There is truth and there are lies. Lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens and especially as leaders ………. to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.
(Joe Biden, President of the USA)
During the Russian-Ukrainian war, we have noticed how easy it is for European leaders to adopt American proposals regarding policy positions to be taken, whether it be on sanctions towards Russia or on arms deliveries to Ukraine. We have seen how defense policies practiced for decades in Denmark with regard to neutrality on military deployment by the EU changed overnight without any serious public debate. Denmark is also about to abandon a long-time policy of not accepting foreign troops on its soil by considering granting the US rights to establish bases in Denmark. Similar observations apply to Sweden and Finland joining the NATO alliance after more than 70 years of neutrality. A political analyst states that “At no period since the end of the Second World war has Western Europe been so closely aligned, ideologically and politically, with the United States as today”
Upon this background, I decided to look into the information context since the second world war and in particular into who controls what the public ‘needs’ to know.
From day one of our lives every individual is bombarded with information about the surrounding world. This helps us to develop our identity and builds loyalty toward the political system, which reigns in the country of our birth. Very quickly we learn who are the bad guys and who are the good ones. The formation of our identity begins to take shape very early. The media and those in control of them exert a tremendous influence on the way each one of us will perceive the immediate world around us and even regions of our planet, where we are unlikely to obtain firsthand observations. Some of us grow up to become makers of decisions that determine the direction of nations and sometimes even continents and alliances of nations, such as those which constitute the European Union and NATO.
It is morally imperative that decisions should be made on basis of objective and verifiable information. In this respect, journalists and media owners share characteristics with scientists. In the public eye, objectivity is the distinguishing feature of a scientist. He is expected to keep his vision pure from the distorting effects of dogma and ideologies. He is expected to see the world as it really is.
The scientist is supposed to assess facts and test hypotheses. Similar norms are expected to be followed by the responsible journalist. Objectivity is often the first victim when scientists enter the battle of social issues. Similarly, objectivity is always at risk, when journalists report on social and political events, which are likely to affect the future of generations. Wrong decisions are easily made when politicians and lobby groups allow themselves to make conclusions based on enemy pictures formed from decades of propaganda and strategically planned disinformation campaigns.
In this paper, we define disinformation as distorted, manipulated, or false information intentionally created to mislead someone. Disinformation is often used to strengthen political ideologies and loyalties. It simplifies difficult topics and allows the audience to feel as though they are being exposed to the truth. It offers identity validation often at times of uncertainty and threat.
After the second world war disinformation played an important role in the cold war between the pro-Western countries and the communist block. Entire populations, including parliamentarians, were deliberately targeted with disinformation campaigns, which flourished for more than half a century after the second world war to such an extent that politicians and decision-makers, who grew up during this period developed a cognitive filter, which automatically categorized information received into true and false categories thus dividing the world into good and evil or us against them.
This article is presented upon the argument that the pro-Western block, EU and NATO, continue to make decisions based upon enemy pictures developed during the cold war and particularly disseminated by US-sponsored broadcasting media. They have successfully created an image of Russia as the evil empire, a phrase coined by US President Ronald Reagan in 1983. Presenting itself as the hegemonic agent, saving the world from all evils, the USA has lied about its war in Vietnam. It lied about the Watergate affair. It lied about its dirty war in Nicaragua, Iraq, Afghanistan, and today about its involvement in Ukraine. Through the subtle choice of specific terminology, the western world has come to accept the US and its multifarious wars as humanitarian interventions promoting democracy and human rights, while wars involving USSR and later Russia and other adversaries are evil and violate human rights.
Without a doubt, the USA has been very successful in terms of creating loyalties towards its policies and the American way of life with its emphasis on freedom. Less than a handful of American broadcasting organizations worked tirelessly on reaching this target, since the second world war. They have made us forget the sacrifices endured by the Soviet people to free the world from the evils of Nazism. They made us forget the atrocities committed by the US armies in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Central and South America, and hundreds of other places too numerous to mention here.
Congress for Cultural Freedom
No understanding of international or US-national events is likely without a factual grasp of the involvement of the CIA. Rallying support for the fight against communism, it was capable of raising support domestically for its foreign policies. The Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) was one such organization, which served as a conduit for domestic propaganda and helped fundraise broadcasting stations beyond the Iron Curtain and in post-second world war Western Europe. The CCF functioned also as a conduit for domestic propaganda in the US by dramatizing Communist repression, thus creating fears of a worldwide menace. Through Congress and other fronts, the CIA cemented anti-communist hostility to such an extent that it has endured long after the fall of communism. Through the CCF and its network, the CIA and the US government have been able to influence the way the world is perceived by populations in the west and in most of those territories which were part of the former USSR.
CIA secretly established and funded the CCF in 1950. At its peak, the Congress had offices in 35 countries, employed dozens of personnel, published over twenty prestige magazines, held art exhibitions, organized high-profile international conferences, and rewarded musicians and artists with prizes and public performances. The Congress was actively involved in the establishment of Radio Free Europe in 1950, a US-sponsored broadcasting station. At the peak of CCF, the CIA funded it annually with more than 900.000 USD and operated its secret agenda behind the cover of intellectual personalities such as André Malraux, Bertrand Russell, T.S.Eliot, and Karl Jaspers, who most likely were ignorant about their sponsor.
In the USSR Radio Free Europe was to be known as Radio Liberty. Ostensibly, it provided unbiased news for Eastern Europeans, but in fact, the CIA used it to wage a subversive campaign to weaken Communist governments behind the Iron Curtain.
Broadcasting Agents for a free world
Voice of America (VOA) was founded shortly after the entry of the USA into the second world war. Today it is still funded by the U.S. Congress and headquartered in Washington. Funds are appropriated annually under the budget for embassies and consulates. In 2016, it was estimated that VOA reaches approximately 236.6 million people worldwide in more than 40 languages with about 1,050 employees and a taxpayer-funded annual budget of 218.5 million USD. It is fair to describe it as the mouthpiece of the US government.
VOA served initially military objectives and was shortly after its establishment at the beginning of the second world war replaced by the Office of War Information until the end of the war. VOA began actual operations during the cold war fighting communism in Europe and beyond the Iron Curtain. The head of VOA claimed that the VOA helped to grow and strengthen the ‘free world’, as defined by the US. VOA was also influential in the decline of communism in several West European countries, such as Italy and France. Over the next few years, the U.S. government debated the best role of Voice of America. The decision was made to use VOA broadcasts as a part of its foreign policy to fight the communist ideology, especially as propagated by the Soviet Union. Reports on the fall 1989 of the USSR suggest that VOA had influenced proponents against the communist regime.
Radio Free Europe
Ever since President Harry Truman’s creation of the CIA after World War II, this agency has interfered in other countries and dictated or changed their governments, often through campaigns of mass murder, military coups, arming guerrilla groups, the abolition of democracy, systemic disinformation, and the imposition of savage despots. This is by Americans regarded as a divine right, inherent to American exceptionalism.
Radio Free Europe is a complementary broadcaster to VOA. It was founded as an anti-communist propaganda source in 1949 by the National Committee for a Free Europe. Radio Liberty was established two years later. The two organizations were eventually merged in 1976. RFE/RL was headquartered in Germany and Portugal until the mid-90s. It was founded by The National Committee for a Free Europe, later known as Free Europe Committee, established by the CIA as a front organization in June 1949. The organization created and oversaw the anti-communist broadcast service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. It is supervised by the U.S. Agency for Global Media, an independent government agency overseeing all international broadcasting services. It broadcast in more than twenty languages of Central and Eastern Europe, and Eurasia, and functioned as a “home service” located abroad.
What happened to the peace dividend?
It could have been expected that these broadcasting networks, VOA, RFE/RL would be abolished or at least cut down with the collapse of communism and the abolition of the Warsaw Pact countries at the end of the 80s. Large budgets could have been used for social development within the USA, which harbors a large and poor population. But instead, we witnessed an increase in target countries for the American broadcasting stations. They came to include countries where the US has military involvement and commercial interests, such as in the Middle East, Cuba, China, and Africa. The results obtained in Europe and the former Soviet Union gave hope to American enterprises for similar results to be obtained elsewhere in the world.
Failure, to tell the truth, is also part of disinformation campaigns. Domestically, this happens when the media convinces the American population of the need for economic expansion abroad rather than social transformation at home. Therefore, we did not see any winding down of either VOA, RFE/RL with the fall of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact countries. If anything, we have seen these broadcasters reorient their scope and targets to include countries in the Middle East, Cuba, South America, and Africa. The single largest success of the media in terms of misinforming populations worldwide is the creation of the image of the USA as a democratic state with an elected powerful president. The truth is that just one of the commanders-in-chief of the regional command centers, covering the entire world wield more power than the White House in terms of political and diplomatic power.
Under different labels – Radio Marti broadcasting to Cuba, Radio Free Asia, Radio Farda broadcasting to Iran and Radio Sawa to the Middle East- these broadcasting stations continued to impart propaganda and disinformation about the American way of life. Rarely are listeners told the truth about life in the USA. The message is freedom and not inequality among various socioeconomic groups. Debates about how to improve living standards among US workers through social programs are not part of the agenda. Rather efforts are made to convince the American worker that his long-term interests are better ensured by maintaining social peace at home and thus avoid threatening the economic hierarchy. Mainstream media in the US are together when it concerns showing the American working and middle classes that social peace at home is better safeguarded by continuing to letting banks and large corporations be the real motors of foreign policy. Thus, the objective of ensuring the global hegemony of the USA is continuously ensured by VOA and its inheritors through the establishment of a supportive domestic population.
The paradigmatic values established by these broadcasting stations have made it easy for NATO states “to manipulate their domestic electorates into believing that these states are indeed leading the world’s population towards a more just and humane future when in reality, they are doing no such thing”. The US-led NATO has taught us that self-preservation takes precedence over the moral principle that we should not inflict harm on others.
The Truth: Classified Top Secret
In closing, this presentation on the victimization of virtually the entire western world and a great part of the rest of the planet by the countless disinformation campaigns masterminded and executed by the USA, it is worthwhile to be reminded of the quote by US President Biden at the opening of this article. He calls for leaders to defend the truth and to defeat the lies. He recently established within the Department for Homeland Security a Disinformation Governance Board. It was created with a view to counter disinformation launched by foreign governments. Given the record of false and immoral information planted by agencies of the US government, critics of this Board has suggested that it ought to address the problem of disinformation closer to home aiming at eradicating US government disinformation.
The entire world still remembers when Colin Powel, Secretary of State, presented to the Security Council of the UN the ‘proof’ of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This false information had been developed by the CIA and was subsequently disseminated by mainstream media and brought to the world as a genuine fact. Disinformation has contributed to justify preemptive strikes in Iraq, land seizures on the Palestinian West Bank, and punitive wars in numerous places. Such interventions have become the order of the day without being met by popular opposition. Disinformation campaigns have introduced them in the name of human rights and universal morality conducted under the leadership of our guardian angel, the USA, which successfully has imposed on its allies and even on its enemies' images of the hegemonic state as representing universal values.
Lies supporting global understanding
The ongoing Ukrainian war provides other examples of the works of US-based disinformation. The involvement of the pro-Nazi Azov battalion fighting the Russian army is today presented in the western media as a democratic and patriotic unit. Now, this unit is a key recipient of arms donations from the US and its European allies. Years before the outbreak of the war The New York Times, US Today, the World Jewish Congress, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, as well as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Freedom House, issued joint reports warning the world about this battalion as a threat to world security and an enemy of human civilization. Today, all western media express deep sorrow when the home base of the Azov battalion suffered defeat by Russian forces. Just as the US cultivated the jihadist link in Afghanistan with the purpose of fighting a proxy war with the USSR, American advisors are currently providing support to extremist groups in Ukraine for the same reason. While US disinformation wants us to believe that the war in Ukraine is about freedom, democracy, and human rights, there is plenty of information that support other versions of this story, including that which is being told by the Russian side. Hillary Clinton, who is still very much part of the US foreign policy establishment, is more direct when she advocates for a policy of the USA and its allies, which will arm the military and citizens of Ukraine with the objective that Russia can be sucked into an Afghan-like quagmire to ensure continued global dominance by the USA.
The US State Department has concluded that “Disinformation is a quick and fairly cheap way to destabilize societies and set the stage for potential military action.” The web-based Politico asks “…...who thinks the US- government is capable of telling the truth? Our government produces lies and disinformation on an industrial scale and always has.” It classifies vital information as top secret to block its own citizens from obtaining information about the government’s activities. Apparently, most people in Western countries accept US- exceptionalism and believe in its right to conduct immoral disinformation campaigns. It would be a blow to the identity of most of the populations in western countries if media representatives and politically elected leaders would have the courage to tell people that they are victims of lies. Because those lies inherent in disinformation campaigns support our perception of the world. Most people accept being deceived since it merely reinforces their identity and understanding of the world which surrounds them. Even western, so-called, intellectuals have become too lazy to learn what we need to know to make sound public decisions.