The fact is that the threat to the United States now of a 9/11 occurring with a group of terrorists armed not with airline tickets and box cutters, but with a nuclear weapon in the middle of one of our own cities, is the greatest threat we face. It's a very real threat. It's something that we have to worry about and defeat every single day.
This rhetoric hearkens back to the boo noise administration hawks made during the run up to the Iraq invasion when then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." The mushroom cloud trick is as much of a canard now as it was then, and most Americans have caught on to it. But the administration's propaganda target isn't "most" Americans. The inheritors of the Party of Abraham Lincoln don't aim to fool all of he people some of the time, or some of the people all of the time. They just want to fool enough of the people enough of the time to keep Congress from blocking their agenda.
The Target Audience
At the bottom tier of the target audience is that segment of the non-cognizant right that can barely read a phone bill or write a check. One such citizen recently wrote this comment in reply to one of my columns that criticized the "surge" strategy (reproduced here verbatim.)
If you cant see that this war was success then you wont see that the stragety is working. These idiots cant see past their hatred of Bush. It was good thing we got Hussein out when we did. Its a good thing that AQ is fight in Iraq instead of in Florida. Majority of these people think Global Warming is more of a threat than Terrorism. Political Correctness will hender any other operation that takes place.
Another group in the target range is the military family. The noise machine tells these folks that Americans against the Iraq war who are not part of a military family don't understand the sacrifices service members are making. Indeed, the Rovewellians assert, most Americans who don't have a loved one directly involved in the war aren't even aware that there's a war going on. Yes, that's a fabulous claim considering that most American voters just kicked the Republicans out of control of Congress over the Iraq war, but hey, Bush administration propaganda has never been a fact-based enterprise.
We also have a contingent of reasonably well-educated professionals--lawyers, doctors, etc.--who through political and cultural upbringing are predisposed to support any and all policies framed as "conservative" positions.
Then there's that segment of the Christian right that sees our war in Iraq as part of a righteous, latter-day Crusade against the Muslim world.
We also have a peculiar cadre of military veterans--as personified by the American Legion--for whom blind allegiance to a Republican wartime commander in chief equates to "patriotism."
Again, this audience demographic won't win the Congress back in '08, nor is it sufficient to keep the Democratic majority from continuing to press for control of the Iraq policy. But from the administration's perspective, it may be sufficiently representative of the electorate to prevent a total abandonment of the White House by congressional Republicans, an abandonment that might negate Mr. Bush's veto powers.
Taking the Message Overseas to Bring it Home
In theory, the U.S. government isn't supposed to direct covert propaganda directly at the American public through U.S. media sources. But that doesn't keep the Bush administration from pouring its brainwash into the American psyche through the back door.
On Tuesday, May 22, Simon Tisdall of the U.K. Guardian filed a story titled
"Iran's secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq."
Iran is secretly forging ties with al-Qaida elements and Sunni Arab militias in Iraq in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition forces intended to tip a wavering US Congress into voting for full military withdrawal, US officials say.
"Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq and it's a very dangerous course for them to be following. They are already committing daily acts of war against US and British forces," a senior US official in Baghdad warned. "They [Iran] are behind a lot of high-profile attacks meant to undermine US will and British will, such as the rocket attacks on Basra palace and the Green Zone [in Baghdad]. The attacks are directed by the Revolutionary Guard who are connected right to the top [of the Iranian government]."
This is precisely that "sanctioned leak" style of propaganda on Iran's activities in Iraq that the U.S. mainstream media debunked back in February of this year. But, what the heck, if the administration can recycle its fabrications through the foreign press, the domestic Big Brother Broadcast will be perfectly happy to echo it.
By 7 PM eastern time, the Guardian story had been republished or linked to at Free Republic, Fox News, National Review Online and Drudge Report and other right wing web sites.
Based on what I read in the comments page at Free Republic, the non-cognizant tier of the target audience took this story in hook, line and sinker. ABC News reported Tuesday that Mr. Bush has authorized a new "covert action against Iran" that includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda and disinformation. Based on the Guardian story, it looks like the campaign is well underway.
As the struggle for control of the Iraq policy continues between Mr. Bush and Congress, expect to hear more lulus from Dick Cheney and other administration mouthpieces, but look for the tall tales to come to us via the foreign media.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.