Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Propaganda Squared

A reader noted in the Q Tips section below that Tuesday's ATC featured Pentagon propaganda on the Green Berets. It's no secret that NPR do love it some counterinsurgency, including the Green Berets.

The piece from Jon Kalish was an unabashed, uncritical advertisement for a Green Beret commercial called Why We Fight Now. There was no critique of the Green Berets, just positive comments, an "explanation" of the filmmaker's motives, and a handy link to the 10 minutes of the film on YouTube (watch it if you can stomach it - it's a lazy, stupid, paean to warriorism).

Here's a taste of the NPR feature:
Kalish: The film is titled Why We Fight Now, a nod to the World War II series Why We Fight, produced by Hollywood filmmaker Frank Capra for the U.S. War Department.....Why We Fight Now has no narration and consists mostly of Green Berets talking about their work. It was directed by Mark Benjamin, a 62-year-old Manhattan filmmaker who might seem an odd choice for the job." [Actually there is nothing but narration, provided by Green Berets parroting a simple-minded world view and the worship of war and counterinsurgency which in NPRspeak is "talking about their 'work.' "]

Benjamin: "I've always been anti-war and never thought I would ever work for the military."

Kalish: On the wall in Benjamin's office is a poster of Che Guevara, but there's also a picture of a Green Beret handing a piece of food to a child in Afghanistan. Benjamin's political evolution is due in no small part to the terrorist attacks of September 11. He knew people who died and has made several films dealing with the day's repercussions."

Benjamin: "Because of 9/11, I became this liberal hawk. My own political perspective on global conflicts, democracy, capitalism, human rights everything changed. I certainly became more militant. I think we should go after terror wherever it is."

That's all we get. Not one bit of intelligent information or analysis. There is some chatter from an ex-Green Beret who now is a fellow at NPR-favorite war-tank, Center for New American Security, who liked the film (surprise!) and seemed surprised that the military is airing this pro-special forces rubbish (because it favors the Green Berets over other special forces!)

As always there was no mention of the sordid history of the Green Berets supporting dictators and torture states - such as the disgusting Karimov of Uzbekistan or the torture deaths of Green Beret prisoners in Afghanistan (yawn...) or the usual trail of torture, blood, and repression that US special forces leave in their wake all over the world.

In the comments section below the story Boulder Dude nails it: "So, what does one call Propaganda of a Propaganda film? Double Plus Good news?" Or as I see it propaganda squared.


geoff said...

"So, what does one call Propaganda of a Propaganda film?"

I forget who coined the term "incestuous amplification," which seems to capture this well. Oh, wordspy knows. Guess when the earliest usage is cited: 1984. A quarter century past, during which time things seem to have just gotten more and more 1984.

WarOnWarOff said...

I'd call it war porn fluffing, or in the words of Chris Hedges:

War is the pornography of violence. It has a dark beauty, filled with the monstrous and the grotesque. The Bible calls it "the lust of the eye" and warns believers against it. War allows us to engage in lusts and passions we keep hidden in the deepest, most private interiors of our fantasy lives. It allows us to destroy not only things and ideas but human beings.

JayV said...

I left a comment, too.

A cogent, critical analysis. Not.

Nothing about the history of the Green Berets' as America's terrorists - supporting dictators (Uzbekistan) or torturing people in Afghanistan. And that bit about soldiers' gifts for children - influencing hearts and minds. It's been done for eons by conquering armies after pillaging villages and families. The good German soldiers did the same in May, 1940 when they occupied Holland (according to my Dutch aunt).

C'mon NPR, this was nothing but a fluff piece promoting a propaganda movie (but you don't call it that) and you should be ashamed of your lousy journalism.

I agree with what Boulder Dude and Matthew Murray have written.

pig!bink!buzzy!funny! said...

bunny's gratefully grinnin' that he abandoned & disowned this Pravda at a most fortuitous time.


You can trust the Army.

Just ask the Pat Tillman's family.

"RAZ: You called General McChrystal quote, "probably the best man for the job in Afghanistan."

Mr. KRAKAUER: I don't argue with people who say he is the most effective commander in the Army. He's done - he's come up with some really important ideas about what to do about cutting down on Afghan civilian deaths, for instance. But I, you know, I have looked into this and there's no doubt in my mind that he has repeatedly lied to the American people, he's deceived the nation, and he has lied to the Senate. He's lied to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

RAZ: But if you're making those allegations and you're saying he's lied, then why does any of it matter if you think he is the right man for the job?

Mr. KRAKAUER: I don't think he should be in the job. I think he is the best man for the job.

RAZ: You don't think he should be in the job?

Mr. KRAKAUER: No. I think what he's done is tragic. It's not just tragic for him. It might be tragic for the country. Here you have who is perhaps the best man for job, who has disqualified himself by this act of deceit - a very serious one. If it wasn't Stanley McChrystal, if it was some field grade officer who no one had heard of, who was found guilty of what McChrystal has done, he would be court marshaled. "

doggydog said...


I remember that. It captures the AfPak conundrum nicely, I think. The best man for the job is a stinking liar who should be stripped of his rank and pension and imprisoned, probably. Game over. Take your marbles and go home.