As 2010 winds down, I am reminded that there is no Imperial policy more reprehensible and shameful than the war in Afghanistan. This war is constantly presented to Americans as an integral part of the War On Terrorism, but it is no such thing. The Afghan war is a pointless, expensive, destructive exercise in futility whereby American power is projected into southern Asia for God Only Knows what purpose at this point. Those who remember the Vietnam War, which was a much, much bigger senseless, destructive exercise in futility, know what I'm talking about.
Some folks old enough to remember Vietnam chained themselves to the White House fence earlier this month to protest the Afghan war. If you didn't hear about it, that's no surprise, as Dave Lindorff reports at the website This Can't Be Happening—
There was a black-out and a white-out Thursday and Friday [December 16th and 17th] as over a hundred US veterans opposed to US wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world, and their civilian supporters, chained and tied themselves to the White House fence during an early snowstorm to say enough is enough.
Washington Police arrested 135 of the protesters, in what is being called the largest mass detention in recent years. Among those arrested were Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst who used to provide the president’s daily briefings, Daniel Ellsberg, who released the government’s Pentagon Papers during the Nixon administration, and Chris Hedges, former war correspondent for the New York Times.
No major US news media reported on the demonstration or the arrests. It was blacked out of the New York Times, blacked out of the Philadelphia Inquirer, blacked out in the Los Angeles Times, blacked out of the Wall Street Journal, and even blacked out of the capital’s local daily, the Washington Post, which apparently didn't even think it was a local story worth publishing an article about (they simply ran a photo of Ellsberg with a short caption)...
Clearly, in the US the corporate media perform a different function [than real reporting]. It’s called propaganda. And the handling of this dramatic protest by American veterans against the nation’s current war provides a dramatic illustration of how far the news industry and the journalism profession has converted itself from a Fourth Estate to a handmaiden to power.
It's true—the "media" in this country are nothing more than servants of Imperial power. What they don't tell you is often far more important than what they do. And weirdly, even as the story about the war protest was blacked out, an ABC/Washington Post poll showed that 60% of Americans believe the war has been a total disaster—
A record 60 percent of Americans say the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting, a grim assessment — and a politically hazardous one — in advance of the Obama administration's one-year review of its revised strategy.
Public dissatisfaction with the war, now the nation's longest, has spiked by 7 points just since July. Given its costs vs. its benefits, only 34 percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say the war's been worth fighting, down by 9 points to a new low, by a sizable margin.
You're allowed to think the war is a waste of time, but Heaven Help You if you protest it. And here's another story you're not likely to hear much about. Apparently some reporters at the Wall Street Journal—the mainstream media is not yet a total loss—got a hold of some UN maps that contradict the story that progress has been made in Afghanistan.
The Wall Street Journal was able to view two confidential "residual risk accessibility" maps, one compiled by the U.N. at the annual fighting season's start in March 2010 and another at its tail end in October. The maps, used by U.N. personnel to gauge the dangers of travel and running programs, divide the country's districts into four categories: very high risk, high risk, medium risk and low risk.
In the October map, just as in March's, nearly all of southern Afghanistan—the focus of the coalition's military offensives—remained painted the red of "very high risk," with no noted improvements. At the same time, the green belt of "low risk" districts in northern, central and western Afghanistan shriveled.
The security situation in Afghanistan is getting worse, not better, but that's not the "official" story as reported by Salon in two separate stories—
The big takeaway from the Obama administration's review of the Afghan war this month was that the strategy is working. But a new independent assessment [the UN maps story] suggests just the opposite: that, in fact, the situation is deteriorating.
[And from Salon's report on the Obama administration review.]
The White House today [December 16] released a summary of the results of its Afghan war review (the full version is classified), attempting to put a positive spin on a war that is claiming more American lives and dollars than ever before.
The review summary offers no specifics or evidence to back up its conclusions, but here is the key paragraph propaganda message:
Specific components of our strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan are working well and there are notable operational gains. Most important, al-Qa’ida’s senior leadership in Pakistan is weaker and under more sustained pressure than at any other point since it fled Afghanistan in 2001. In Pakistan, we are laying the foundation for a strategic partnership based on mutual respect and trust, through increased dialogue, improved cooperation, and enhanced exchange and assistance programs. And in Afghanistan, the momentum achieved by the Taliban in recent years has been arrested in much of the country and reversed in some key areas, although these gains remain fragile and reversible.
One could list lies, contradictions and omissions in offical statements and reporting about Afghanistan all day long and still not be nearly finished. After all, the war is entering its 10th year.
Here is the bottom line: the media have bludgeoned Americans with the terrorism threat over and over and over again ever since the 9/11 attack. The true purpose of this reporting could not be more obvious, whether it's done intentionally or simply because the media is psychologically co-opted. A fearful populace is an obedient populace. We must be reminded time and time again that radical Muslims or others who reject the wonderful benefits of Western Civilization are a greater threat to the American Way Of Life than astonishing wealth inequality, growing poverty, predatory and parasitic Wall Street banks, corrupt politicians and any of the thousand other ills that beset the United States.
How bad has the terrorism propaganda become? I want you to watch this video of the PBS News Hour "news wrap" for Monday, December 27th. Watch it very carefully in light of what I just told you.
Did you get that? The "news wrap" for the day includes—
- Drone attacks killed 18 "suspected" militants in Pakistan
- A female suicide bomber killed 43 at a UN food distribution center in Pakistan
- Experts defused a parcel bomb delivered to the Greek embassy in Rome by Italian anarchists
- Police in Britain charged 9 terror suspects with plotting bomb attacks
- Government troops were on patrol in Nigeria after Christmas violence between Christians and Muslims
- The US Senate race in Alaska is settled, Lisa Murkowski will take the seat
- Wall Street had a quiet day, the Dow was down 18 points to close at 11,555
Terrorism, terrorism, bomb threat, terrorism, Muslims versus Christians, politics, and the stock market. I hope you realize that the selection of stories which PBS deemed "newsworthy" on Monday is distorted beyond all recognition, a total assault on your peace of mind, and otherwise completely deranged. That's how bad things have become. And now, to complete this exercise in consciousness-raising, watch the video again.