or How Things Can be Seen in a Different Light
How about the statement: “The
Thussu refers to communication as a key tool for control and authority-maintenance. It was true at the time of Darius (5th century BC), Julius Ceasar (1st century BC), the Catholic Church in medieval Europe, the British Empire, the Communists in the
USSR and Eastern Europe, and… the list can go on forever, but let’s turn to the today. United States
It is an undeniable fact that the Cold War necessitated the propaganda war, but I believe it is important to look at the core reason for the need of propaganda, in the first place. The entire “ideological rivalry” was nothing more than a strategic battle of two superpowers for global domination, while all the shimmering wording was a mere act of public diplomacy, trying to cloak the reality in a well-packaged and easy-to-internalize demagogy. Of course, the superpower battle was waged at many different levels and was manifested in various forms; and yet, its “public face” did not alter the essence of it.
VOA and RFE/RL immediately jump to mind. References have also been made to a state body – IIC – to implement the “international informational activities in support of the US national security policies and interests,” Project Truth being a part of it. (How much more explicit can it get? I bet Orwell was turning in his grave in 1981.) It all seemed to become obsolete by the early 1990s, as supposedly the other superpower was defeated never to rise again. But, as we can see now with the benefit of hindsight, the “end of history” is not that easy to bring about, and there is always an “enemy” to fight out there, especially when you need to maintain internal coherence and unity (hail Orwell and Leo Strauss!). So, the “information war” never stopped, be it against Saddam, Al Qaeda, Ahmadinejad, or even Putin.
Yes, we are all familiar, especially after this week’s readings, with the fact that the culture of independent and private media is very strong in the
, and that it figures as one of the basic principles the American people hold so dear. But then, unlike the majority of other states, the US government is also a true representative of its people and, particularly, its major businesses and other interest groups. The power dynamic is two-way and should be viewed as a cycle: all parties affecting each other. Military and political actions follow certain interests, even if well-cloaked in demagogy (freedom, democracy, human rights, etc…). And even if not directly owned or controlled by the state, the media cannot really counter these interests. After all, given the commercial nature of these organizations, none of the American media would want to be stigmatized as unpatriotic (the gravest of all sins) or to have to deal with the Pentagon. News media, such as the BBC and – especially – Al Jazeera, are largely despised for not playing into the overall American message, and have become targets of the information war themselves (I highly recommend watching the documentary “Control Room” made by an Egyptian-American director, who explores the Pentagon-Al Jazeera tension in 2003-2004). Of course, it is not just the major foreign networks, but at least the DoD can be sure that the strongest patriotic ethos, as well as the supposed “ethical considerations” are resonating among the local media. This, however, cannot be guaranteed among the foreign media, especially if they are owned, controlled, or strongly influenced by their respective governments. Having them privatized (i.e. commercialized), would give the US the opportunity to indirectly influence their message as well, by playing into their commercial interests, which, in its turn, would help to exert political influence. US
Yes, the neo-imperialism claim might be a little over-stretched. But having in mind the current political situation around the world and the need to maintain thorough control of its “spheres of influence,” the