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American false mirror (propaganda, US and Europe)

Népszabadság Online - 02 janvier, 2005
Hajnalka Vincze

It is not the United States which behaves in an unexplainable way, but we Europeans. Indeed, Washington's acts and deeds are completely foreseeable, in conformity with its position. This does not make them less dangerous neither for themselves, nor for others, and does not reduce the enormous gap between their pretended intentions and their genuine aspirations. But America’s behaviour is fundamentally logical.

They are in an unprecedentedly dominant situation and seek to exploit all the advantages to preserve it as long as possible. Most understandably. One of the favorite instruments of the American power is what they call by euphemism "public diplomacy” (propaganda in other words). It is a natural corollary of any power, but in the case of the United States 1. it has become a genuine industry to the point that it is one of the major factors supporting their hegemonic position 2. it is today an obvious failure, as indicated by America’s sharply falling popularity all over the world. An official document from the Pentagon, published last November and entitled "Strategic Communication" thoroughly details this fiasco while proposing nothing more than to improve the same method. Nonetheless, the originality of the text is that it contains a series of rebuttals to the propaganda formulas employed so far by White House staff writers and their worldwide followers. Of course, these arguments are anything but new, however, the fact that this time they come from the Pentagon’s "Defense Science Board" makes them interesting. Already by refuting the theses on the fight between great American values and obscure evil forces: "Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies". The report also notices that Washington “adopted a Cold War-style response” to a “very different strategic situation” and that it "hides within the official rubric of a ‘War on Terrorism’ their agenda aimed at converting a broad movement within Islamic civilization to accept the value structure of Western Modernity”. The authors note that "the perception of intimate U.S. support of tyrannies in the Muslim World strongly undercuts our message ": "when American diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy”. With regard to the essential objective which consists in "separating the vast majority of non-violent Muslims from the radical-militant Islamist-Jihadists”, the report observes that “American efforts have not only failed: they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended”. Surprise, surprise. Nevertheless, the report falls in line with the old conformist spirit which characterizes the American establishment (and not only the American one) as soon as it comes to proposing solutions. In short: do it better. We can find there all the fetishes of American marketing-style policy: more innovative approach, more coordination, more pro-active attitude, personalized treatment of the so-called "movable targets" (i.e. Muslims most likely to be influenced), increased role for the private sector, stronger mobilization of the celebrities, television programmes and Internet technologies. In a nutshell: revitalize the propaganda machine. Of course, we could not expect more from a Pentagon report - to tell the truth it is already quite much (and reflects the major distress which reigns in Washington). The authors pushed to the maximum the limits of their room for maneuver based on their own interests and their own logic. Genuine criticism and real alternative can, indeed, come only from the outside. It is especially our European elites (political and intellectual) who do not do their work. They take pleasure in criticizing the symptoms and surface, for want of having the courage to face the real issues. What better example than the ABBA (Anybody But Bush Again) chorus which howled all over the world before the American elections. Claiming that structural problems are only circumstantial and conceiving only tactical image improvements instead of a strategic vision. Since to face reality would require first of all to face our own irresponsibility. Which is not a bit less than that of the United States, on the contrary: for ours is, in addition, inexplicable. It even goes against any logic. On the one hand, the construction of political Europe (as an autonomous strategic actor) would be useful as a factor of balance in the current international system characterized by American predominance. As noticed by the British journalist Timothy Garton Ash: even an archangel would be led into temptation by so much power. In addition, it is this same political Europe whose absence is at the origin of the majority of our internal miseries today. By assuming our sovereignty, we would recover ourselves: from reinvigorating our social and economic model, to the problems of democratic legitimacy, not to mention the stabilization of our neighbourhood. Actually, neither Mr. Bush, nor America is "the big bad guy". The blame is above all on the unbalanced, most unhealthy international system. To remedy this situation, Europe should transform itself into an autonomous, fully-fledged geopolitical power – a prospect which not only divides European elites and governments, but even terrifies a lot of them. George W. Bush and her team are like a grotesque decoy: as long as we delight in lamenting over their performances, we do not have to question ourselves about our own intellectual and political cowardice.

Full tect un Hungarian.


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