01 Apr 2010

How the Government Views You

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I saw this Glenn Greenwald post a few days ago due to an LRC link, but I haven’t had time to discuss it. Greenwald discusses “WikiLeaks,” but that’s not what I want to focus on.

Instead, just ponder the significance of an alleged CIA report [.pdf] discussing the problem of keeping the German and French governments in support of US military operations in Afghanistan, in the face of opposition from French and German citizens.

On the one hand, the CIA report is optimistic because the analysts know there are plenty of ways a government can get away with military operations that most of the people don’t support; a section is literally entitled, “Public Apathy Enables Leaders to Ignore Voters.”

But alas, that might not be good enough; as the report’s subtitle warns: “Why Counting on Apathy Might Not Be Enough.”

Because simple apathy might not be enough, the CIA report goes on to list ways that the US government can influence public opinion in Germany and France.

Assuming the report is legit, it’s pretty disturbing and should confirm what cynics have long said about the US government. Forget the details of the Afghan occupation and just look at what the analysts are doing: They have an objective, and they realize that a certain group of voters are in the way. So they are coming up with methods of circumventing the desires of the citizens of Germany and France, in order to get those governments to do what the US government wants.

Now then: Do you think this mindset holds true for all groups of voters on the planet except the United States? Do you think when the people running the US government realize that their desires run counter to the wishes of most American voters, that they say, “Well shucks, they’re the bosses, we’re humble public servants, guess we need to drop that plan…”?

Or, do you think it’s more likely that they use the same techniques–of counting on widespread apathy, and when necessary using propaganda to “manufacture consent”–in order to workaround this obstacle to their plans?

4 Responses to “How the Government Views You”

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  2. Contemplationist says:

    Well color me surprised Bob, but I would think most voters now know that by how
    the health care “reform” bill was passed in the teeth of the opposition.

  3. Bob Roddis says:

    This is perhaps slightly off topic but I think it’s an example of media supported consesus building. Regarding the Afghan war, “progressive” Salon.com says it’s a drug war. I love the condescending “we know what’s best for these people” tone of the article. It’s the attitude of the entire US nanny-warfare state and an angle that they can always use to get consensus for war and/or welfare/dogooder programs:

    “To understand the Afghan War, one basic point must be grasped: In poor nations with weak state services, agriculture is the foundation for all politics, binding villagers to the government or warlords or rebels. The ultimate aim of counterinsurgency strategy is always to establish the state’s authority. When the economy is illicit and by definition beyond government control, this task becomes monumental. If the insurgents capture that illicit economy, as the Taliban have done, then the task becomes little short of insurmountable.

    Opium is an illegal drug, but Afghanistan’s poppy crop is still grounded in networks of social trust that tie people together at each step in the chain of production. Crop loans are necessary for planting, labor exchange for harvesting, stability for marketing, and security for shipment. So dominant and problematic is the opium economy in Afghanistan today that a question Washington has avoided for the past nine years must be asked: Can anyone pacify a full-blown narco-state?”

    BTW, when I meet pro-war red-staters, I usually ask them why they support the same progressive Democrat style policies that brought us Detroit. As in “Why do you support the Federal Government turning Iraq and Afghanistan into Detroit?” At that point, they usually slink away without saying much.

  4. Contemplationist says:

    Haha good question there Bob (Roddis). Most pro-war red staters have hazy Bush-esque stupid slogans as “reasons” for being pro-war like “fight them there so we dont fight them here.” Its no different from sloganeering for “health care is a human right” nonsense from the mushy-headed progressives.