Evidently the West Cannot Live without Enemy Images–Go See a Shrink so We Shall All Live in Peace
EDITORIAL, 25 Oct 2021
I’m 70 now and all my life I’ve heard that the Russians would one day make a surprise attack and, within 48 hours occupy the Eiffel Tower. Fait accompli! We in the West were weak – perhaps not right now but we would be within the next five if we did not invest much more in ”defence”.
Well, these damn Russians haven’t come yet – another reason we shouldn’t trust them, I assume! The latest variation on that bizarre and irrational theme is that Swedish military spokespersons maintain that Sweden has to plan for an isolated Russian attack on the island of Gotland – and that China aims to conquer Taiwan and Biden telling the world that the US is committed to defend Taiwan.
The time when you could understand international affairs by means of some principles, political science concepts and rational analysis disappeared at least 20 years ago, perhaps around the time of September 11, 2001 – perhaps already after 1989 when there was only a triumphalist, winner-takes-it-all attitude throughout the West: To hell with every law and principle, we can now do whatever we want.
Much more needed now is social psychology, cultural studies – and social cosmology to honour Johan Galtung who just turned 91 – religious concepts combined with end-views and panic reactions as well as studies of leaders’ personalities, vanity and capability to ’lie and cheat and steal’ as former CIA boss Mike Pompeo laughingly told us is now the norm. And you may add good fiction literature, science fiction and thrillers as inspiration for your analyses. Political science is way behind the curve – if it hasn’t been all the time.
During all the time of the First Cold War which ended in 1989, the West – US and NATO – benefited from arguing and opinion-influencing us all that the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact was a formidable enemy – although the latter’s military expenditures were max about 70% of NATO’s, its military technology way behind and the Soviet Union an economic dwarf without a global reach.
Contrary to what has often been stated by ignorants, NATO was founded in 1949 and it was not a ’response’ to the Warsaw Pact which was established in 1955. But such stuff was part of the propaganda. Sputnik in 1957 was the only example of the Eastern bloc being the first.
When the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact fell apart, all important Western leader promised Gorbachev that they would not take advantage of the weakness of his country and, therefore, not expand NATO ”an inch”. There seems to also have been a promise that Germany, if united, would be neutral and not in NATO.
Bill Clinton – in international politics terms one of the worst American presidents – couldn’t care less about those promises when he started the expansion of NATO in 1994. In Georgia, that was, and I know a bit about it because I had a long conversation with the then US representative in Tblisi who willingly revealed the long-term strategy.
The Second Cold War
NATO’s expansion means that ten former Warsaw Pact members are now members plus republic of Yugoslavia. Add to that the regime-change attempt in Kiev – seeking to eventually get Ukraine into EU and also NATO – and Putin’s response by annexing Crimea (that would have become NATO territory with a huge Russian naval base on lease for 30+ years ahead) and you have the steady contours of the Second Cold War which has, so far, lead to Russia closing down its office at NATO and asking NATO to leave its office in Moscow.
We are light years away from anything resembling the OECD and the confidence-building measures – and political wisdom of detente (Willy Brandt) and common security (Olof Palme) of the first Cold War which also had neutral, peace-promoting countries serving as buffers.
Indeed there are no effective tension-reduction mechanisms available anymore.
Russia is now one country with 8% of the military expenditures of the 30 member NATO alliance. And a new formidable threat – about which your media also only tell you negative stories.
Since then, of course, there is North Korea with 1% of the military expenditures of the United States. And there is Iran whom the West has harassed in various ways since 1953 – the CIA coup against the democratically elected Dr. Mossadegh. Allegedly, Iran – like Russia – had missiles that were a threat to all of Europe – for which we needed not the ABM but the BMD – Ballistic Missile Defence which de facto aims at making a 2nd strike unsuccessful and thereby destroyed the old balance of terror – and thereby lowered the nuclear threshold. But it was all done with the tired NATO mantra: for Security, Stability and Peace.
There are no convincing documentation that Iran wanted a nuclear weapon – and thereby offering Israel’s nukes a raison d’être. But there is plenty of evidence – see Gareth Porter’s classic, ”Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare” – that the argument that Iran is up to acquire nuclear weapons status is a campaign since the early 1990s driven by Israel, Netanyahu and Mossad.
Donald Trump decided to violate international law and take the US out of the JCPOA Accord – negotiated by mostly nuclear countries telling Iran that it should not have them. Obviously Iran had not been punished enough yet – for meticulously sticking to all the provisions of the accord – so the US pushed more grossly suffocating primary and – in particular secondary – sanctions on Iran’s innocent people, encompassing even humanitarian aid to Iran when hit by natural catastrophes. But who in the Western media bother to tell you about such details?
Syria needed a regime change too – because of its good relations with Russia and Iran and because it refused to submit to the demands of the US to build gas and oil pipelines across the Syrian territory.
The regime change which was much more of an international war than a civil war lasted from the Marrakesh Friends of Syria (!) meeting on December 12, 2012, when al-Assad was deposed by decree and a National Council was set up without anyone in Syria having been asked, to the liberation of Eastern Aleppo from the 4,5 year occupation by, among others, al-Nusra and 5000 Chinese Uyghur terrorists exactly 4 years later on the day.
The West buried its last honour – in a political, military/anti-terrorism, legal and ethical sense – there in the rubble of that amazingly beautiful city which had not only been on the old Silk Road but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (One of my art works is called “The Entombment of Christ in Aleppo 2021”
The Third Cold War
And we are now well into the Third Cold War – with China as the big new enemy. TFF has issued two reports about how it is organised, who builds it and how it is financed – the second and most comprehensive is, “Behind the Smokescreen. An Analysis of the West’s Destructive China Cold War Agenda And Why It Must Stop” (130 pages).
In the mainstream media, you learn only negative things about China and its development, leadership, party and policies – say, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, ”dictatorship”, Xinjiang, South China Sea, authoritarianism… but not that China remains the top country measured by relative and high citizens’ satisfaction with their government, 95% compared to that of the US (38%) – according to the most solid Survey by the Ash Center at Harvard University and also not that China has abolished poverty by lifting 800 million out of poverty in about 3 decades. Most people in the West know nothing about China, its history, development, society or ways of thinking. You shall not even be curious, just negative, condemning: They are not like us and won’t be – so bad, evil, The Yellow Peril 2.0.
The single foreign policy goal of the West is to fight, condemn, keep down, contain and out-compete China. There are new laws to that effect in the US and US$ 1500 million has, according to Act S.1169, been set off to train media people to write only negative stories about China and its Belt & Road Initiative, human history’s largest cooperation project involving 140+ countries around the world but only Italy among NATO and EU members.
But did your media tell you?
Add that to the propaganda carried out by US state media, USAGM – US Agency for Global Media – and it will dawn on you that the idea of free media and ”independence” is turning into a dead herring.
By the US itself, not by anyone else and by those mainstream media that merely reproduce American sources as the truth about the world.
Blind Faith in Mainstream Media
But different from the old Soviet Union – where nobody believed in Pravda (The Truth) – most ordinary Westerners still trust what the mainstream and public service media tell them – if at all they care to know about the world outside their own country or region – which surprise-surprise happen to have the same anti-Russia, anti-China, anti-Iran perspectives coupled with no investigation or criticism of pro-NATO, pro-US and pro-military perspectives.
The self-deception has gone quite far. I recently happened to listen to the last party leader debate of the German elections. None of the party leaders opposed the discussion facilitators stating as a fact that Russia and China are big threats and all party leaders, more or less enthusiastically, argued that NATO’s military 2% expenditure growth was necessary – a measure that defies every intellectual thought since military expenditures shall, by logic, be determined by relevant analyses of real threats and not vary with the GNP’s rise or fall.
But such is the intellectual level in these times in which every peace and disarmament discourse has been disappeared, cancelled, framed and frowned upon. That will, of course, be a boomerang or blow-back – in particularly for those who follow the US as blindly loyal as did, say, East Germany Moscow. Denmark and Norway to mention just two such modern-day GDRs.
The Disease of the West
Of course one diagnosis is paranoia – pretended or real from within the Western box where the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex, MIMAC, operates many, many times worse than the Military-Industrial Complex, President Eisenhower warned us about in his farewell speech – one of the most significant of contemporary times.
But there is more to it than paranoia. This paranoia serves a purpose – the even increasing but self-destructive influence of the MIMAC, of militarism. That militarism can be compared to alcoholism or drug addiction: there is always a need for a new shot, it makes you feel good for a while and then, the need for more comes back. Unless you seek help in time, you are most likely doomed.
Further, we are dealing with psycho-political projection of the West’s dark sides unto others – the West constantly blaming others for doing what it does itself to a much larger extent. I mean, compare Crimea with Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya or Syria. Or blame China for its human rights when it has saved millions of lives out of poverty while 20 percent of the people in the US today live under the poverty line. Or tell us that Iran which has not invaded anybody for about 200 years is a threat to the world.
Seeing enemies everywhere – indeed needing enemies – is a sign of a weak, fragmenting social body. A healthy human being does not see everybody as an enemy first and only a friend when “the other” becomes like s/he her/himself. The problem is weak self-confidence and insecure identity.
Another term would be dichotomisation at absurdum with no nuances in-between: Us good, them bad, Orient against Occident, socialism or capitalism, Smith or Marx, either being with us or being with our enemies (George W Bush after 9/11), either obedience or submission, either our ’universalisable’ values or you’ll be demonised and punished.
And combine that with Christianity-inspired missionary zeal – leave no territory untouched, 700-1000 NATO military bases in 130 countries, Special Forces, intelligence infiltration wherever an enemy lurks, huge PSYOPS and media deception, planting stories – all for the good of one, not the common good for all as it is sold.
And then there is the very heavy factor about which there is only denial: being in decline. The US and other West now behaves like an old patriarch who, nearing the end of his life, feels that he is losing power, that his role as a leader, authority and model is increasingly ignored – a teacher whose pupils no longer obey, even some laughing forbearingly.
And it has to do with time – over time. If for years you have tried the same old tricks, there will be more and more who begin to think like the little whistleblower boy in H C Andersen’s fairy tale: that the Emperor has no clothes. You stand revealed with your lost wars and legitimacy in the eyes of the rest.
Add to that, the day of reckoning in the West – the Pravda moment when, like snowballing, citizens find out that they can no longer trust what they are being told – also because they have free access to alternative views, other countries’ and news agencies news and to truly independent sources – and begin to use them instead.
That’s when “another brick in the wall” will fall – à la Berlin back then. The system never was what we were told – for democracy, freedom, human rights, the common good of the world. And for peace. That was the propaganda top of the iceberg. Underneath was the deep ice, the deep state, the military, political, psychological and cultural nuclear attack submarines…
Deep down there was the fundamental contempt for those considered weaker – militarily, system-wise, morally or in terms of race and civilisation. Norwegian-Swedish philosopher Harald Ofstad traced the roots of Nazism to that basic value, or attitude in his formidably important book, “Our Contempt for Weakness: Nazi Norms and Values – And Our Own” (1989).
To sell the top of that iceberg, you need constantly to define yourself as higher, better and more powerful for the common good and therefore having exceptional rights.
“You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time” – as has been stated succinctly by a wise man, but most likely not by Abraham Lincoln.
My simple view is that no one but the West itself threatens the West and that Western images of threats are best understood as mind constructions serving the MIMAC – and therefore a dead-dangerous perpetuum mobile. We should, therefore, always and without exception oppose, criticise and provide alternatives to such images instead of accepting the consciously manipulative ”fearology” on which they invariably build.
If Western leaders cannot learn to live without enemy images and projections, we are probably doomed. I refuse to see that as an option. Because, as Pogo the cartoon figure so wisely stated it: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
When we have understood that much and the West has declined gracefully and become a strong healthy partner in a multipolar and multi-cultural cooperative and non-confrontational world, humanity has, I am sure, a great future and can also quite easily find solutions to its problems be it climate change, poverty, global democracy, development, literacy and education.
At the end of the day, all it would take is that the world leaders came together and said: Let’s agree to reduce all the waste we all create by weapons and militarism by, say, 50%, and spend the trillions of dollars on making the world a better place. Conversion of human and other resources from that to the common good.
Nobody–East, West, South, North–seems to have that vision and thus we “drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”
Prof. Jan Oberg, Ph.D. is director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, TFF and a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. CV: https://transnational.live/jan-oberg
Tags: Anti-militarism, Demilitarization, International Relations, West, World Order
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 Oct 2021.
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