A war always stirs up feelings of nationalism and inexorably with it comes xenophobia and isolationism. It need not necessarily be due to soldiers on battlefields for as we have seen wars can be fought ‘diplomatically’ behind closed doors and yet have the same effects as the more conventional variety. Wars far from home can also provoke sentiments either of apathy or hysteria relating to the fear of who will clean up the pieces and how much it will cost. The part that America has played in many of these wars over the last fifty years cannot be underestimated.
The cold war was ostensibly a struggle between the NKVD (KGB) on the Russian side and the National Security Council coupled with the CIA on the other. All the other countries across the Northern hemisphere embroiled in this contretemps can only realistically be called subservient participants. MI5/MI6, the Stasi (The East German Secret Police - Ministerium fuer Staatssicherheit MfS), the Rumanian Securitate generally worked in conjunction, if not ultimately for, their larger allies. The point is whilst a war is waged mud is slung of which some is bound to stick, under normal circumstances the general populace would be a little too shrewd to accept this information, probity appears to be significantly diluted in the case of revelations about the enemy. The cold war itself is a prime example of the powers of propaganda, all talk and thankfully no action. I know of no other example where the entire population of at least three continents were successfully brainwashed into believing spurious rumours profligated by state information sources without so much as a second cursory glance. What I find particularly difficult to understand is how both factions managed to hold their banners and proclaim to be the saviours of purest and only workable doctrine. Analysts of capitalism would hardly to state that the capitalism practised by the United States or Europe was ever true to the teachings Adam Smith or the other economists of his day. Such criticisms seem to abound in the nineties and be viewed as a la mode under a subsection that this is proof of the freedom of expression in a capitalist society. Why is it therefore that very few appear to retrospectively question the other side? There are many analysts of the USSR and many more still of ideological communism and yet their commentaries and conceivable criticisms of the Soviet version are not forthcoming. Perhaps as capitalism and the Western world appears to be triumphant over the East signified with the fall of the Berlin wall and the popular revolutions in the Soviet satellite states, the present day powers that be see no reason to resurrect the hammer and sickle by asking probing questions about its past. This is particularly poignant for if Soviet communism, or for that matter Chinese, was exposed as not ideologically true to the principles of its founding fathers there would naturally have to follow some form of explanation as to what it is that theoretical communism is supposed to be.
This would be highly risky for the status quo for the masses would be greatly interested in a doctrine that advocated an equal chance for all from an equal status at birth - a political clean slate, so to speak. This also explains the treatment of China, a country that brutally subverts dissidents as seen for example at Tiannanmen Square. If these actions were to have taken place in a smaller, weaker (perhaps more strategically positioned) country, let us hypothetically use the example of Cuba, would have provoked the “democracy” protectors who would have amassed on its borders/shores to clean up corruption and save the people from dictatorship. (Some might already say that such forces do not need an excuse and cite the Bay of Pigs scenario as evidence. I can only defer to this point. Whilst it has become fashionable and publicly applauded by the establishment to expose the horrors of foreign campaigning in the media, Vietnam and occasionally limited information regarding the debacle in Cambodia, covert operations do not fall into this category. Usually these exposés show the misfortune and suffering befalling ordinary soldiers which conveniently can be almost directly blamed upon a disgraced American Head of State. Should a plausible scapegoat not be forthcoming or when events may implicate a powerful and as yet untarnished figure, the details of operations tend to remain in inaccessible archives to gather dust. It can be the case later that the Security forces wish to rid themselves of someone who has become a burden, perhaps a little too free-willed, in this case these past scandals, normally decreed secret for the sake of ‘National Security’ will miraculously appear on the desk of the person required to use them. This, coincidentally, is supposed to provide proof of the Freedom of Information, what it more accurately suggests is that you are free to know what the state wants you to know and the occasional ‘titbit’ that it is willing to let you ‘find out’!
Saturday, September 30, 2000
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