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The greatest show on earth

by Daniele Ganser
"It takes considerable fragmentation in the media portrayal of these crimes and radical recontextualization as a 'struggle for democracy and human rights' for crimes of this magnitude, as well as their historical continuity, to become virtually invisible to the public. Although all of this is extensively documented, these crimes are virtually absent from the public consciousness," Mausfeld explains.
The greatest show on earth

The leading media spreads war propaganda to the gusto of the U.S. government - those who see through the campaign will prefer to get their information elsewhere. Exclusive excerpt from "Imperium USA. The Unscrupulous World Power."

That powerful people try to camouflage and deceive is not a new insight. Swiss historian Daniele Ganser has collected enough materials in his basic book "Imperium USA" and elsewhere to support this thesis. The world power unscrupulously pursues its national interests and tries to propagandistically push its destructive approach on the people in its own country as well as in "friendly" states. The task of the press, however, would be to monitor the government in this process and, if necessary, to denounce misconduct. However, the media reality in the United States, as well as in Germany, is far removed from this ideal. Anyone who wants to escape the constant barrage of propaganda and continue to give world peace a chance should practice methods of intellectual self-defense. For example, renounce questionable "news" in the future, use alternative channels that are more oriented towards peace, or even read a good book once in a while that does not spread informal fast food, but well-founded analyses. For example also a book by Daniele Ganser.

by Daniele Ganser

[This article posted on 7/29/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

How leading media spread war propaganda

How would the Western community of values have reacted if Russia, Nigeria or China had attacked Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq? Wouldn't our leading media have immediately - and rightly - criticized the blatant violation of the UN ban on violence? Wouldn't they have immediately referred to the right of self-determination of the peoples concerned and declared that other countries must not interfere? Why was no one in the U.S. upset that more than a million Iraqis were killed in the Iraq war? Why was no one bothered by the 300,000 dead in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

The very efficient U.S. war propaganda has prevented such basic questions and, when they have come up, dismissed them as ridiculous or unimportant. Of course, there are good and capable journalists in the U.S. and Europe, there is no question about that. But it is striking how obediently many journalists have followed the declarations of U.S. presidents and defense ministers, spreading the "war on terror" narrative without checking whether that narrative is true. The leading media have repeatedly drummed for wars while obscuring the many victims of U.S. imperialism. The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were reported by the leading media in a very unbalanced way, the unanswered questions were concealed, and President George Bush Jr.'s story was blindly passed on to the masses without examination. The blowing up of WTC7 was covered up.

Leading media like the New York Times also failed to spread the lie of weapons of mass destruction before the attack on Iraq. "Here's what happened at the time," explains Ray McGovern, who worked at the CIA's International Analysis Division from 1963 to 1990 and then joined the U.S. peace movement:

"In early September 2002, the White House handed Michael Gordon, a journalist for The New York Times, a report that said aluminum tubes that could only be used for uranium enrichment were on their way to Iraq and that this was a sure sign that Saddam Hussein was working on the nuclear bomb - even though it was clear that they were artillery tubes.

Two days later, the story appeared on the front page of the New York Times. That same day, Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice sat on several television talk shows, where she was then invariably asked about the New York Times article. She then explained that they had also received such information themselves, that the development was very, very dangerous, and that they wanted to avoid the proof of Iraq's nuclear weapons program coming along one day in the form of a mushroom cloud. So the White House gave a report to Michael Gordon, who then put that in the New York Times, and the White House then said they could confirm the New York Times report."

Through such tricks, the U.S. population was put in fear and prepared for the war that President Bush launched in March 2003. It later turned out that there were no NBC weapons in Iraq.

All the talk about weapons of mass destruction and also about an alleged connection of Saddam Hussein with 9/11 was all lies. At least U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell later apologized for the war propaganda he had spread before the UN in New York before the war, saying in 2005 that he felt "terrible" that he had lied to the whole world at the time. That speech, Powell told U.S. television station ABC, was a "stain" on his political career that was "painful."

The U.S. produces the greatest show on earth

As a playwright, Briton Harold Pinter knows the techniques of mass communication and called U.S. war propaganda and the attack on Iraq a "bandit act" when he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in Oslo in 2005. "There have been hundreds of thousands of deaths in these countries. Have there really been? And are they really all attributable to U.S. foreign policy?" asked Pinter of his select audience, which was surprised and irritated at the clarity of the laureate's words.

"The answer is yes. There have been, and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But, of course, you don't know about that. It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even when it did happen, it didn't happen. It didn't matter. Nobody cared."

In the post-1945 period, no other country in the world has managed to conceal its crimes as masterfully as the United States. "The crimes of the United States were systematic, constant, infamous, relentless, but very few people really talked about them," Pinter said. "You have to hand it to America. It has engaged in a pretty cool-operating manipulation of power around the world, posing as a champion of universal good," Pinter explained.

"A brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis. I submit that the United States is putting on the greatest show in the world, hands down. Brutal, indifferent, contemptuous and ruthless, but also downright clever."

Many people are unaware and believe this show. But more and more people are slowly waking up, looking behind the scenes of power politics and no longer trusting the talk about the benignity of U.S. foreign policy and the supposedly so selfless wars of the West. "The history of the West is a history of brutal violence and great hypocrisy," also declares the courageous German journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer, who has visited many war theaters and spoken on the ground with the people involved.

"Nowhere in the world is the West fighting for the values of its civilization. But exclusively for its short-sighted interests. For power, markets and monies. Often with terrorist methods. The sufferings of other peoples and cultures do not interest it."

According to psychologist Rainer Mausfeld, who taught at Kiel University, opinion management relies on fragmentation and decontextualization in addition to the constant repetition of core messages. In this process, facts are broken down into fragments, i.e., small pieces, so that there is no longer a context of meaning for the observer. In this way, facts can be dissolved or made invisible.

In decontextualization, information is torn out of its context, i.e. context of meaning, for example by concealing what happened before. In addition, facts are placed in a new context, i.e. recontextualized. Wars are then suddenly no longer heinous and cruel, but a necessary evil to fight evil. Overall, according to official figures and estimates, the U.S. has been "responsible for the deaths of 20 to 30 million people through attacks on other countries since World War II," Mausfeld said. But these numbers are hardly known, he said.

"It takes considerable fragmentation in the media portrayal of these crimes and radical recontextualization as a 'struggle for democracy and human rights' for crimes of this magnitude, as well as their historical continuity, to become virtually invisible to the public. Although all of this is extensively documented, these crimes are virtually absent from the public consciousness," Mausfeld explains.

People in North America and Europe are bombarded daily with news, sports, advertising and a flood of often useless information, and many therefore feel informed about everything of substance. "Citizens who read the Süddeutsche Zeitung at breakfast, look at Spiegel Online in the afternoon and watch the daytime news in the evening are so complacent in the feeling of being comprehensively informed that they can't even recognize the disease they're suffering from ... can no longer even recognize the disease they are suffering from," Mausfeld explains. The disease is the illusion of being informed. It is produced by constant and uncritical media consumption.

Alternative media strengthen the peace movement

Fortunately, however, this disease can be cured. Everyone can decide for themselves to consume less media. After all, those who go on a media diet also consume less war propaganda. Especially when one is depressed and sad, a media diet can help, combined with good nutrition, conversations with friends and long stays in nature. In addition, it is advisable to read exciting books instead of news. After all, news is fragmented, so it's hard to remember the news you read or heard a week ago. Extensive nonfiction, on the other hand, provides context and different examples on the same topic, which networks the information in the brain, making it much better stored.

Of course, even in the leading media, there are courageous and independent journalists who are committed to truth and enlightenment and who face opposition to do so. Among them is Seymour Hersh, who exposed the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War. But often journalists are careful not to jeopardize their tenure or violate the boundaries of the narrowly defined spectrum of opinion. The well-known leading media Fox News, CNN, BBC, Washington Post, New York Times, Economist, MSNBC, New York Post, ABC News, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal rarely report critically on the United States' wars. The word "U.S. imperialism" virtually never appears in these leading media, which causes television viewers and newspaper readers to never think about U.S. imperialism and its consequences.

Only a few media brands that report in English are critical of U.S. imperialism. These are less well known than the leading media, so their portrayal of international politics is less read and seen. They also have fewer financial resources. These alternative media include Democracy Now, The Nation, Global Research, The Empire Files, Truthdig, offGuardian, Zero Hedge, Russia Today, Information Clearing House, Veterans Today, and others.

It is the job of historians like myself, as well as critical witnesses more generally, to read both leading media such as the New York Times and the BBC, as well as alternative media such as Democracy Now and Global Research. Those who do so will quickly discover that Democracy Now reports quite differently about the Syrian war than Fox News. And Global Research publishes completely different texts on 9/ 11 than the New York Times. "Our supposedly leading and quality media give the impression that the opinion of those in power is the prevailing opinion," explains political scientist Ulrich Teusch, who taught at the University of Trier. "In the fight against war, in the fight for peace, you cannot rely on the media of the rulers," Teusch therefore warns.

Those who read in German have about 80 media brands to choose from, including leading media such as ARD, ZDF, Spiegel, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Zeit and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. As in the English-speaking world, however, there are also alternative media brands in German that are critical of U.S. imperialism, including Rubikon, KenFM, Nachdenkseiten, Free21, Cashkurs, Sputnik, RT Deutsch, Telepolis, and Infosperber. Swiss Propaganda Research's media navigator provides a useful overview of the various brands.

Anyone who wants to improve their media literacy can download the media navigator free of charge from the "Swiss Propaganda Research" website and, whenever they read a text or watch a video, check how the media brand that published the information is geostrategically oriented.

If one focuses on a story as a historian, comparing the reports of the leading media with the alternative media, one immediately notices that Der Spiegel, for example, reports on the terrorist attacks of September 11 exactly as prescribed by the U.S. president and does not allow any critical questions, while KenFM points out to its readers that WTC7 was blown up and dismisses the so-called "war on terror" as a deception. Personally, I appreciate the work of courageous journalists both in the leading media and in the alternative media, as long as they are committed to peace and are willing to leave the given corridor of opinion to do so.

Editorial note: The former KenFM team now publishes on and the former Rubikon team now runs the successor magazine Manova.

Daniele Ganser, PhD, is a Swiss historian specializing in contemporary history since 1945 and international politics. His research focuses on peace studies, geostrategy, covert warfare, resource struggles and economic policy. He directs the "Swiss Institute for Peace and Energy Research" in Basel.
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