Good Guys We’re Not
by Stephen Lendman
David Cromwell is a Scottish writer, activist and oceanographer at the National Oceanography Centre in Britain. He and David Edwards are Media Lens.org co-editors.
It’s an antidote to misinformation. It critiques mainstream media propaganda, bias and censorship. It provides credible facts, opinion, and in-depth analysis on issues mattering most.
It’s what journalism should be but isn’t in an age of mass deception. People are on their own to separate truth from fiction. Media Lens provides help.
Both writers co-authored “Newspeak in the 21st Century” and “Guardians of Power.” They explain what everyone needs to know. Media reliability along with free and open societies are at risk.
Dissent is marginalized and targeted. Democratic values are fast eroding en route to disappearing altogether in Western societies and Israel.
Raising public awareness more than ever is vital. Independent voices are essential. So is speaking truth to power and spreading it to mass audiences.
Doing it isn’t easy. Dark forces are menacing. They don’t take kindly to airing ugly facts they want suppressed. Doing so gets people targeted.
Journalist/author AJ Liebling once said “The press is free only to those who own one.” He also warned that “People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news.”
Even before mind manipulating television, print media proliferated propaganda. TV makes it much easier. Combined they represent weapons of mass misinformation.
Practitioners support wealth and power interests. They spurn popular ones. They want them gutted to make corporate favorites and super-rich elites richer.
Cromwell’s new book is called “Why Are We the Good Guys?” The prevailing notion is that saying it makes it so.
“One of the unspoken assumptions of the Western world,” says Cromwell, “is that ‘we’ are great defenders of human rights, a free press and the benefits of market economics.”
“Mistakes might be made along the way, perhaps even tragic errors of judgement such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But the prevailing view is that ‘the West’ is essentially a force for good in the wider world.”
Western civilization falls far short. Its bad reputation is well deserved. Who gains from hot and cold wars, financial ones, and preying on the many for the few on a global scale?
Who benefits from ravaging one country after another and government sanctioned grand theft? Who profits from death and destruction, mass incarceration, media manipulation, spreading fear and hate, and punishing non-believers?
Cromwell’s book challenges prevailing notions. It cuts through mainstream garbage on issues mattering most. They include war and peace, corporate employment, eroding democracy, environmental destruction, and the constant struggle between good and evil.
Historian Mark Curtis is best known for his own ground-breaking exposes. He calls Cromwell’s book “truly essential reading.”
It “focus(es) on one of the key issues, if not THE issue of our age: how to recognize the deep, everyday brainwashing to which we are subjected, and how to escape from it. This book brilliantly exposes the extent of media disinformation, and does so in a compelling and engaging way.”
University of West Scotland Media Politics Reader John Robertson said:
“This is a tremendously comprehensive review of all the ways in which mainstream Western media distort our view of reality in the key context of foreign affairs.”
“With a particular emphasis on the Middle East but with good historical depth rooting understanding in US policy after World War II, Cromwell does an excellent job of organizing a wide range of evidence, neglected by our media, yet fundamental to any meaningful understanding of our deeply embedded bad faith.”
“The bad faith, which enables our media and many of its consumers to think that we are ‘the good guys.’ This is an ideal introduction for any reader and, also, is a very useful source for students in schools, colleges and universities.”
John Pilger called “Guardians of Power” “the most important book about journalism (he) can remember” since Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s classic – ‘Manufacturing Dissent.’ “
He said Cromwell and Edwards did what true journalists are supposed to do – their job. They “set the record straight.” Cromwell’s done it again solo this time. Pilger offered praise, saying:
“One of the beacons in a politically dark world is the light cast by a moral few who analyze and reveal how journalism works in the cause of power.”
“David Cromwell has pride of place in this company. Every member of the public and every journalist with an ounce of skepticism about authority should read his outstanding book.”
Mass exposure to truth on vital issues is crucial to have any chance for constructive change. Why else would powerful interests try so hard to suppress it?
It’s the antidote to destructive imperialism. Rogues can’t get away with crimes of war and against humanity as easily when most people know what they’re up to and how it harms them.
Make no mistake. Imperial marauding destroys viable societies everywhere it spreads. Media scoundrels make it possible. Freedom depends on challenging and stopping them. There’s no other way. It starts with knowing vital truths and acting on them.
Sideline complacency means losing out on everything most valued. Dark forces want it all. Getting it assures societies not fit to live in. Self-defense is our only protection. We’re on our own. It’s us or no one on a fast track to oblivion.
Cromwell offered extracts from his book.
The Golden Rule of State Violence.
Arrogant Western elites claim “we,” by definition are “good guys.” Anyone “we” attack are “bad” because we say so. Imperial newspeak says “terrorism is what they do.” “Counterterrorism is what we do.”
Western journalists go along. They better, or they’ll be looking for a new line of work.
In August 2008, BBC presenter Emily Maitlis misreported on Russia’s intervention in South Ossetia after Georgian forces invaded.
In contrast, “it would be inconceivable” for BBC on air to characterize America’s war on Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya the same way.
That’s how biased reporting on all issues mattering most works. Banker occupation of Europe and America is misreported. Grand theft is suppressed instead of exposed. Austerity is called necessary instead of condemned.
Justifiable street rage is mocked and at times downplayed or ignored. Media scoundrels play key roles. Cromwell and David Edwards call them “guardians of power” for good reason. Their job is to “shor(e) up public confidence in a discredited, unjust system.”
Kernels of truth at times slip through. Never enough to matter. In 2008, London Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland called “(t)urbo-capitalism….not just unfair, it is dishonest and dangerous.”
“(S)urely this is the moment when Labour and the centre-left can dare question the neoliberal dogma that has prevailed since” Margaret Thatcher.
Freedland got permission to go so far, but no further. Call it a red line impermissible to cross. He argued for “a kinder, gentler form of capitalism instead of the ‘turbo’ ” model ravaging Western societies.
Transnational oligopolistic capitalism, of course, doesn’t tolerate people friendly practices. Bottom line priorities alone matter. Governments permit grand theft. They collude with banking giants to wage financial war.
They’re well compensated for betraying their constituents. So are scoundrel journalists willing to support a system they should expose fully and condemn.
Economist Harry Shutt said one of the financial crisis’ most striking features is “the the uniformly superficial nature of the analysis of its causes presented by mainstream observers, whether government officials, academics or business representatives.”
It’s true as well for scoundrel journalists. Shutt added:
“Thus it is commonly stated that the crisis was caused by a combination of imprudent investment by bankers and others (as well as) unduly lax official regulation and supervision of markets.”
“Yet the obvious question begged by such explanations – of how or why such a dysfunctional climate came to be created – is never addressed in any serious fashion.”
Nor are obvious solutions presented, explained and promoted.
The Marshall Plan: Myth and Actuality
The post-WW II Marshall Plan (European Recovery Program) is presented as an example of how Western states (in this instance America) “can and do make huge gestures of benevolence.”
In fact, in its entire history, America never did anything without ulterior motives. During the Great Depression, Roosevelt’s New Deal tried to save capitalism. Echoes of Russia’s 1917 revolution were audible. Giving a little to save a lot was policy.
Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society followed the same pattern. Anger raged for civil rights reform, ending the Vietnam war, and easing inner city depravation.
Cities were set ablaze. Something had to be done. Johnson declared war on poverty, got civil rights legislation passed, and congressional Medicare and Medicaid approval. It wasn’t enough but was better than nothing.
Post-WW II, Washington offered devastated European countries aid. Restoring their economies and rebuilding their infrastructure was stressed.
Economist Walt Rostow helped implement the plan. He called it one part of an “offensive to strengthen the area still outside Stalin’s grasp.”
In December 1947, Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs William Clayton said if aid wasn’t provided, “the Iron Curtain would then move westward at least to the English Channel.”
While implementation was being discussed, he said America “hold(s) in (its) hands the powerful weapon of discontinuance of aid if contrary to our expectations any country fails to live up to our expectations.”
Economic Stabilization Bureau head Chester Bowles was candid, saying:
“The real argument for the Marshall Plan is a bolstering of the American system for future years.”
The plan was named for popular General George Marshall. Post-war, Truman’s popularity fell sharply. Putting his name on it risked public anger enough perhaps to get congressional rejection. People accepted wartime sacrifices. They expected more than they got post-war, yet compared to today, they got plenty.
Marshall played the game. He pitched the plan. He delivered canned speeches. He disingenuously claimed it was to relieve “hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.” In fact, it was about saving capitalism from communism and Stalinist influence.
America emerged from WW II unscathed. Unlike European and Asian countries, its cities weren’t bombed or invaded. It was the one true economic, political and military superpower.
Muscle-flexing showed its strength. “The Marshall Plan was a crucial political ace as part of (its) global” agenda. UK embassy officials in Washington were told that Britain’s “socialism” could stand in the way of aid.
Congress was in no mood “to bolster up a red dictatorship, or equally perverse, to subsidize welfare measures.” British Consul General Frank Evans expressed dismay. He said he “could not but be depressed by the violent dislike and distrust manifest by these men toward the British experiment in social democracy.”
Today it’s a shadow of its former self. Washington wanted it curtailed. Pressure was exerted to cease nationalizations. In July 1947, America’s UK ambassador Lewis Douglas said:
“It would help the US obtain obtain from Congress the help which the United Kingdom required if it were made clear that there would be no further nationalizations of great industries in this country.”
In June 1948, the Foreign Office recommended postponing iron and steel nationalization for the sake of “Anglo-American relations.”
None of this gets discussed today. Myth substitutes for reality. It’s no different on what’s now ongoing.
A Shock to the System
Back when he was a secondary school student, Cromwell recounted his shock when he learned the truth about “the Troubles” in Northern Ireland. People living through them understood well.
Reports others got were falsified. They whitewashed a “tragic aberration.” BBC notoriously produces state-sponsored propaganda. It has to. It’s state funded and controlled.
Bloody Sunday was especially infamous. On January 30, 1972, UK soldiers shot 27 unarmed civilian protesters and bystanders.
Fourteen deaths resulted. So did numerous injuries. Later reports said five civilians were shot in the back. The incident occurred during a nonviolent Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association march.
Critics called what happened reckless. Authorities largely cleared participating soldiers of blame. The controversy still resonates today. Everyone shot was unarmed.
Much too late to matter, a 2010 Saville Inquiry said killings were “unjustified and unjustifiable.” Soldiers on the ground were blamed for what superiors ordered. It’s always that way. Higher-ups have little to fear.
In response, UK Prime Minister David Cameron made a formal apology. Lost lives weren’t restored. Surviving family members weren’t of a mind to forgive or forget.
As a youth, Cromwell “had a vague memory of being appalled by” what happened. Media reports and “mainstream debate” suppressed the real story.
“So the notion that British forces, whether soldiers or intelligence networks, were involved in a systematic campaign of intimidation, even terror, in Northern Ireland was a shock. It was an early experience that made (him) question: are we really the good guys here?”
Not then, and for sure not now. Read Cromwell’s new book as well as “Newspeak in the 21st Century” and “Guardians of Power” co-authored with David Edward. They’re cutting-edge analysis. They explain in depth how media scoundrels betray us.
They’re paid to lie. Truth telling is verboten on issues mattering most. Sunshine is a powerful disinfectant. That’s why it’s blocked out.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.