Propagandizing American Belief’s
The flim flam of the American people is explained never better by the following interview conducted with Glenn Greewald by Amy Goodwyn on Democracy Now, December 30, 2009. 2009 in Perspective: Glenn Greenwald on the Five Wars US Is Fighting in Muslim Countries. Here are some excerpts I think important.
AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, talk about the media coverage of the wars. And also, you wrote an interesting piece about the New York Times coverage of Sami al-Hajj, the Al Jazeera reporter who was held at Guantanamo for about six years and then released without charge.
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, this is what I find actually most interesting and most—and the most significant aspect of all of this, is it’s generally assumed that there is a significant disparity between how we, as Americans or Westerners, perceive of all of these events and how the Muslim world perceives of these events. And that is true. There is a very great disparity. But generally, what we assume is that the reason there’s this great disparity is because we are rational and informed and educated and advanced and, most of all, free, and therefore we know the truth about what’s going on, whereas Muslims live in oppressive and primitive and backwards countries, they are consumed not by rationality but by religious fanaticism, and therefore they have very distorted and partial and propagandized views of the world, and that’s what accounts for this disparity.
Now the reality is exactly the opposite, because all of the things that we were just discussing about the effects of our air strikes in all of these Muslim countries, the fact that we are constantly waging war in an increasing number of their nations, and the fact that we routinely slaughter innocent men, women and children who are the victims of our air strikes, the Muslim—people in the Muslim world in those countries are very well aware of what we do, because the images are reported constantly. They’re informed about what we’re doing. And yet, if you look at American media coverage, it’s virtually never the case that the victims of our actions, of our air strikes and our military assaults, are discussed. Those things are kept from us.
And so, they perceive that we are the aggressors because we are killing civilians, which we’re doing, but Americans are propagandized, that information is basically kept away from their sight, and so they’re unaware of what the actions are. And so, when there’s anger and hostility and hatred in the Muslim world towards the United States, they understand why, but we are confused and bewildered, because the facts about why that is are generally kept from us.
And you mentioned the story of Sami al-Hajj, who was an Al Jazeera reporter, a reporter, a cameraman, who was covering the invasion of Afghanistan by the United States in late 2001, when he was abducted by the United States and shipped to Guantanamo, where he was kept for seven years, obviously without charges of any kind. He was interrogated almost exclusively, not about Osama bin Laden or about terrorism, but about the operations of Al Jazeera. He was clearly a prisoner because he was a journalist that worked for an outlet that the Bush administration perceived as being critical or hostile to its interests. So here was a journalist, a foreign journalist, that we imprisoned for seven years.
And if you go and research on Nexis or other media databases what the discussions were in the mainstream media about that incident, you can find almost nothing. So Americans were not informed that we, as a government, imprisoned journalists without charges. And there are lots of other foreign journalists who have been imprisoned the same way in Iraq and other places. And yet, when you have the case of, say, Roxana Saberi, the Iranian American journalist who was imprisoned in Iran for three months—not for seven years, but for three months—or the two journalists who were just in prison in North Korea, what you have is a media bonanza. And so, it makes it—it gives the appearance that only foreign governments, but not our own, imprison journalists without charges. And this is what accounts for the disparity in perception. It’s that we are being propagandized by our own media. [Emphasis mine]
You’ve got—we know the US contractors, CIA employees who were killed, eight of them, four Canadian troops and the first Canadian journalist killed in Afghanistan, Michelle Lang for the Calgary Herald. It’s always much tougher to find out exactly how many Afghans have died. Talk about this war on this last day of 2009.
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, I think, in a lot of ways, it’s a very kind a morbid, though powerful, symbol of what it is that we’re doing, which is, we continue to, every time we are targeted with some sort of terrorist attack, we seem to respond by escalating. And there’s this sense that the Obama administration is less bellicose and less committed to warmongering than the Bush administration was, and although that may be true on several levels, as Juan just suggested before I came on, we are escalating our military presence and our aggression in numerous parts of the world, Afghanistan being only one of those cases.
And when we do that, not only can we expect that we are going to suffer the kinds of casualties that you just described, but we’re going to be bringing the kinds of deaths, not only to Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters, but also to civilians, as just happened as well, according to Afghan officials, exactly the kind of death to civilians and to Muslims that cause and exacerbate the very threat that we’re purportedly trying to undermine. And so, what we’re doing is we’re bringing this constant cycle, where we bring death to their part of the world, they then try and bring more death to our part of the world, as we saw with the attempted terrorist attack on the Northwest jet, and we continue to respond by doing exactly that which perpetuates the cycle. And I think the multiple horrible incidents over the past twenty-four hours in Afghanistan symbolizes what it is that we’re doing.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And Glenn, what about the situation in Yemen? We have the situation of this Christmas Day attempted bombing, apparently coming out of Yemen, and yet the American people are not well aware of how deeply already the United States is involved in this new front in Yemen in the fight against the so-called war on terror.
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, first of all, I think that’s the critical point, is that what this really is is it’s a covert war. The New York Times called it a “covert front” in the terror war, whatever you want to call it, a front in the ongoing war or a new war. The reality is, is that we’re involved in a war in a new country that most Americans have never even thought about or heard of, let alone given thought to whether we should be involved in war there.
And when you count the number of countries, of Muslim countries where we’re actively engaged in some kind of warfare—Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and now Yemen—that’s five different Muslim countries where we are either occupying, invading or bombing. And that’s to say nothing of the conflicts that our primary client state in the Middle East, Israel, has with a whole bunch of other Muslim countries and the other Muslim countries that we’re threatening, such as Iran. So we are expanding the wars and aggression in the Muslim world.
Yemen is a prime example. And specifically with regard to Yemen, if you talk to virtually any expert in that country—and I interviewed one at Princeton last week—across the political spectrum what they will say is that when we shoot missiles into various sites in Yemen and kill civilians, as we did eight days ago—and there’s no question that—although there’s some question about what exactly our involvement was, because it’s a covert war, there’s no question we were involved heavily and enabled the attack. When we kill civilians or shoot missiles or drop Hellfire missiles into that country, and when we prop up the dictatorial oppressive regime that runs that country, we are unquestionably doing exactly that which al-Qaeda could wish for: we are helping al-Qaeda convert the population and bringing greater and greater sympathy to the cause of Islamic radicalism.
And so, here you saw a plot that quite likely had something to do with Yemen, and obviously there’s a connection between what we are doing in Yemen, in terms of our military assault and interfering in their country and propping up an oppressive regime, and the desire on the part of people of that country to attack us and the willingness on the part of the population—not just al-Qaeda, but the normal population—to be supportive of those efforts, because they perceive that we are bringing death to their country, and it’s only fair that they return those actions.