Each day, I read the morning paper published here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Using foreign news services and independent publications online, I also read news reports and commentary about international political events. And if Sharon (my wife) and I have finished supper in time, I watch the CBS evening news. I’ve followed this pattern for nearly ten years now and it has shaped my view of the world, including my conclusion that deception is a core operational mode of the empire led by the USA.*
But what I see as “deception” most people I know see as “complexity.”
For example, I started following events in the Ukraine around Christmas, 2013. Online news accounts described the protests occurring on the Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the central square in Kiev. Armed protesters erected barricades, fire-bombed riot police with Molotov cocktails and used huge catapults to hurl loads of paving stones at them. Most of the police were unarmed or used nonlethal ammunition. President Obama publicly condemned the behavior of the riot police and praised the protesters.
In late February, 2014, the Maidan protesters and the elected government reached an agreement for new elections in December, 2014. Several European governments “guaranteed” the agreement and Russia’s President Putin supported it. As required by the agreement, the riot police promptly left the square. But the armed protesters did not withdraw; they entered government buildings, beating anyone who stood in their way and displaying their weapons and Nazi regalia. President Obama again praised them and promptly sent CIA Director Brennan and Vice President Biden to put a plan in place with the junta that had seized power. Atrocities, assassinations, artillery attacks on civilian housing in eastern Ukraine and all-out war soon followed. Obama has blamed it all on Putin’s desire to build a new Russian empire.
Does this strike you as a very complex situation where imperial officials are doing the best they can? Or as a deception?
A second example: al-Qaeda. We are told by all respectable sources that it attacked the USA on 9/11. Only a few days later, Congress passed the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), a blank check for the President to attack al-Qaeda and anyone who supports al-Qaeda anywhere in the world. All of the overt US wars since 9/11 have proceeded under authority of AUMF. Because of the alleged threat from al-Qaeda, at least one million have died and billions--no, trillions--in public funds have been paid to private contractors for military and security-related purposes.
Yet during 2011 in Libya, when the empire wanted to get rid of the Gaddafi government and put someone more pliable in his place, the empire made common cause with al-Qaeda fighters. Since 2012, the same thing has occurred in Syria, where the empire wants to get rid of the Assad government and put someone more pliable in his place.
How do you account for the fact that the empire collaborates with al-Qaeda to get rid of the very Muslim leaders—Gaddafi and Assad—who steadfastly resist al-Qaeda?
A third example: Daesh (as it is known throughout Muslim societies) or the Islamic State (as it is known in Western propaganda). US political leaders speak of it as a terrible threat and Western mainstream news sources give it many hours of sensational coverage. Yet the US does little-to-nothing to require its allies (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan) to stop supporting Daesh. News accounts from Iraq report multiple instances where US planes dropped equipment and supplies to Daesh fighters. Last week, Daesh fighters showed up in Yemen where they appear to be operating in concert with the Saudi military, which in turn is receiving US intelligence to guide its attacks on Yemen.
US political leaders have nothing critical to say about any of this, but often speak of going to war against Iran, a nation that is fighting Daesh in Iraq.
What accounts for this craziness? Does the complexity of the situation in the Middle East require the empire to fight on both sides of its wars, or are these phony wars, manufactured by the empire?
In George Orwell’s famous novel, 1984, it made no difference who was fighting who so long as people back home were bewildered, afraid and paying their taxes. That describes the US public pretty well, don’t you think?
On page 332 of If Not Empire, What? we note that the final book of the Bible (Revelation) describes the forces that bring Earth to the brink of destruction as "homicidal, idolatrous and deceitful." Revelation uses variants of the word "deceive" more than any other book of the Bible. Similarly, the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians strongly associates "the lawless one" with deception, delusion and falsehood (see page 310 of If Not Empire, What?).
* I don’t listen to National Public Radio or watch the Public Broadcasting System. They could keep me as well-informed of the latest imperial propaganda as my morning newspaper and CBS, but I still carry a sense of betrayal from the many years when I trusted them as independent news sources.