By CJ Stone
Previously Published By CJ Stone, Hubpages
One of the most important books of the last 100 years is Manufacturing Consent by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky.
The book is an analysis of the media industry, and the various ways in which our news is distorted to create or maintain a particular world-view.
We believe we have a free press. What Herman and Chomsky show is that the press is effectively a propaganda outlet for the state-corporate interpretation of events.
The phrase “the manufacture of consent” was originally used by Walter Lipmann in his 1922 book Public Opinion. In fact the term “public opinion” when used by Lipmann is a euphemism for propaganda, since the book is about the control and manipulation of public opinion, not about attempting to follow it.
Lipmann’s basic idea is that the “bewildered herd” have to be lead by a political elite who use the power of the mass media to construct a version of reality which is in the interests of the elite. The book is a detailed exposition of how this can be achieved. It remains an influential book in the Public Relations industry.
We all remember the ways in which the news was spun in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003: the weapons of mass destruction deployed within 45 minutes, Saddam Hussein seeking nuclear material from Niger and all the rest, none of which turned out to be true.
You also may remember that when Tony Blair appeared before the Iraq inquiry he said that he would have taken us to war anyway, regardless of the excuse.
The reason I am reminding you of this is that we are again subject to a propaganda onslaught, this time about the nuclear threat posed by Iran.
A new International Atomic Energy Agency report talks of the “possible existence of undeclared nuclear facilities and material” in Iran.
On the basis of this George Osborne has just announced that Britain will stop business transactions with all Iranian banks, while the USA is putting sanctions on its petrochemical industry.
It’s that small word “possible” I would like to draw your attention to.
In fact the report acknowledges that low-grade nuclear material produced as a by-product of Iran’s atomic energy programme is accounted for and is not being diverted for weapons manufacture.
Nothing has substantially changed since the last IAEA report, with the exception of material from a solitary laptop, allegedly supplied to the Agency by a Western intelligence source, whose provenance has not been established.
All of this is following on from that frankly insane report in October about a plot to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador using hired Mexican drug-trafficking assassins.
It’s at this point that I’d like to remind you of the dodgy dossier – information gleaned from a disaffected taxi driver, and cut and pasted from the internet – which made up the bulk of evidence in the run-up to the war on Iraq.
This is what Herman and Chomsky are referring to when they talk of “the manufacture of consent”. This kind of information doesn’t have to be true, it merely has to be repeated often enough and loud enough for people to start to believe that it is true.
Now let’s strip away the rhetoric and look at the facts.
Since 1945 the United States has invaded or been involved in conflicts in70 separate countries.
Iran has invaded no country in the last 200 years.
The United States has military forces stationed in 150 countries around the world, including Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf States, all of which border Iran.
Iran has no armies stationed anywhere outside its own territory.
Twice since the Second World War the United States has made direct military interventions on Iranian soil: once in the form of a coup de’etat against the democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, in 1953, and once by backing Iraq’s brutal and bloody invasion in 1980, during which chemical weapons were deployed.
Iran has never invaded the United States.
The United States has an arsenal of 5,113 nuclear warheads.
Iran has no nuclear weapons.
I’ll leave it up to you to work out who the actual threat is.
I do not need to tell you that the neoliberal solution to recession is to create a war. The news that China is prepared to support Iran against any attack increases the possibility that these skirmishes and posturings on the part of the US and Europe could eventually escalate into WW3. The bit that I find so scary is that each of these parties have an investment in escalating the risk.
As always an insightful and timely post. Thank you Chris.
Does this mean that your Obama crush is over?
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