Molding the Malleable (Gullible) American Mind

Perhaps the greatest achievement of the corporate-dominated American government, especially during the Bush administration but even true in previous ones, is the ability to influence public opinion on issues of choice by deceit, obfuscation, lies, repeated lies, psychological war techniques, and propaganda. Edward Said, in his seminal book “The Politics of Dispossession” helped reveal how the American public is kept ignorant of an accurate assessment of the Palestinian situation. Noam Chomsky has, in various writings, shown how Americans are lied to and deceived on a whole range of issues. I will attempt to show here some examples of how the Bush administration, using the corporate media and military psychological warfare techniques, has continued and enlarged the pattern of deceit in order to mold a very gullible and malleable American public.

A good example occurred just today, when an American general officer gave an update on the military situation in Iraq. In referring to the motives for Iraqi resistance to the illegal invasion, this general repeatedly provided one and only one explanation of why some Iraqi soldiers would fight and resist the invasion. His explanation is that Iraqi resisters would fight only because they support the corrupt regime of Saddam Hussein and that those supporters know they have no future in a new Iraq under a new, (American dominated) regime. So, no possibility exists that Iraqis could have any patriotic desire to defend their country from outside aggression. No possibility exists that Iraqis could reject the regime and still love and fight to defend their country. Thus, the American, illegal agenda of regime change in Iraq is made to appear the reasonable choice, not only for Americans, but for all Iraqis as well; because the only Iraqis who would possibly oppose invasion would be supporters of a corrupt regime.

In reality, the groundwork for the Iraq invasion began even before George W. Bush achieved the presidency of the U.S. (by transparently corrupt means). An organization called “Project for the New American Century” began publishing position papers and attempting to influence public debate in the late 1990’s. Among the collaborators of this groups were Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and other ultra-right wing conservative Americans with a clear agenda of U.S. domination of the world and its natural and strategic resources. There was no doubt that an invasion of Iraq and takeover of the Iraqi oilfields would be a part of the strategic policy of the Bush administration, based on position papers of that organization and views of the high ranking appointees from that group to the Bush administration.

So, how was the American mind molded? First, a “Pearl Harbor” sort of event was needed to allow fear of terrorism and foreign designs was needed, and the hard working American intelligence community gathered absolute evidence of a plot to crash airplanes into the World Trade Center and other strategic targets in the U.S. The intelligence services and the Bush administration were well aware of the plot, and all the participants, their activities, their flight training, and even the likely date of the attack. By allowing the attack to proceed the opportunity fell neatly into place for the Bush administration to advance its agenda.

After the attack, Bush had to stymie any investigation. He did so by emphasizing the necessity of a new “War on Terrorism” to the American public, and quickly launched a war in Afghanistan, which filled the corporate media airwaves and allowed him to shut down any investigation into the events of 9/11, the handling of the disaster by his administration, or the role of his administration in allowing it to happen. Not only that, but Bush prevented investigation into the linkages of his own family and corporate associates with the families and organizations used by Osama bin Laden. it was absolutely necessary for Bush to distract the American public from the real reasons and background of 9/11 with the new war in Afghanistan against the terrorist threat.

From here, it became quite simple to focus on the “fear factor” and the “threats” posed by all sorts of enemies — real and imagined. Iraq became a threat, even though former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter clearly told the world that the Iraqi arms program was mostly dismantled and definitely NOT a threat to the US. An anthrax “attack” occurred mysteriously in Washington, amazingly even apparently targeting the “opposition” leader Tom Daschle of the Democratic Party. No connection was ever proved or even suggested from the anthrax attack on America with Iraq, but the American public continued to be reminded repeatedly that Iraq might have anthrax or did have anthrax. So, Americans were molded into fearing the possibility, the threat, and the implied likelihood that one day Iraq would attack America with anthrax, despite no credible evidence.

Americans were continually warned of “threats” as if there have not always been threats to American security. Fear was manipulated, along with all sorts of historic events taken out of context in order to create loathing for the despicable Iraqi leader. Saddam gassed “his own people”, and the American public was constantly reminded of that fact, but it was never emphasized that the American government aided Saddam to power in the first place, aided him to accumulate his weapons of mass destruction, and turned their heads from the episode when it occurred, even attempting to blame the gas attack on the Iranians.

Fear and loathing, terror and selective reminders of history were repeated again and again. And the American public has, indeed, bought into it, by and large. Only those who have sought to educate themselves and look beyond the obvious began to understand that they and their fellow citizens were being manipulated by an American regime with its own corporate-biased, militaristic, world dominating agenda.

But no one can fool all the people all the time. George W. Bush cannot. The internet has proved to be a great tool for dissemination of information, including truth (once in a while). No wonder the Bush administration seeks to monitor worldwide internet traffic, and may even one day prosecute dissenters and truth-speakers based on their internet communications.

For now, the American public seems to largely support Bush. Will they do so when they understand how they have been lied to, manipulated, and molded into the pariah of the entire civilized world? We’ll see.

The writer is a member of several falconry and ornithological clubs and organizations. He contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from California, USA.