Consortiumnews: How War Propaganda Keeps on Killing -December 7, 2016-et varia


How War Propaganda Keeps on Killing
December 7, 2016

Exclusive: The “fake news” hysteria has become the cover for the U.S. government and mainstream media to crack down on fact-based journalism that challenges Official Washington’s “group thinks,” writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

A key reason why American foreign debacles have been particularly destructive mostly to the countries attacked but also to the United States is that these interventions are always accompanied by major U.S. government investments in propaganda. So, even when officials recognize a misjudgment has been made, the propaganda machinery continues to grind on to prevent a timely reversal.

In effect, Official Washington gets trapped by its own propaganda, which restricts the government’s ability to change direction even when the need for a shift becomes obvious.
President George W. Bush announcing the start of his invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

President George W. Bush announcing the start of his invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

After all, once a foreign leader is demonized, it’s hard for a U.S. official to explain that the leader may not be all that bad or is at least better than the likely alternative. So, it’s not just that officials start believing their own propaganda, it’s that the propaganda takes on a life of its own and keeps the failed policy churning forward.

It’s a bit like the old story of the chicken that continues to run around with its head cut off. In the case of the U.S. government, the pro-war or pro-intervention “group think” continues to run amok even after wiser policymakers recognize the imperative to change course.

The reason for that dilemma is that so much money gets spread around to pay for the propaganda and so many careers are tethered to the storyline that it’s easier to let thousands of U.S. soldiers and foreign citizens die than to admit that the policy was built on distortions, propaganda and lies. That would be bad for one’s career.

And, because of the lag time required for contracts to be issued and the money to flow into the propaganda shops, the public case for the policy can outlive the belief that the policy makes sense.

Need for Skeptics

Ideally, in a healthy democracy, skeptics both within the government and in the news media would play a key role in pointing out the flaws and weaknesses in the rationale for a conflict and would be rewarded for helping the leaders veer away from disaster. However, in the current U.S. establishment, such self-corrections don’t occur.
Russian President Vladimir Putin after the military parade on Red Square, May 9, 2016 Moscow. (Photo from:

Russian President Vladimir Putin after the military parade on Red Square, May 9, 2016 Moscow. (Photo from:

A current example of this phenomenon is the promotion of the New Cold War with Russia with almost no thoughtful debate about the reasons for this growing hostility or its possible results, which include potential thermonuclear war that could end life on the planet.

Instead of engaging in a thorough discussion, the U.S. government and mainstream media have simply flooded the policymaking process with propaganda, some of it so crude that it would have embarrassed Joe McCarthy and the Old Cold Warriors.

Everything that Russia does is put in the most negative light with no space allowed for a rational examination of facts and motivations – except at a few independent-minded Internet sites.

Yet, as part of the effort to marginalize dissent about the New Cold War, the U.S. government, some of its related “non-governmental organizations” and large technology companies are now pushing a censorship project designed to silence the few Internet sites that have refused to march in lockstep.

I suppose that if one considers the trillions of dollars in tax dollars that the Military Industrial Complex stands to get from the New Cold War, the propaganda investment in shutting up a few critics is well worth it.

Today, this extraordinary censorship operation is being carried out under the banner of fighting “fake news.” But many of the targeted Web sites, including, have represented some of the most responsible journalism on the Internet.

At Consortiumnews, our stories are consistently well-reported and well-documented, but we do show skepticism toward propaganda from the U.S. government or anywhere else.

For instance, Consortiumnews not only challenged President George W. Bush’s WMD claims regarding Iraq in 2002-2003 but we have reported on the dispute within the U.S. intelligence community about claims made by President Barack Obama and his senior aides regarding the 2013 sarin gas attack in Syria and the 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine.

In those two latter cases, Official Washington exploited the incidents as propaganda weapons to justify an escalation of tensions against the Syrian and Russian governments, much as the earlier Iraqi WMD claims were used to rally the American people to invade Iraq.

However, if you question the Official Story about who was responsible for the sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, after President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and the mainstream media pronounced the Syrian government guilty, you are guilty of “fake news.”

Facts Don’t Matter

It doesn’t seem to matter that it’s been confirmed in a mainstream report by The Atlantic that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper advised President Obama that there was no “slam-dunk” evidence proving that the Syrian government was responsible. Nor does it matter that legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has reported that his intelligence sources say the more likely culprit was Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front with help from Turkish intelligence.
Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh

Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh

By straying from the mainstream “group think” that accuses Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of crossing Obama’s “red line” on chemical weapons, you are opening yourself to retaliation as a “fake news” site.

Similarly, if you point out that the MH-17 investigation was put under the control of Ukraine’s unsavory SBU intelligence service, which not only has been accused by United Nations investigators of concealing torture but also has a mandate to protect Ukrainian government secrets, you also stand accused of disseminating “fake news.”

Apparently one of the factors that got Consortiumnews included on a new “black list” of some 200 Web sites was that I skeptically analyzed a report by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that while supposedly “Dutch-led” was really run by the SBU. I also noted that the JIT’s conclusion blaming Russia was marred by a selective reading of the SBU-supplied evidence and by an illogical narrative. But the mainstream U.S. media uncritically hailed the JIT report, so to point out its glaring flaws made us guilty of committing “fake news” or disseminating “Russian propaganda.”

The Iraq-WMD Case

Presumably, if the hysteria about “fake news” had been raging in 2002-2003, then those of us who expressed skepticism about Iraq hiding WMD would have been forced to carry a special marking declaring us to be “Saddam apologists.”
Washington Post’s editorial page editor Fred Hiatt.

Washington Post’s editorial page editor Fred Hiatt.

Back then, everyone who was “important” in Washington had no doubt about Iraq’s WMD. Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt repeatedly stated the “fact” of Iraq’s hidden WMD as flat fact and mocked anyone who doubted the “group think.”

Yet, even after the U.S. government acknowledged that the WMD allegations were a myth – a classic and bloody case of “fake news” – almost no one who had pushed the fabrication was punished.

So, the “fake news” stigma didn’t apply to Hiatt and other mainstream journalists who actually did produce “fake news,” even though it led to the deaths of 4,500 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. To this day, Hiatt remains the Post’s editorial-page editor continuing to enforce “conventional wisdoms” and to disparage those who deviate.

Another painful example of letting propaganda – rather than facts and reason – guide U.S. foreign policy was the Vietnam War, which claimed the lives of some 58,000 U.S. soldiers and millions of Vietnamese.

The Vietnam War raged on for years after Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and even President Lyndon Johnson recognized the need to end it. Part of that was Richard Nixon’s treachery in going behind Johnson’s back to sabotage peace talks in 1968, but the smearing of anti-war dissidents as pro-communist traitors locked many officials into support for the war well after its futility became obvious. The propaganda developed its own momentum that resulted in many unnecessary deaths.

A Special Marking

In the Internet era, there will now be new-age forms of censorship. Your Web site will be excluded from major search engines or electronically stamped with a warning about your unreliability.
Journalist Robert Parry

Journalist Robert Parry

Your guilt will be judged by a panel of mainstream media outlets, including some partially funded by the U.S. government, or maybe by some anonymous group of alleged experts.

With the tens of millions of dollars now sloshing around Official Washington to pay for propaganda, lots of entrepreneurs will be lining up at the trough to do their part. Congress just approved another $160 million to combat “Russian propaganda,” which will apparently include U.S. news sites that question the case for the New Cold War.

Even if a President Trump decides that these tensions with Russia are absurd and that the two countries can work together in the fight against terrorism and other international concerns, the financing of the New Cold War propaganda will continue.

The well-funded drumbeat of anti-Russian propaganda will seek to limit Trump’s decision-making. After all, this latest New Cold War cash cow can be milked for years to come and nothing – not even the survival of the human species – is more important than that.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

Tags: Censorship Fake News Iraq War Robert Parry Russia Syria Vietnam War
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12 comments for “How War Propaganda Keeps on Killing”

December 7, 2016 at 3:36 pm

Never trust, corporate-owned, main stream media! You will never get the truth, only their propaganda, pushing their profit-run agenda!
Ted Tripp
December 7, 2016 at 3:56 pm

I wonder how hard the propagandists are pushing against China, as John PIlger makes a pretty strong case in his movie, The Coming War on China. One bit is the mischaracterization of the little islands China is building, which Pilger suggests, are purely defensive and in response to American encirclement.
December 7, 2016 at 4:09 pm

re:”The reason for that dilemma is that so much money gets spread around to pay for the propaganda and so many careers are tethered to the storyline that it’s easier to let thousands of U.S. soldiers and foreign citizens die than to admit that the policy was built on distortions, propaganda and lies. That would be bad for one’s career.”
Washington has been pushing a faux and destructive narrative for so many decades – that cannot hold up to scrutiny with the consequences getting worse and worse with millions of people displaced and hundreds of thousands killed with no positive results – that they are now trying to silence the messengers.

Way too much secrecy so most Americans take foreign policy as not their responsibility and leave it up to delusional elected officials and those running the machinery of government.

Thank you Mr. Parry.

I called several Senators today to ask them to read the news on this web site and watch Professor Andrew Bacevich’s lectures on line:
Rand Paul
Bernie Sanders
Jeff Coons
Chris Murphy
Jeff Flake
Sheldon Whitehouse
and I called some others last week.

There are some Senators who seem clueless to me so I tried to pick ones who seem intelligent and perhaps have the courage to step outside the bubble.
lynne gillooly
December 7, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Fact-based dissent is our Patriotic duty. Blatant Fake News is the opposite. The scary thing is who decides.
Talk radio has been spewing fake news, propaganda and conspiracy nonsense for decades. We have had a cable news network do the same thing for 20 yrs. Will they be shut down?
Ruth Gibson
December 7, 2016 at 4:15 pm

This reporting has reminded me of 2 incidents that the NYT reported about Ukraine. One was printing pictures of Russian tanks allegedly invading eastern Ukraine. The photographer came forward and insisted he had taken the photos two years earlier in Russia at some well-publicized and routine war games. The second was allegations that the Russian Army had invaded eastern Ukraine and was leading the fight of the Russian speaking dissenters against the Maidan putsch. NYT sent two senior reporters to the region and reported that the fighters they met, some of whom were military vets from former USSR days, and all of whom were born and reared in the region. The NYT published “retractions” of the fabricated stories, but the MSM kept right on with the debunked and fabricated narrative of Russian invasion and Russian Army leading the fight against Kiev’s bogus regime.
December 7, 2016 at 4:21 pm

Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda:

“…die Propaganda ist gut, die zum Erfolge führt, und die ist schlecht, die am gewünschten Erfolg vorbeigeht, selbst dann, wenn sie noch so geistreich ist, denn es ist nicht die Aufgabe einer Propaganda, geistreich zu sein, ihre Aufgabe ist zum Erfolge zu führen.”

“…that propaganda is good that has the desired results, and that propaganda is bad that does not lead to the desired results. It does not matter how clever it is, for the task of propaganda is not to be clever, its task is to lead to success.”

– Joseph Goebbels, Erkenntnis und Propaganda (Knowledge and Propaganda) speech in 1928 to an audience of Nazi party members at the so-called “Hochschule für Politik” in Berlin.

Leonard W. Doob was the Sterling Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Yale University, He was a pioneering figure in the fields of cognitive and social psychology, propaganda and communication studies, as well as conflict resolution.

Doob’s 1934 Harvard PhD dissertation, started in Germany, was a study of news propaganda. Doob served as Director of Overseas Intelligence for the Office of War Information in World War II.

In 1950, Doob’s article, “Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda” was published in the Public Opinion Quarterly, an academic journal published by Oxford University Press for the American Association for Public Opinion Research.

Cliquer pour accéder à goebbels.pdf

Doob’s article is required reading for understanding how political propaganda functions in today’s military-industrial-media-sureveillance complex.
December 7, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Corporate media : ‘Syrian regime bombing rebels in Aleppo’
Translation : Syrian military liberating Aleppo from terrorists.
Peter Loeb
December 7, 2016 at 5:25 pm


“I suppose that if one considers the trillions of dollars in tax dollars that the Military Industrial Complex
stands to get from the New Cold War, the propaganda investment in shutting up a few critics is well
worth it” Robert Parry, above

Books from the late 90’s made clear that both workers and management in defense contractors
dreamed of another World War II. Back then, workers told W.R. Greider, things were
There were thousands of jobs. Weapons rolled off assembly lines. like crazy, Those were
the “good times”. Now factories are empty. Weapons are sold at discounts.

I have no update on the defense industry and would love some critical analyses of our day
in books on the market.

We need more knowledge to document our .claims.

Thanks for the continuing reporting on this issue Mr. Parry!

—-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA
Pablo Diablo
December 7, 2016 at 5:31 pm

Gotta keep the War Machine well fed. (or we might not have 1% or 2% growth).
December 7, 2016 at 5:33 pm

The new government enemy is China. Propaganda has started already. Russia is already yesterday’s adversary.
December 7, 2016 at 6:09 pm

Excellent Article, Mr Parry-thanks much!

Attached is a link to today’s article from Walls Street on Parade-I believe it to be a site well worth visiting on a daily basis as they are keeping tabs on much of the chicanery which goes on a daily basis; today’s article summarizes some research into the ProporNot saga from WaPo. Not surprising, it mentions some possible links to a very well funded nec con org in the UK: Legatum Institute, with mentions of some of the usual neo con suspects. A person not mentioned who is prominent at Legatum and who writes for WaPo on a regular basis is Anne Applebaum. I used to read her articles for entertainment as she is virulently anti-Putin and has come out with some astounding assertions such as nuclear war should not be unthinkable in europe and NATO never promised not to move eastward. There are others if anyone is interested and WaPo has a list of some of her move recent articles.

Peter Pomerantsev is also mentioned-he has been highly visible in neo con circles, testified before congrressional committee, and co-authored an article or more with our boy, Michael Weiss. I did not see any mention to our other hero higgens and/or bellingcat but would not be at all surprised to find some link down the line.
December 7, 2016 at 6:32 pm

“Apparently one of the factors that got Consortiumnews included on a new “black list” of some 200 Web sites was that I skeptically analyzed a report by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that while supposedly “Dutch-led” was really run by the SBU.”

Yes indeed, and another factor is Consortiums readership has a level perspective on the zionist power configuration’s influence in media. Way too many critics here… can’t have that.

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