Category Archives: Public Relations

Polishing Turds: Lord Bell’s Public Relations Revolution

Morality is a job for priests.  Not P.R. men.

— Tim Bell, New York Times, February 4, 2018

Lord Bell is dead, but his public relations tinkering, with all its gloss gilding and deception, remains.  It was Tim Bell who cut his teeth in this dubious field, assisting Margaret Thatcher win the 1979 UK election through a mix of emotive tugging images with varying degrees of accuracy. It was also Bell who elevated public relations in politics from the level of unpolished turd worship to the level of, well, acceptable turd worship.

Bell’s own preference was for a urinary image, corporate communications seen traditionally as “peeing down your trouser leg – it gave you a nice warm feeling when it first happened, but goes cold and wet pretty quickly.”  As he insisted in a 2018 interview with The New Yorker, “What we did was move the public-relations advisers from being senders of press releases and lunchers with journalists into serious strategists.”

He was the master of focused destruction, the devil’s able footman.  He had a nose for the malodorous reek of public feeling.  Thatcher was impressed by his proudly amoral talents, his instinct to manipulate the record by touching the appropriate nerve.  “He could pick up quicker than anyone else a change in the national mood.  And, unlike most advertising men, he understood that selling ideas is different from selling soap.”

Bell was credited, over generously, with fashioning the slogan “Labour Isn’t Working” in 1979, one that at the very least helped seduce voters into voting for the iconoclastic Thatcher.  He claimed that she was one to worship, a true She-wolf, as he called her with some warmth. “I am a hero-worshipper.  I work for my demi-gods.”

As the co-founder of the firm Bell Pottinger, his list of clients of varying degrees of scrupulousness proved extensive.  PR will do that sort of thing, an easy way out for the complex problem and thorny dilemma.  With the US-led invasion of Iraq going rather badly in 2004, it became clear to the occupation forces that something had to be done about that misunderstood “D” word; democracy would have to be sold, something that Freedom’s Land has not been particularly good at.

In an effort to prevent democracy dying in transit, Bell Pottinger was enlisted by the Pentagon to release a range of radio and television commercials explaining how and why a handing over of sovereignty to an interim Iraq government would take place in June.  The British firm was essentially lecturing Iraqis on the joys, and necessities, of that jolly good system, whatever that might have looked like in the PR-world.  In Lord Bell’s bland words, “We’re trying to keep people informed about the process and persuade them to participate in it.”

Even some advertisers wondered whether Lord Bell was going a touch too far with this caper, noting that similarly vain and flat-footed efforts had been made by Charlotte Beers in 2001.  Can you really advertise democracy?  Harry C. Boyte, senior fellow at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, warned of the dangers of treating democracy as an advertiser’s tarted-up product.  If the product goes pear shaped, democracy would then be held to blame.

Other notables on the retainer list included the wife of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, Asma, who wound her way into Bell’s portfolio in 2006 desperate to join other first ladies and female leaders who had sought the services of the firm.  “She wanted to be part of that club,” mused Bell in an interview with the New York Times.  Something obviously worked: Mrs Assad was subsequently celebrated in the Huffington Post for her “All-Natural Beauty”; praised in French Elle as one of the world’s best-dressed women in politics; and dreamily described by Paris Match as the “eastern Diana” with an “element of light in a country full of shadow zones”.

Military despots such as Chile’s Augusto Pinochet could also count on his services.  In 1998, Bell assisted the Pinochet Foundation in mounting a vigorous campaign to frustrate efforts to extradite the General to Spain on charges of murder and torture.

South Africa proved a particularly happy hunting ground.  Former SA president FW de Klerk was counted as a client, as was the troubled athlete Oscar Pistorius.  But it was also South Africa that would prove the firm’s undoing.  Unfortunately for Bell and business partner Piers Pottinger, their clients, the Gupta family, proved a hard, and ultimately fatal, sell.  Ajay, Tony and Atul Gupta had reaped the rewards of a rich relationship with President Jacob G. Zuma, one that yielded contracts in mining, railways and armaments.  But the brothers felt that a distraction from the activities of their holding company, Oakbay Investments, was needed.

Bell Pottinger were then slotted into the picture to confect something appropriate at the monthly cost of $130,000 over a three-month trial period.  Local and community black activism was to be encouraged – not in itself a bad thing.  The catch was crude but simple: the Guptas’ opponents were to be branded as sponsors of a racist system.  The narrative of “white monopoly capital” was pushed through social media and websites (Bell called the theme one of “economic emancipation”), suggesting that white South Africans were on a rampage seizing resources at the expense of education and jobs for blacks.

Stoking racial tensions in South Africa did not go down well, and the company was expelled from the UKs Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA).  An exodus of clients duly led to the company going into administration.  The damage had been done.  “Bell Pottinger,” lamented Francis Ingham, director general of the PRCA, “may have set back race relations in South Africa by as much as 10 years.”  Bell was by that point out of the picture, the victim of a boardroom bloodbath engineered by fellow publicist James Henderson.

Business partner Piers Pottinger offers the usual sweet snippets to cover a well accomplished rogue dedicated to his clients.  “He was a devoted family man and passionate supporter of the Conservative Party, most famously helping Margaret Thatcher win three general elections.”  Naturally, he was “an inspiration” for those who worked for him.  “Most importantly to me, he was always a true and loyal friend.  Nobody can replace him.”

Perhaps not Bell, but certainly facsimiles of him, who operate with morally bankrupt impunity in London, a city famed for being a hive of reputational laundering.  Despots and unsavoury regimes are queueing for services in numbers and will have much to thank Lord Bell for. After all, he saw good P.R. not merely as a service but an inherent right on par with legal representation.

“Instagram Helped Kill My Daughter”: Censorship Tendencies in Social Media

It is all a rather sorry tale.  Molly Russell, another teenager gorged on social media content, sharing and darkly revelling, took her own life in 2017 supposedly after viewing what the BBC described as “disturbing content about suicide on social media.”  Causation is presumed, and the platform hosting the content is saddled with blame.

Molly’s father was not so much seeking answers as attributing culpability.  Instagram, claimed Ian Russell, “helped kill my daughter”.  He was also spoiling to challenge other platforms: “Pininterest has a huge amount to answer for.”  These platforms do, but not in quite the same way suggested by the aggrieved father.

The political classes were also quick to jump the gun.  Here was a chance to score a few moral points as a distraction from the messiness of Brexit negotiations.  UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock was in combative mood on the Andrew Marr show: “If we think they need to do things they are refusing to do, then we can and we must legislate.”  Material dealing with self-harm and suicide would have to be purged.  As has become popular in this instance, the purging element would have to come from technology platforms themselves, helped along by the kindly legislators.

Any time the censor steps in as defender of morality, safety and whatever tawdry assertions of social control, citizens should be alarmed.  Such attitudes are precisely the sorts of things that empty libraries and lead to the burning of books, even if they host the nasty and the unfortunate.  Content deemed undesirable must be removed; offensive content must be expunged to make us safe.  The alarming thing here is that compelling the tech behemoths to undertake such a task has the effect of granting them even more powers of social control than before. Don’t they exert enough control as it is?

While social media giants can be accused, on a certain level, of faux humanitarianism and their own variant of sublimated sociopathic control (surveillance capitalism is alive and well), they are merely being hectored for the logical consequence of sharing information and content. This is set to become more concentrated, with Facebook, as Zak Doffman writes, planning to integrate Instagram and WhatsApp further to enable users “across all three platforms to share messages and information more easily”.  Given Facebook’s insatiable quest for advertising revenue, Instagram is being tasked with being the dominant force behind it.

The onus on production and exchange is on customers: the customers supply the material, and spectacle.  They are the users and the exploited.  This, in turn, enables the social media tech groups to monetise data, trading it, exploiting it and tanking privacy measures in the process.  The social media junkie is a modern, unreflective drone.

In doing so, an illusion of independent thinking is created, where debates can supposedly be had, and ideas formed.  The grand peripatetic walk can be pursued.  Often, the opposite takes place: groups assemble along lines of similar thought; material of like vein is bounced around under the impression it advances discussion when it merely provides filling for a cork-lined room or chamber of near-identical thinking.  All of this is assisted by the algorithmic functions performed by the social media entities, all in the name of making the “experience” you have a richer one.  Far be it in their interest to make sure you juggle two contradictory ideas at the same time.

Instagram’s own “Community Guidelines” have the aim of fostering and protecting “this amazing community” of users.  It suggests that photos and videos that are shared should only be done by those with a right to do so.  Featured photos and videos should be directed towards “a diverse audience”.  A reminder that the tech giant is already keen on promoting a degree of control is evident in restrictions on nudity – a point that landed the platform in some hot water last year.  “This includes photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks.”  That’s many an art period banished from viewing and discussion.

The suicide fraternity is evidently wide enough to garner interest, even if the cult of self-harm takes much ethical punishment from the safety lobby.  Material is still shared.  Self-harm advisories are distributed through the appropriate channels.

Instagram’s response to this is to try to nudge such individuals towards content and groups that might just as equally sport reassuring materials to discourage suicide and self-harm.  Facebook, through its recently appointed Vice-President of Global Affairs, Sir Nick Clegg, was even happy to point out that the company had prevented suicides: “Over the last year, 3,500 people who were displaying behaviour liable to lead to the taking of their own lives on Facebook were saved by early responders being pointed to those and people and intervening at the right time.”

This is all to the good, but such views fail in not understanding that social media is not used or engaged in to change ideas so much as create communities who only worship a select few.  The tyranny of the algorithm is a hard one to dislodge.

In engaging such content, we are dealing with narcotised dragoons of users, the unquestioning creating content for the unchallenged. That might prove to be the greatest social crime of all, the paradox of nipping curiosity rather than nurturing it, but instead of dealing with the complexities of information from this perspective, governments are going to make technology companies the chief censors.  It might well be argued that enough of that is already taking place as it is, this being the age of deplatforming.  Whether it be a government or a social media giant, the same shoddy principle is the same: others know better than you do, and you should be protected from yourself.

Drawing Straws: It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for an American to understand the truth

In a sense, blowback is simply another way of saying that a nation reaps what it sows. Although people usually know what they have sown, our national experience of blowback is seldom imagined in such terms because so much of what the managers of the American empire have sown has been kept secret.

It is time to realize, however, that the real dangers to America today come not from the newly rich people of East Asia but from our own ideological rigidity, our deep-seated belief in our own propaganda.

― Chalmers Johnson, Blowback, Second Edition: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire

There are no more leaps of faith, or get out of jail cards left anymore.

The first casualty of war is truth.

Lofty heights of defining the first amendment are just overlooks onto the crumbling mythology of a democracy, where the people – citizens — vote for laws directly. We have a republic, a faulty one, the source of which is the power derived from billionaires, financiers, arms merchants, K-Streeters and the attendant moles allowing the government to break every charter of human concern.

So, in that regard, we in this corptocracy have the right to be fooled every minute, suckered to not know a goddamned thing about democracy in big quotes.

The very concept of manufactured consent and a controlled opposition destroys much of the power of agency and so-called freedom of assembly, association and travel.

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.

― Noam Chomsky, The Common Good

The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.

― Vladimir Lenin

But, alas, we have blokes who see the world not as a black and white dichotomous illusion of the for v. against bifurcation, but a world of flowing back to what words should mean, a world that allows the filters to be smashed like high polished glass and instead deploying a magnifying glass to point toward the very source of the blasphemies and strong arm robberies that have been occurring in the Republic the very first moment the beaver hat was put on and the first treaty scripted by the powdered wigs of Washingtonian Fathers and broken, ripped to shreds, seeded with the dark force that is the white race.

Here comes Tools for Transparency into the mix of triage to uphold the declaration of independence, and the few tenets of the constitution that are supremely directed to we-by-for-because of the people, AND not the corporation, monopoly, Military-Retail-Finance-Ag-Energy-Pharma-Prison-Medical-Toxins-IT-Surveillance-Legal Complex. This project is the brainchild of a former Marine who “came to life late in the world” of pure skepticism about the powers that be and his own questioning of the motivations and machinations of his government and political representatives. Sometimes it’s hard to don and doff the uniform of a trained/manipulated/choregraphed killer and make any sense of the orders belted out and campaigns designed with no benefit to the invaded peoples other than the demented good (bad) for that gluttonous octopus parasite called capitalism as it entangles its tentacles on each invaded country’s birthright, history, natural resources, land and people through the power of the high explosives bomb and the usury bond.

“Heck, before starting this project, I didn’t even know we had 535 representatives in Congress,” states Brian Hanson.

So goes the beginning of this start up, Tools for Transparency, an on-line clearing house for what Hanson hopes will be a light shed onto all the backroom dealings we as consumers of news just aren’t privy to. Or that’s at least what Brian Hanson is shooting for in this atmosphere of “fake” news, “really fake” news, “non” news, “no” news, “distracting” news “manufactured” news, “rabbit hole” news, “lies are truths” news, or newspeak.

The Beaverton, Oregon, resident is the father of this platform which is still in its infancy, as the former Marine throws his all into the project.

The 37-year-old Hanson is a Pacific Northwest product, having dropped out of traditional high school and landing up in an alternative high school where the instructors were outside the box. He recalls reading Shakespeare, doing two weeks of study on the Nez Perce peoples, and a class report on the Battle of Wounded Knee. With gusto, he told me that his class made a video of the trail of tears and presented it to the local Shriners.

For this father of a special needs daughter, he easily lets roll off his tongue, “black sheep,” both an emblematic moniker and symbolic of his travails, having stuck with him throughout his life, from high school, to the Marines (“where I learned to get responsible”) to today: divorced, single dad, precarious income stream. On top of that, he’s living in his elderly parents’ garage/converted small studio apartment.

After the Marines, where he specialized in communications, and field wiring, he worked on a community college degree, eventually ending up with a BA from Portland State University in psychology.

The disciplines of cognitive behavior therapy and behavior analysis “got to me” first in college, initially through the inspiring teaching of a San Bernardino community college instructor who helped the young Hanson stick it out after Hanson smashed up bones in a motorcycle accident: a spill that caused him to miss half the classes. This faculty member went the extra mile, Hanson says, allowing him to do outside work and test make-ups.

I was fresh out of the military and had no idea what I was doing. This professor missed dinners with his family, missed his kids’ recitals, to allow me to make up tests. . . . I’ve been a lifelong feminist because of this man, who instructed me on his own philosophy tied to feminism. I never had a male role model like that before.

Hanson kicked around, came back to Beaverton, worked with developmental disabled youth and then foster youth, where I met him when we were both case managers for 16-to 21-year-old foster youth.

We talk a lot about consumable information, as Hanson explains his gambit with his new information web company. It’s an age-old conundrum, what George Lakoff puts down as narrative framing. That was a big issue in the Bush Junior (W) election cycle, how born-with-a-silver-spoon George W had snookered Joe Six-Pack and NASCAR country with his Yale education, dicey National Air Guard record and Bush’s rich charmed life, getting a professional baseball team (Texas Rangers) as part of the family bargain.

The illustration is dramatic to both Hanson and myself, as we talked about Mad Men, the Edward Bernays and Milton Friedman schools of propaganda, framing stories (lies) and setting out to paint good people as bad, heroic politicians like Salvador Allende of Chile as Commie Baby Killers. Even now, Bush, the instigator of chaos in the Middle East, with all the cooked up lies and distractions of his own stupidity (like Trump), and, bam, W is reclaimed (in the mainstream mush media) as something of a good president, and especially by the likes of the Democratic Party misleadership. Bush, millionaire, entitled, crude, racist, and, bam again, we have dirt poor kids from Appalachia or Akron joining up through the economic draft of standing down the armies of burger flippers to fight illegal wars, and then to come home creaking decrepit shells of their old young selves to fight for oil and geopolitical checkmate brinkmanship of the World Bank and Goldman Sachs order. Here we have an old Connecticut political family, from Prescott Bush, putting the grandson out on tens of thousands of acres of scrub brush near Waco, Texas, with 4×4 hefty pick-up trucks and chainsaws (George is deathly afraid of horses), and we’re all good to call him a man’s man, roughing it West Texas.

Honest George or Rough-rider Teddy or Ahh Shucks Reagan, Yes We Can/Si Se Puede Obama, One Thousand Points of Light Bush Sr., Make America Great Again Trump — the news isn’t the news, and patriotism is the graveyard of scoundrels and their bromides.

A huge turning point for Brian was this last election cycle, with Trump getting guffaws and trounced in the court of public opinion as a wimp, liar, cheat, misogamist, racist, buffoon, narcissist, from people all over the political spectrum, during the beginning of the election cycle. But then once Trump got in, family feuds and friendship breaks occurred: “How was it that this relationship I had with a male buddy, a true friend, going on 27 years, just gets dumped because I was questioning Trump as a viable candidate and questioning his integrity?”

The age-old battle – turning blue in the face trying to explain to a friend, or anyone, that candidate x is this and that, based on the historical record. In Trump’s case, there is a long written, legal, quotable/citable record of this guy’s dirty dealings, bad business decisions, his lechery, racism, sexism, blatant unmitigated arrogance, criminality. For Hanson, it’s a no-brainer that anyone in their right mind might question Trump’s validity and viable character when he threw his toupee into the ring.

A great friend just dropped Brian. Took him off social media, stopped socializing, screen to black, and this broken friendship was racing through Hanson’s mind because of the new normal: the targeted toxicity of social media feeds, and the social and psychological conditioning which this huge chasm between red state/blue state ideology has meted out to an already bifurcated flagging American consumerist society.

Even having a respectable, clean and thorough debate about Trump is almost impossible, Hanson said while we talked over beers at the Yukon Bar in Sellwood. This huge cultural divide exists as far as individuals’ skills sets and critical thinking skills. The more technical the stuff like climate change or the deep state military industrial complex, people’s world views get challenged. They just don’t have the tools to dig deep into a bill passed (and endorsed) by their local representatives.

Again, “consumable” as a tool to enlightenment or at least knowledge comes up in our conversation, and Hanson has done the following thought experiment literally hundreds of times – “I hear an opinion in the news – FOX, MSNBC, the Young Turks – and I can spend four hours digging up truths, and how that opinion got to us.” What he’s found is the consumable stuff the typical news consumer gets is absolutely counter to the reality of that news’ origins, facts and context.

His Tools for Transparency cuts through the opinion, and as he proposes, makes the world news and the even more Byzantine and elaborate proposed legislation and lobbying groups behind “the news” approachable, again, consumable.

He taps into his college days taking courses in industrial organizational psychology, seemingly benign when the American Psychological Association gets to mash the term into a three-fold brochure by defining it for prospective students as business as usual for corporations, and humanity is better because of this sort of manipulative psychology, but . . .

In reality, it’s the science of behavior in the workplace, organizational development, attitudes, career development, decision theory, human performance, human factors, consumer behavior, small group theory and process, criterion theory and development and job and task analysis and individual assessment. It’s a set of tools to keep workers down spiritually and organizationally, disconnected, fearful, confused and ineffectual as thinkers and resisters, and inept at countering the abuse of power companies or bureaucracies wield over a misinformed workforce.

The shape of corporations’ unethical behavior, their sociopathic and the draconian workplace conditions today are largely sculpted and defined by these behavior shapers to include the marketers and the Edward Bernays-inspired manipulators of facts and brain functioning. This begs the question for Hanson, just what are today’s hierarchy of needs for the average American? Physiological; Safety; Love/Belonging; Esteem; Self-Actualization.

Of course, Maslow added human’s innate drive toward curiosity. Ironically, the lower scaffolds of the pyramid are deemed primitive – eating, sleeping, drinking, as are the safety needs and social needs such as friendship and sexual intimacy. In one sense, we see it played out – one cannot philosophize on an empty stomach and for Aristotle, his observation is prescient – ‘all paid work absorbs and degrades the mind.’

Hanson and I talk about the existential threats of climate change, terrorists, war, and our own mortality. We are in that hyper-speed moment in history when technology changes at breakneck speed, and disruptive technologies’ create disruptive economies which in turn give us disruptive communities.

We are avoiding the inevitability of collapse, peak oil, peak everything, so we construct comforting (read: dopamine-triggering and sedating) realities, tied to bourgeois values, consumeristic habits, customs, degraded culture, moral codes that are antithetical to our own agency, and, then, religious fervor.

Hanson states:

How do they get us to take actions against our beliefs? This conditioning now is based on not just ‘buy my product’ to attain unattainable standards. Today, we, as a society, are terrified if we can’t attain that level of status or standard,

Hanson’s singular (one of several) bottom lines is that his Tools for Transparency has to find a way to be consumable, and a second one Hanson repeats posits the solutions to our problems have to be profitable: “How can he create a market for alternative information profitable?”

Tools for Transparency uses the platform Patreon, founded five years ago as a platform that allows patrons to pay a set amount of money every time an artist creates a work of art. Hanson’s web site and service, then depends on loyalty, fee-paying patrons.

The result thus far for Hanson is nascent, but growing. I asked him how his daily routine tied to this dream can be synthesized in a nutshell:

My daily routine is actually starting to wrap up at this point, it has never been very consistent as a single start-up founder anyways. For the most part my site is not sophisticated enough to continue in perpetuity yet. Too many requirements for data and input that cannot be done on a static basis. So I am mostly working on a static prototype I can display, build an audience with.

For the most part I have been diving headfirst into legislative bulk data sets. Making connections between publications, finding creative ways to link (intentionally I think) differently formatted data together. Working to construct cohesive and understandable information. When I get tired of staring at data sheets, I will work to develop relationships with business people, work on marketing techniques, reaching out to colleges and programs, learning about business development, corporate securities, federal regulations pertaining to my business, or some general outreach (mostly family right now, you’re the first real contact outside my main family I am working with). There really isn’t anything routine about what I am doing, because it is mostly just me and a single developer friend working on the site.

We talked about other issues tied the militarization of society, and I posed some long-winded questions cut and pasted below:

1. What makes what you are doing relevant to the click bait/screen addicted generation?

2. You say you were terrified for the lives of the family members, the country. Blacks and Hispanics tell me that finally, the whites get what we have been experiencing for decades, since the beginning of the country. Speak to that reality. This has been and is a white supremacist country, and with that operating procedure/system, poor people, disenfranchised people, people of color especially, are on the chopping block for those white elitists and the militarized mentality of law enforcement and even our daily lives as a renter class.

He and I talk much about Black Lives Matter, and why this new movement is relevant in 2018 as it would have been in 1950 USA or 1850 America.

And I do not for a second believe it has ever not been exactly this way. Every regime has to have a solider class that it uses to enforce the social hierarchy. And the solider class is always expected to use violence to enforce ideology. The threats are always transient, ever shifting, but the response is doggedly the same. Authoritarianism flourishes in this environment, we sacrifice freedoms for security, and our world shrinks a little more.

Brian believes there is an awakening today in this country, and that the examples of movements such as those in Portland where youth are out yelling against the police state, and then how we are seeing individual officers returning firing with violence against those youth:

The viral video of an officer drawing his pistol on a group of school age children is terrifying.

We talk a lot about the devaluing of language and intentional discourse which includes the abilities of a society to engage in lively and cogent debate. For me, I know the forces of propaganda are multi-headed, multi-variant, with so much of American life seeded with lies, half-truths, duplicitous and twisted concepts, as well as inaccurate and spin-doctored history, which has contaminated a large portion of our society, up and down the economic ladder, with mind control.

Unfortunately, our language now is inextricably tied to emotions, as we see leftists (what’s that?) and so-called progressives screaming at the top of their lungs how Trump is the worst president ever. Black so-called activists, journalists, stating how the empire (sky) is falling because Trump talked with Putin. Imagine, imagine, all those millions upon millions of people killed because of all the other presidents’ and their thugs’ policies eviscerating societies, all those elections smeared, all those democracies mauled, all those citizens in the other part of the world hobbled by America’s policies, read “wars, occupations, embargoes, structural violence.” It is a daily reminder for us all that today, as was true yesterday, that we are ruled by masters of self-deception and our collective society having a feel good party every day while we plunder the world. Doublethink. Here:

Orwell’s point:

To tell deliberate lives while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

Herein lies the problem – vaunting past presidents on pedestals while attacking this current deplorable, Donald Trump. The reality is the US has been run by an elite group of militarists, and by no means is Trump the worst of the worst, which is both illogical and unsupported by facts:

Yet, we have to mark the words and wisdom of those of us who have been marking this empire’s crimes, both internal and external, for years. Here, Paul Edwards over at Counterpunch hits a bulls-eye on the heart of the matter:

After decades of proven bald-faced crime, deceit and the dirtiest pool at home and abroad, the CIA, FBI, NSA, the Justice Department and the whole fetid nomenklatura of sociopathic rats, are portrayed as white knights of virtue dispensing verity as holy writ. And “progressives” buy it.

These are the vermin that gave us Vietnam, the Bay of Pigs, Chile, the Contras, Iraq’s WMD, and along the way managed to miss the falls of the Shah and Communism.

Truly an Orwellian clusterfuck, this. War Party Dems misleading naive liberal souls sickened by Trump into embracing the dirty, vicious lunacy Hillary peddled to her fans, the bankers, brokers, and CEOs of the War Machine.

Trump is a fool who may yet blunder us into war; the Dems and the Deep State cabal would give us war by design.

In an innocent way, Brian Hanson is hoping to dig into that “objective reality,” with his Tools for Transparency. He might be unconsciously adhering to Mark Twain’s admonition: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Maybe Tools for Transparency will get under the onion peels of deceit, a consumeristic and kleptocratic debt-ridden society to expose those culprits’ origins – where or where and how and why did something like the Flint, Michigan, poisoning of people’s water happen? Who signed off? How did it, the deceit (felonies), weave its way through a supposedly checked and triple-checked “democracy”?

As we parted from a free jazz concert in Portland, he has some pointed words for me: “I will keep working on you Paul to get some hope about society, about the world. I’m going to keep on you.”

Canada’s Military shapes Coverage of Deployments

To the military, shaping media coverage of deployments is what roasting a marshmallow is to a summer camper’s S’mores; there isn’t one without the other.

Even before beginning a small “peacekeeping” mission the Canadian forces’ have an elaborate media strategy.

At the end of June Chief of the Defence Staff Jonathan Vance brought journalists with him on a visit to Mali. They toured the facilities in Gao where an advance team was preparing for Canada’s UN deployment to the African nation. An Ottawa Citizen headline described Vance’s trip as part of an effort at “selling the public on the Mali mission.”

The tour for journalists was followed by a “technical briefing” on the deployment for media in Ottawa. “No photography, video or audio recording for broadcast purposes” was allowed at last week’s press event, according to the advisory. Reporters were to attribute information to “a senior government” official. But, the rules were different at a concurrent departure ceremony in Trenton. “Canadian Armed Forces personnel deploying to Mali are permitted to give interviews and have their faces shown in imagery”, noted the military’s release.

None of these decisions are haphazard. With the largest PR machine in the country, the military has hundreds of public affairs officers that work on its media strategy. “The Canadian Forces studies the news media, writes about them in its refereed journals—the Canadian Army Journal and the Canadian Military Journal — learns from them, develops policies for them and trains for them in a systematic way,” explains Bob Bergen, a professor at the University of Calgary’s Centre for Military and Strategic Studies. “Canadian journalists simply do not access the Canadian Forces in the scholarly fashion that the military studies them. There are no peer-reviewed journals to which they contribute reflections on their success or failure as an industry to cover the 1991 Persian Gulf War or the 1999 Kosovo Air War.”

While the tactics have varied based on technologies, balance of power and type of conflict, the government has pursued extensive information control during international deployments, which are invariably presented as humanitarian even when motivated by geostrategic and corporate interests. There was formal censorship during World War I, WWII and the Korean War. In recent air wars the military largely shut the media out while in Afghanistan they brought reporters close.

Air wars lend themselves to censorship since journalists cannot accompany pilots during their missions or easily see what’s happening from afar. “As a result,” Bergen writes, “crews can only be interviewed before or after their missions, and journalists’ reports can be supplemented by cockpit footage of bombings.”

During the bombing of the former Yugoslavia in 1999 the CF blocked journalists from filming or accessing Canadian pilots flying out of Aviano, Italy. They also refused to provide footage of their operations. While they tightly controlled information on the ground, the CF sought to project an air of openness in the aftermath of the Somalia scandal. For 79 days in a row a top general gave a press conference in Ottawa detailing developments in Yugoslavia. But, the generals often misled the public. Asked “whether the Canadians had been targeted, whether they were fired upon and whether they fired in return” during a March 24 sortie in which a Yugoslavian MiG-29 was downed, Ray Henault denied any involvement. The deputy chief of Defence Staff said: “They were not involved in that operation.” But, Canadians actually led the mission and a Canadian barely evaded a Serbian surface-to-air missile. While a Dutch aircraft downed the Yugoslavian MiG-29, a Canadian pilot missed his bombing target, which ought to have raised questions about civilian casualties.

One reason the military cited for restricting information during the bombing campaign was that it could compromise the security of the Armed Forces and their families. Henault said the media couldn’t interview pilots bombing Serbia because “we don’t want any risk of family harassment or something of that nature, which, again, is part of that domestic risk we face.”

During the bombing of Libya in 2011 and Iraq-Syria in 2014-16 reporters who traveled to where Canadian jets flew from were also blocked from interviewing the pilots. Once again, the reason given for restricting media access was protecting pilots and their families.

Since the first Gulf War the military has repeatedly invoked this rationale to restrict information during air wars. But, as Bergen reveals in Balkan Rats and Balkan Bats: The art of managing Canada’s news media during the Kosovo air war, it was based on a rumour that antiwar protesters put body bags on the lawn of a Canadian pilot during the 1991 Gulf War. It likely never happened and, revealingly, the military didn’t invoke fear of domestic retribution to curtail interviews during the more contentious ground war in Afghanistan.

During that war the CF took a completely different tack. The CF embedding (or in-bedding) program brought reporters into the military’s orbit by allowing them to accompany soldiers on patrol and stay on base. When they arrived on base senior officers were often on hand to meet journalists. Top officers also built a rapport with reporters during meals and other informal settings. Throughout their stay on base Public Affairs Officers (PAOs) were in constant contact, helping reporters with their work. After a six-month tour in Afghanistan PAO Major Jay Janzen wrote: “By pushing information to the media, the Battalion was also able to exercise some influence over what journalists decided to cover. When an opportunity to cover a mission or event was proactively presented to a reporter, it almost always received coverage.”

In addition to covering stories put forward by the military, ‘embeds’ tended to frame the conflict from the perspective of the troops they accompanied. By eating and sleeping with Canadian soldiers, reporters often developed a psychological attachment, writes Carleton professor Sherry Wasilow, in Hidden Ties that Bind: The Psychological Bonds of Embedding Have Changed the Very Nature of War Reporting.

Embedded journalists’ sympathy towards Canadian soldiers was reinforced by the Afghans they interviewed. Afghans critical of Canadian policy were unlikely to express themselves openly with soldiers nearby. Scott Taylor asked, “what would you say if the Romanian military occupied your town and a Romanian tank and journalist showed up at your door? You love the government they have installed and want these guys to stay! Of course the locals are smiling when a reporter shows up with an armoured vehicle and an armed patrol.”

The military goes to great lengths to shape coverage of its affairs and one should expect stories about Canada’s mission in Mali to be influenced by the armed forces. So, take heed: Consume what they give you carefully, like you would a melted chocolate and marshmallow coated graham wafer.

Of Fake News and History Suborned (In War and Peace)

We have blind men, one-eyed men, squint-eyed men, men with long sight, short sight, clear sight, dim sight, [and] weak sight. All that is a faithful enough image of our understanding; but we are barely acquainted with [men of] false sight.

— Voltaire, The Philosophical Dictionary, 1924. Knopf, NY.

[M]ost establishment…journalists tend to be like their writing, and so, duly warned by the tinkle of so many leper-bells, one avoids their company.

— Gore Vidal, The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2001, Abacus, 2001.

I heard the news today, oh boy…!

— John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “A Day in the Life”, 1968.

Brief: The gulf dividing established institutions—governments, political parties, academia, the judiciary, legislature, bureaucracies, the national security state, think-tanks, lobby groups, and especially the mainstream media—and those within and across the broader body politic, particularly those who’d challenge the chokehold such institutions seek to impose on the information and knowledge that forms the foundation of our political discourse as well as that of the official historical record, is expanding at a rate of knots. With a focus on one man who saw it all coming, it’s time to reflect on the backstory of this bourgeoning, perilous impasse, and what the implications might be for geopolitical stability and security, and indeed, the future of humanity.

Living in a Fog of Historical Myth

With an attendant lack of transparency and accountability, the Fourth Estate routinely subordinates the basic tenets of ethical reportage in the public interest to the interests, demands, and expectations of what we now refer to as the ‘deep state’. This is largely driven by the failure or refusal of the corporate media to live up to its basic remit in holding the ‘deep staters’ in turn responsible for their decisions and actions. This palpable, vicious circle, downward spiral reality is especially evident in matters of war and peace. Sadly, as we’ll see it was ever thus.

Trump going all wobbly on America

To underscore such sentiments and prepare the ground as it were, accounts of two recent newspaper pieces should do the trick. A Washington Examiner report by one Tom Rogan called on the Kiev regime to bomb the just completed Crimean Bridge. Even given the anti-Russian fervour in the West at present, the unreserved call by any purportedly responsible media outlet of what is after all an unprovoked act of war against that nuclear-armed country might’ve once been unthinkable.

In the Salem-like milieu that beclouds the Beltway, though, for British analyst Neil Clark such hate-filled incitement, masquerading as “commentary”’ is now evidently ‘thinkable’. More to the point, it perfectly showcases one of our key premises: the propensity for the MSM to act as cheerleaders for the war mongering ‘deep staters’.

We’ll return to the theme of the warmongering press in due course. But a quite different report—as surreal as that of the Examiner, but which also serves to highlight another of the motifs reflected in the opening—appeared via the New York Times. The erstwhile Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was quoted expressing deep distress on behalf of America’s democracy, saying amongst things there was a ‘crisis of ethics and integrity’ therein.

Let’s place to one side the fact he was using the occasion to have a none-too-subtle dig or three at his old boss Donald Trump over the Oval One’s obvious shortcomings in this respect. Ditto for the reality that as the former CEO of Exxon-Mobil, he was presumably never troubled by shareholder anxiety over him prioritising corporate social responsibility (“ethics” and “integrity” being key components thereof) ahead of their pecuniary interests. We might then marvel at why it took Tillerson so long to imbibe this reality and then share such disquiet with his fellow Americans.

After advancing a scenario wherein we ‘allow our leaders to conceal the truth’, and/or ‘become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts’, Tillerson went on to say, ‘we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.’ For the ex-oilman, ‘even small falsehoods and exaggerations are problematic…[W]hen we…as a free people, go wobbly on the truth even on what may seem the most trivial matters, we go wobbly on America’.

Now space herein limits a thorough unpacking of Tillerson’s profound insights. Suffice to say all manner of pundits would have a field day if invited to do so. Judging by what Tillerson himself doubtless views are heart-felt ruminations on the body politic, he sees this as a recent development. Yet contrary to his remarks, this scenario did not arise with Trump; as Chris Hedges and many others have noted, Number 45 is more a product of the malaise Tillerson described than he is a precursor.

As it is, said “malaise” has been a work in progress for some time, with British historian David Andress observing that its roots run ‘deep into our history’. Declares Andress in his recent book Cultural Amnesia: How the West has Lost its History, and Risks losing everything Else, there’s now ‘a crippling void at the core of politics’, most notably in the historically leading nations in the West [Britain, France, the US]. He further says of this “void”: ‘[There is] an absence of reflection so profound it is hard for conventional commentary even to perceive it…[P]olitical perceptions are breaking dangerously free from a mooring in history.’ [My emphasis].

Central to that “malaise” or “void”, of course, is the corporate media, and herein we include the increasingly powerful—and insidious—social media forums such as Facebook, Twitter and the like. We might for good measure throw in Hollywood, Amazon, and the public relations industry as well.

In juxtaposing dichotomous themes of trust and suspicion, truth and lies, facts and propaganda, reality and perception, acceptance and denial, reason and unreason, justice and injustice, democracy and autocracy, and to no lesser extent, war and peace, amongst our literary icons it was perhaps George Orwell who captured all this best. This is strikingly evident with regard to the mindset we as ‘consumers’ receive, process, and act on, knowledge about our history and from there, do same with information regarding the more contemporary events propelled by our political, media and bureaucratic elites and their paymasters.

Of course, Orwell has been name checked to within an inch of his not insubstantial repute. But to paraphrase one of the English language’s other great wordsmiths Samuel Johnson, the man’s observations about the core rationale behind modern political psychopathy have touched little that haven’t adorned our day-to-day reality. These embrace the hidden motives that propel it into the public sphere, the ‘substance’ of the discourse that frames it, along with the amount of people reached and thus influenced by it. The outcome of this rationale as it’s applied doesn’t just suborn our history; by extension, it dilutes our memory and devalues our understanding of it. That it continues to do so is self-evident. At least it is if we allow the ‘evidence’ some ‘breathing space’.

As for Orwell’s insights, what’s not to like about the following, each of which is pertinent in some way to our narrative and authored over 75 years ago?: ‘Who controls the past controls the future…Who controls the present controls the past’; ‘In our time political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible’; ‘Such concepts as justice, liberty and objective truth are still believed in….[T]hey may be illusions, but they are very powerful illusions’; ‘Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations’;…and last but not least, that perennial family favourite, ‘Big Brother is Watching You!’ There are many others on Orwell’s menu to be sure, but this will do for starters.

From there, Orwell also sought to reveal how “Big Brother” and his siblings endeavour to disparage, marginalise, and then disenfranchise (or worse) those who might offer conflicting analyses outside their own tightly scripted ‘Newspeak’, ‘doublethink’ purview. A diverse range of folks from William Binney, Julian Assange, Coleen Rowley, John Kiriakou, Jesselyn Radack, Jeffrey Sterling, Karen Kwiatkowski, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden amongst others would, one suspects, provide ample testament to that reality.

One of the most (ahem) memorable of plot devices in his novel 1984 was the concept of the memory hole. This was a process allowing for the modification or destruction of troublesome or awkward information in order to alter history and people’s memory of it or create the impression that something never happened. Two recent examples of the memory hole in action are worth mentioning briefly, both involving incidentally the West’s current bete noir Russia.

The first is the recent documentary film Remembrance – Rewriting history: Red Army’s role in liberating Europe censored in the West, the title leaving one with no uncertainty as to what the narrative is all about. Suffice to say: Much of today’s generation is of the belief it was the US who did most of the heavy lifting in World War II, as ‘that’s what their textbooks tell them’. Yet as the historical record tells it, compared to American deaths in the European theatre (around 300,000), the Soviets suffered around 27 million or more including millions of massacred civilians; further their country was trashed, whilst America and its inhabitants remained largely untouched by the conflict. Put simply, the US got off light!

Moreover, the Red Army fighting on its own turf killed over four times as many Germans as the US and its allies did on the Western Front. In fact, the D-Day invasion, belatedly opened the second front in Europe in June 1944 after being delayed several times over two years prior largely due to prevarications by the then UK PM Winston Churchill, much to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s justifiable chagrin.

By this time, it was clear the Soviets could accomplish complete victory over the Nazis on their own, but by no means did this mean the allies were going to let them claim bragging rights to such an outcome. In any event, it appears this narrative has been quietly ‘memory-holed’. One is tempted to ask: To what end is this being done? It is straight out of the Orwell playbook.

(The recent revival of the long dormant accusation the Russians were responsible for the downing of the MH-17 passenger plane over eastern Ukraine in 2014 is no coincidence. Again it provides further evidence that the West’s march to war with Russia remains very much on the agenda, with my own country Australia being amongst the most vocal in pointing the finger, sans it would appear anything resembling convincing new evidence.)

And the second “memory hole” exemplar was an extraordinary interview with Mikhail Poltoranin, former Head of the Government Committee on the Declassification of KGB Archives. He revealed that in 1950, the U.S. Air Force actually attacked Soviet bases just outside Vladivostok and destroyed over 100 aircraft. Poltoranin further disclosed that Stalin himself was poisoned; ‘Uncle Joe’ didn’t die of natural causes! This assassination operation was carried out on Churchill’s instructions by British intelligence, themselves assisted by ‘some internal forces’ of the Soviet ruling elite, of which Stalin’s later successor Nikita Khrushchev was ‘certainly one’.

On any number of levels this latter revelation is highly credible. Churchill himself was one of the earliest cheerleaders of the as yet unnamed Cold War with his hysterical 1946 “Iron Curtain” tirade thereby inaugurating one of history’s most consequential of self-fulfilling of prophecies. As well there was no love lost between these two former WWII allies, a reality laid bare in Susan Butler’s masterful 2015 book Roosevelt and Stalin: Portrait of a Partnership. It is further noteworthy that when, during the course of this astonishing exchange, the interviewer expressed disbelief at his revelations, Poltoranin responded with a comment very pertinent to our narrative: ‘We hid a lot of things. Actually, we live in a fog of historical myth…’ The “we” here doubtless included the West!

All Wars are Media Wars (Lest we Forget)

To be sure if Orwell were to be somehow resurrected today and allowed at his leisure to take in the zeitgeist, even he’d be at pains to appreciate how insightful his prognosis was; how much he’d misjudged the power elites predisposition for orchestrated groupthink, perfidy, malevolence, disinformation, thought control, surveillance, censorship, manipulation, and oppression; and the degree to which the mass of ‘proles’ (that’s us cupcakes!) seem all too willing as it were, to ‘suck it all up’. This is despite the knowledge and information we supposedly have available today via the internet and especially social media, not least ironically the author’s own prescient admonitions via his writing or vicariously through others in the alternative media who are clued up on what’s happening! We might easily imagine the T-shirt cum bumper-sticker adage doing the rounds at present, to wit: ‘Memo to power elites: 1984 was not an instruction manual!’ would likely leave the fabled wordsmith at a loss for, well, words!

You’ve read the book, seen the movie, now get the T-Shirt!

All of the above insights into the psychopathologies of the human condition (to say little about the societies and polities that emerge from the way in which they’re permitted to manifest themselves over time), are interconnected, of course. Some of these will become evident throughout. Many others are self-evident.

Let’s continue with another Orwellian maxim not included above, but still nonetheless crucial to our main leitmotif: ‘War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it’. With this in mind, in my own study and experience of history and the human drama and utterly avoidable tragedy at its core, I cannot recall a more precipitously dangerous time for humanity than the here and now. More to the point, when any of us spend time thinking about those who previously served, suffered or died for the noble cause (or the ‘noble lie’ whichever one prefers), even if they’d done so fighting for freedom, democracy, peace, love, understanding and the pursuit of happiness against the oppression, tyranny, and evil intent of the ‘bad guys’ (the de rigueur cover story for the “noble cause”/“noble lie”), they’d be, one imagines, furiously spinning in their eternally designated plots of terra firma at what is now unfolding.

Put another way, what would they think of us allowing it all to happen déjà vu like all over again, especially given what we now know about how previous conflagrations unfolded and the real reasons why? To be sure, for its part “fake news” is now the new “conspiracy theory”: It is the political, economic, business, and financial power elites’ and assorted ruling classes’ preferred weapon of choice in their defence against those ‘heretics’ who challenge the official narratives of western capitalist governments and all those who seek via a range of tools (from cognitive infiltration, false consciousness to cultural hegemony and so many others not excluding plain old school, garden variety bullshit), to perpetuate the status quo. In the final analysis, fake or real, so much of today’s news becomes tomorrow’s history. For their part, the mainstream media mavens and their assorted paymasters cum patrons have adopted this ‘best form of defence is attack’ modus operandi for any number of reasons, not least of which is aimed to claw back the public’s trust and rebuild their credibility.

With the more recent being those in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine, so many conflicts have been feverishly championed by the major media outlets with few, if any, mea culpas forthcoming in the pear-shaped aftermath. Indeed, if anything, they have doubled down. It is largely because of this they’ve squandered whatever trust, integrity, and credibility upon which they might’ve once claimed bragging rights. The very things, of course, that animated Tillerson’s earlier comments.

Yet whilst the road back up on to the high moral ground is invariably a rocky one even for the most redemptively minded, any attempt by the MSM to return there is likely to be little more than a ‘one-step forward, two steps back’ endeavour. And there’d be nothing remotely “moral” about the mission; its end-game will be all about perception management (their stock-in-trade after all), and rehabilitating their generic brand.

Which is to say, their fundamental goal is the same as it ever was:

a) to create and sustain believable, acceptable establishment narratives by which its elites might justify its policy decisions and thereby solicit public support for their often hidden, self-serving, progressively more dangerous, irrational agendas;

b) to provide crucial camouflage for those individuals and institutions (including their very own) they seek to safeguard from public scrutiny regarding their true motives and [thereafter] impunity from legal accountability, and/or ethical and moral responsibility for their actions;

c) to preserve and bolster these illusory narratives as well as to burnish the reputations, then solidify the legacies, of those who fashioned the mythologies and deceits that underpin the narratives in the first instance; and lastly,

d) to establish an unassailable, yet still bogus, frame of reference (historical, political, educational, economic, psychological, social, intellectual, cultural) allowing for successive generations of elites to perpetuate then ‘recycle’ these “mythologies and deceits” to their own ends.

If all this sounds like a purpose built, vicious-cycle, ‘keep ’em in the dark and feed ’em on bullshit’, perpetual motion construct for history repeating itself, then that’s possibly because it is difficult to view it as anything but. With the possible exception of wealth and poverty (issues themselves which I hope to similarly address in a follow-up, companion essay), in few other matters concerning the human condition and its oft presumed progressive betterment, the history of human endeavour, and the contemporary body politic is this more evident—or of greater import—than those to do with war and peace. For most reasonably informed observers of history and how the media works, if attended by an appreciation of the contemporary political landscape in general, they will immediately recognise it for what it is.

Pope Gregory XV (1554-1623). ‘La Papa’ recognised the importance of a good PR arm.

It’s worth noting here that the origin of the word “propaganda”—a concept that in its variant forms is a recurring motif herein—derives from the era of Pope Gregory XV. In 1622, the then Vatican (ahem) ‘commander-in-chief’ directed his cardinals responsible for foreign evangelical missions to establish the congregatio de propaganda fide, aka ‘congregation for propagation of the faith’, an organisation whose raison d’être should be self-explanatory. For some this is perhaps fitting if not surprising. Viewed another way, it’s the Catholic Church (the original “deep state” perhaps?), which might lay claim to having conceived the first ‘psy-ops’ gambit, a Holy See enterprise that around 400 years later is apparently still ‘Johnny Walker’!

It is further notable that British philosopher John Gray in his compelling Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia, opened with the following:

Modern politics is a chapter in the history of religion. The greatest of the revolutionary upheavals that have shaped so much of the history of the past two centuries were episodes in the history of faith—moments in the long dissolution of Christianity and the rise of modern political religion.

And when it comes to the subject of propaganda, per se, although he deserves a ‘chapter’ all on his ‘Pat Malone’, we cannot, of course, not at least name-check Edward Bernays—Sigmund Freud’s nephew—the man generally acknowledged as the father of modern public relations. Which brings us once again back to fake news. The descriptor might have only recently entered into political discourse and popular vernacular; but as the Scottish authors and bloggers Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor observe, it has ‘a long history’. It’s propaganda frocked up in a different guise.

Gerry Docherty and Jim Macgregor

Via their website and their two published books (see here and here), Docherty and Macgregor’s excursions into the historical terrain of the most consequential event of the twentieth century—that being the Great War—have not just provided us with possibly the most compelling, far-reaching insight into the causes and conduct of this catastrophic inferno, but its, well, consequences.

They’ve also delivered us a crucial understanding of how perfidious Albion (i.e. Great Britain) inveigled the rest of the world into fighting this war. With the ancien regime doing everything in its power to provoke Russia into war at present, this observation should not go unnoticed. (Those who think the British Empire as such had passed its UBD by 1945 haven’t been paying attention, need to get out more, or require a check up from the neck-up.)

Now doubtless many folks will be having a “say wha?” moment at this point, to wit: Wasn’t it the Germans who provoked the First World War? Not so, according to Docherty and Macgregor. Even more than that, for our purposes herein, they’ve provided us with a telling insight into the key role the media mavens of the era knowingly played in facilitating the grand schemes of the ruling classes (termed the Secret Elites by the authors).

The campaign to ‘sell the war’ to the British public and to the rest of the world began in earnest at least ten years prior to its outbreak. Although many abound, one example will suffice. This was the dogged manner in which various members of the Secret Elites coerced, cajoled and curried favour in the pre-war years with the various dominions and colonies specifically amongst their respective media outlets and leading politicians of the day—Australia, India, New Zealand, Canada to name the obvious ones—to ensure that once war began, there would be unstinting loyalty from all and sundry to the noble cause.

It was all up, of course, an astonishing political, diplomatic and propaganda achievement, yet one we can now safely say, came at great cost for all those dominions and colonies, with little or nothing to show for it. To be sure, one of history’s greatest snow jobs perpetrated in the cause of perpetuating empire. This was Great Britain’s great propaganda machine at work, ‘an ‘infernal engine created in war…’ as described by author Richard Milton in his Best of Enemies: Britain and Germany: 100 years of Truth and Lies….‘…[b]ut impossible to switch off in peace….The indelible memory of atrocity stories that had taken place only in the imaginations of British propaganda agents proved to be stronger and more persistent than any facts. This curious discovery, the power of myths over facts, was the real legacy of the First World War.’ [My emphasis].

History Down the Memory Hole

Now although it’s been rightly noted that “all wars are bankers’ wars” (underscored by the preceding Orwellian maxim about the “moneyed classes”), few could argue that the “bankers” would’ve had great difficulty selling their wars on their own; a pliant, subservient, gung-ho media is by definition crucial at the outset in mobilising the populace at large and from there manufacturing the collective consent needed to do so.

Docherty and Macgregor’s follow-up tome—Prolonging the Agony: How International Bankers and their Political Partners Deliberately Extended World War 1, the title clearly underscoring what we’ve just observed—drives home the point. Which is to say, the war against Germany wasn’t just ‘sold’ to the world, with the establishment media at the time leading the charge and indispensible to this propaganda effort. The same media then played their own part in prolonging the war by ensuring the public did not lose their patriotic fervour.

Moreover, the British political establishment—incestuously intertwined with not just each other, but with the press of the era, academia, business and finance, and the broader Western intellectual diaspora as well—ensured that through their control over the higher learning and research institutions and the education bureaucracy, they gave enduring, inviolable substance to Winston Churchill’s infamous maxim, ‘history is written by the victors’. (Along with being one of official history’s most acclaimed authors—whose genre specialty we might now say was historical fiction—Churchill himself, of course, was a ‘Secret Elitist’.)

So effective was this propaganda exercise that the false narrative still stands today as the official version. It’s embraced by just about everyone from our politicians, our mainstream media, our academics, our military leaders, our veterans’ associations, and [to] our school curriculum writers and even those folks who end up teaching the fake history. Those rare folk who’d question this let alone decry it find themselves at best on the outside looking in. Herein, Docherty and Macgregor unambiguously lay out their stall:

Lies masquerading as news are as old as news itself, with royalty, governments, public figures and the mainstream media purveying it to manipulate public opinion. In an Orwellian twist those very same groups now employ it as a pejorative term against the alternative media, truth writers and bloggers as a way of dismissing inconvenient truths and crushing dissent. We should all be aware of the state as keeper of ‘the truth’. “Fake History” is another powerful weapon that has long been used by those in authority to retain that power and keep the masses in the dark.

Of course, we can travel further back in time to the Boer War (1899-1902) and the “splendid” Spanish American War (1898) to find examples of Western MSM perfidy in sounding the battle cry for freedom as a cover for highly dubious state-sponsored wars of aggression, conquest, dominion, plunder and oppression. Docherty and Macgregor cite the former as primarily a dress rehearsal for the Big One to follow, a war championed by the British establishment press of the era, whose prime objective was laying claim to the huge Transvaal gold mines. Less ‘White Man’s Burden’ then than ‘White Man’s Booty’ then!’ As they note: ‘Their ambition overrode humanity, and the consequences of their actions have been minimised, ignored or denied in official histories.’

Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst in their heyday.

And though opinion remains divided as to the impact the media played in the US declaring war on Spain, there can be little doubt it was decisive. The ensuing conflict has since been classified as the first “Media War”, with the two most notable press barons of the era William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer going toe to toe and above and beyond the call of journalistic duty in their efforts to inflame U.S. public sentiment against the Spanish and incite an otherwise indifferent populace to man the barricades. The propaganda onslaught included dodgy stories of atrocities allegedly committed by the Spanish against the Cubans—fortified by a conveniently timed false flag attack on the U.S. Navy ship the USS Maine anchored in Havana harbor thereby providing the pretext for the subsequent declaration of war—with then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, budding imperialist, and future POTUS Teddy “the Rough Rider” Roosevelt being amongst the most hot-to-trot of the leading politicians.

If the U.S. emerged from the nineteenth century as a leading world power after this war there can be little doubt Hearst and Pulitzer had done their bit to bring this about as great American patriots might’ve been expected to. As a consequence the centuries-old blood-soaked Spanish empire was finally ‘deep-sixed’ for good with the U.S. taking control of Cuba and full possession of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam, themselves the first baby steps towards expanding its own already considerably “blood-soaked” empire outside of its own territory. For any aspiring hegemonist, this had to be seen as both a good start and an excellent return on their piddling investment, which doubtless contributed in no small measure to its fabled designation as that “splendid little war”.

That Hearst and Pulitzer sold a shit load of newspapers into the bargain—in an age when doing so actually meant something—and cemented their reputations as media monopolists and political power players to be reckoned with was, of course, neither here nor there. But they had in a sense pioneered a prototype of the more au courant phenomenon of fake news, in those days called “yellow journalism”. It is perhaps one of the supreme Orwellian ironies permeating the polity that the most sought after award in journalism, the Pulitzer Prize, is named after one of its most ruthless, opportunistic, and unethical of practitioners.

Whether by accident or design, they’d moreover done their bit to inculcate firmly into the collective psycho-pathology and historical memory of the ruling classes and power elites in America an incipient, and from there an abiding, sense of ‘exceptionalism’ and manifest destiny, the essence of which has been sustained by and large through propaganda. With only occasional lapses, this has framed and underpinned political discourse in U.S. foreign policy, and been a key driver of its interventionist approach ever since. It set the template for the future manner in which the Western media mavens embraced their responsibilities insofar as they were expected to act in the public interest or guide civic opinion for the common good.

Another example that is instructive herein, of course—one which Docherty and Macgregor again provide key insights into—is the way in which the British government, once it found the pretext to declare war on Germany in 1914, then persuaded the U.S. to join in the melee. Here again, the media’s role herein was decisive. The First World War was a pivotal point in the way in which news and information began to be more formally and precisely, albeit covertly, manipulated—and indeed frequently contrived—to serve the interests of those seeking to mould public opinion towards a certain consensual view. In this it is instructive to note it was the Great War that, if it did not quite give provenance to one of the great truisms in the history of conflict, that being, ‘Truth is the first casualty of war’, it facilitated from there its popular usage.

Thus was the age of public relations born, and it was from there that Bernays and his ilk never looked back. At its most basic “public relations” was/is “fake news”; indeed PR became the new terminology designed to replace the increasingly repellent phrase “propaganda”. Such was the decisive impact of this new mode of communication, it’s difficult to see how Americans might’ve been convinced to enter the war on the side of Britain, and by extrapolation, how Britain and its allies could have avoided defeat at the hands of the Germans.

Fake News Good, Real News Bad

As the mainstream media—as deservedly much-maligned as it is malignant—descends further and further into deceptive arrogance and dangerous incoherence, it increasingly seeks, in indirect proportion it seems and with an equal mix of hubris, dishonesty, chutzpah, and hypocrisy, to double down in its attempts to preserve and maintain its façade of credibility and integrity. Western political, intellectual and media elites are veritably hyperventilating at the prospect that their own “fake news” is being viewed for what it is: a desperate attempt to paper over the cracks in the wall of a crumbling Anglo-American-Zionist empire.

It’s instructive here to consider a few of the recent, most preposterous narratives that have been—or are being—breathlessly promulgated. These stories are ones amongst many that no serious media outlet claiming a modicum of integrity or credibility should be touching with the proverbial forty-foot barge pole. That is, of course, unless it’s to refute the generally always evidence-free claims that frequently attend them and ridicule then discredit the person(s) making them. Here are just three of the ‘greatest hits’ as it were, currently topping the MSM charts:

a) the farcical, transparently duplicitous anti-Russian propaganda onslaught emanating from Britain and America that seeks amongst countless other high crimes and dastardly deeds to blame that country and its leader for constant interference in the affairs of other countries, whilst ignoring their own respective, and destructive track records in this regard;

b) the illegal seven-year old, seemingly endless war currently being waged by Britain, America, and Israel against Syria and president Bashar al-Assad, one which he’s successfully fought with all the resources at his disposal despite the combined forces of the empire pulling out all stops to malign him and then terminate him with extreme prejudice; and, last but not least,

c) the increasingly deranged Israeli despot Benjamin Netanyahu reprising once again his tried and true dog and pony show to sell-out audiences advocating war on Iran because he claims they’ve not adhered to the 2016 agreement not to build any nukes, whilst refusing point-blank to answer questions about his own country’s nuclear program.

Whether in the U.S., Britain, Australia or anywhere else in the West for that matter, few of us should be under any illusions that the monolithic Fourth Estate remains steadfastly devoted to the ongoing betrayal of its purported brief by supporting the hidden—and not so hidden—agendas of those to whom it is, and indeed has always been, beholden.

It’s notable that one of the U.S. establishment media’s flagship marques the ‘venerable’ Washington Post—whose high-minded, yet pedestrian positioning statement, “Democracy Dies in Darkness” is so positively Orwellian one suspects its authors were wearing ‘Freudian slips’ at its moment of conception—was given a deliciously outsized serve of ridicule recently by the media watch organisation Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).

And rightly so we might opine. The article, by Adam Johnson, chronicles the Wash-Post’s ‘top ten’ columns that he’s characterised as “sociopathic” in tone and temper. For ‘casually threatening economic ruin, inciting violence against entire populations, pushing for bombing faceless Muslims, or downplaying racism and child rape, there’s no better outlet’ Johnson says of the Post, ‘than [this] long-time echo chamber of power-serving conventional wisdom...’

‘In the pages of the Post’s opinion section, you can say the most sociopathic things and get away with it, because you are, by definition, Serious People offering Serious Solutions in a Serious Paper. The human cost of these extreme, reactionary opinions is of little matter; what matters is packaging calls for violence, sexism and racism in a nice, official-sounding tone.’

Along with ‘pointing the bone’ at the paper’s editorial board itself for its own track record of sociopathic sensibilities when opining about the Big Issues, Johnson name-checks several of their high profile ‘by-liners’ past and present for special attention. These include Joshua Muravchik, John Bolton (now the White House’s Chief Chicken-hawk-in-Residence), and Richard Cohen amongst others. For Johnson, if there’s “one thing” the Post opinion editors love—and which is highly pertinent to the here and now along with being instructive in respect of our narrative—‘it’s columns threatening, plotting and advocating war against Iran. It’s the little black dress of foreign policy punditry—[it] never goes out of style’.

To bolster his assertion, Johnson showcases a piece written in 2015 by Muravchik, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Muravchik’s op-ed piece was titled “War With Iran Is Probably Our Best Option”. Johnson responded with the following:

[Muravchik]…argued nonchalantly that launching a war of aggression against Iran was “probably” “our” best “option.” He doesn’t explain who “our” refers to, or why a military attack was even an “option” to begin with….He [Muravchik] then asserts that Iran is uniquely irrational and cannot be compelled with material needs, asserting that “ideology is the raison d’etre of Iran’s regime” and concluding, as if he were settling on a Thai food order, that a bombing campaign that would kill tens of thousands is the “best option.”

From this above ‘catalogue’ of dodgy Post reportage we might draw the following conclusion: It is in matters of war and peace that perhaps the MSM is most at conflict with the now decidedly old school journalistic canons, these being, of course: accuracy, fairness, accountability, objectivity, truthfulness, and impartiality. The current state of geopolitical affairs and international relationsas existentially precarious as it isshould be ample testament to this reality. The mainstream mastheads are notand have never been known for beingbastions for the promotion of peace, love and understanding amongst nations, anymore than they have been known for their adherence to truthfulness, accuracy or any of the other “canons” cited earlier.

As anyone who’s delved into the real (unofficial) backstory behind virtually all of the major wars and conflicts over the years knows, the “noble cause” is never, ever the real reason, the “noble lie” never, ever justified. And the “cause” will never be the real reason—or the “lie” rationally justified—whilst we as a species continue to tolerate those within our midst whose congenital and moral defects push them towards these ends.

It’s critical for this reason alone then we all disabuse ourselves of the notion that what’s happening now has anything to do with making the world safe for democracy and freedom; enforcing the tenets of international law in the cause of human rights; ridding the world of evil men with evil ambitions as if inspired by some vague quasi-Manichean apocalyptically-minded desire to make the world a better place; or some other such transparently fatuous nonsense. The only thing we’re making the world safe (or better) for is an entrenched, ruthless plutocracy.

The reality, though, is this: We should all try to open our eyes to how we as ordinary people allow our political, financial, intellectual, media, and corporate ‘elites’ hoodwink then railroad us into supporting—mostly without question as if collectively driven by some inner, yet inexplicable, Pavlovian suicidal impulse—their grandiose, self-serving, and wholly disastrous schemes.

Such “schemes”—political, military, financial, economic, psychological, social, cultural, educational—are engineered entirely for the preservation of their own personal material fiefdoms and the collective fiefdoms that were then, and remain, those of power, ambition, wealth, control, dominion, and above all, empire. And in this “empire”, as in all, the benefits are few for the many and many for the few, with “power” (as noted again by Orwell) an end in itself, not a means. In the process, this ‘deep state’ cabal—whom Voltaire might’ve referred to as “tyrants of the soul”—have embraced ever more cunning, manipulative and (in every sense of the word) violent intrigues—and let’s not shy away from it, out and out gambits of the conspiratorial kind to cover their respective and collective asses—making them increasingly less transparent in their motives and therefore increasingly less accountable, before, during, or even well after the fact, for their actions.

As a distinct corollary to this, they’ve sought—ever so successfully and as noted, with our increasing acquiescence—to exercise ever-greater control, influence and power over us, at the expense of not just our privacy, but our social, economic, and political security. This is evident not least in the backlash that is taking place against those folks and groups who dare to challenge the conventional wisdom, or more aptly, the conventional lunacy!


In order to bring things to a close, it is both prudent and relevant to name check the esteemed and courageous Israeli historian Ilan Pappe. As he frames it in his tellingly titled book Ten Myths about Israelthe nation that arguably best embodies and reflects the Orwellian verities we’ve visited herein along with being the one nation to which the deference of the mainstream media seems to recognise few limits:

…history lies at the core of every conflict. A true, unbiased understanding of the past offers the possibility of peace…[T]he distortion or manipulation of history…will only sow disaster….

Of course, Pappe herein is referring to Israel’s occupation of Palestine, along with the subjugationand what amounts to the ethnic cleansingof its original, long-time inhabitants.

‘Historical disinformation’ he continues, ‘even of the most recent past, can do tremendous harm. This wilful misunderstanding of history can promote oppression…’

It is not surprising, therefore, that policies of disinformation and distortion continue to the present and play an important part in perpetuating [the occupation of Palestine], leaving very little hope for the future. Constructed fallacies about the past and the present…hinder us from understanding the origins of the conflict. Meanwhile, the constant manipulation of the relevant facts works against the interests of all those victimized by the ongoing bloodshed and violence. [My emphasis].

Pappe could, of course, be referencing any current ‘work-in-progress’ conflict, such as that which is brewing now, for example, between Israel, the U.S. and Iran; the U.S., Great Britain, and Russia; or the never-ending Anglo-American-Zionist campaign of regime change against Syria, whose allies are, of course, Russia and Iran. Anyone of these ‘hotspots’ could trigger a larger geopolitical conflict, and if it so happens this way, it will be largely because of “policies of disinformation and distortion”, especially those which have been facilitated by the Fourth Estate.

In his seminal book Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, Canadian author John Ralston Saul noted that ‘[R]eason is a narrow system swollen into an ideology. With time and power it has become a dogma, devoid of direction and disguised as disinterested inquiry. Like most religions, [it] presents itself as the solution to the problems it has created.’

Now whilst it’s reasonable (no pun intended) to assume our corporate media elites and those to whom they are most beholden would be reluctant to view themselves in any such light, from this writer’s vantage point, it seems like a pretty good ‘fit’ to me. Put another way, if this is truly what defines “reason” today, then we are ‘mos def’ in big trouble!

Draft Dodger in Chief Dodges “Historic” Opening of US Embassy, Jerusalem

It was NBC’s Cal Parry who summed up the obscenity of Donald Trump’s ignorant and igniting decision to move the US Embassy to West Jerusalem, then to celebrate the inauguration on Monday, 14th May: “Well dressed American and Israeli officials on one side of the screen: desperation, death and fires on the other.”

In 1948, 700,000 Palestinians began their flight from the city and the region trying to escape the massacres by Jewish militias on that date, seventy years ago. Commemorated ever since as the day of “Nakba” — disaster, catastrophe, cataclysm — following them to this day as land is stolen, families expelled and “settlements” encroach, and Palestinian history is bulldozed.

‘ “When the massacre started the (paramilitaries) took a kid and strapped him on an army jeep and drove him around different neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, saying ‘the same will happen to you if you don’t leave,’ ” Abu Kaya said, retelling his grandfather’s story to Middle East Eye.’

…  not a single country currently has its embassy in Jerusalem because such a move is widely considered to violate international law.


Under United Nations Resolution 181, which in 1947 set out the conditions for the partition of Palestine into an “Arab State” and a “Jewish State”, Jerusalem was to be administered by the UN under a “special international regime.

The 1949 armistice agreement that formally ended the first Arab-Israeli war divided the city along the “Green Line” into Israeli-controlled western areas, and Jordanian-held East Jerusalem, which included the Old City.

Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war is widely recognised as illegal and violates further United Nations resolutions.

For Palestinians then, sovereignty over the city is not something for leaders of other countries to determine, as US President Donald Trump did when he announced the embassy move in December.

In the few minutes it took to jot down notes for this piece, the Palestinian death toll of those demonstrating rose from twenty-eight dead, shot by Israeli soldiers, to forty-three. The injured rose from 1,693 to “near two thousand.”

Fadi Abo Salah, 30, who lost both legs in a bombing by Israeli aircraft, was one who lost his life, in his wheel chair — targeted by an Israeli sniper — in front of his wife and three small children. (Palestine Live group.)

Israel, frequently declaring itself “the only democracy in the Middle East”, carried out a very democratic slaughter and target practice. Young, old, disabled, male, female, all were equally entitled to be shot, sniped at, tear gassed.

Tiny Laila al-Ghandour who died from tear gas inhalation was just eight months old.1

Journalist Sharif Kouddos recorded:

Wails of grief inside family home of Laila al-Ghandour, 8-month old who died of gas inhalation yesterday. Her aunt says the gas came from everywhere, including drones.

By Monday’s end he Tweeted:

Sharif Kouddous


Casualty toll from today in Gaza now stands at 55 dead, including 6 minors. 2,770 wounded, including 225 children. Of the wounded over 1,350 were hit with live ammunition, according to Ministry of Health.

“It is unbearable to witness such a massive number of unarmed people being shot in such a short time,” stated Médecins Sans Frontières.

As the Embassy partied and visitors “clapped and cheered”, Gaza’s hospitals, already teetering on collapse resulting from restrictions on all coming in to the besieged Strip — including electricity, with water contaminated — had surgeons operating day and night, with the injured being treated in the hospital car parks even, due to the overwhelming influx of those targeted.

In another world, just sixty miles away: ‘Washington’s Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, stood on a stage painted with the US flag and said:

Today’s historic event is attributed to the vision, courage and moral clarity of one person to whom we owe an enormous and eternal debt of gratitude: President Donald J Trump.  The crowd cheered and gave a standing ovation.1

Deaths had risen to fifty nine.

Of the eighty six Ambassadors to Israel, only thirty two attended the ceremony, with fifty four boycotting and only four EU Member countries attending.


The Haaretz newspaper reported that most EU member States did not participate in the ceremony because they have a firm policy towards the transfer of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It said that the ambassadors of Russia, Egypt, India, Japan and Mexico also did not attend the celebration.

Fallout has been swift. French President Emmanuel Macron in a telephone call to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and to Jordan’s King Abdullah condemned the “violence of the Israeli armed forces …” and again criticized the moving of the Embassy.

King Abdullah, of course, has custodianship of all Jerusalem’s Holy Sites and: ‘has the right to exert all legal efforts to safeguard them, especially Al Aqsa Mosque, which is defined as “The Entirety of Al Haram Al Sharif.” ‘ As far as can be ascertained thus far, it seems that this important, indeed unique, historic custodianship was neither discussed with the King or his representatives, nor even a consideration of the Trump Administration as they bulldozed their way through diplomacy, history and all norms in their Jerusalem settlement.

NATO ally President Erdogan of Turkey has recalled his Ambassadors to Israel and the US.

South Africa recalled their Ambassador to Israel, with immediate effect, as the Embassy celebrations were ongoing.

Ireland has summoned Israel’s Ambassador to protest Israeli violence.

Kuwait moved for an emergency meeting of the UN, which was blocked by the US. A ‘draft statement included language expressing “outrage and sorrow at the killing of Palestinian civilians exercising their right to peaceful protest.” ‘

‘It also reaffirmed UN resolutions on the status of Jerusalem, saying that recent events had “no legal effect” under international law. The statement was withdrawn once the US indicate that it would block it, a UN diplomat said.’ (CNN, 15th May 2018.)

Qatar condemned “a massacre” and “savage killings.”

Germany, somewhat weakly, expressed concern at the massacre saying: “The right to peaceful protest must also apply in Gaza”, via a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman

In the UK, the Labour Party’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry in an unusually unequivocal statement said:

We condemn unreservedly the Israeli government for their brutal, lethal and utterly unjustified actions on the Gaza border, and our thoughts are with all those Palestinians in Gaza whose loved ones have been lied or injured as a result.

These actions are made all the worse because they come not as the result of a disproportionate over-reaction to one day’s protests, but as the culmination of six weeks of an apparently systemic and deliberate policy of killing and maiming unarmed protestors and bystanders who pose no threat to the forces at the Gaza border, many of them shot in the back, many of them shot hundreds of metres from the border, and many of them children.

Throughout that six-week period, the UN’s Secretary General has been calling for an independent investigation into these incidents, one that should urgently determine whether international law has been broken, and hold the Netanyahu government to account for their actions. The UK should lead calls for the UN Security Council to order such an investigation today.

These incidents must also be the catalyst for urgent and concerted international pressure on the Netanyahu government to lift the blockade on Gaza, and end Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. No longer can Netanyahu act as a law unto himself, under the protection of the Trump administration, whose decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem today has further inflamed the situation.

Chile, with the largest population of Palestinians outside the Arab world, raised Palestinian flags outside the main entrance of the Presidential Palace of La Moneda.

Sacha Sergio Llorenty Soliz, Bolivia’s UN Ambassador, read the names of the Gaza massacre victims at the UN session, wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh.

The mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau has demanded an arms embargo on Israel, demanding backing of Amnesty International’s call for a global arms embargo on Israel. Amnesty has condemned: “ … an abhorrent violation of International Law and human rights. “

Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated: “Those responsible for outrageous human rights violations must be held to account.”

Writer, broadcaster and academic, Kenan Malik Tweeted:


Mark Regev, Israeli ambassador to the UK, considers the shooting dead of 58 Palestinians and the wounding of 2700 as “measured” and “surgical”. I’d hate to know what is his definition of “unmeasured” or “non-surgical.”

The death toll became sixty.

From the Trumposphere, Donald Trump input:

Donald J. Trump


May 14

Big day for Israel. Congratulations!

However, on this day of diplomatic thuggery  — which the US State Department flagged as a “historic move” — the five times Draft Dodger in Chief it seems reverted to type. The man to whom limelight is seemingly indispensible, stayed in Washington and addressed the Embassy gathering by video, from a safe 5,897 miles away, dodging any potential conflict, demonstrations, dissent. Trump, of course, pulled out of a visit to London in February, to open the new US Embassy, which has also relocated, reportedly for fear of the massive protests planned at his stay.

The man who can menace Iran, threaten North Korea with: “ … fire and fury and frankly the power the likes of which like this world has never seen”, cowers from peaceful protesters with placards. No wonder he had no intention of showing up in Jerusalem, even as guest of honour, surrounded by steel rings of security, in a region destabilized by the US and “allies” for decades, with the unarmed, indigenous population simply demanding some justice sixty miles away.

Donald Trump, it seems, talks the talk but can’t walk the walk. Perhaps someone also told him Armageddon is in Israel (site now named Megiddo.)

  1. Guardian, 15th May 2018.

Countering Israel’s Public Relations Deception

Military strength is one pillar of Israel’s strategy to incorporate all the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and possibly beyond, into its territorial borders. Other pillars are a strong economy to finance the adventure and a worldwide deception plan that confuses those who aid Israel and, if they had all the facts, may object to Israel’s illegal tactics.  Because Israel devotes excessive resources in a worldwide plan of public relations and deception, its government must sense an importance to that battleground.

The economy is robust but vulnerable, depending upon satisfying imports, armaments exports, tourism, US military assistance, limited contributions from the Jewish community, and providing a social net to marginal communities. Not widely publicized is that, at 18.7%, Israel, other than Mexico, has the highest poverty rate of all nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and is number 46 in CATO Institute’s Human Freedom Index, just below Hungary and just above Albania. Israel is akin to an industry, whose growth once impeded will reverse its trend and rapidly fall, as the social unbalances contend with shrinking resources. Knowledge of the battlefields and recommendations for combating the plan of worldwide deception is essential to a strategy that leads to Israel’s economic and social decline and forces it to re-evaluate policies.

Those favoring Israel have extensive resources and organizations to sustain their efforts. Those favoring the Palestinians have limited resources, and, except for the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) effort have not been sufficiently organized to combat Israel’s deceptions. Yet, countering Israel’s deceptions may be the most vital part of a Palestinian strategic plan  unmasking the clever disguise Israel’s supporters have devised to delude the world from recognizing its true self. Bringing Israel to international scorn can cause its economic and social decline. The plan deserves exceptional attention.

Special relationship

Commentators go to great length to explain the “special relationship” between Israel and the United States, treating it as a unique affair, in which both benefit. This slogan is a hoax, which originated during World War II as a description of the relationship between embattled Great Britain and a still neutral United States. Somehow and somewhere, a clever someone adapted the World War II slogan, applied it to Israel, and managed to insert it in the everyday lexicon. Israel’s protectors use the deceptive expression “special relationship,” to deceive the nature of Israel in most West European capitals. Examples:

The Multi-Annual Strategic Plan for the Palestinian Territory 2012-2015, based on the policy directives as set out by the Netherlands government here:

The Netherlands maintain excellent relations with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and a constructive partnership though our development cooperation programme, while the special relationship with Israel allows for political openings.

Press TV, Jan 30, 2014

The minister met with Israeli Minister of Military Affairs Moshe Ya’alon in Berlin on Thursday. Ya’alon is on a two-day visit to Germany. “This is the first foreign guest I have the pleasure of welcoming here in my function as defense minister. It shows the special relationship between Germany and Israel,” the German defense minister stated.

Visegrad abroad, by Irena Kalhousová, 13. 4. 2012, Czech policy towards Israel. No Hypocritical Pacifism.

Some members of the EU were against the deepening of relations with Israel without the progress in the Peace Process. The Czech plan did not materialize, yet, the “special relationship” between the Czech Republic and the Jewish state remains strong.

Placing the words “special relationship” in government conversations, speeches, reports, articles, and documents so they become part of the everyday vocabulary of Europeans is a significant thrust of Israel’s public relations effort. The words seem harmless but they have a psychological impact. Parental relationship with children is special; parents warn but forgive children for their misdeeds, after all, they are special, which describes western nation relations with Israel. Constant warnings to Israel for its oppressive actions followed by a tacit forgiveness allow Israel to continue its despotic behavior.

The term “special relationship” is childish and manipulative. When the term is used, constant exposure of its nature will force people to re-evaluate their commitment to Israel. “Special relationship” should be replaced by “duplicitous relationship,” a term that more accurately describes any relationship with Israel.


Almost an estimated one million Israelis have left their nation, and live and work overseas. Most are immigrants who seek a different life. Among the immigrants is a cadre of weaponless soldiers, who behave benign, but within their ranks are propagandists, who seek to align foreign institutions in accord with Israel’s interests.

Because the Israeli propagandists work under the radar, the media does not capture their activities. Rather than pass on not entirely proven information and reassert some of the many known Israeli subversive operations, I prefer to describe my own experiences and those I definitely authenticate. These describe an Israeli propaganda machine that invades U.S. industry, public schools, universities, and institutions.

I have witnessed immigrants inviting fellow workers to their homes and lecturing them on why they should support Israel. I know of them going to synagogues and urging the Rabbis to place the Israeli flag next to the American flag. Contracts are given to Israeli organizations and company secrets are easily funneled to Israeli organizations.

In public schools, efforts are made to gain support for Israel by emphasis on the World War II Holocaust (nothing on the Nakba), and with events organized to attack Israel’s adversaries. I know of librarians gathering students in the library to choose general biographies to read, seven out of ten which are of personalities from the World War II Holocaust. One librarian showed her ignorance of the topic by referring to Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg as a Nazi officer who helped the Jews. The World War II Holocaust has a vital place in history but treating it as a purposeful commodity demeans the lost lives.

The Free Darfur movement, accused of being allied with Israeli interests due to Israel’s enmity toward Sudan, organized public school demonstrations against Sudan for purported genocide. Local synagogues advertised the action. No demonstrations during the genocide in Rwanda, or the present one in Southern Sudan, or how about Palestine?

Everyday U.S. citizens act as research centers for Israel, accumulating social, political, and economic statistics on American industrial and commercial life and send it to Israel  unregistered foreign agents whose activities are illegal.

Some students and visiting professors from Israel arrive with more concerns than learning. I have seen them at university conferences countering Palestinian expressions of grievances with statements such as, “The West Bank roads that Israel is building are meant to serve Palestinians one day,” and then congregate after the meeting to discuss what they can do to counter the remarks made at the meeting. A visiting professor to St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, who was prevented from using his grant to teach Holocaust studies, sued the university for anti-Semitism and won his case. St. Cloud now has a Jewish Studies and Resources Center but no courses, only a document center.

Georgetown has a Center for Jewish Civilization (what is Jewish civilization?) that has one core course: INAF-199Introduction to Jewish Civilization. This course provides a foundation for the study of Jewish civilization and is required of all certificate and minor candidates, preferably upon entering the program.

However, the Center for Jewish Civilization has periodic meetings, open to the public whose topics have nothing to do with any Jewish civilization and have much to do with Israel. Some examples:

September 13, 2016
“Regional Cooperation and Cyber Security: Discussion with Israeli MK, Erel Margalit”

September 8, 2016
“The Netanyahu Premiership: A Retrospective”

November 30, 2017
“Holy Land, Holy See: The Hal Israel Endowed Lecture”

The Honorable Zion Evrony to the Vatican and Visiting Assistant Professor at the Catholic University of America discussed his experiences as Israeli Ambassador to the Vatican and Israel’s relationship with the Vatican.

November 2, 2017
“Values and Interests: The United States, Israel, and the Arab World”

October 19, 2017
“The Soviet-Israeli War, 1967-1973”

Most other talks are on the World War II Holocaust and anti-Semitism. No talks on Maimonides and other Jewish philosophers. No talks on past Jewish life in Spain, Tunisia, Iraq, and Europe.

Political, “think tank,” peace, and cultural organizations in Washington, D.C. are unusually populated with Israelis and Israel supporters. One route that I have noticed is where a person obtains credentials from an Israeli institute, is awarded a grant to visit the United states by a sketchy organization, eventually receives an invitation (by a friend) to lecture at a university and becomes recognized as an expert on the Middle East. This leads to a recommendation for a fellowship at a Middle East “think tank,” more recognition, and soon we have an artificially prepared “Middle East expert” who ingratiates with peace groups and tries to steer everyone, including those at the institutions and universities, to lessen aggressive attitudes toward Israel. Nothing too extreme, only a neutralization of activity.

During 2010, the FBI uncovered 10 unregistered Russian agents living in the U.S. as ordinary citizens, engaged in harmless activities, such as meeting people in high places in order to influence their attitudes and reporting American views on foreign and domestic affairs to Moscow. Multiply the number of discovered Russian agents by tens of thousands and you will have the number of Israeli expatriates in the U.S., many of whom take the opportunity to do the same for Israel, become U.S. citizens, and vote for Israel friendly candidates.

It all seems harmless and operates smoothly. However, considering the number of Israelis who have migrated to the U.S. and other western nations in the last decades the amount can form a massive propaganda organization that steers westerners to favor Israel. Estimates by the Israeli government ministries and the Los Angeles-based Israeli American Council, which represents Israelis across the United States and promotes their interests, have between 500,000 and 800,000 Israelis living in the U.S., about 150,000 live in the New York area, 120,000 in Los Angeles, and 80,000 in Miami.

What are the more important voting areas in the United States? New York, California and Florida are significant. Enough dual citizen and American-Israelis can shape the ballot in those regions, and may have in the disputed 2000 presidential election.

This immigration needs intensive investigation and a full report. Americans deserve protection from foreign influence. Anyone representing the interests of a foreign nation should be registered as a foreign agent. Those placing the interests of a foreign nation before their own should be exposed.

Israel‘s Global Influencers

Extend the most deceptive propaganda mechanism in history from AIPAC, ADL, CAMERA, and a multitude of acronym named Israel support organizations in the United States to the international scene.

A more complete description of this mechanism can be found here, where a report titled: The Israel lobby and the European Union, “researched and written by Public Interest Investigations and Spinwatch, and published by EuroPal Forum, seeks to explore a number of Israel lobby groups in the European Union, the power they wield and the dubious sources that fund them, while also uncovering the secretive transatlantic networks behind them. Perhaps the timeliest chapters in this report are the ones that deal with the issue of criminalising resistance and silencing dissent.”

A few examples will be mentioned.

In France, Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF) gathers an assortment of groups dedicated to Israel. On example of their thrust and how they operate.

French Jewish group CRIF fined for defaming pro-Palestinian charity, April 8, 2014.

(JTA) – France’s largest Jewish organization defamed a pro-Palestinian charity by accusing it of financing Hamas, a French court ruled. The ruling against the CRIF umbrella group handed down by the Nancy Court of Cassation last month was first reported Sunday by the news site CRIF staff were ordered to pay the equivalent of $4,140 to the Committee for Charity and Support for the Palestinians, or CBSP – a group that CRIF researcher Marc Knobel in 2010 wrote “collects funds for Hamas.”

Former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar (why him?) leads The Friends of Israel Initiative (FII), which defines its thrust as “countering the growing efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and its right to live in peace within safe and defensible borders.”

A July 2014 working paper, Understanding the Issue of Israeli Settlements and Borders claims that:

…settlements have become an exaggerated issue in the diplomatic discourse over Israel. Settlement activity, like the construction of homes and schools, does not constitute a violation of Israel’s signed agreements with the Palestinians. The assertion that settlement activity is a violation of international law is not universally accepted, though it is frequently stated in UN debates and in the declarations of the European Union.

A July 2017 event featured this statement:

As goes Israel – so goes the United States of America and so goes Western civilization. And so many of our adversaries and enemies know that. That’s what we’re facing all across the Middle East and, truthfully, all across the world.

United Kingdom has almost as many pro-Israel organizations as there are Israelis. Three of them are:

Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), a parliamentary group affiliated with the Labor Party, which promotes support for a strong bilateral relationship between Britain and Israel.

We run and promote campaigns to help create a lasting peace in the Middle East with Israel safe, secure and recognised within its borders; living alongside a democratic, independent Palestinian state.

Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), a parliamentary group affiliated with the Conservative Party and dedicated to strengthening business, cultural and political ties between the United Kingdom and Israel.  CFI has given £377,994 to the Conservative party since 2004, mostly in the form of fully-funded trips to Israel for MPs, according to the Electoral Commission website. Directors of CFI have also given money directly to the Tory party.

Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) seeks to present Israel’s case to journalists.

Our Strategic Assessments provide expert analysis of the ever changing challenges to Israeli security. From sub-state actors and foreign states to domestic concerns, the strategic threats to Israel and the Middle East are explored in depth.

Russia, yes Russia, has formation of a new lobby.

Jerusalem Post, Pro-Israel caucus forming in Russian parliament, By GIL HOFFMAN, 05/25/2013

A select group of Russian parliament members will soon be urging their colleagues to say “da” to Israel after a delegation of Israelis took steps to initiate the formation of a pro-Israel caucus in the Duma in meetings last week in Moscow.

Digest all of this. Why the existence of this plethora of helpful groups for one small country that has a strong military and is economically well off? Do any equivalent assemblies of forces that promote a specific nation exist in the world?

The global influencers might cite glorious Israel as the principal motive for their operation, but it looks more like following the MONEY. They perform dutiful services and are rewarded — by salaries, campaign contributions, or by meeting the right people. Between the years 2010 to 2013, FII Inc. raised $5,778,135.

These pro-Israel groups, who proudly announce their agendas, should be exposed and criticized for their subterfuge, deceit, and aid and comfort to an Israel that seizes lands from others, oppresses a population, and commits crimes with the excuse of “security” need. How to combat them is not a simple matter; each incident is unique and requires a unique response. One problem is that they force responses to become as low as their efforts ─ charge them and they’ll discharge with the use of the anti-Semite epithet which leads to countercharges of racist, fascist and who knows what. It takes cool heads and careful consideration to respond wisely.

The trick is to expose them only to their audiences and not publicize their efforts to the public, a complex and doable effort  gather the probable names of their targets and target the information. This is not always contradictory information but real information — facts and logic that present an honest portrayal of events. In some cases, campaign contributions or grants may be the answer — fund raising and a huge war chest will be needed. For those who cherish social justice and preservation of the human race, support for a worthwhile cause is a pleasure.


Repetitions of the biblical David and Goliath story, the novel and film Exodus, and the moribund Kibbutz make it difficult to ascertain if Israel is a country or a public relations stunt. The many organizations that perpetuate the myths and influence parliamentary bodies to favor only Israel have no equivalents in the international scene. Evidently, they have a positive affect for Israel; why else would anyone be supporting Israel’s oppression and diabolical nature — the daily killings of Palestinians, land seizures, heartless evictions — and why would these organizations continue to operate and prosper? Number one on the agenda of those who recognize and oppose Israel’s nefarious activities is combating the deception, infiltration, and global army of pro-Israel groups.

Publicity is successful by shouting loud and often. It is more successful by shouting louder and more often. A slow shift to active support of the Palestinian cause by those who recognize they have multitudes who will protest with them, after being discouraged by deliberate attacks on them by pro-Israel deceitful practices, and an awakening from those who realize it is not moral (how about Christian) to be pro-oppression, will start a trend that soon cascades past an inflection point. Reaching the inflection point takes courage, money, and energy. Once reached, the billions of world’s people who are cognizant of the dangers Israel is to the world community, will place into motion the mechanisms for correcting Israel’s deceptive and harmful practices.

Legislators will find themselves opposed and begin to reverse themselves. Tourists will watch where their money goes and avoid Israel. BDS will advance and have an effect on Israel’s economy and its citizens. Israelis will begin to see themselves in a proper perspective and demand change. When no longer living in a society that lives and prospers by taking from others, Israelis will seek more favorable places.

Sell before the crash.

Theresa May recruits Royalty to thwart BDS

Prince William, second in line to the throne, is being sent to the Holy Land by the UK Government “to promote diplomatic and cultural ties”. In effect he’ll be helping to normalise 70 years of Israeli occupation and sanitise the unimaginable cruelty that has gone with it. His trip cuts across the Boycott Divestment & Sanctions movement’s efforts to bring pressure for justice.


Kensington Palace has announced in a tweet that “the Duke of Cambridge will visit Israel, Jordan and the Occupied Palestinian territories in the summer.”

The visit “is at the request of Her Majesty’s Government.”

The Jerusalem Post reports that the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately welcomed the news, saying: “It is a historic visit, the first of its kind, and he will be received here with great enthusiasm.” And President Reuven Rivlin wrote on his Twitter account that Prince William will be “a very special guest” and his visit will be “a very special present for our 70th year of independence.”

Royals are supposed to remain aloof from politics, at home and abroad. The Monarch, for good reason, has avoided any state visit to Israel since the entity established itself in treacherous circumstances back in 1948.

So why the sudden change in Palace policy?

Recruiting Prince William to shmooze the Zionists follows the warm welcome extended to Netanyahu by Theresa May to the infamous Balfour Declaration celebrations in London last November and her earlier speech oozing adoration for Israel. In that speech she attacked the successful BDS campaign calling it unacceptable and warning that her government would “have no truck with those who subscribe to it”.  The Israel lobby meanwhile has agitated furiously for the UK to shut down BDS.

Mrs May was ticked off for her hostility to BDS by 200 legal scholars and practising lawyers from all over Europe who pointed out to her that BDS is a lawful exercise of freedom of expression and outlawing it undermines a basic human right protected by international convention. Any efforts to repress BDS amount to support for Israel’s violations of international law and a failure to honour the solemn pledge by States to ‘strictly respect the aims and principles of the Charter of the United Nations’.

So why is she so stiff-necked about it? After all, Netanyahu is on many a wanted list for crimes against humanity and should, in a sane world, be locked up. What’s more, he is under investigation for corruption in his own country. Israel, as everyone knows, is in flagrant breach of umpteen UN resolutions of the sort that would have brought crippling sanctions down on any other offender.

The international community’s failure to act has left civil society no option but to fill the vacuum with BDS.

All the same Mrs May and the Israel lobby are pressing ahead with their anti-BDS programme and it looks like they’re getting special help from the Royal Family. But if Prince William seeks to undo the efforts of civil society he sets himself against the people.

According to May’s Middle East minister Alistair Burt, the official reason for the royal trip is that it’s “an important and unique opportunity to promote diplomatic and cultural ties in the region”, which is shorthand for enriching big business post-Brexit. So that’s OK then. Don’t let the misery of decades-long military occupation get in the way of new riches, eh?

Prince William’s mission needs to be very different to the one intended by May and Netanyahu

Kensington Palace’s tweet received this reply from a certain Suzanne Levy, who describes herself as a full-time ‘kook’: “Fantastic news, but please correct your erroneous terminology. The Palestinian Territories are not occupied by Israel – they are under the rule of Hamas and the PA.” As if jumping to her kooky instruction the British embassy in Israel released a Hebrew-language version of the Kensington Palace announcement omitting the words “occupied territories” and replacing them with “Israel and the Palestinian Authority”.

In denying the Israeli occupation Ms Levy, like other hasbara trolls, is at odds with the United Nations, international law, world opinion and documented history. Even the UK Government officially refers to Palestine as the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territories), so the edit by its own embassy is puzzling.

Unless, of course, it tells the truth and the plan is to prevent Prince William from actually experiencing the Occupied Territories by confining him to the witless ‘Palestinian Authority’. The PA has precious little legitimacy and is led by a ‘quisling tendency’ who have done next to nothing for the Palestinians. Their reward for wasting the nation’s time and wrecking its prospects is a life of comparative luxury, very different from that suffered by the unfortunate people they are supposed to serve. They can be relied upon to give the Prince a suitable skewed view of things.

Here’s acid test number 1. The Occupied Territories include Gaza. So will the Israelis and May allow Prince William to visit there, shoot the breeze with Hamas (whose political wing are not proscribed as terrorists in the UK and who struggle to run the devastated place after 10 years of vicious blockade, almost daily air strikes, repeated military ground incursions and occupation of its territorial waters and airspace by Israel) and to see for himself the true horror of the humanitarian crisis all this has caused? If the answer is no, the entire visit should be called off. But it won’t be.

Acid test number 2 is this. Prince William will likely succeed to the throne one day and become Defender of the [Christian] Faith, a 500 year old obligation. As a true Christian – if that is what he is – he’ll know all about the cry for help issued only months ago by the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine to the World Council of Churches and the entire ecumenical movement. It was signed by over 30 organisations in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

They say:

We are still suffering from 100 years of injustice and oppression that were inflicted on the Palestinian people beginning with the unlawful Balfour declaration…. A hundred years later and there is still no justice! Discrimination and inequality, military occupation and systematic oppression are the rule…. Despite all the promises, endless summits, UN resolutions, religious and lay leader’s callings – Palestinians are still yearning for their freedom and independence, and seeking justice and equality.

The message ends with these ominous words:

Things are beyond urgent. We are on the verge of a catastrophic collapse…. This could be our last chance to achieve a just peace. As a Palestinian Christian community, this could be our last opportunity to save the Christian presence in this land.”

William must be allowed to hear direct the serious concerns of the Christian and Muslim communities and take a robust line that involves consequences for the occupier if those concerns are not properly dealt with.

Prince William’s wife Kate (Duchess of Cambridge) is expecting their third child towards the end of April so he’ll probably make the trip without her. But expect the visit to be accompanied by waves of media rapture over the new arrival, with Israel’s propaganda machine working flat-out to milk maximum PR benefits and subliminally stamp the Royal seal of approval on their apartheid regime.

If Prince William does set foot in the Holy Land his mission must obviously be very different to the one described by Alistair Burt or wished for by Netanyahu and May.  If he is seen to lend legitimacy to a grasping, racist enterprise like the Israel Project, which shows no respect for human rights or international law, it will surely come to haunt him.

Who loves ya, Saudi?

It’s amazing what unprincipled people will admit to when goaded. A petition has been posted on the parliamentary website calling on prime minister Theresa May to withdraw her invitation to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman, to visit the UK. It reads:

The Saudi Arabian regime has one of the worst human rights records in the world. Torture and arbitrary detention are widely documented. In 2017 alone, over 100 people were executed.

The Crown Prince has directed the bombardment of Yemen. Tens of thousands have been killed or injured. There is widespread famine and cholera, creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Yet, the UK still sells arms to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi regime has supported repression in Bahrain, where its military intervened to end peaceful protests in 2011.

An Early Day Motion (EDM865) has been tabled in Parliament also asking for the visit to be cancelled. It notes that the Saudi regime actually executed 142 people last year.

Bin Salman arrives in London on 7 March. He’ll be met by angry protesters.

The petition has well over 11,000 signatures so far. Of course, their request will be ignored. The UK Government is a great admirer of terror regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, which are now a bosom-pals. They share many ambitions, such as the de-stabilising and overthrowing of countries they don’t happen to like with the help of their useful idiots in Washington and Westminster. Prime targets are Iran and Syria.  And they are itching to annihilate resistance groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, and any others that get in their way.

They also share utter contempt for human rights and international norms of behaviour.

Successive British governments have gone to extreme lengths to invent preposterous reasons why they adore and support the criminals who run Israel, slaughter the Palestinians and menace the region (and indeed the rest of the world) with their undeclared and unsafeguarded nuclear arsenal. Now Westminster ties itself in knots trying to explain why we continue to snuggle up to the Saudis who are eager to join the US-UK-Israeli axis.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our mainstream media, instead of wringing their hands and broadcasting disinformation about the Middle East, investigated and named the evil warmongers who recruit, bankroll and arm the corrupt regimes, rebel militia, mercenaries and assorted hoodlums who started and now perpetuate the horror and devastation in Syria and Yemen?

Saudi Arabia a partner for “tackling international terror and extremism”? Seriously?

Responding to the petition, the ever-inventive Foreign Office says our strong relationship with Saudi Arabia “is important for mutual security and prosperity” and includes meaningful discussion on reform and human rights. The statement says it has helped make both of our countries safer and more prosperous.

We have vital national security and economic interests in maintaining and developing our strong relationship, including how we can work together to tackle international challenges such as terrorism and extremism.

And Saudi intelligence “has saved potentially hundreds of lives in the UK”, according to Mrs May.

What’s more, the Crown Prince has embarked on a series of reforms to modernise society and the economy such as allowing women to drive and attend football matches, reopening cinemas and a commitment that women will make up one third of the Saudi workforce by 2030.

The visit will usher in a new era in bilateral relations focused on a partnership that delivers wide-ranging benefits for both the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

As for the appalling state of affairs in Yemen, the Government says the UK “is committed to securing a political solution that ends the humanitarian disaster” and will continue to play a leading role in “supporting the UN to find a peaceful solution through close engagement with our regional and international partners”.

We’ve heard this claptrap many times before, especially in relation to never-ending crimes against the Palestinians.

What else does our upstanding Government say?

The UK supports the Saudi-led Coalition military intervention [in Yemen]…. We regularly raise the importance of compliance with International Humanitarian Law with the Saudi Arabian Government and other members of the military Coalition. Saudi Arabia has publicly stated that it is investigating reports of alleged violations of IHL, and that lessons will be acted upon.

So why not wait for real evidence of that before rolling out the red carpet and infuriating decent people by allowing the Crown Prince of this obnoxious regime to pose on the steps of Downing Street for the world’s media and be filmed poncing around with our Royal Family? From his track record Bin Salman understands only too well the value of PR, which he exploits for all its worth, while precious little changes beneath the elaborate ‘modernising’ veneer.

Guilty as hell of complicity

Since Bin Salman’s bombing campaign in Yemen started three years ago the UK, instead of condemning such murderous aggression, has showered Saudi Arabia with £billions worth of aircraft and other weaponry to help deliver death and destruction. All principles are jettisoned, it seems, and all concerns for human suffering forgotten so that greedy business can milk the obscene wealth of that part of the world.

Last summer the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) brought a legal action against the Secretary of State for International Trade for continuing to grant export licences for arms to Saudi Arabia, arguing that this was a breach of UK policy which states that the Government must refuse such licences if there’s a clear risk that the arms might be used to commit serious violations of International Humanitarian Law.

It was, by then, undeniable that Saudi forces had used UK-supplied weaponry to violate International Humanitarian Law in their war on Yemen. According to the United Nations, well over 10,000 people had been killed up to that point, the majority by the Saudi-led bombing raids that had also destroyed vital infrastructure such as schools and hospitals and contributed to the cholera crisis. 3 million Yemenis had been displaced from their homes and 7 million were on the brink of dying from famine. UNICEF was reporting that a child died in Yemen every ten minutes from preventable causes including starvation and malnourishment.

A crippling naval blockade aided and supported by the US had been a key cause of the humanitarian crisis. The European Parliament and numerous humanitarian NGOs had condemned the Saudi air strikes as unlawful. And 18 months earlier a UN Panel of Experts had accused Saudi forces of widespread and systematic targeting of civilians.

The UK Government at that time had licensed £3.3 billions worth of arms such as aircraft, helicopters, drones, missiles, grenades, bombs and armoured vehicles to the Saudi regime and refused to suspend this lucrative trade even when the horrors stared them in the face. It was claimed that the Government ignored warnings by senior civil servants and its own arms control experts, and that some records of expressed concern had gone missing.

Despite the glaring facts, the High Court decided to allow the UK Government to carry on exporting arms to Saudi Arabia for use against Yemenis.

The CAAT website today reports that the UK has licensed over £4.6 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the bombing began in March 2015:

£2.7 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones)

£1.9 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)

£572,000 worth of ML6 licences (Armoured vehicles, tanks)

And the UK government admits that Saudi Arabia has used UK weapons in its attacks on Yemen. Typhoon and Tornado aircraft, manufactured by BAE Systems, have been central to the attacks. The Government confirms that they have been deployed on combat missions in Yemen and further Typhoons have been delivered. Meanwhile, BAE and the UK government are pushing for a new contract, so who knows what triumphant announcement compounding these crimes against humanity will be made during the Crown Prince’s visit?

The Government has also admitted that UK-supplied precision-guided weapons have been used in Yemen and that it “accelerated delivery of Paveway precision-guided bombs” in response to Saudi requests.

At the start of the conflict in March 2015 former Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said:

If we are requested to provide them with enhanced support – spare parts, maintenance, technical advice, resupply – we will seek to do so. We’ll support the Saudis in every practical way short of engaging in combat.

In September 2016 the House of Commons Business, Innovation & Skills and International Development Committees commented:

Given that the UK has a long history of defence exports to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, and considering the evidence we have heard, it seems inevitable that any violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by the coalition have involved arms supplied from the UK.

And in December 2016, the UK government finally admitted that UK-made cluster bombs had also been deployed in the conflict.

How sick is that?

Corporate America Unmasked

Most Americans recently polled reportedly seem to hold favorable opinions about America’s corporations.1 If true, it means that most Americans don’t know what I know and what they need to know. Trained as an organizational psychologist much of my research and consultative work during my career were for government agencies at the local, state and federal level. But I also have studied exhaustively the corporate side of organized life and have written more about it than the government side.2 My overall conclusion, not opinion, regarding all large organizations, especially large corporations, is that when they are unmasked their leadership is found to be morally depraved, and their organizations dysfunctional. I frame this overall conclusion about corporate America as an overarching simple truth that subsumes many other simple truths.

A Moral and Functional Framework for the Simple Truths

The primary intent of this article is to unmask corporate America by telling you about those simple truths. Even simple truths need an explanation, otherwise their full meaning and validity may be missed, and the massive and relentless lies may remain unchallenged. So, I want to tell you what they mean in the case of large, publicly traded corporations, at least to me.

a) Morality

Many decades ago I learned what morality really meant from a brilliant lawyer turned ethicist, believe it or not. He had studied all cultures throughout time and identified what he called the ten universal values: accountability, caring for and respecting others, commitment to excellence, fairness, honesty, integrity, justice, loyalty, promise keeping, and responsibility.3

Throughout history these values have been breeched more often than practiced. The breeching of any one of these values always, without exception, is an act of wrongdoing, of one kind or another, whether it be of a wrongful economic, psychological, social, or physical nature. Their breeching is always harmful to some degree ranging from the trivial to the devastating and deadly. Immorality, therefore, in whatever form it is manifested lies behind every wrong deed and its consequences, both of which are usually rationalized by the wrongdoer as being moral. Moral rationalizations salve consciences for those wrongdoers who have a semblance of conscience (one syndrome of psychopathy is the absence of a conscience).

Even though the compromised and ludicrous U.S. Supreme Court ruled a few years ago that corporations legally are persons, a corporation, per se, can’t act immorally. Only people can. And in the case of corporations, or any organization for that matter, its leaders and close subordinates are in a position and have the predisposition to willingly act immorally. Peons near and at the bottom either do the wrongdoing ordered or expected or face the consequences of their disobedience.

b) Functionality

Functionality refers to how well or poorly a corporation, in this case, is designed, managed, and operated to fulfill its purpose. If the purpose is an immoral one, such as maximizing profit from the sale of weapons to the government, there is ipso facto wrongdoing, regardless of how well the three criteria are met. Nevertheless, the dysfunctionality of corporations must be addressed as a simple truth because it facilitates wrongdoing.

Since a corporation has neither a brain, tongue, nor limbs, it cannot, per se, act dysfunctional any more than it can act immorally, but it can be dysfunctional because of what people have done to it knowingly or unknowingly.

c) In the Beginning

Before getting to a listing of some simple truths, let’s answer the question of how and when did they begin.

They began when immoral plutocrats from depraved Mother England invaded the new land and brought with them a template for corporate America. The template was none other than Mad King George’s state chartered corporations. They were designed to indenture their workers, loot their customers, and enrich themselves and the King’s bank. How could corporate America have turned out any differently, even if early members of my own profession (yes, you read it correctly) had not advised managers on how to boost productivity at the expense of the workers without whom there would be no products.

Morally Depraved and Dysfunctional Corporate America: A List of Some Simple Truths

What follows next is a sordid list of abbreviated simple truths I have learned over many decades about large, publicly held corporations. I have organized them into four categories; inputs inside and then outside the corporation, followed by outputs, first wrongdoing and finally its consequences. Whether an input is inside or outside the corporation depends on the input’s origin. We will start with the input side and then move over to the output side. The lists are a sampling of simple truths. A more complete set of lists can be found elsewhere.4

a) Inputs Inside the Corporation

  • Bigness begets bullying, monopolizing and other badness.
  • Tallness, (i.e., the typical hierarchy of people stacked on top of people) begets passing the buck and distancing the decision makers and their decisions to rely on wrongdoing from lower level subordinates who must carry out the actual wrongdoing.
  • The corner office where the overpaid, still greedy CEO presides issuing ignoble expectations and/or explicit orders that can’t be met without wrongdoing.

b) The subservient board of directors

  • The CEO’s minions in the chain of command, including especially corporate lawyers and accountants.
  • Perfunctory ethics programs.
  • Conscience salving philanthropy programs.
  • Upside/down incentive programs rewarding “negative successes” (i.e., wrongdoing that succeeds in meeting or exceeding expectations).
  • The most depraved: weapon and ammunition makers, banksters, energy extractors, all polluters, pill makers, health care corporations, and all outsourcers.

Inputs Outside the Corporation

If there were no inputs outside the organization facilitating corporate wrongdoing it is hard to imagine that there would be any corporate wrongdoing. I have always said that “it takes two to wrongdo.” Here are the most salient of those inputs:

The subservient partner of the corpocracy, government, and corporate dependence on the following:

  • Toothless state charters.
  • Bribed (campaign funded) politicians and compromised judges/justices doing the corporate bidding by providing lax or nonexistent regulations and enforcement, tax breaks, bail outs, subsidies, weapons buying, “legal” exonerations, and other gifts ad nauseum.
  • Shareholders sheltered from corporate wrongdoing.
  • Consultants like organizational psychologists.
  • The “behavior shapers” (i.e., think tanks, front groups, religion, education}.
  • Foreign enemies deliberately created by the corpocracy.
  • Bystanders (i.e., the silent, subjugated Americans).

Corporate Outputs: The Act of Wrongdoing

To reiterate, transgressions against the universal moral values are, ipso facto, wrongdoing. In other words, actions that breech these values do wrong, simple as that. The possibilities and opportunities for corporate wrongdoing are so boundless that any corporate wrongdoing you can imagine probably exists. As an exercise consider imagining the worse and then go looking for it. I bet you will find it. The wrongdoings listed here, however, have not been imagined. They have all been documented many times here and there.

  • Wrongdoing against own employees; e.g., union busting, reneging on pensions, underpaying and overworking employees, punishing whistleblowers, knowingly allowing hazardous working conditions, and massively laying off temporarily or permanently employees be.
  • Wrongdoing against consumers; e.g., over charging, falsely advertising, filing lawsuits against complaints, knowingly making serious product failures, racial profiling and redlining, selling returned merchandise as new, and implanting “spy” chips in products.
  • Wrongdoing against each other; e.g., breaching contracts and fraudulently dealing with retailers, spying on competitors, and swallowing up smaller corporations.
  • Wrongdoing against the government, believe it or not, by biting the hand that feeds them; e.g., stonewalling investigations, shredding tell-tale documents to impede governmental investigation, privatizing public services, overcharging and selling flawed products such as unworkable weapons.
  • Wrongdoing against the environment; e.g., polluting, polluting, polluting from corporate wastes.
  • Wrongdoing against America’s powerless; e.g., all the above and more are done at their expense.
  • Wrongdoing against other countries; e.g., private contractors performing military operations, weapon and ammunition makers products used against mostly civilians in other countries, and outsourcing to other countries knowing about their inhumane treatment of workers.

Corporate Outputs: The Consequences of Wrongdoing

  • For employees; e.g., exhaustion, stress, debt, injuries, restricted family life and leisure.
  • For customers; e.g., products that fail, that injure, that kill.
  • For others in the industry; e.g., turning them into a “battlefield” of competitors.
  • For government; e.g. being scorned and humiliated, being defrauded, being totally prostituted, silently recognizing the hypocrisy in preaching democracy but not practicing it and letting it be stolen from the American people.
  • For the environment; e.g. slowly killing Mother Nature—that about says it all.
  • For America’s powerless; gradually becoming a third world country and all that its consequences entail such as homelessness, unemployment, foreclosures, insurmountable debt, insufficient or no health care coverage, overall inability to meet the most basic of human needs, etc., etc.
  • For other countries; e.g., stolen resources, devastated lands, villages and cities, and wounded and dead civilians.

In Closing

There you have it, a snapshot of corporate America at its typical worst. I suppose one could find a socially responsible corporation somewhere that is neither morally depraved nor dysfunctional. (let me know if you know of one or more). Two respected researchers independently went looking for “great” corporations and claimed to have found some.5 But upon doing some further digging I found a lot of dirt on all of them. While they had deep financial pockets, greatness does not mean being money deep.

It begs the question to ask what can be done to reform corporate America. It can’t be reformed without reforming servile government. I don’t have a viable answer for reforming either, nor does anyone else so far. All my proposals are in dust bins here and there.6 I have yet to see a massive public outcry that sends corporate America or its partner reeling. And the American people have mostly been bamboozled by corporate media and public relations spiels and tantalized and mesmerized by baubles and beads.

I despair of my futile armchair activism and scribbling screeds. Unless I change my mind or can’t break the habit, my next article will be my swansong in venues like this one. After that I will write something more uplifting, an illustrated pre-schooler’s book titled something like, David and His Pet Crocodile. It will be based on an unbelievably true and funny story. And there will absolutely be no big words or footnotes, and no mention whatsoever of really bad wrongdoing.

  1. Maniam, S. Most Americans see labor unions, corporations favorably Pew Research Center, January 30, 2017.
  2. See my books: Corporate Reckoning Ahead. Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2015; The Corpocracy and Megaliio’s Turn Up Strategy. Palm Coast, FL: Democracy Power Press (Kindle Edition), 2012; The Devil’s Marriage: Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lurch. Author House, 2011; Corporations and the Gold Standard. Palm Coast, FL: Democracy Power Press (Kindle Edition), 2010; and Tall Performance from Short Organizations Through We/Me Power. 1stBooksLibrary, 2002.
  3. Josephson, M. “Teaching ethical decision-making and principled reasoning”. Ethics: Easier Said than Done, 1988, Issue 1, 27-33.
  4. Brumback, G.B. An Evil Root. OpEdNews, March 8; Dissident Voice, March 15; The Greanville Post, March 20; Uncommon Thought Journal, March 21, 2017.
  5. See these two books: Collins, J. Good to Great. HarperCollins, 2001; and Treacy, M. Double-Digit Growth: How Great Companies Achieve It-No Matter What. Portfolio, 2003.
  6. To cite all my proposals and the books and articles containing them would take too much space and be pointless anyway. Many of my proposals, though, can be found in the sources cited in the second footnote.