consent. The first is to determine “worthy” victims versus “unworthy victims”. A group of South Vietnamese killed by the NLA is an atrocity that demands the full attention of American audiences. Meanwhile, Northern Vietnamese peasants who are slaughtered as a result of American troops are defined as enemy combatants whose deaths are reported as miniature victories by the press. To be clear, both instances are horrific. However, only one of these crimes has the full defense of the Western press at its side.

Besides this, the media has an equal role in determining the roles of which elections are considered legitimate. When the newly formed left-wing government of Nicaragua held its first general election in 1984, it was framed as a sham election by the US press despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Meanwhile, the real sham elections in the US-backed fascist states of Guatemala and El Salvador around the time were deemed legitimate. This is a clear example of the State Department manufacturing “evidence” at will and feeding it to an array of media outlets who are more than willing to disseminate it[4].

Further Discussion

The internet age has undoubtably reoriented the public’s relationship to information in a way that is ultimately more democratic than when Manufacturing Consent was released. However, in an environment where the conditions for the propaganda model persist, these scripted biases inevitably introduce themselves into several instances of modern coverage.

The current occupation of Palestine is a textbook example of how “deserving” and “undeserving” victims are cast. A noted point of controversy in the US media is how Israeli civilians killed by the IDF are often reported as “human shields” by Hamas by the US media. This was a noted trope in the 2014 Gaza War in particular, but this dynamic continues into the recent violence in Sheikh Jarrah. While Israel was waging war in this territory and far-right fascist mobs were emboldened in Jerusalem, the US media mainly focused on the inability of the Israeli parliament to form a government. Meanwhile, many outlets chose to frame the conflict as a “long-running legal battle” instead of a question of colonial rule[5]. I’m reminded of Dom Helder Camara’s idea of the spiral of violence: the idea (roughly) that structural oppression and violent resistance to it is locked in a perpetual cycle, while only the most visible backlash to oppressive violence is visible to those representing power.

Across the world, another electoral conflict brews. In a historic upset, the Peruvian elections have placed leftist candidate and former schoolteacher Pedro Castillo in power as President. His opponent Keiko Fujimori has not only lost but is now crying fraud in spite of there being no evidence to back this up. I have not been following this coverage with a magnifying glass, but it does not take even that to notice certain tropes: for example, a Wall Street Journal article from the 11th blames the victory Pedro Castillo on pandemic anxiety and highlights Fujimori’s claims of fraud.[6] Whether Fujimori receives the media support that right-wing grifter Juan Guiado did in the Venezuelan election from a few years ago has yet to be seen, but I am waiting intently to see what happens.

Final Thoughts

None of this should be the cause for resignation or despair. As Castillo’s victory displays, sometimes these struggles can be won. However, taking the side of the oppressed means reorienting your mind completely away from neoliberal bromides and coverage that uses an illusion of impartiality to push capital’s bottom line. This doesn’t just mean being more skeptical of the media (a canard used by virtually every ideology at this point), it means never expecting American civil society to respect people’s dignity unless they are forced to.


[1] Herman, Edward E. S., & Chomsky, N. 1988. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. New York: Pantheon Books.

[2] Herman, Edward E. S.

[3] Herman, Edward E. S.

[4] Herman, Edward E. S.

[5] Hussain, Murtaza. “Study: U.S. Newspapers Are More Than Twice As Likely to Cite Israeli Sources in Headlines Than Palestinian Ones.” The Intercept, First Look Media, 12 Jan. 2019, theintercept.com/2019/01/12/israel-palestine-conflict-news-headlines/.

[6] Dube, Ryan. “Socialist in Peru Has All But Won Presidential Vote asPandemic Fuels Despair.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 11 June 2021, http://www.wsj.com/articles/socialist-in-peru-has-all-but-won-presidential-vote-as-pandemic-fuels-despair-11623417118.

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine Continues

Dunham by dunham, village by village, house by house, the native Arabs of Palestine face a slow, systematic genocide in their homeland. Two houses were demolished in the South of The Jordan Valley, in the village of Fasayil, Sunday morning. The Israeli government did not issue a warning. The village of 1,300 people have been facing Israeli assaults on their land since the early seventies, with the construction of two settlements on either side, and a huge farmland ahead of them, all less than a kilometre away. But it was in 2010 that the Israelis came and virtually destroyed the entire village. The residents have, since then, built the village back up. But at least once a year, days like this are expected to continue.

Hassan Mohammed Hussein A´zayed built a house for his son, who suffers from mental disabilities, and is sensitive to hot weather. “That house cost me 15,000 shekels to build, not only because of building materials, but because of the air conditioning (unit)!” The house only lasted one year before it was bulldozed on Sunday, the AC unit along with it. A few meters in front of the newly destroyed house, one can see at least three other piles of rubble that used to be housing units, all belonging to Hassan. This was the seventh time a house of his was demolished. “They keep destroying them. Sometimes with warning, sometimes not. It´s a random policy. There´s no way to know what they´re going to do.” Hassan has 8 children.

Aeman Rashaeda, father of four, who´s wife teaches at the nearby school, was the next to lose his house, literally resting along the same path as Hassan´s. When the Israelis approached him, they told him that it was forbidden to build, and that he was living in a closed military firing zone. One might find such language to bode ominous prospects.

When the complete destruction of the village took place 8 years ago, 10 families immediately fled. This is a village that receives only 1500 liters of water to each household per week; that can never get a permit to farm or build; who cannot dig a well deeper than 150 meters, enforced by Israeli occupation law. Before the 1967 invasion of the West Bank, this village shared with others from a natural spring 4 kilometers up a nearby mountain. It has, since then, been surrounded by 3 Israeli wells, the water now privatized, controlled for settler use. 60 percent of the Jordan Valley has been closed by the Israeli occupation for “military firing and security zone(s)”, but it´s been well known for years to have actually been used for agribusiness. Pick any one feature of the military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, and you will find a policy of theft, of racism, of genocide.

Rashed Khudairy
Coordinator of Jordan Valley Solidarity Campaign
www.jordanvalleysolidarity.org
+972597177518 (primary)
+972592391208 (secondary)

Time to Abolish War

Let me talk about war.

How many of you believe war is bad? And I, after my time in war, totally agree with you.
War is not about conflict resolution it does not resolve conflicts.
War is not about national security it does not make us secure.elliott
It is always a rich man’s war run on the blood of poor people. War can reasonably be visualized as a giant machine that grinds up the working people to feed the rich man.
War is the greatest concentrator of wealth.
War is used to steal away our unalienable rights.

General Eisenhower described how the people of the aggressing nation pay a high cost for war when he said “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the dark clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”

What do we pay for war? There are 15 cabinet level departments in our government. We give 60% of the budget to one – the War Department. That leaves the other 14 departments fighting over the crumbs. Those 14 departments included things like: health, education, justice, department of state, interior, agriculture, energy, transportation, labor, commerce, and other things that are important to our lives.

Or looked at another way we, the US, spend more on war than the next 8 nations all put together. That includes Russia, China, France, England, I don’t remember who they all are. But not North Korea it is way down the list around number 20.

What do we get from war? What is our return from this huge investment? It seems all we get from one war is another war. Lets see what that looks like, WWI begat WWII, WWII begat the Korean War, the Korean War begat the Cold War, the Cold War begat the American War in Vietnam. Because of the public outcry and protest during the American War in Vietnam there was a hiatus. Then we had the Gulf War, which begat the Global War on Terror, which begat the invasion of Afghanistan, which begat the invasion of Iraq, which begat the rise of ISIS. All of which begat militarized police on our streets at home.

Why do we choose to do this? When are we going to get off of this stupid cycle? When we do break out of the cycle we can do things like: feed our hungry, educate our children (which are our future), end discrimination, pay workers an honest wage, end inequality, we could even create a democracy here in this country.

We can do these things. But only if we deny the rich and powerful their wars.

Original presentation by Elliott Adams (MPT Trainer & Past-president of Veterans for Peace); at Poor People’s Campaign, Detroit, 26 Jan 2018

An open letter from Americans: Trump is a bomb threat.

It’s your job to control him.

Dear Members of Congress,
We write on behalf of progressive organizations and concerned individuals. Collectively we represent millions of Americans — and we’re angry. We’re angry because Donald Trump has absolute control over the U.S. nuclear arsenal and is steadily edging us closer toward nuclear war. Congress has the ability to rein in this world-ending power, but has mostly chosen to sit on the sidelines. This abdication of responsibility cannot continue.
Time and time again, Trump has proven just how dangerous it is for him to have

thousands of nuclear weapons at his fingertips. He doesn’t believe in science and doesn’t
consult experts. He repeatedly called for an expansion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal (reportedly by tenfold). He encouraged other countries to launch their own nuclear weapons programs and dared Russia to a new arms race. His erratic tweets and violent rhetoric have insulted leaders on the world stage, escalated delicate crises, and brought us to the brink of multiple wars. All in less than 12 months.
There’s no better example of the unique danger Trump poses than the unfolding crisis with North Korea, where his cavalier attitude towards nuclear war puts the whole world at risk.  Trump should be doing everything in his power to reduce the threat of nuclear conflict by jump-starting diplomatic talks with North Korea. Instead, he tweets schoolyard taunts at Kim Jong-un insisting his nuclear button is “much bigger” than his, threatens “fire and fury,” and orders increasingly provocative displays of force — all without any understanding of what is truly at stake.
To us it is clear: Donald Trump should not have the unilateral power to wage nuclear war. And the public is with us: the vast majority of Americans do not trust Trump to handle the crisis with North Korea, nor do they have confidence in his ability to deal with international conflicts writ large.¹
Trump’s bellicose rhetoric and reckless actions pose a clear and present danger to
national security. We are one impulsive move away from a devastating war that could turn nuclear on a dime, killing millions. Yet while Americans are plagued with worry and experts are sounding the alarm, Congress has done nothing. This is unacceptable.
There are bills in Congress right now — including S.200 / H.R. 669, The Restricting First
Use of Nuclear Weapons Act and H.R. 4415, The No First Use Bill — that would rein in Trump’s absolute power over the U.S. nuclear arsenal and establish much-needed checks and balances over his nuclear launch authority. All of them have the support of top national security experts. As our representatives in Congress, we expect you to do your jobs and keep us safe.
It’s long past time for you to intervene on our behalf and stand between Trump and the red button.
The majority of Americans agree: Trump is a bomb threat. It’s time you do something to stop him.
Signed,

Azul
Beyond the Bomb
Center for International Policy
Climate Hawks Vote
CODEPINK
Collective Action for Safe Spaces
The Courage Campaign
CREDO
Daily Kos
Demand Progress
Golden Rule Project
Greenpeace USA
Indivisible
Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project
Just Foreign Policy
Left Action
Meta Peace Team
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Oregon Peace Institute
Peace Action
Peaceworkers
PICO Network
Positive Women’s Network – USA
Power Shift Network
Presente
Progressive Change Campaign Committee
Progressive Congress Action Fund
Rachel Carson Council
Revolution Messaging
SisterSong
Tri-Valley CAREs
Ultraviolet
Veterans For Peace
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions
Working Families Party

To sign the letter yourself, click here: http://beyondthebomb.org/sign-open-letter-congress-trump-bomb-nuclear-war-must-be-controlled/

¹“Majority of Americans Don’t Understand the Presidential Procedure for a Nuclear Strike,” Ipsos, September 27, 2017
https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/ct/news/documents/2017-09/NPR%20North%20Korea%20Topline%2009%202017.pdf

Congress Can Stop War with North Korea

by Elliott Adams, Meta Peace Team

We live in a world where North Korea presents the possibility of retaliatory strikes on the US main land and our Republican administration is throwing around wildly bellicose and recklessly threatening words that risk all of us having to pay the price of a nuclear Trump NKoreaexchange. It is time for congress to fulfill their constitutional responsibility (Article I, Section 8, Clause 11) to be the only body in the US that may start a war. Congress now allows the President an emergency exemption to take action if they are told about it in 48 hours and the President gets Congress’s approval in 60 days (War Powers Resolution 1973). That is plenty of time for a nuclear conflagration to start. Congress must adjust the War Powers Resolution exemption by saying that no military action can be taken against North Korea without prior written authorization by Congress.

North Korea has repeatedly made it clear that their nuclear arsenal is defensive. They have cited the lesson of Libya and Iraq where the US negotiated away their nuclear ambitions and then invaded them.  Kim Jung Un in explaining their nuclear program said, “no nuclear nation has been invaded.”

Those who are knowledgeable say there is not any feasible military option. One military action being floated would be a “surgical strike” to eliminate their nuclear capability before they could use it. People familiar with the area say a “surgical strike” will surely result in the annihilation of Seoul’s 10 million people and devastation in Japan and the rest of South Korea. And it will not eliminate North Korea’s nuclear capacity.  Instead it will almost surely result in the firing of any nuclear weapons they have. This scenario ignores that both Russia and China (both nuclear nations) have a deep security interest in not letting North Korea fall.  Another military action being floated would be a “decapitation strike” aimed at eliminating the leadership of North Korea so they could not launch a counter defensive attack. The resulting disaster will be the same as with a “surgical strike.”

Can we live with a nuclear North Korea joining the other 8 nuclear nations? We have been living with nuclear enemies since 1949.  In fact we have lived most of that time with dozens to thousands of nuclear tipped weapons aimed at us 24/7.  And we have been living with an internationally recognized nuclear North Korea since 2006.

Some argue that dramatic military posturing will bring Kim Jung Un to heel.  For three generations North Korea has lived under continuing US military threat, from the invasion and attempted occupation by the US in 1953, including repeated sanctions, with 3 annual joint US/South Korea massive military actions which North Korea sees as practice for invading North Korea again, and now this Republican administration has announced the stationing of nuclear equipped aircraft carrier groups and nuclear equipped submarines to within striking distance of North Korea. These military actions are counter-productive. They drive North Korea into a threatened defensive posture.  In this state a nation may misinterpret moves by other nations, they set all their armaments on hair triggers, they organize their defense on “fail deadly” rather than a “fail safe” procedures all of which increase the chance of even an accidental war.  More seriously it dissolves the fabric of a relationship necessary for negotiations.

At another level this military posturing by the US makes the Kim Jung Un government more stable and increases the public tolerance for massive military spending, neither of which we want.

Can we work with the “quixotic irrational North Korean dictator?” Kim Jung Un has been absolutely consistent. He has made it clear he believes the US is planning to attack North Korea. He has consistently done what he can to protect from those attacks even at huge cost to the country.  North Koreans have lived with deprivation and devastation for years for the good of the nation and there is no reason to think they will not continue to do so.

The more threats, the more saber rattling, the more bellicose posturing the US does, the more North Korea will feel at danger, besieged, and under threat of attack.  The more threatened they feel the more dangerous they become and the more likely we are to get sucked into a war unintentionally. Congress cannot stop what the White House says.  But they can change the situation.  If they use their Constitutional responsibility to say no military action may be taken toward North Korea without their prior written consent it would send a clear message to the North Korean leaders that despite the bellicose words from the White House and aggressive posturing we are not poised to attack them.  North Korea knows that a preemptive nuclear attack on the US would be suicide: That is not an option they are considering. If North Korea were to attack South Korea, which they aren’t, we would have plenty of time to respond, they know we already have our 3rd largest military deployment in South Korea and much, much more nearby.

Call your Congressperson and Senator and ask them to act to limit the White House authorization to attack North Korea.


elliott

Elliott Adams was in South Korea while in the US Army and returned out of uniform. He was in the infantry as a paratrooper and was also deployed to Vietnam, Japan, and Alaska. He has maintained an interest in and continued to study the Korean conflict ever since.

 

Book Review: “The Nonviolence Handbook” by Michael N. Nagler

By Cynthia Kipkorir       October 18, 2017

Nagler_ImageWhat stands out to you most when you hear the word non-violence? An absence of violence? Well, Michael N. Nagler in his book “The Nonviolence Handbook” argues that referring to nonviolence as an absence of violence – or more so, a safer option to violence – robs the nonviolence endeavor of its power.

What nonviolence means, as well as the tenets embodying nonviolence, are examples of topics Michael discusses in his book. “The Nonviolence Handbook”, therefore, is a good primer to the concept of nonviolence and therefore a good read for anyone who is remotely interested in understanding the nonviolence phenomenon.

Michael starts by informing his audience that nonviolence is a trait inherent in all of us–this is a message borrowed from Gandhi who proclaimed nonviolence to be “…the law of our species.” Nevertheless, the author opines that as much as humanity has nonviolence ingrained in its nature, it cannot manifest it until it fully understands the nonviolence concept. In the subsequent chapters, the author thus explicitly explains to its audience how to invoke nonviolence and how to ensure they are using nonviolence ‘correctly.’

The trap you and I fall into (often if not always), when dealing with a perpetrator of an injustice (i.e. a government, institution, individual etc.), is conflating the perpetrator and the evil/oppression that they are inflicting. Nagler, however, advises his audience to separate the evil and the evildoer, thereby imploring readers to not cooperate with the evil and not the perpetrator of the evil per se. It is easy to see why this is a strong argument; only when we separate the evil and the evildoer will we able to see the oppressor as an individual who is just like us (human) and thus in need of our help to be ‘delivered’ from the evil.

Another illuminating concept, arguably one of the most fundamental principles of nonviolence in the book discussed by the author, is the concept of “how much nonviolence is too much nonviolence?”. The reader is introduced to the different stages of nonviolence, namely: Conflict resolution, Satyagraha and ultimate sacrifice. Ergo, depending on the level of violence/oppression inflicted, nonviolent actors can invoke the above stages. As can be conjectured from the meaning of the word, conflict resolution is the 1st stage and this essentially involves tools such as negotiation and mediation. Conflict resolution is thus useful when both parties are willing to lend each other an ear. Nevertheless, if the conflict cannot be resolved in the first stage, satyagraha (nonviolent resistance) is invoked. Satyagraha therefore uses tools such as strikes and civil disobedience. Yes, don’t let the sophistication of the word fool you, Satyagraha is something most of you have taken part in. Lastly, the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ is the third stage, and one we should resort to if the first two stages have emerged unsuccessful. As the stage implies, ultimate sacrifice is the do-or-die stage whereby the nonviolent actors are willing to risk dying to oblige the oppressor to adhere to their demands.

The discussion of the different stages of the nonviolence movement is arguably the most important part of the book because of the author’s success in spelling out clearly what we readers already know and have taken part in numerous times, albeit sometimes unknowingly. While we might have taken part in the stages in a different order, for example putting our lives in danger before trying to negotiate with the oppressor, the author reminds us that it is important to invoke the stages depending on the extremity of the oppression. This is what the author has referred to as proportionality. Invoking the wrong stage for a wrong stage of the oppression might risk us alienating the oppressor even further.

Another important point raised in the book that is worth mentioning is the importance of constructive programs. Nagler underscores the importance of having a good replacement program after an old repressive regime is brought down; this is imperative in ensuring that no power vacuum is left and therefore eliminating the possibility of another undesired regime taking over. The constructive program discussed by Nagler is a phenomenon largely adopted by organizations such as the United Nations, and one that has been successful in many conflict-ridden countries.

The book’s power, therefore, lies in it convincing its readers that nonviolence actually works and that it is the right way of ensuring its actors get their demands. It spells out clearly how to practice nonviolence and reminds readers of their innate nonviolent nature, thereby beseeching them to rid themselves of the notion that violence is the answer to all problems. It also warns its audience of the bias towards violence depicted by the mass media – – Imagine all of the instances of belligerent behavior depicted by the media in any given day. It is thus easy to see why this continuous depiction of violence in the media has the tendency to normalize violence and therefore our need to shun such media.

The author does a good job of informing his readers that the fruits of nonviolent endeavors may not be instantly tangible, and urges readers not to confuse lack of an immediate response with failure. This is a particularly good reminder for those of us who tend to throw in the towel easily.

All in all, this is a must book for those who are interested in knowing and understanding how nonviolence works and how they can implement it in their everyday life.

N.B. Though nonviolence is more often than not discussed in the context of ‘full blown’ activities like protests and going to war, we can always invoke nonviolence in our everyday relationships too.

“It is not me against you but you and me against the problem.”

Google says Palestine was never on Google Maps after claims it had been ‘airbrushed’ away

The Telegraph
A glitch caused West Bank and Gaza to disappear from Google Maps
A “glitch” caused West Bank and Gaza to disappear from Google Maps
CREDIT: GOOGLE

Accusations online that Google had deleted Palestine from its Maps facility prompted the internet giant to explain that the country “has never been” on the service.

The row came after a glitch caused the West Bank and Gaza to briefly disappear from Google Maps.

Palestine, although recognised as a country by the United Nations, has never been on Google Maps. Instead of being demarcated with a solid line that denotes a country border, Google instead defines the Gaza Strip and the West Bank with a dashed border – the mark it uses to outline disputed territories.

Google was forced to explain that it doesn’t define Palestine as a country separate from Israel on Maps after a petition signed by 250,000 people described the company’s “airbrushing” of Palestine as “deeply offensive” and called for the internet giant to put Palestine on its map.

A glitch that briefly removed the labels for the West Bank and Gaza sparked outrage on social media, with people tweeting under the hashtag #PalestineIsHere.

Dear , Where is ? You cannot erase an entire country!

The Change.org petition accused Google of being “complicit in the Israeli government’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine” by marking the conflicted area with a dotted line that denotes a problematic border.

“Google Maps is now regarded as definitive by people around the world, including journalists, students and others carrying out research into the Israel-Palestine situation,” said the petition. “Recognition of Palestine by Google may even turn out to be as important as recognition by organisations like the UN.”

Google said in a response that Palestine had never been marked as a territory on its map, but that a glitch in the software had resulted in Palestinian areas being removed.

“There has never been a ‘Palestine’ label on Google Maps,” said a spokesman for Google. “However, we discovered a bug that removed the labels for ‘West Bank’ and ‘Gaza Strip’. We’re working quickly to get these labels back to the area.”

Back in 2013 Google “followed the lead of the UN” and updated the Palestinian version of its Search homepage with the description “Palestine” as opposed to “Palestinian Territories”. In a significant mile stone in the conflict, the Palestinian flag was raised at the UN’s headquarters last year.

What I’ve learned about U.S. Foreign Policy: The Against the Third World Video compilation by Frank Dorrel

dvdcover

This Video compilation consists of clips and videos documenting United States foreign policy present a less known history of United States international involvement. Throughout the video clips are included discussion of actions taken by the United States government and elites that are outside the purview of both International and American law. These clips depict the actions of a global hegemon, the United States, taking actions in order to garner and maintain global influence.  From the CIA backed overthrow of governments in Iran and Guatemala to attacks by the United States against civilian populations in Panama.

While the film contained no comprehensive analysis of the clips and videos it compiled, the juxtaposition of the various pieces information presents a reality in stark contrast with many portrayals of American exceptionalism.  To me, this film becomes makes the most sense when viewed through International Relations balance of power theory.  In the films 10 different segments, the United States foreign policy is repeatedly presented as seeking to gain power, while undermining other world powers even at the expense of traditional American ideals.

Though I wish the film included a broader analysis to tie the wide range of ideas together, overall I certainly believe this video compilation is worth watching.  Whether or not you agree with the perspective it presents, its depiction of the United States as a flawed actor in a complex international system can provide valuable insight into current and future United States foreign affairs.

Film Review- The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear

By: Daniel Bloomberg

The Power of Nightmares is a 2004 documentary detailing the rise of the politics of fear.  It traces this rise by tracing the development of two groups from the 1970’s-1990’s in different regions of the world, following different ideologies, and following different paths, that each came to use the same tactic, fear as a means to bring about political goals:  The United States Neoconservative movement, and the extreme Islamist movement of the Middle East.

This documentary excellently depicts the evolution of the ideologies of these groups as they deliberately create a mythology of Good vs. Evil in order to unite their constituencies in what they considered to be a more moral society seeking to drive the evil from the world.  This evolution occurs as in certain instances such as during the Cold War these groups begin to fall victim to the myth that they themselves created and in others including during the Clinton administration, where they simply didn’t care. This was a radical change from politicians of previous periods who had offered visions of change for a better future.  It concludes with a unique presentation of Al Qaeda, and the larger war on terror as a distorted projection of this myth.  

MPT’s Elliott Adams part of “The St. Pat’s 7”

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Image

The St. Pat’s 7

On St.Patrick’s Day nearly two hundred people gathered at the gates of the Iowa Air National Guard in Des Moines to protest the use of drones by our country. Seven crossed the line and were arrested. Each was charged with trespass, a simple misdemeanor. A trial has been scheduled for June 23 at the Polk County Courthouse. If convicted, they could be sentenced to thirty days in jail or be fined $100.

We have seen these trials before. They are expensive. Thousands of dollars will be spent. The trial could last as long as a week. Jury selection will be time consuming. Each defendant has the right to exercise “four strikes”. A large pool of jurors will be needed so six can be chosen to serve. There will be a judge, a prosecutor, a court reporter, a court attendant, and expert witnesses. And there could be as many as seven lawyers retained to protect the defendants’ rights
and advocate for their cause.

We ask, what is the point? These defendants – “The St. Pat’s 7” – did nothing more than exercise their consciences. No property was damaged and no one was injured. They acted peacefully and submitted themselves to the authorities.

It is a fact that these dissenters, and others like them, know they will be arrested. They stage their “actions” before reporters and cameras, hoping the brief news coverage will somehow influence public opinion. They believe that by telling their story to a jury their truth will be heard and others will take up the cause.

Perhaps this is the way it should be – that our criminal justice system with its police, prosecutors, judges and jurors should be used in the service of public discourse on issues important to all of us.  But perhaps there is a better way.

What if a Peacemaking Circle were held? What if the seven defendants, and an equal number of National Guard personnel, sat in a Circle with a skilled neutral who would facilitate the conversation?  What if a talking piece were used so each could speak without interruption?  And what if, like a trial, the process were open to the public? Anyone
could attend, sit outside the Circle, and listen to everything said.

There would be truth telling – by the defendants and by the National Guard. There would be no attempt to reach consensus. It wouldn’t be possible. The protestors abhor the use of drones. The Guard personnel, while perhaps sympathetic to the protestors, have chosen to join the Guard and have a job to do. Each side has a truth.

While a jury trial would result in a determination of guilt or innocence, the Circle process would honor each person’s truth no matter the chasm between.

And wouldn’t a great service be rendered by the sharing of these truths in the presence of the community at large?

We support such an effort and call upon those in authority to give it deep consideration. The National Guard, the seven defendants, and the community deserve it.

Sincerely,

  • Rev.  Alejandro Alfareo-Santia, Pastor, D.M. Trinity UMC
  • Rev. Ryan Arnold, Sr. Pastor, First Christian Church
  • Bob Brammer, Iowa Attorney General staff retired
  • Rev. Brian Carter, UMC Iowa Legislature lobbyist
  • Rev. Kathleen Clark, Retired UMC minister
  • Rev. Denny Coon, Sr. Pastor, Walnut Hill United Methodist Church
  • Patricia A. Coon
  • Eloise M. Cranke, Methodist Federation for Social Action Iowa Coordinator
  • Charles Day, Ph.D Therapist
  • Fr. Tom DeCarlo, Des Moines Diocese
  • Catherine Dietz-Kilen, Attorney
  • Cathy Dodds
  • Laura Douglas, Educator
  • Dr. David Drake, Psychiatrist
  • Kathleen Ferguson
  • Rev. Eric Guy, Sr. Pastor, First United Methodist Church
  • Dennis Groenenboom, Executive Director, Iowa Legal Aid
  • Dave Hurd, Retired President of Principle Financial Group
  • Trudy Hurd
  • Carmen Lamp-Zeitler, CFUM Director
  • Grace W. Liddon
  • Diane Krell
  • Dr. Keith Krell, Endodontics Specialist
  • Mike W. McCarthy
  • Matt McCoy, Iowa State Senator
  • Rev. Brian K. Milford, United Methodist District Superintendent
  • Kathleen McQuillen, Des Moines AFSC Coordinator
  • Rev. Russell J. A. Melby, ELCA, Retired Director of Iowa Church World Service
  • Rev. Steve Melby, Retired UMC minister
  • Elsie P. Naylor, UCC
  • Fr. David Polich, Des Moines Diocese
  • Rev. Sarai Rice, Presbyterian minister
  • The Right Rev. Alan Scarfe, Bishop Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
  • Mark Smith, Retired Union Labor leader
  • Rev. William Steward, Retired Sr. Pastor of Grace United Methodist Church
  • Rev. Mark Stringer, Sr. Pastor, First Unitarian Church of Des Moines
  • Susie Tierney, Des Moines Just Faith
  • Julius C. Trimble, Bishop, Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church
  • Virginia Varce, Lay church leader
  • Jerry Wiener, Jewish Community
  • And of course, META PEACE TEAM!