Demonizing the Imaginary Enemy: Unmistakable US Policy

Category: World Affairs Topics: Haiti Views: 946

It may never be completely understood when political propaganda actually became a primary skill and asset for policy makers. But one thing is evident: The advancement of war technology and communications, and the powerful effect of the mass media on peoples' minds, are great contributors to the emergence of propaganda, and are an irreplaceable necessity for surviving a lengthy war.

With relatively fewer scars than other nations, the US left WWII with more might, global networks and more interests to look after. The dominating fear of communist Russia with its "evil empire" kind of rhetoric, the United States developed its own unique and largely unbeaten style of propaganda. The US has indeed introduced the world to the art of denominzation, a form of propaganda that focuses on defaming and presenting an evil perception of individuals, so as to justify entry into other nations' political spheres. And it has worked very well indeed, as most Americans see their country as a defender of human rights from tyrannies and dictators.

While it appears as if there is little disagreement regarding the legitimacy of US democracy, one cannot deny that in many ways, mainstream US media unquestioningly agrees and supports their government's stand on many world issues. Such an attitude is often applicable in war times, when it becomes a national duty to eliminated disagreements and side with the government, regardless of their actions.

When Jean Bertrand Aristide, for example, was elected president of Haiti in December of 1990, by a 67 percent landslide victory, the US viscously rejected the Haitian majority choice. The US, who supported Aristide's opponent, Marc Bazin, was upset to see that all the money spent to bring its man, former World Bank official, to power went to waste. The demonization process thereafter immediately kicked in. Aristide was perceived as a dictator by American mass media, although his war on corruption and enhancement of social programs to benefit the poor would have in a fairer world drawn much more positive images of him. Eleven months later, Aristide was removed from power through a military coup.

The same political experiment conducted on the Haitians was later used on others, although more visibly blatant in other places. This of course, shouldn't imply that some of those demonized by the American media and government were flawless and were necessarily good. However, the American scheme attempted to isolate the fact that many of these individuals were a mere reflection of a much larger phenomena.

Why does the United States persist in using the same strategy time and again?

The benefits, from the US' standpoint are abundant. By demonizing a person rather than confronting the circumstances of which that person was a product, the US is able to largely downplay the question, "why are these nations opposed to the US?" They can simply justify their actions stating, "as long as a leader is evil, wicked, undemocratic, and mad, the US is doing the world a favor by fighting him." Thus, the revolution in Cuba had little to do with the US abuses of the Caribbean nation. It was Castro who was the real hurdle, it's Sadaam Hussein who is standing in the way of progress of peace in the Middle East, and its Osama bin Laden who is stirring unfounded and baseless hatred toward the US and its favored allies.

The US mastery of the art of demonization is now more successful than ever. Many Americans, whether politically involved or not, are more often heard saying, "Why can't the government just get rid of X or Y?" During "Desert Fox", an American man was stopped in the street and asked by a local TV reporter what the government should do to combat "Iraq's defiance of UN resolutions." His reply went something like this, "I think that we should bring Sadaam Hussein to the US, give him a fair trial, and then execute him." What is even more bizarre than the answer itself, is the fact that in many ways, that approach is nothing new in terms of American Foreign Policy.

Regardless of how we, as individuals choose to perceive certain leaders or key figures in world politics, we should differentiate between those who were a product of events that effected their nations, and those who are not. In the case of Osama bin Laden, for instance, the man was certainly an expression of a phenomena that expanded as the Untied States brought increasing harm to Arab and Muslim nations. While many choose to fight the widely perceived destructive American policy through speeches or literature, others have sought alternative means, which some consider ethically permissible, while others find it unjustifiable.

Portraying individuals as the cause and the core of conflicts is more that unrealistic, it is deceptive. Such portrayal fails to address the entirety of the problem, if any. Instead it resorts to shrewd distortion of reality, by skipping most of the relevant facts, to see a particular event thereafter from a narrow and sometimes illusive scope. While policy makers find the demonization tactic affective and practical, for the masses, it's convenient, for it offers quick answers, saves time and headache.

While the successful practice of such a tasteless art is conquering new odds and territories, with the passing of time, it is generating increasing hatred and animosity toward the United States, hatred that is becoming more visible even to ordinary American citizens visiting abroad. It is a side effect of the propaganda's magic formula that will eventually make the cost surpass the profits. It is time to restore to truthfulness and honest politics, if indeed such a thing exists, as a way of dealing with problems and facing turmoil. Otherwise the already emerging question among Americans will become harder to undermine, "why do so many nations demonize America?"

  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: Haiti
Views: 946

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