Lies And Propaganda Started Nearly Every War in US History
War is one of the most primitive and senseless manifestations of the human experience, so naturally, most sane people with families, ambitions and kind hearts want nothing to do with such things. Unfortunately, as we are seeing with the Syrian escalation, governments thrive on war, as it gives them a pressing excuse to grab more power and take extrajudicial measures – both at home and abroad.
To get around the obstacle of public opinion, governments have an extensive history of lying their way into war. This is hard to believe for people who think that government has their best interest in mind, but it is something that rulers have been doing since the beginning of time. In the modern United States, people are led to believe that the establishment accidentally flounders its way into war with the good intentions of protecting the country from harm or liberating an ally in distress.
This strategy of deception was illustrated by the Nazi propagandist Herman Goering, who famously said: “Of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country”.
Of course, the Nazi regime is notorious for their brutality and deceit, so this admission is not as stunning as it would be from an American general, but make no mistake that these are the types of thoughts that American generals and politicians have – they are just not brazen enough to say it out loud.
Believe it or not, using deceptive tactics to sway public opinion in favor of war is actually an official part of the US military’s playbook. According to WikiLeaks, the U.S. Army’s publication Special Forces Foreign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces recommends funding terrorists for regime change operations and using false flag attacks to destabilize regimes that were unfriendly to western interests.
This is nothing new though, this is a part of American history, as nearly every war that the U.S. has ever been involved in was built upon lies. Below are some of the most well-documented examples of wars that were started because of lies and government propaganda.
Spanish-American War, 1898
In January 1898, President William McKinley ordered the USS Maine to port in Havana, Cuba, despite years of conflict between Cuban rebels and the Spanish government. The move was intended to be a show of force against the Spanish government, in line with the Monroe doctrine, to establish U.S. dominance in the Western hemisphere.
At 9:40 p.m., on February 15, 1898, the USS Maine exploded with a crew of 354 men on board, killing 266. While the Spanish government insisted the explosion was caused by a fire in a coal bunker that ignited the forward magazines, politicians in the U.S. were quick to blame Spain because they wanted an excuse to wage a war of conquest for territory in Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.
Although President McKinley had previously voiced his opposition to a military conflict, on April 25, the U.S. declared war on Spain. The “Ten-Week War” resulted in not only the defeat of the last remnants of the Spanish empire but in a new era of U.S. “expansionism” as the United States took control of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine islands.
In 1976, a team of naval explosive experts examined the evidence and corroborated Spanish claims that the USS Maine’s sinking was caused by an internal explosion from ammunition being stored on board.
World War 1, 1915
The First World War was opposed by most Americans from the start, as they rightly saw it as a power struggle between European aristocrats that they had no business in. This was a problem for the British military, led by Winston Churchill, as they were desperate to get the United States behind them in the war.
The U.S. did finally enter the war in 1915, when a U.S. ship called the Lusitania was sent through hostile waters as bait, filled with more than a thousand civilians and an unusually large amount of ammunition. The ship was hit by a German torpedo and exploded instantly due to all of the ammunition onboard, killing more than half of the passengers and crew.
A week before the sinking of Lusitania, Churchill wrote to Walter Runciman, the President of the Board of Trade, stating that it is “most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores, in the hope especially of embroiling the United States with Germany”.
After investigating the tragedy, former British naval intelligence officer Patrick Beesly said: “unless and until fresh information comes to light, I am reluctantly driven to the conclusion that there was a conspiracy deliberately to put Lusitania at risk in the hope that even an abortive attack on her would bring the United States into the war. Such a conspiracy could not have been put into effect without Winston Churchill’s express permission and approval”.
In addition to this treacherous military maneuver, there was a relentless campaign in the U.S. to dehumanize Germans and to paint them as monsters. In some propaganda that was peddled to U.S. citizens, German soldiers were depicted killing babies and sometimes eating them. There were even false reports of crucifixions.
World War 2, 1941
The history books suggest that Pearl Harbor was an unprovoked attack, killing thousands of Americans and “forcing” the government to enter a war that was extremely unpopular at the time. However, the U.S. government was enacting strict sanctions on both Japan and Germany, hoping that either country would make the first move and give them an excuse to enter the war. Not only was the attack provoked, but President Roosevelt and the U.S. military knew the attack was coming and moved their most expensive aircraft to other locations while leaving thousands of people as sacrificial pawns.
The history books also sell the war against the Nazis as a humanitarian war to save people from the Holocaust, but the U.S. denied safe passage to Jewish refugees, and UK intelligence even planned to blow up refugee ships, in a plot called Operation Embarrass.
Many American businesses and politicians worked very closely with the Nazis even after the two countries were at war with each other. The Holocaust had already claimed the lives of millions of German people by that point, and a police state had long since been established, so whoever was doing business with the Nazis knew exactly who they were getting involved with.
Prior to the Americans getting involved in the war, there were corners of the political arena that were actually big supporters of the Nazi party – both for business purposes and common interests such as eugenics.
The most prominent American politician to work with the Nazis was actually George W. Bush’s grandfather, Prescott Bush. There is no doubt that he was funding and working with the Nazis because his company’s assets were seized in 1942 by the United States government under the “trading with the enemy” act. He worked at the head of a financial firm called Brown Brothers Harriman, which acted as a U.S. base for the Nazi business interests.
Brown Brothers Harriman was one of the biggest international investment firms in the 1930s and they sent millions of dollars in gold overseas to rebuild the German army and fund the Nazi party. This racket was finally exposed on July 30, 1942, when the New York Herald Tribune posted an article titled, Hitler’s Angel Has Three Million Dollars in US Bank. This article raised suspicion about the bank being a “secret nest” for Nazi elites and eventually sparked the investigation that took down the operation.
Korean War, 1950
The propaganda of war has led many to believe that the North Korean government launched an unprovoked attack on South Korea, on behalf of the larger communist powers of Russia and China. Yet, once again, this was another case where the U.S. was propping up one dictator to fight another, in an attempt to gain control of an entire continent – all the while, lying to the people back home about the true motivations for war.
As historian Mark E. Caprio, professor of history at Rikkyo University in Tokyo points out: “On February 8, 1949, the South Korean president met with Ambassador John Muccio and Secretary of the Army Kenneth C. Royall in Seoul. Here the Korean president listed the following as justifications for initiating a war with the North: the South Korean military could easily be increased by 100,000 if it drew from the 150,000 to 200,000 Koreans who had recently fought with the Japanese or the Nationalist Chinese. Moreover, the morale of the South Korean military was greater than that of the North Koreans. If war broke out he expected mass defections from the enemy. Finally, the United Nations’ recognition of South Korea legitimized its rule over the entire peninsula (as stipulated in its constitution). Thus, he concluded, there was ‘nothing [to be] gained by waiting’.”
Vietnam War, 1964
Information released in 2005 by the National Security Agency showed that the Gulf of Tonkin incident on August 1964 was deliberately falsified to make it appear that North Vietnamese gunboats attacked an American destroyer patrolling in international waters when in reality, they did not. This was the event that the U.S. military used as an excuse to go to war in Vietnam and it was surrounded by mystery and controversy until decades later when the official facts were released.
It has now been 45 years since the U.S. withdrew the last of its combat troops from Vietnam and the last prisoners of war that were held in North Vietnam returned to U.S. soil. According to estimates, more than 2 million civilians, 1.1 million North Vietnamese and Viet Cong fighters, 250,000 South Vietnamese fighters, and nearly 58,000 U.S. military members were killed in Vietnam during the war – all because of lies that were used to create propaganda that made Americans fear for their safety.
Libya, 1984 (then 2015)
Former Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky admitted that the Mossad planted a radio transmitter in Libyan Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli, which broadcast fake terrorist transmissions that were recorded by Mossad and used to frame Gaddafi as a terrorist supporter. President Reagan bombed Libya immediately after the false reports, but this was not the first or last time the U.S. would involve itself in Libya. 3,000 emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released by the State Department contained damning evidence of Western nations using NATO as a tool to overthrow Gaddafi.
The NATO overthrow was not for the protection of the people, but instead, it was to thwart Gaddafi’s attempt to create a gold-backed African currency to compete with the Western central banking monopoly. As per usual, the U.S. and its Western counterparts left the country to its own devices after slashing the once-thriving nation to the ground.
“Today there is no government of Libya. It’s simply mobs that patrol the streets and kill one another” Virginia State Senator Richard Black told of the mess left behind.
Despite certain issues in Libya before the coup, “Libyans had an incredibly high standard of living, the highest in Africa”, international lawyer Francis Boyle said. “When I first went to Libya in 1986, I was amazed by the empowerment of women. What I saw in Libya was that women could do anything they wanted to do.”
At the onset of Operation Desert Storm in 1990, a public relations firm by the name of Hill and Knowlton spent millions of dollars on the U.S. government’s behalf, constructing news pieces that would sell the war to the American public. One of the most moving hoaxes to come from this push to war was the testimony of a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, known only by her first name of Nayirah.
In a videotaped testimony that was later distributed to the media, she claimed that Iraqi soldiers killed babies in incubators at a hospital.
“I volunteered at the al-Addan hospital. While I was there, I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns, and go into the room where… babies were in incubators”, Nayirah said. “They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die.”
Sounds horrible, right? Well, luckily it never happened. This was a fabricated event designed to dehumanize the Iraqi people in the eyes of the American public. The whole thing was exposed when journalists discovered that the witness, Nayirah was actually the daughter of an ambassador, who was being coaxed by military psychological operations specialists.
In addition to this false testimony, the U.S. government also showed Saudi Arabia fake satellite images that depicted Iraqi troops massing on their border.
Emails that were declassified in 2015 paint a much different picture of the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq than they led the public to believe. A memo drafted by the U.S. embassy in London revealed how the Bush administration used “spies” in the British Labor Party to help shape British public opinion in favor of the war, prior to U.S. invasion.
In the weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration inundated American airwaves with assertions ranging from Saddam Hussein’s connections to Al-Qaeda, to Colin Powell’s “badly flawed” claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
After invading a sovereign foreign nation, President George W. Bush blatantly lied to the American public and when news came to light that there were, in fact, no weapons of mass destruction, he simply accused anyone who criticized him of attempting to “revise history”.
During his presidency, while giving a speech about that very issue, Bush said, “This nation acted to a threat from the dictator of Iraq. Now there are some who would like to rewrite history – revisionist historians is what I like to call them”.
War on Terror, 2001-present
Now the United States military and its allies are exporting their wars of terror across the globe, in the name of fighting terrorism, and most of these wars are also justified with propaganda and lies.
In 2001, U.S. media spent weeks circulating the idea that anthrax attacks were being carried out by Arabs connected with Afghanistan, when in reality it was a government scientist behind the attacks.
In 2005, former Department of Justice lawyer John Yoo suggested that the U.S. should create a false terrorist organization to give the military an excuse to attack places where they believed real terrorists might be hiding: “Our intelligence agencies create a false terrorist organization” Yoo said. “It could have its own websites, recruitment centers, training camps, and fundraising operations. It could launch fake terrorist operations and claim credit for real terrorist strikes, helping to sow confusion within al-Qaeda’s ranks, causing operatives to doubt others’ identities and to question the validity of communications”.
This long track record of deception is important to consider as the U.S. military is beating the war drum again, this time in Syria, where there has also been a long list of false attacks at the hands of western powers.
Starting all the way back in 1957, politicians in the U.S. and UK developed a plot to train Islamic extremists to carry out false flag attacks to push for regime change in Syria. Now, decades later, history is repeating itself in the same part of the world, as regime change in Syria is back on the agenda, and the western powers are following the same playbook.
It is now known that the rebel groups who would eventually become ISIS were funded by U.S. forces in the present day Syrian civil war. Also, the previous gas attacks that were blamed on Assad were never proven to be connected with his government. In fact, the official story of these attacks is highly contested.
Theodore Postol, a professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), made a statement after an alleged gas attack last year (2017), saying that he does not believe the Assad regime was responsible for the attacks, and that it is possible the evidence was tampered with.
Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh said high-level American sources told him that the Turkish government carried out the chemical weapons attacks blamed on the Syrian government. Soon after, Turkish government officials were recorded discussing plans to carry out similar attacks and blame it on the Assad regime.
Regardless of who is actually responsible for the attacks, every intervention from the U.S. military only leads to more death and destruction.
Given that the U.S. government has such a reputation for mass murder and human rights violations, we should always be extremely suspicious whenever anyone in power claims to be doing something noble, especially when military force is involved.
To find out more on this subject, see Shadow Ring, the hard-hitting documentary about the history of war propaganda.
June 15, 2018