Tuesday, June 19, 2018

How America Promotes "We're the Good Guys" Narrative

In a 2017 Super Bowl Sunday interview with President Donald Trump,  Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly authoritatively declared  Russian President Vladimir “Putin’s a killer.”  Trump replied with the question: “What, you think our country’s so innocent?”

Trump did something similar more recently after his Singapore Summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim JongUn.  When Fox News' Brett Baier  raised the question  in an interview about "Kim's oppression of his own people", Trump said: “Yeah, but so have a lot of other people have done some really bad things.”

American Narrative:

Both O'Reilly and Baier were essentially repeating the standard American narrative that wants the world to believe that "we (Americans) are the good guys and those opposing America are the bad guys".

Trump, an unconventional American leader, displayed rare candor in his responses.  The American  media and "research scholars", managed by the "Deep State", sharply criticized Trump and continued to parrot the standard American narrative asserting that "we're the good guys" while vilifying Vladimir Putin, Kim JongUn and other leaders and countries designated as "enemies".

Young and Barbaric:

Trump appears ready to drop all pretenses of US being "the good guys" standing for "freedom, democracy and human rights".  He is not alone in his assertion that "our country (United States) is not so innocent".  George Friedman, the founder of  Stratfor which describes itself as "American geopolitical intelligence platform", is the ultimate "Deep State" insider in America.  Friedman acknowledges that "America, like Europe in sixteenth century, is still barbaric, a description, not a moral judgment. Its culture is unformed. Its will is powerful. Its emotions drive it in different and contradictory directions."

Friedman argues that "perhaps more than for any other country, the US grand strategy is about war, and the interaction between war and economic life. The United States is historically a warlike country. The nation has been directly or indirectly at war for most of of its existence...the war of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam War and Desert Storm. And the US has been constantly at war in Afghanistan and Iraq since the beginning of this century."

More recently, the United States' interventions in the Middle East have destabilized and devastated Libya and Syria and created a major humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands have died and millions rendered homeless and trying to flee hunger and violence.

Narrative Promotion:

So how does America create and promote its "good guys" narrative in the world and demonize others? How do American image builders gloss over its past characterized by the genocide of the indigenous people, the enslavement of Africans and a history of assassinations, invasions, atrocities, proxy wars, and coups in the developing world? How do their actions escape the "terrorism" label that is liberally applied to others, particularly Muslims?  What modern image-making and promotional tools and techniques has Uncle Sam borrowed from the world of brand creation, promotion and management?

The first thing in creating a narrative is the basic story supported by effective language and vocabulary. It is fleshed out by writers, poets, musicians and artists.  The basic American narrative  goes like this:  America stands for freedom, democracy and human rights. It is a force for all that is good in the world. Those who oppose America are the "bad guys".

The narrative is then widely disseminated, promoted and incessantly repeated by Washington think tanks, book authors, major newspaper reporters and editors,  mainstream journalists, television channels and popular entertainment platforms.

Talking points are developed and shared to defend against any criticisms. Inconvenient truths are obfuscated.  Those who accept the talking points are rewarded and those who persist in criticisms are isolated and punished. Rewards come in the form of funding and access. Punishments are handed out by orchestrating attacks by peers and by denying funds and access.

Controlling the Narrative:

The United States government funds think tanks, hires consultants and directly and indirectly influences mass media and popular entertainment platforms to control and promote its "good guys" narrative and to vilify those seen as competitors.

1. Think Tanks:  Woodrow Wilson Center, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, US Institute of Peace (USIP), Rand Corporation and a several others are partially or fully funded by the US government. These are supplemented by dozens of other think tanks funded by major US corporations which have a stake in promoting a positive global image of the United States. These organizations organize conferences, publish books and "research papers" and offer scholarships to promote the American "good guys" narrative globally.  They have both resident and non-resident "scholars", including some from developing countries like Pakistan. Some of the Pakistani "scholars" working for Washington think tanks also work for major media houses in Pakistan. These "scholars" are widely quoted by the media on issues relating to US-Pakistan relations.

2. News Media:  Veteran American journalist Carl Bernstein, famous for his reporting on Watergate along with Bob Woodward, investigated CIA's use of the American media and wrote a piece describing "How Americas Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up". Here's what he said:

"Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were William Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), Henry Luce of Time Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the Louisville Courier‑Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), the Associated Press (AP),  United Press International (UPI), Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps‑Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald‑Tribune".

3. Popular Entertainment:  It has been suggested that Hollywood has been working with the United States government for a long time.  Some have said that Hollywood is "the unofficial ministry of propaganda for the Pentagon".  Information obtained under FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) confirms that thousands of Hollywood films have received backing from the CIA and the US Department of Defense and other US agencies to promote America's "good guy" narrative. These include 24, Army Wives, Flight 93, Homeland,  Ice Road Truckers, NCIS,  Transformers, Iron Man, Terminator, etc.

Documents obtained recently under FOIA show that the relationship between the US national security establishment and American entertainment businesses is much deeper and more political than ever acknowledged.

4. Books and Literature:  Starting with the Cold War, the American CIA has infiltrated and influenced books and literature to promote the American official "good guys" narrative. "Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World's Best Writers" by Joel Whitney reveals how great writers such as Baldwin, Márquez, and Hemingway were recruited as soldiers in Cold War.

Editors of top literary magazines were used as a vehicle for this infiltration.  The first time the CIA's connections to the Paris Review and two dozen other magazines came to light was in 1966. The CIA used multiple guises to financially support young, promising writers as part of a cultural propaganda strategy with literary outposts around the world.

Summary:

The United States government has developed and aggressively controls and promotes America's standard narrative that "we are the good guys and those opposing us are the bad guys".  This narrative glosses over the history of native American genocide, enslavement of Africans and the CIA sponsored assassinations, coups and proxy wars in the developing world. In a couple of recent interviews, US President Donald Trump has acknowledged the problems with the American narrative. Nevertheless, the American narrative is promoted using a multi-pronged strategy that includes the use of think tanks, popular entertainment, books and literature and the mainstream media.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Hollywood: America's Unofficial Ministry of Propaganda

Free Speech: Myth or Reality?

Social Media Tribalism

Social Media: Blessing or Curse For Pakistan?

Planted Stories in Media

Indian BJP Troll Farm

Kulbhushan Jadhav Caught in Balochistan

The Story of Pakistan's M8 Motorway

Pakistan-China-Russia vs India-Japan-US

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel



13 comments:

Habibullah said...

This article has explained thoroughly how American foreign relations are maintained. In simple words it practices the principle of Might is right.Pakistan kay mashhoor mazahia shaer nay ek Qataa kaha:-“Tumhari Bhains kaisay hay kay jab laathi humari hay/Ab is laathi ki zad mein jo bhi aayay woh humara hay//Mazammat kariyon say tum humara kya bigado gay/Tumharay vote kya hotay hain jab Veto humara hay!!”

Mayraj said...

Ian Sinclair interviews Dr Florian Zollmann, a Lecturer in Journalism at Newcastle University and author of the recent book Media, Propaganda and the Politics of Intervention (Peter Lang, 2017). Zollmann starts by setting out the main findings of his study.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/ian-sinclair/propagandistic-nature-of-liberal-media-interview-with-florian-zollmann

Florian Zollmann: Leading news organisations in liberal democracies employ a double-standard when reporting on human rights violations: If countries designated to be ‘enemies’ of the West (in my study, I look at cases from the past including the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999, Libya in 2011 and Syria in 2012) conduct human rights violations, the news media highlight these abuses and report demands for action to stop human rights breaches. Such measures may entail policies with potentially serious effects for the target countries, including sanctions and military intervention. If, on the other hand, Western states or their ‘allies’ (in my study, I look at cases from the past including the US-led Coalition in Iraq in 2004 and Egypt in 2013) are the perpetrators of human rights violations that are similar or in excess of those conducted by ‘enemies’, the news media employ significantly less investigatory zeal in their reporting and virtually no measures to stop abuses are suggested.

My study shows, on the basis of an assessment of extensive quantitative and textual data, that the news media utilise different journalistic norms in terms of how they convey emotional sentiment, handle facts and evidence, use sources and perspective and classify events. These journalistic double standards, then, translate into a radically dichotomised news framing of problem definitions, responsibility of actors and policy options in response to what constitute relatively similar human rights violations: Official ‘enemies’ are depicted as pariah states, facing international condemnation and intervention. Western states and their ‘allies’ are depicted as benign forces, which may at best be criticised for using the wrong tactics and policy approaches. The dynamics of such dichotomised propaganda campaigns have had the effect that only some bloodbaths received visibility and scrutiny in the public sphere.

Fahim said...

The propagandistic nature of the liberal media: Interview with Florian Zollmann

http://truepublica.org.uk/global/jonathan-cook-the-corporate-medias-world-of-illusions/


Jonathan Cook: The corporate media’s world of illusions
https://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2017/01/17/german-journalist-who-spilled-the-beans-on-cia-media-influence-has-died-at-56-of-heart-attack/


German Journalist Who Spilled the Beans on CIA Media Influence Has Died at 56 of Heart Attack
https://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2014/10/08/non-official-cover-respected-german-journalist-blows-whistle-on-how-the-cia-controls-the-media/

“Non-Official Cover” – Respected German Journalist Blows Whistle on How the CIA Controls the Media
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGqi-k213eE


https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-03-28/top-german-journalist-admits-mainstream-media-completely-fake-we-all-lie-cia

Anonymous said...

Show me a nation which doesn't exaggerate it's own greatness and white washes it's crimes..

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Show me a nation which doesn't exaggerate it's own greatness and white washes it's crimes.."

None as powerful, resourceful and capable of doing damage as the United States.

Anonymous said...

https://worldjusticeproject.org/our-work/wjp-rule-law-index/wjp-rule-law-index-2017%E2%80%932018

nayyer ali said...

The US government does not have a Department of Propaganda, and does not control "narratives". The US has its pluses and minuses, but any good US history text covers the minuses quite well. I have a history degree from Stanford, and I learned all sorts of negative things about the US, including its Cold War shenanigans in Guatemala and Iran etc. Not many realize though that the US interfered quite heavily in French and Italian politics in the 1950's to block Communist parties there from entering government (they routinely won 20% of the seats in Parliamentary systems). Popular culture in all countries portray themselves as the good guys, nobody goes to the movies to be told they are bad. But in the US there are plenty of exceptions. The excellent Vietnam War documentary that aired nationwide on PBS by Ken Burns was both celebrated by critics, and was extremely critical of the lies and falsehoods and incompetence behind the Vietnam War. There are a hundred books and many movies critical of the Iraq War.
The US also has its very good points. It is the most welcoming society to outsiders and immigrants.
More importantly, in the grand sweep of human history, there were three colossal threats that blocked liberal civilization in the 20th century. The first was militarism and fascism, the second Anglo-French imperialism in Africa and Asia, and the third Communism. The US was instrumental in defeating through two world wars, diplomacy, and other means, all three, and it was the only country on Earth capable of doing so. It may have done so for self-interest, either in a narrow or an "enlightened self-interest" version, but it did do so. I infinitely prefer living within the sphere of American influence rather than the version of history in which the Nazis or the Soviets or the imperialists still hold sway.
American leaders after World War Two wanted to create a global order of liberal democratic capitalist states led by the US. If one surveys the globe, those countries that embraced that order are much better places to live than those that opposed or rejected it (North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Burma, Russia, Maoist China, most Arab countries etc etc). During the Cold War the US would sometimes have to choose between democratic systems that would put communists into power, or backing dictators that supported capitalism. In that situation, they often went with the dictator, and one can criticize those choices. But that doesnt change the big picture, democracy has expanded from less than 10 nations in 1939 to nearly 100 now. Freedom House ranks 45% of the world's nations as free and another 30% as partly free. The biggest countries that are still "Not Free" are China, Russia, Iran, and DR Congo. Turkey has backslid into "Not Free" but I think they will turn around eventually. There is also the case of Egypt, where the Arab Spring failed, but that is the fault of the Egyptians and no one else.

nayyer ali said...

"None as powerful, resourceful and capable of doing damage as the United States."
I see this mindset a lot, that because America is powerful it is no longer allowed to be a normal country that pursues its own interest, but instead must be relentlessly criticized for doing what everyone else does or would do in the same situation. Only if it becomes the willing servant of whoever is doing the criticizing can it be absolved of its sins. That's not how the world works.

Riaz Haq said...

NA: "I see this mindset a lot, that because America is powerful it is no longer allowed to be a normal country that pursues its own interest,..."

Normal country? Which normal country seeks and achieves global economic, political, military and media dominance as the United States has?

I suggest you read "The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" by John Perkins.

Perkins is himself a former an American "Economic Hit Man". or EHM.

Whatever little benefits that have flowed to the common people in the developing world have been an unintended side effect, not the goal of US policies.

He has used a lot of declassified documents to show how the United States relies on EHMs, Jackals (intelligence agents and covert operatives) and its massive military power to control world's natural resources and to punish anyone who gets in the way by assassinations, coups and military invasions and occupations.

Perkins gives specific examples of US actions in Latin America and Asia to back up his assertions.

Perkins also explains how the US EHM system has come home to roost in the form of the use of money for political manipulation in Washington and debt bondage in the wider debt-fueled economy.

The 2008 financial meltdown was just one symptom of it. The mounting student debt is another. Those who suffer the most from it are the average folks while the biggest beneficiaries are the wealthy corporations and their major shareholders.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a post I wrote back in 2009:

Will American Capitalism Survive?

https://www.riazhaq.com/2009/02/will-capitalism-survive.html

As the modern system of capitalism faces the most serious challenge of its existence since Adam Smith, the name of John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) is being regularly invoked by economists, politicians, bankers, and the media. And with good reason. Born in Cambridge, England, in 1883, the year Karl Marx died, Keynes probably saved capitalism from itself and kept Communists at bay. Keynesian Economics advocates the use of government monetary and fiscal policy to maintain full employment with low inflation.

Keynes described Capitalism in the following words: "Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone."

A well-known anti-Semite, Keynes once said, "It is not agreeable to see civilization so under the ugly thumbs of its impure Jews who have all the money and the power and brains." As in the past financial crises, powerful Jews on Wall Street and in Washington are being held responsible by many as the culprits of the current economic collapse.

In response to a severe recession or possible depression, Keynes suggested: "The government should pay people to dig holes in the ground and then fill them up." He advocated massive spending by government to stimulate demand when all else fails.

Who was Keynes? Here is how UC Berkeley's Robert Reich described him a few years ago: "A Cambridge University don with a flair for making money, a graduate of England's exclusive Eton prep school, a collector of modern art, the darling of Virginia Woolf and her intellectually avant-garde Bloomsbury Group, the chairman of a life-insurance company, later a director of the Bank of England, married to a ballerina, John Maynard Keynes--tall, charming and self-confident--nonetheless transformed the dismal science into a revolutionary engine of social progress."

Keynes was clearly a very smart man. His ideas of modern Capitalism have created unprecedented wealth and lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. And his ideas may still help save capitalism yet again. At least, that is the hope of the Obama administration and the backers of the massive stimulus package of about $800 billion recently passed by the US Congress. However, what Keynes couldn't have imagined are the new heights of avarice and wickedness of the modern political-industrial elite in America that has threatened the very foundations of the system that brought them wealth and power. During the last decade, the behavior of American capitalists and politicians has been unbelievably self-destructive.

Mayraj said...


https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/america-is-regressing-into-a-developing-nation-for-most-people



America is Regressing into a Developing Nation for Most People




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRs4VcHprqI

The US Middle Class is Shrinking and Moving Towards a "Dual Economy"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6P8ECW5S3A
What the ‘Dual Economy’ Model for Developing Countries Reveals About Today’s America




"In looking at the link between labor stratification and crime, Crutchfield divides jobs into two types: “primary sector” and “secondary sector.” Primary-sector jobs offer decent pay, benefits and the opportunity for promotion. Secondary-sector employment is the opposite. It offers dead-end jobs with low wages, no benefits and high levels of instability.

Crutchfield’s bottom line: Adult employment in primary-sector jobs reduces crime, while employment in secondary-sector jobs does not. This is an important fact for public officials to recognize, since much of the recent growth of the economy has been in the secondary sector -- employment many young people deride as “slave jobs.” It is also important to recognize that while crime has been declining for decades, which is surely the result of better policing as well as demographics, the overall decline masks persistent high levels of crime in some places and among some groups."
http://www.governing.com/gov-institute/funkhouser/gov-slave-jobs-crime.html
Want More Crime with That Burger?
Good jobs are proven to reduce crime, yet much of the economy's recent growth is due to dead-end jobs with low wages and no benefits.
http://www.caixabankresearch.com/en/jay-gatsbys-american-dream-between-inequality-and-social-mobility

Jay Gatsby’s American Dream: between inequality and social mobility

So why are Blacks incarcerated at such high rates as they form such large segment of post white US?
Right wants to deflect from policy failure that even the investment manager understands.

As Putnam states: Children who grow up without their biological father perform worse on standardized tests, earn lower grades, and stay in school for fewer years regardless of race and class.”

https://www.mindingthecampus.org/2015/07/19/robert-putnam-knows-the-real-reason-the-american-dream-is-fading/

Robert Putnam Knows The Real Reason the American Dream Is Fading

usind said...

So if the milk turns sour, blame the cow?

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump administration opposes #breastfeeding resolution, defends formula makers' corporate interests, intimidates sponsoring nations at the @UN affiliated World Health Assembly in #Geneva. #Ecuador #breastmilk https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/08/health/world-health-breastfeeding-ecuador-trump.html

A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly.

Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.

Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.

American officials sought to water down the resolution by removing language that called on governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding” and another passage that called on policymakers to restrict the promotion of food products that many experts say can have deleterious effects on young children.

----------

When that failed, they turned to threats, according to diplomats and government officials who took part in the discussions. Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was the first to find itself in the cross hairs.

The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.

--------------

The showdown over the issue was recounted by more than a dozen participants from several countries, many of whom requested anonymity because they feared retaliation from the United States.

Health advocates scrambled to find another sponsor for the resolution, but at least a dozen countries, most of them poor nations in Africa and Latin America, backed off, citing fears of retaliation, according to officials from Uruguay, Mexico and the United States.

“We were astonished, appalled and also saddened,” said Patti Rundall, the policy director of the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action, who has attended meetings of the assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, since the late 1980s.