Does Western Propaganda Exist?

by lizard

Propaganda is a word that, when used, seems to taint the user. Same thing with psyop. Luckily I ain’t afraid of the taint (ok, that sounds horrible).

A great example of propaganda happened last month when it was reported that a 4-year old was found ALONE in a Syrian desert. Well, that was proven to be simply untrue. The pictures at the second link says it all.

Conspiracy theory is obviously another term that taints, which is why it’s so useful when bugged conversations get leaked regarding speculation that snipers in Ukraine were from the opposition and killed people on both sides of the conflict. The title of this Guardian piece is Ukraine crisis: bugged call reveals conspiracy theory about Kiev snipers:

A leaked phone call between the EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet has revealed that the two discussed a conspiracy theory that blamed the killing of civilian protesters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on the opposition rather than the ousted government.

The Estonian foreign ministry confirmed the leaked conversation was accurate. It said: “Foreign minister Paet was giving an overview of what he had heard in Kiev and expressed concern over the situation on the ground. We reject the claim that Paet was giving an assessment of the opposition’s involvement in the violence.” Ashton’s office said it did not comment on leaks.

During the conversation, Paet quoted a woman named Olga – who the Russian media identified her as Olga Bogomolets, a doctor – blaming snipers from the opposition shooting the protesters.

“What was quite disturbing, this same Olga told that, well, all the evidence shows that people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides,” Paet said.

“So she also showed me some photos, she said that as medical doctor, she can say it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened.”

“So there is a stronger and stronger understanding that behind snipers it was not Yanukovych, it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet says.

Oh, those crazy conspiracy theorists!

Now, for an example of a psyop, I offer this piece from 2012 describing The Secret History of Pussy Riot. It’s an interesting take that leads me to wonder about the authenticity of the infamous Cossack whipping incident jumped on by western media to highlight Russian brutality during the Sochi Olympics.

There is a line in the movie The Usual Suspects where Kevin Spacey’s character says “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

I think the greatest trick the US ever pulled was convincing Americans it doesn’t use propaganda on its own citizens.

  1. Big Swede

    I love it when the stars align themselves along with your two posts.

    “Just now on NPR’s Morning Edition (yes, I often listen), a story on yesterday’s failed vote on Debo Adegbile began “a handful of southern Democrats joined Republicans yesterday to defeat President Obama’s choice to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division.” For what it’s worth the Democrats who voted no:

    Chris Coons (Del.)
    Bob Casey (Pa.)
    Mark Pryor (Ark.)
    Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.)
    Joe Manchin (W.V.)
    Joe Donnelly (Ind.)
    John Walsh (Mont.)

    And, of course, Harry Reid (Nev.), who did it for procedural grounds.

    Not exactly Sons of the Confederacy.”-Goldberg, NR.

  2. I think it would be uncontroversial to claim that the U.S uses psyops on its own citizens, as well as the citizens of other countries.

    I also think it would be uncontroversial to claim that other nations use psyops on their own citizens, as well as citizens of the U.S.

    Which certainly makes it very difficult to parse what is real and what isn’t. The concern then lies with what our criteria is for whether or not we believe a story to be probable.

    If we can disregard multiple “eyewitnesses”, TV coverage, and hard(possibly planted) evidence because of a history of psyops. Then surely we can do the same for other nations with a similar history.

    Basically, if we can disregard those things as actual evidence, then things we see as evidence within “conspiracy theories”, such as, “same handwriting, the same type of bullets” and a doctor who herself could be a plant, should probably not be considered worthy of consideration at all.

    Even social media sources like twitter and FB could easily be overran by a computer script portraying thousand of individuals.

    I would argue then that we should be very skeptical of anyone, regardless of their position, who espouses certainty about uncertain things.

    • lizard19

      I’m glad you can wrap your head around the use of propaganda by our government to manage our perceptions. that is a concept often met with immediate ridicule. and just because I’m critical of US propaganda, that doesn’t mean I just uncritically consume everything else. one of the best questions, still, to ask, is cui bono?

  3. Big Swede

    And just how do you rage against the (propaganda) machine?

    You countersue.

  4. JC

    Quote of the day:

    “The US media and much of Europe’s speak with one voice parroting Washington’s propaganda, demonizing Washington’s targets, and preparing insouciant Western populations for more war. The Western media, like Western governments, is devoid of integrity. Liars and whores rule.” — Paul Craig Roberts

    This guy don’t mince no words.

    Steve Kelly had a nice link up over at PoM: “McClatchy offers up an example of how it works — or doesn’t”:

    “The problem with stories like the one unfolding in Ukraine is that it is so easy to become a megaphone for propaganda, from all sides. So much of the action takes place out of sight of reporters, especially in a diplomatic dispute, which is what Russia’s incursion into Ukraine remains for now. It would be so much clearer if shooting would break out….

    So if Merkel didn’t portray Putin as unhinged, why would the unknown Obama aide tell the New York Times she did? Because in the world of propaganda, successfully portraying your adversary as being crazy, without any rational backing to his actions, makes it unnecessary to try to understand the complexities or sensitivities of the issues. If Putin is crazy, then that’s enough. We needn’t think any further about what he has to say. And if the New York Times says he’s crazy, that’s good enough for the dozens of reporters who’ve come along since, repeating the comment to their millions of viewers and readers as if it was a confirmed statement.”

  5. I think you guys are missing the largest of all – advertising.

    I don’t watch TV, but I sure write a lot of online marketing and you’re trying to convince people of your way, often through misleading statements and embellishments of the truth.

    You play on hopes and fears is what you do, and if you’re damn good at it they buy your crap and not the other guys’.

  6. Big Swede

    Control the message control the people. One example of resisting the controllers.

  7. Heard Dan Carlin talking about this on his most recent Common Sense podcast. Who’da thunk that Pat Buchanan of all people would have called it over a decade ago:

    “If rising resentment in Russia leads to Yeltsin’s replacement with an anti-American nationalist, full blame must rest squarely with a haughty US elite that has done its best to humiliate Russia. Why are we doing this? Between the vital interests of our two nations, there is no conflict. But these proud people retain thousands of nuclear weapons. A friendly Russia is far more critical to US security than any alliance with Warsaw or Prague. If the US has one overriding national security interest in the new century, it is to avoid collisions with great nuclear powers like Russia. By moving NATO onto Russia’s front porch, we have scheduled a twenty-first-century confrontation. Europe’s sick man of today is going to get well. When that day comes, America will face a hellish dilemma: risk confrontation with a nuclear-armed Russia determined to recreate its old sphere of influence, or renege on solemn commitments and see NATO collapse. ” Pat Buchanan 1998

    I say let the reneging begin.

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