Silver Lining

Food for thought

War and the Word Cloud

Why the usual war propaganda won’t save the American empire

by Justin Raimondo, source

An alleged “nuclear weapons” site in Syria has been revealed to be a textile factory – and another of the War Party’s tall tales is debunked. To those of a skeptical mindset – i.e., nearly anyone outside of Washington – this throws fresh doubt on the claim that the Israeli raid on a supposed Syrian nuclear weapons facility at Deir ez Zour, in 2007, destroyed anything more dangerous than an empty warehouse.

The War Party doesn’t give up quite so easily, however: now we are being told that the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, has a new report coming out with satellite photos of a supposed nuclear facility in Iran – just as in the case of the two Syrian sites.

Get out your bullshit detector, press the “on” button, and watch it light up like a fourth of July fireworks display.

This latest “evidence” of a nuclear threat emanating from the general direction of Iran and its allies is based on “leaks” supposedly coming out of the IAEA: we don’t even have the actual report, and yet there is a concerted campaign to create the impression that the “evidence” is conclusive. By the time we get to see what is really in the IAEA’s dossier, the Iranians are judged to be guilty no matter what it says.

And, of course, it’s just a coincidence that, right at this very moment, the US Justice Department is accusing an alcoholic used car salesman of being at the center of an alleged Iranian plot to carry out terrorist activities – including bombing a restaurant and assassinating the Saudi ambassador – in Washington, D.C.

Of course it is. To believe otherwise is to indulge in “conspiracy theories.”

Frantic and grasping at straws, the War Party is flinging as much ordure at the wall as it can muster, hoping that at least some of it will stick. As any propagandist worth his salt will tell you, the propagation of a lie, no matter how many times it’s debunked [.pdf], is a useful exercise. As the complexity of the allegations – involving technical questions requiring scientific expertise – grow, a general impression is created: a “word cloud” that hangs over the intended target, and rationalizes military action in spite of the completely bogus nature of the charges.

It’s volume over verification simply because the public has neither the time nor the inclination to look too closely at the evidence. That’s our job, here at Antiwar.com, but there’s just one big problem: the faster we debunk their lies, the faster the War Party comes up with new ones. A veritable deluge of deception pours forth from their propaganda mills 24/7 – and they have tremendous resources at their disposal.

Yet the militarists have an even bigger problem, these days, and that is the growing de-legitimization of government in the eyes of the American public. A recent poll has a whopping 80 percent distrusting the federal government and all its pronouncements and works. As in the case of the old Soviet order, people simply assume, from the get-go, that everything the authorities tell us is a lie – and that goes for the “mainstream” media as well, which is seen as nothing more than Washington’s sounding board.

This rising anti-government mindset is not purely the result of economic conditions. Although being broke often inspires clarity, that’s not why Americans are in what the elites condescendingly describe as a “crankymood – as if they were referring to the moods of a spoiled child. What’s really making Americans angry is the growing feeling that everything they thought they once knew as true was and is a lie.

They thought the myth of America’s invulnerable prosperity was real: they took it as a matter of faith that the march of progress was inevitable and the path of human and economic development went ever-upward and onward. Their sense of entitlement is offended – nay, violated – by the events of the past few years. They look at Greece and are shocked to realize that what we call civilization hangs by a very thin thread.

They thought the system rewarded merit, and that “free enterprise” meant rising or falling on one’s own effort. Then they watched, in disbelief, as the “too big to fail” were bailed out, and the “too small to care about” were dumped over the side and left to sink or swim.

They never thought they’d live to see the day when we had socialism for the rich, and capitalism for the poor – and yet that’s the Bizarro World political system we are living under. Plutocratic socialism – only in America!

To wake up, one dull gray morning, to the knowledge that you’ve been wrong about everything, and that the entire social and political edifice of American society is an elaborate fabrication, is a life-shattering experience. What is unique about the present moment is that we are experiencing it collectively, as a people.

This makes our job at Antiwar.com much easier, as you might imagine. I just wish we didn’t have to pay the social and personal costs of acquiring this advantage. Because the costs will be high indeed – so high that we may have to pay for it with our blood.

This country is headed for a social and political explosion. The idea that we can maintain an overseas empire when, on the home front, our rulers are facing the prospect of revolution, is the very height of hubris. The last time a revolutionary movement held out the promise of “bread and peace,” somewhere around the year 1917, there was trouble aplenty, and we all know how that turned out.

If I were the Powers That Be, I would start pulling troops out of Korea and Germany now, before the mobs gathering in city centers all around the country get much bigger. Because they’re going to be needing them right here at home.

In the days before the Crash of ’08, there were discussions among our leaders about how to provide for food distribution when the economic meltdown they expected took down the supply lines. No doubt they are making similar plans for the next seismic financial event, the next lurch downward into the abyss of Depression – or are they? In any case, a key part of that plan has got to be ensuring a level of security so that emergency measures can be taken. At that point, a number of scenarios kick in – will it be Seven Days in May, or On the Beach? – which are better left to another column, or series of columns. Suffice to say here that the Empire is on its last legs, no matter which of these plays out.

This is not something to be celebrated. Empires can fall gracefully, with minimum damage to the imperial power – but only if they are dismantled quite deliberately, rather than simply lost. Because losing implies a fight to retain it, a battle that slowly (or rapidly) drains the very lifeblood out of us. The political class has no intentions of relinquishing its vaunted role as the World’s Sole Superpower, and so what we are in for is a ruinous and protracted implosion that pulverizes the social order and flattens longstanding political institutions. What’s left is a void, an enormous vacuum waiting to be filled – but with what?

I’m not betting the new order will be an improvement.

Back in the old days, at the very dawn of the 1960s, when the libertarian movement was just a collection of isolated groups united by a plethora of political fanzines, I remember seeing an advertisement in one of them – the Innovator – for a bumper sticker that read: “Save your candles, the Dark Ages are coming.”

If we are entering the last days of the American Empire, then the non-interventionist movement has nothing to cheer about. Its decline is likely to be just as bloody as its ascent, and even more deleterious to the inhabitants of the Imperial Megalopolis. If this is a victory, then it is truly a Pyrrhic one.

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