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Fear as a Weapon
Posted: Saturday, May 11, 2002

By Heather Wokusch

In effect, the human being should be considered the priority in a political war. And conceived as the military target . . . the human being has his most critical point in his mind. Once the mind has been reached, the 'political animal' has been defeated without necessarily receiving bullets.
~~ US Central Intelligence Agency training manual

Much has been made of Le Pen's scandalous victory in France, and greater Europe's wartime march towards the right. This while the US Administration uses its convenient terror war to justify massive internal societal engineering to the right.

What's behind both? Fear. No small wonder that Le Pen's proclaimed ideals were "famile, travail, patrie" (family, labor, homeland), a motto borrowed from war-torn 1940s France when the society turned inwards to traditional, authoritative, xenophobic values. No surprise either that the zero-tolerance crime policies of Le Pen (like those of Bush) ignore root causes, focusing instead on quick and dirty alternatives like the death penalty, more imprisonment and targeting outsiders.

Fear leaves little room for logic or moral platitudes - it demands simplistic responses to otherwise complex problems.

Granted, it's hard not to be fearful when those in power, such as US Secretary of State Colin Powell, say that the war on terror won't end "in our lifetime" and new countries are added to the "evil" list every day. It can be even harder though to rally behind battles that seem more like grotesque bullying than anything resembling justice or assisting the oppressed.

Which explains why the masses must be mobilized "in a wide scale of activities and at the highest emotional level" to support the government and its wars - according to "Psychological Operations In Guerrilla Warfare", the above-mentioned (declassified) CIA manual. Presumably intended to have been used against foreign populations, the PSYOP brainwashing techniques capitalizing on fear seem disturbingly familiar today.

According to the manual, "In places and situations wherever possible . . . explain the operation of weapons to the youths and young men . . . they are the potential recruits for our forces." Pretty easy task now that military contractors own major news networks, and propaganda pieces on the latest sexy fighting technology are de rigueur. Accordingly, the US budget for military recruitment has skyrocketed in recent years, paying for 24/7 "cyber recruiters" on newly pumped-up army websites. And not to be overlooked, the schoolyard's tiny Rambos in training can get "Operation Enduring Freedom" bubble gum cards, or the cool new action figure "Tora Bora Ted, Swift Freedom Delta Force Night OPS."

The overwhelming message is clear. Facing a conflict? Scared? Just grab a gun and aim!

Yet we still act surprised when some messed-up kid, who has taken the weapons message a bit too seriously, goes commando and blows away classmates in the lunchroom.

The manual also suggests: "Be prepared with simple slogans in order to explain to the people, whether in an intentional form or by chance, the reason for the weapons" - reasons such as "The weapons will be for winning freedom: they are for you" and "Our weapons are in truth, the weapons of the people, yours." Or in weapons-producer Lockheed Martin's current lingo, the F-22 fighter is an "anti-war" plane, and "the perception of peace means less jobs for Americans." Even more to the point, another weapons manufacturer refers to its military technology with: "Someone's father, someone's daughter, someone's son -- Who will bring them home? McDonnell Douglas will."

Simple slogans hide fear and confusion by turning guilt-ridden acts of war into sanitized niceties. Bombing the life out of Afghanistan becomes "Enduring Freedom", butchery in Somalia is "Restore Hope", and the neverending terror war is "Noble Eagle." Lofty names to hide the carnage and mask our inherent complicity.

But fancy names alone can't hide staggering war-machine profits. Right after September 11, when most companies took a dive, Lockheed Martin's share value rose by a full 30%. (Purely coincidence that a top executive of Lockheed Martin, Bruce Jackson, wrote most of the current US Administration's foreign policy platform.) Purely coincidence too, that just weeks after 9-11, Bush's home state of Texas was granted the largest military order in history - a $200 billion contract for a new fighter.

We feign surprise as blood flows in the Middle East, conveniently forgetting that the US war machine provides Israel with billions in military aid annually, thus compelling its Arab neighbors to buy increasingly sophisticated US military weaponry to compensate. (Saudi Arabia alone has forked over $33.5 billion to the US war machine in the last ten years.)

Nations in conflict that we've armed to the teeth. The body count rises each day, as we shake our heads and wonder why those people just can't get along.

Meanwhile, US Vice President Dick Cheney warns that the US is considering military action against "40-50" countries and Bush adviser Richard Perle explains, "This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there . . . If we let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely, and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy but just wage a total war, our children will sing great songs about us years from now."

But which version of the world should go forth is the burning question. Is neverending "total war" really the goal? Is the authoritative, xenophobic leadership demanded by war desirable? Each day we are trained to be fearful and to see weaponry as the solution. That makes the War on Terror seem like a war on the hearts and minds of common citizens. And for those unlucky souls in Cheney's "40-50" countries, or the thousands who have already been slaughtered as collateral damage, the War on Terror is looking more like terrorism everyday.

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