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When propaganda deceives its own creators

The real danger of propaganda is when the people who spout it start believing in it themselves. This is particularly prone to happen in a successful propaganda system as exists in the US where the filters work so effectively that we end up with government and the media living in an echo chamber where the same myths and lies are repeated endlessly. It then becomes only a matter of time before people take as fact things that are flat out untrue.

Glenn Greenwald gives a good example of this in the case of Brian Williams, news anchor of NBC News and thus someone whom you would consider to be aware of important facts about international affairs.

Here is what NBC News anchor Brian Williams told his viewers about this event when leading off his broadcast last night, with a particularly mocking and cynical tone used for the bolded words:

This is all part of a new leadership effort by Iran suddenly claiming they don’t want nuclear weapons!; what they want is talks and transparency and good will. And while that would be enough to define a whole new era, skepticism is high and there’s a good reason for it.”

As Greenwald points out, this is a ‘sudden’ development only if you completely ignore what Iran’s leaders have been consistently saying for the last decade. Greenwald quotes former president Ahmadinejad, ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and another Iranian official who have been saying the same thing as president Rouhani.

I don’t think that Brian Williams was intentionally lying. He is merely the victim of the propaganda system of which he is a part. He unthinkingly accepts the conventional wisdom that he himself has played a role in creating and since ‘everyone’ believes what he does, that makes him immune from having his contradictions being pointed out, except by people with a memory and a belief in consistency.

You see this in action in real time right now with the power of the Iranian presidency. When Ahmadinejad was president, the president was treated as a powerful executive whose opinion was the only one that counted. Now that Rouhani has replaced him and begun his charm offensive, the presidency is being devalued and it is the words of the supreme ayatollah Ali Khamenei that counts, with Rouhani just a figurehead.

Of course, it is perfectly appropriate to be skeptical of the Iranian or any nation’s leaders. But that is different from rewriting history.

Comments

  1. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Guess this explains why the Iranians have been so secretive and hid that underground reactor (or two) .. well, how exactly?

  2. colnago80 says

    And of course, the same people who are proclaiming that Rouhani is the caller of the shots were previously claiming that his predecessor Ahmadinejad was a figurehead with no real power. The fact is that the Ayatollah Khamenei called the shots when Ahmadinejad was president and calls the shots when Rouhani is president. The only difference is that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad were closer together in their rhetoric.

  3. colnago80 says

    The fact is that Prof. Singham is on the record of stating that, if Israel has nuclear weapons then Iran is also entitled to have nuclear weapons.

  4. left0ver1under says

    Of course, it is perfectly appropriate to be skeptical of the Iranian or any nation’s leaders. But that is different from rewriting history.

    It’s not the first time. When the US and UK finally admitted there were no WMDs in Iraq, and never were, the corporate media tried to pretend that no one said there weren’t any.

    The real danger of propaganda is when the people who spout it start believing in it themselves.

    In the case of nonexistent WMDs, the media rewrote history to cover their behinds and avoid responsibility. It wasn’t about self-delusion.

  5. mnb0 says

    “except by people with a memory and a belief in consistency”
    I have always wondered how people, when criticizing Iran, granted the fatwah against Salman Rushdie so much importance but ignored the fatwah against nuclear weapons.
    Colnago?

  6. colnago80 says

    I think they are lying about nuclear weapons. Anyone who believes that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons would have believed in the 1930s that Frankenberger would not swallow up the rest of Czechoslovakia after the Munich Conference gave him half the country on a silver platter.

  7. dean says

    </blockquote would have believed in the 1930s that Frankenberger /blockquote>

    It is always amusing to see people display how out of touch they are by refusing to use Hitler’s name.

  8. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Don’t you think Iran having nuclear weapons is self-evidently a really bad, dumb idea, Wayne?

  9. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Note that Iran is a theocratic dictatorship which has already spewed some really extreme genocidal rhetoric and has openly proudly talked about wiping other nations – nations that have done nothing bad to it – off the map.

    Whereas Israel – hasn’t and is a decent, free and democratic nation.

    There really is a huge and obvious contrast betwixt the two.

    Israel would only ever use its nukes as a deterrent and last resort in defense against yet another attempt at genocide.

    Iran OTOH would probably be the nation acting aggressively and offensively trying to committ that genocide and trying to end our world due to its own misguided religious political ideology.

    Can you seriously (& Mano too) not grok those key differences here?

  10. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @mnb0 : Remember how a few years ago, Iran came out and admitted it had secretly built this massive nuclear complex under one of its mountains that had been revealed (or was about to be) by Western intelligence?

    I suppose that’ was something Iran constructed just “by accident” and just “forgot” to inform the rest of us about?

    I suppose all those nuclear scientists incl. those dodgy ones from Pakistan’s nuclear bomb program – some of whoem got into the news posthumously having been taken out and like how the stuxnet computer virus took out one of Iran’s secret nuclear bases for awhile, guess that’s all just nothing, nothing to see there ,eh?

    I suppose its quite natural and reasonable that a nation with one of the planet’s biggest oil fields and pelntyof empty desert to develop solar if it wants to go the renewables route – as it should – should seek to go for developing nuclear energy instead?

    You really think Iran isn’t lying about its nuclear weapons program designed to get it the A bomb or H-Bomb and other WMDs?

    You really that guillable? Well, mate, I think I might have a spare bridge lying around somewhere available at reasonly high prices just for you if your interested in such a fine new purchase!

  11. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @dean : Always amusing to see what little trivialities people like you fix on whilst so totally misisngand failing toaddress the actyual main points raised against your naive contention that Iran is just a big fwendwy puppy dog and never mind the reality some point out to you.

  12. trucreep says

    StevoR uses the same technique most will use when you ever try to have an honest discussion about Iran and our policies towards them. See, it’s clever – StevoR will suggest than any perceived slight against Israel (or any compliment given to Iran) as giving support for all of Iran and it’s policies. See how he accuses dean of contending “that Iran is just a big ‘fwendwy’ puppy dog,” using sarcastic w’s there, with no actual evidence of dean saying or thinking that. And it goes on. This is how the debate is shut down before it can happen – anyone critical of Israel or our policies thus far towards Iran must be discredited or silenced.

    I have not seen a single report on this where the person is being anything but cautiously optimistic about where this is going. Cautiously optimistic is how I would describe the “most-fervent” reports in favor of diplomacy. But nowhere is anyone suggesting that we take what Rouhani is saying at face-value and discarding 30 years of history. You do nothing to help this debate.

    And I guess my question is, how long do you expect or WANT these types of relations going on?? After some point, we need to be diplomatic and actually work with other countries to a peaceful solution to our problems. I’m not going to pretend Iran is innocent of any wrongdoing, but you seem very very eager (StevoR) to proclaim Israel as this bastion of innocence and good-doing, tragically caught between evil as it’s just trying to promote peace. Give me a break.

  13. colnago80 says

    Yes, Iran has launched terrorist attacks via its puppet Hizbollah in Israel, Lebanon, and Syria. They have also launched terrorists attacks in Argentina, amongst other places.

  14. colnago80 says

    leftOver1under is a liar. There certainly were chemical weapons in Iraq which were found and neutralized by the UN inspectors after the 1990 Gulf war. Their nuclear bomb facility was destroyed by Israel in 1981 and they were unable to reconstitute it. In addition, Iran had partially financed a nuclear bomb facility in Syria which was destroyed by Israel (or possibly the US with Israel agreeing to carry the can) several years ago.

  15. bmiller says

    I think it is questionable assumption that the United States, the only country in history to use nuclear weapons on two civilian populations, should have nuclear weapons. Let alone thousands of them

  16. bmiller says

    Are SteveoR and colnago80 sock puppets? Because it seems like they are always acting like some kind of dire Greek Chorus.

  17. colnago80 says

    Re bmiller

    The possession of nuclear weapons by the USA is something of a historical accident, based on the mistaken assumption that Nazi Germany was undertaking such a development. Thus physicist Leo Szilard authored a letter which Albert Einstein signed suggesting to President Roosevelt that the US should undertake the development of such weapons as, being as they were refugees from Nazi Germany, they were deathly afraid that a German bomb would mean victory for Germany. As it turned out, because of an error by Werner Heisenberg as to how much U235 would be required for a chain reaction, Frankenberger put the German bomb on the back burner

    After the war, there was a controversy over whether development of an H bomb should be pursued, mostly between J. Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller. Teller won out, fortunately for the US as the former Soviet Union was hell bent on the development of H bombs that culminated in the infamous Tsar bomb of 100 megatons.

    IMHO, the nuclear standoff that evolved between the US and the former Soviet Union probably prevented WW 3; sans nuclear weapons, there is every possibility that smaller wars like Korea, Vietnam, the invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan could easily have escalated into an all out war that, even sans nuclear weapons, would have been more destructive the WW 2.

  18. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @Mano Singham (September 30, 2013 at 12:47 pm)

    ” CAn you tell me when Iran last attacked any other country?”

    Sure can. Back in the Iraq war when Iranians aided and supplied the Iraqi Jihadists against the US authorities, back in the Gaza wars where Iranians armed and trained Hamas and Hezbollah and sheltered at least the Hamas leaders, plus in Syria presently Iran is attacking through its proxies and using Syria as a training ground as well.

    When a nation is, like Iran, a huge sponsor of global Islamist terrorism it is attacking really almost everyone on the globe. Iran has been the worlds leading sponsor of terrorism for many decades now.

  19. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Yep. Interesting fact one of those who took part in Operation Opera to destroy Iraq’s nuclear reactor :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Opera

    was Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon who perished in when the orbiter Columbia broke up on re-entry in 2003.

    Israel was very heavily criticised for destroying Iraq’s reactor back in 1981 but in hindsight they were absolutely right to do so and thank whatever they did. And that Israel also helpfully and smartly took out the reactor Syrian dictator Bashar Assad was building more recently. It would be really nice if more people appreciated these acts and for once the world actually supported and stood behind Israel when (if?) it acts again to stop Iran getting WMDs in the same way.

  20. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ trucreep :

    StevoR will suggest than any perceived slight against Israel (or any compliment given to Iran) as giving support for all of Iran and it’s policies.

    Emphasis added.

    Your own “clever” use of language is noted here. Putting it more accurately I (& others) will respond to real unfair criticism of Israel by those who single the world’s one and only Jewish state out for special treatment whilst usually ignoring the far worse crimes committed by Israel’s Islamic neighbours.

    (For instance, did you know Jordan in the 1970′s killed more Palestinians than Israel did? Or that a very high number of Palestinian victims during the intifadas were victims of Palestinians killing other Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel?)

    See how he accuses dean of contending “that Iran is just a big ‘fwendwy’ puppy dog,” using sarcastic w’s there, with no actual evidence of dean saying or thinking that.

    Because dean has come across as naive and is typical of that sort of mindset ignoring reality and focusing on trivialities of what those disagreeing with them are saying rather than the actual serious points made. If dean thinks Iran is not metaphorically a “fwendwy puppy dog” then dean is very welcome to comment and say so and disprove me.

    I have not seen a single report on this where the person is being anything but cautiously optimistic about where this is going.

    I’m cautiously optimistic myself – but also realistic to add a couple of caveats to stop people getting too carried away. I consider that something of a public service and educating those whose understanding of reality is dangerously poor or misinformed.

    I guess my question is, how long do you expect or WANT these types of relations going on??

    I want Iran to change ASAP and lose the Islamist mindset and theocratic dictatorship which oppresses their own people and menaces the rest of the planet. I hope Rouhani turns out to be to Iran what Gorbatchov was to the Soviet empire and that this transformation happens as soon as possible.

    I’m not going to pretend Iran is innocent of any wrongdoing, but ..

    You sure aren’t going to talk about Iran’s wrongdoings and will criticise anyone for mentioning them?

    ..you seem very very eager (StevoR) to proclaim Israel as this bastion of innocence and good-doing, tragically caught between evil as it’s just trying to promote peace. Give me a break.

    How ’bout you give Israel a break? No Israel isn’t perfect – but it sure is better than most of the other nations in its region. You really going argue that fact? You really going to look at the history where Israel has repeatedly offered peace and signed agreements despite being constantly attacked by those seeking to exterminate it, despite the Arab side constantly violating peace agreements and refusing to even recognise Israel’s existence and then blame and scapegoat Israel for defending itself?

    This is how the debate is shut down before it can happen – anyone critical of Israel or our policies thus far towards Iran must be discredited or silenced.

    So Mano Singham runs the blog where most of the commenters follow his anti-Israeli stance and just arguing and debating the other side of the story is considered a silencing tactic? No. I’m not silencing you or Mano or anyone. Couldn’t even if I wanted to which i don’t. Just putting the alternative side of the story you are too willing to overlook.

    As for many of Israel’s critics being discredited – that is totally down to those critics and what they do and say. I can’t take any responsibility or blame for Israel’s critics choosing to discredit themselves by, for example, supporting Holocaust deniers.

  21. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Whose “SteveoR?” If you can’t even get my nym right you may want to think a bit more before you post.

    Just because people agree on things doesn’t mean they’re actually one person. In fact, more people in the wider western world outside FTB probably agree with us on things like Iran and Israel than with your anti-Israeli mindset. (Which doesn’t make *you* a sockpuppet, of course, although for all I know you could be, hey, on the internet no one knows you’re really a dog! ;-)

    Mano Singham could, I suppose, confirm we have different IP addresses etec .. if that sets some people’s minds at rest.

  22. Mano Singham says

    That is not an answer to my question. It looks like you cannot name a single instance when the country of Iran attacked another country, unlike the case of the countries US and Israel that have repeatedly attacked other countries.

  23. colnago80 says

    It would appear that Singham doesn’t consider terrorist acts instigated by Iran or surrogates of Iran as Iran attacking another country.

    Thus none of the terrorist acts allegedly committed by Iran or its surrogates in other countries (e.g. Argentina) are to be considered an attack on that country by Iran under Singham’s definition.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_and_state_terrorism

  24. dean says

    SteveoR, you’d need to show me where I’ve said that. Your racism and hatred of people who are different from you is showing again. Do try to read what is written instead of making things up.

    Colnago, yes, if you are referring to Hitler you should use his name. Be an adult.

  25. dean says

    Because dean has come across as naive and is typical of that sort of mindset ignoring reality and focusing on trivialities of what those disagreeing with them are saying rather than the actual serious points made. If dean thinks Iran is not metaphorically a “fwendwy puppy dog” then dean is very welcome to comment and say so and disprove me.

    Again, point out where I said Iran is a “fwendwy puppy dog”. I won’t wait for you to do it because it hasn’t happened.

    Lord but you are an ignorant buffoon.

  26. dean says

    …will respond to real unfair criticism of Israel …

    Actually, most often you seem to make up, out of nothing, such criticisms.

  27. trucreep says

    I appreciate the response, I’m sure we’ll have more exchanges in the future where we can continue this :]

  28. colnago80 says

    Hey dean, why don’t you spell StevoR’s moniker correctly?

    I am, indeed, referring to the man who called himself Adolf Hitler. His father, Alois, was possibly the biological son of Leopold Frankenberger and was christened Schickelgruber, with no father’s name on his birth certificate. Alois’ mother, Maria Schickelgruber, eventually married a man named Heidler who changed the family name to Hitler. There is no evidence that he did so legally. I would point out that when I was an undergraduate, Adolf was often derisively referred to as Herr Schickelgruber, after his paternal grandmother.

  29. colnago80 says

    I have yet to see anything posted or commented by Prof. Singham that is in any way, shape, form, or regard positive about the State of Israel. One would think that it is the continuation of State Capitalist Russia or Nazi Germany.

  30. dean says

    I have yet to see anything posted or commented by Prof. Singham that is in any way, shape, form, or regard positive about the State of Israel. One would think that it is the continuation of State Capitalist Russia or Nazi Germany.

    Your mastery of hyperbole is astounding. Frustratingly telling and sad as well.

  31. dean says

    trucreep, you may realize this, but my response was aimed at steveor, not you. If I didn’t make myself clear and wound up offending you, my apologies.

  32. colnago80 says

    And in fact, a number of Israel bashing individuals equate Israel with Nazi Germany, State Capitalist Russia, or Pol Pot’s Cambodia.

  33. dean says

    colnago80 and steveoR, you both seem to be lying about what was said. The comment was that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when President Bush went in, yet that was the often repeated reason for the war.

    Bringing up the fact, disputed by nobody, that Hussein had such weapons years earlier is neither relevant to the current comment nor honest discussion on your parts. (Not that we’d expect honest comments from either of you.)

  34. colnago80 says

    Just to clarify, I was referring to Bush pere, not Bush fils and the 1990 Gulf war. There is no question that the UN inspectors found large caches of chemical weapons after Saddam was forced to admit them to the country. Bush pere never “went into” Iraq and, in fact, famously declined to go to Baghdad. It is true that no chemical weapons were found after the Iraq war of 2003 as they had all been discovered and neutralized by the UN inspectors in the interim between 1991 and 2003.

  35. dean says

    Yes: if he called himself Hitler, and history knows him as such, and that was his name, it is a sign of – I don’t know, foolishness? – to call him anything but.

    About SteveoR’s name: sometimes typing error, sometimes the growing lack of dexterity (and I’m not yelling at you for not knowing, just stating a fact) that I’m increasingly “blessed” with, sometimes not caring due to his extremely vitriolic, not-based-in-reality, name calling and racism.

  36. colnago80 says

    Re Dean

    Actually, it’s a sign of total disrespect for the individual, possibly the worst human being who ever lived, although Stalin, Pol Pot, and possibly Ivan the Terrible and Vlad the Impaler deserve at least dishonorable mention.

  37. colnago80 says

    As I explained above, calling Adolf Frankenberger or Schickelgruber is a sign of disrespect for the dirt bag.

  38. colnago80 says

    Re dean

    Yeah, Mao certainly deserves more then dishonorable mention. His absence was an oversight on my part.

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