“…we have about 50 percent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population…In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task…is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security…We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction…We should cease to talk about vague and — for the Far East — unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”
That year, a turning point in US and world history had occurred. On Kennan’s advice, Truman signed a National Security Directive authorizing the CIA to conduct covert operations in such manner that the US government could plausibly deny them if uncovered. The decision to extend the actions of the CIA beyond intelligence gathering for the president would prove to have fateful consequences. From NSC Directive 10/2:
“…covert operations” are… all activities…conducted or sponsored by this Government against hostile foreign states or groups or in support of friendly foreign states or groups but which are so planned and executed that any US Government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorized persons and that if uncovered the US Government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them. “
“…such operations shall include any covert activities related to: propaganda, economic warfare ; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures ; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance movements, guerrillas and refugee liberation groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world. Such operations shall not include armed conflict by recognized military forces, espionage, counter-espionage, and cover and deception for military operations.”
The importance of propaganda in waging the Cold War cannot be understated, because without it American military intervention would never have been tolerated by a public that since WWI had largely heeded Washington’s advice to “avoid foreign entanglements.” The CIA role in creating propaganda not only overseas but in the US was well established by the early 1950’s when CIA Director of Office of Special Operations (the covert branch of the CIA) established Operation Mockingbird. Building on relationships established by the BIS and OSS with friendly journalists and publishers, the CIA created an elaborate network of news sources that disseminated propaganda that served to indoctrinate Americans about communist threats everywhere. This provided the rationale for creating a military –industrial complex so vast that Eisenhower was compelled to warn Americans about it as one of his last acts as President. (See below)
The list of ways this control of the corporate media has influenced American history is too extensive to list here. It has led to coverups of criminal CIA activities overseas and at home, the creation of a fear-based foreign policy and a bias toward war that has completely transformed American attitudes toward war and other foreign interventions, most of which remain unknown to them. Only now have the war profiteers become so obvious in their plans for corporate world domination that Americans are beginning to appreciate the true costs of war. In stridently opposing US strikes on Iran and Syria, the traditional American reluctance to go to war for corporate Empire is beginning to reassert itself.
It is possible to end war. That day will only come when enough people reject the self-fulfilling prophecy that it is inevitable.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rick Staggenborg, MD, is a dedicated peace, democracy and social justice activist. He’s the founding editor and principal participant of several blogs, including Soldiers for Peace International.