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How America Does Regime-Change Propaganda

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In the case of Saddam Hussein, it was by lying about “WMD” and about Saddam’s being behind Al Qaeda.

In the case of Muammar Qaddafi, it was by lying about Qaddafi’s being hated (instead of supported) by most Libyans.

In the case of Bashar al-Assad, it was by lying about Assad’s being hated (instead of supported) by most Syrians.

In the case of Xi Jinping, it is by lying about Xi’s being a dictator.

In the case of Vladimir Putin, it is by lying about Putin’s being a dictator.

However, all such allegations, except the case against Saddam, were irrelevant under international law, and provided no legal basis for an invasion or sanctions by any foreign country. (Furthermore, all of those allegations were lies.) Regarding Iraq, the U.S. regime lied to allege the presence of a nuclear-bomb program there, and this allegation pertained to America’s own national security; so, that allegation concerning Iraq would have been a possible justification to invade, if it hadn’t been a lie. (Truthfulness is always a requirement under international law.) But in the other instances, no danger to America’s national security was even being alleged. The U.S. regime alleged that the foreign leaders it wanted to overthrow were ‘violating the human rights of the people’ there, but the U.S. Government routinely violates the human rights of its own population and imprisons a higher percentage of them than any other country — including all of the ones it criticizes — does; so, any such allegation by the U.S. regime is perhaps even worse than a pot calling the kettle black, because this particular “pot” is blacker than any of the others. What foreign countries say about ‘human rights’ in any other country provides no grounds in international law for the accusing country to invade that country. If a given national leader should be replaced, that regime-change shouldn’t be foreign-imposed (for example, America and its allies — the champions of foreign regime-change operations — should have nothing to do with it), but instead it should be done only by patriots within that given nation — and not assisted (much less instigated) by the CIA, MI6, or etc., since that would make it be imperialism. A basic principle of international law is that law within any nation doesn’t fall within the purview of international law: it’s simply not an international matter. International law is supposed to concern only international relations — no internal (domestic) matters (unless the U.N. General Assembly and Security Council specify there to be an exception — such as if they rule that a genocide is being perpetrated within a given nation). Other countries (such as the rulers of America) might not like the ruler of a given nation, but this doesn’t give those foreigners any right to perpetrate regime-change there, such as the U.S. and its allies routinely do (and have done ever since 1948).

Consequently: the way that America and its allies do sanctions, coups, invasions, and other regime-change operations, is by deceiving their own publics — it is always being done by means of propaganda, lying to their own people. To this extent, any imperialistic nation is actually a regime, not a democracy, because imperialism is always, and even intrinsically, based upon lies, which the given nation’s rulers use in order to fool their own citizenry, so that those ‘citizens’ are actually those rulers’ “subjects,” not authentically citizens, of that actual dictatorship. (And then they lie by referring to their subjects as ‘citizens’, instead of as “subjects,” so as to be able to continue fooling them throughout the future, to continue the myth of their own nation’s being a ‘democracy’.)

The foreign-imposed regime-change operations are always based upon lying. It’s the basic tool of any dictatorship. And the public never learns that they’ve been suckered by their rulers.

That’s why it happens again and again, and the public fall for it again and again. The public never learn from their own government’s lying; they just fall for it, again and again. They trust their Government, ‘their’ ‘democracy’, and its ‘news’-media (actually propaganda-media).

In the world today, what country doesn’t call itself a “democracy”? Do any democracies actually exist? A nation that engages in imperialism is certainly a dictatorship — its government lies routinely, to its own subjects. That cannot be a democracy. A ‘democracy’ that’s built upon lies is a dictatorship. Democracy can be built only upon the public’s being truthfully informed regarding every issue that’s of governmental importance. Does such a nation exist? Where does it exist?

The biggest lying is done about international matters. Unfortunately, most people don’t care about international matters, but only about domestic (or intranational) matters. So, it’s easy for dictators who rule an imperialistic regime to fool their public — i.e., to enslave them mentally. It’s what the public there are actually accustomed to.

Let’s take, as an example, the case by the American regime against Russia’s leader, Putin. America and its allies allege that Alexei Navalny, who has long aspired to replace Putin as Russia’s leader, is in prison in Russia because Navalny is so popular there that in a fair-and-square election, Navalny would beat Putin.

The dominant public image of Navalny in the United States and in its allied countries is that of his being an anti-corruption campaigner in a very corrupt Russia, and his being Russia’s most-popular opponent against Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, and therefore blocked by Putin from running against Putin, and who has even been poisoned by Putin, but — amazingly — survived that poisoning by Putin, and is therefore now being imprisoned by Putin, so as to prevent Navalny from being able to run against Putin in a free and fair democratic election in Russia.

However, the dominant public image of the Russian Alexei Navalny inside Russia is that of his being a CIA-MI6 asset who is a racist-fascist traitor who would sell-out his country for anything so long as he could become its leader, just like Benedict Arnold was in early U.S. history, when the then U.S. Vice President Arnold worked with the intelligence services of Britain’s King George III in order to become America’s leader so as to restore the United States to British control. (That ploy, by Arnold, failed, of course.)

Typical of the view regarding Navalny that’s popular in the U.S. and in its allied countries is a news-report from Reuters on May 6th, titled “Defiant but cornered: Jailed Kremlin critic Navalny’s movement is on the ropes”. It opens:

He has been poisoned, jailed and his close aides are either being prosecuted or have fled abroad. His anti-Kremlin opposition movement is now also likely to soon be outlawed as extremist.

Yet Alexei Navalny and his supporters continue to work on ways to remain a thorn in President Vladimir Putin’s side, even as one of his most important financial backers says the movement in its current form is finished and will take time to rebound.

In the eyes of the Kremlin, the only half-meaningful political weapon the Navalny camp has left is its campaign for tactical, or what it calls “smart” voting against the ruling United Russia party in a parliamentary election in September, according to three people close to the Russian authorities.

Navalny’s supporters are set to be barred from that election via a court case, due to unfold later this month, and planned legislation unveiled on the parliamentary website on Tuesday that would ban “extremists” from running for office.

A court, meeting in secret, is considering a request from Moscow prosecutors to have Navalny’s network designated “extremist” for allegedly plotting a revolution, state media have reported. Russia’s financial monitoring agency has already added the network to a list on its website of groups involved in “terrorism and extremism”.

In response, Navalny’s movement has redoubled its call for sympathisers to vote for other opposition parties in September, however unpalatable they may consider them.

Typical of the view of Navalny that is popular inside Russia itself are the following:

An RT news-report on 1 February 2021 headlined “Top Navalny aide asked alleged British spy for millions in funding, intelligence video released by Russia’s FSB claims to reveal”. Back in 2012, Russia’s equivalent of America’s FBI had a hidden camera in position filming, and recording, Navalny’s top aide trying to persuade a person he thought to be an MI6 (UK’s CIA) agent that MI6 should annually donate tens of millions of dollars to Navalny’s organization because doing this would provide billions of dollars of benefit to UK corporations if Navalny would then succeed and become Russia’s leader. 

Navalny is also known in Russia as a far-right ethnic supremacist. Here is a video that he posted to youtube on 19 September 2007, under the title of “НАРОД за легализацию оружия” meaning “PEOPLE for the legalization of weapons”:

He was saying there that all Russians should get guns in order to kill Muslims who are infesting Russia, which would be like swatting big flies or stamping on big cockroaches. Later, he decided that demagoguing against Russia’s “corruption” was far likelier to win him the backing of the U.S and its allies than demagoguing against Russia’s Muslims would. This was when U.S.-and-allied ‘news’-media began presenting him as the ‘democratic’ alternative to Vladimir Putin, who has always been vastly more favorably viewed by Russians than Navalny has been. On 5 September 2020, right before the latest Russian Presidential election, the internationally respected Levada polling organization in Russia reported that the top choice of Russians to lead the country was Putin at 56%, the second-from-top choice was Zhirinovsky at 5%, and Alexey Navalny (shown there as Алексей Навальный), was the third-from-top choice, at 2%. In the 2018 Presidential election, Zhirinovsky polled at 13.7%, Grudinin polled at 12.0%, and Putin polled at 72.6%. The actual election-outcome was Putin 76.69%, Grudinin 11.7%, and Zhirinovsky 5.65%. There were many polls and Navalny was never any serious contender for Russia’s Presidency. The U.S. regime lies as it usually does (at least about international matters).

That’s what Russians know about Navalny. And, of course, it’s very different from what the publics in U.S.-and-allied countries know (or, at least, believe) about him.

Here is some recent propaganda that’s published by U.S.-and-allied regimes about Navalny: 

On May 22nd, Japan Times ran a Reuters report, “How Russia’s new gulag tries to break convicts like Alexei Navalny”.

On May 23rd, the Wall Street Journal headlined “Russia’s Navalny Fights to Stay in Public Eye in Putin Standoff”.

On May 4th, the Washington Post columnist Vladimir Kara-Murza headlined “Russia just took a big step back toward the Soviet Union”, and said: “Last week, for the first time since the Soviet era, the Kremlin officially classified opposition to its rule as a criminal offense. … Moscow prosecutors suspended the activities of the nationwide organization of Alexei Navalny, Vladimir Putin’s most prominent opponent. Navalny is currently incarcerated in a prison camp after surviving a state-sponsored assassination attempt last year.”

Navalny, though he actually is favorably viewed by only around 2% of Russians (as indicated in polls there), is widely publicized in U.S.-and-allied media as having instead the highest support by the Russian people of anyone who might challenge Vladimir Putin for Russia’s leadership. It’s a lie, and always has been. Other politicians have far higher polled support in Russia. For example, a Russian poll conducted in the days following Alexey Navalny’s alleged novichok poisoning showed the following level of support for him then, if a Russian election for President would be held at that time: Vladimir Putin 56%, Vladimir Zhirinkovsky 5%. Alexei Navalny 2%. In the 2018 Presidential election, Zhirinovsky polled at 13.7%, Grudinin polled at 12.0%, and Putin polled at 72.6%. The actual election-outcome was Putin 76.69%, Grudinin 11.7%, and Zhirinovsky 5.65%. There were many polls and Navalny was never any serious contender for Russia’s Presidency. The U.S. regime lies as it usually does (at least about international matters).

To say that Navalny has enough public supporters for him to have become elected as Russia’s President is like alleging that the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke had enough public supporters for him to have become elected as America’s President.

But some people in America still think that Saddam Hussein was hiding WMD in 2002.

This is how America does regime-change propaganda, every time: lies.

These lies come from the regime that spends around half of all of the entire world’s military spending, and the regime that imprisons the world’s highest percentage of its subjects (or ‘citizens’). It’s the ‘land of the free’, and exports its ‘freedom and democracy’ everywhere.

And that’s how America does regime-change operations: by sheer lies. 

Like all imperialism throughout history, it’s based on lies — propaganda. And, like in all imperialistic regimes throughout history, their public believe these lies, every time, time after time. They don’t learn the truth, because they’re never taught the truth. (Dissenters are suppressed, not hired. In any dictatorship, the financial incentives support the liars, not the truth-tellers.)

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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Americas

Wendy Sherman’s China visit takes a terrible for the US turn

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Photo: Miller Center/ flickr

US Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, had high hopes for the meeting in China. At first, the Chinese side did not agree to hold the meeting at all. The reaction had obvious reasons: Antony Blinken’s fiasco in Alaska left the Chinese disrespected and visibly irritated. This is not why they travelled all the way.

So then the State Department had the idea of sending Wendy Sherman instead. The US government actually needs China more than China needs the US. Sherman was in China to actually prepare the ground for Biden and a meeting between the two presidents, expecting a red carpet roll for Biden as if it’s still the 2000s — the time when it didn’t matter how the US behaved. Things did not go as expected.

Instead of red carpet talk, Sherman heard Dua Lipa’s “I got new rules”. 

That’s right — the Chinese side outlined three bottom lines warning the US to respect its system, development and sovereignty and territorial integrity. In other words, China wants to be left alone.

The bottom lines were not phrased as red lines. This was not a military conflict warning. This was China’s message that if any future dialogue was to take place, China needs to be left alone. China accused the US of creating an “imaginary enemy”. I have written about it before — the US is looking for a new Cold War but it doesn’t know how to start and the problem is that the other side actually holds all the cards

That’s why the US relies on good old militarism with an expansion into the Indo-Pacific, while aligning everyone against China but expecting the red carpet and wanting all else in the financial and economic domains to stay the same. The problem is that the US can no longer sell this because there are no buyers. Europeans also don’t want to play along.

The headlines on the meeting in the US press are less flattering than usual. If the US is serious about China policy it has to be prepared to listen to much more of that in the future. And perhaps to, yes, sit down and be humble.

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Why Jen Psaki is a well-masked Sean Spicer

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When Sarah Huckabee Sanders showed up on the scene as White House Press Secretary, the reaction was that of relief. Finally — someone civil, normal, friendly. Jen Psaki’s entry this year was something similar. People were ready for someone well-spoken, well-mannered, even friendly as a much welcome change from the string of liars, brutes or simply disoriented people that the Trump Administration seemed to be lining up the press and communications team with on a rolling basis. After all, if the face of the White House couldn’t keep it together for at least five minutes in public, what did that say about the overall state of the White House behind the scenes?

But Psaki’s style is not what the American media and public perceive it to be. Her style is almost undetectable to the general American public to the point that it could look friendly and honest to the untrained eye or ear. Diplomatic or international organization circles are perhaps better suited to catch what’s behind the general mannerism. Jen Psaki is a well-masked Sean Spicer, but a Sean Spicer nevertheless. I actually think she will do much better than him in Dancing With The Stars. No, in fact, she will be fabulous at Dancing With The Stars once she gets replaced as White House Press Secretary.

So let’s take a closer look. I think what remains undetected by the general American media is veiled aggression and can easily pass as friendliness. Psaki recently asked a reporter who was inquiring about the Covid statistics at the White House why the reporter needed that information because Psaki simply didn’t have that. Behind the brisk tone was another undertone: the White House can’t be questioned, we are off limits. But it is not and that’s the point. 

Earlier, right at the beginning in January, Psaki initially gave a pass to a member of her team when the Politico stunner reporter story broke out. The reporter was questioning conflict of interest matters, while the White House “stud” was convinced it was because he just didn’t chose her, cursing her and threatening her. Psaki sent him on holidays. Nothing to see here folks, move along.

Psaki has a level of aggression that’s above average, yet she comes across as one of the most measured and reasonable White House Press Secretaries of the decade. And that’s under pressure. But being able to mask that level of deflection is actually not good for the media because the media wants answers. Style shouldn’t (excuse the pun) trump answers. And being able to get away smoothly with it doesn’t actually serve the public well. Like that time she just walked away like it’s not a big deal. It’s the style of “as long as I say thank you or excuse me politely anything goes”. But it doesn’t. And the American public will need answers to some questions very soon. Psaki won’t be able to deliver that and it would be a shame to give her a pass just because of style.

I think it’s time that we start seeing Psaki as a veiled Sean Spicer. And that Dancing with the Stars show — I hope that will still run despite Covid.

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As Refugees Flee Central America, the Mexican Public Sours On Accepting Them

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Authors: Isabel Eliassen, Alianna Casas, Timothy S. Rich*

In recent years, individuals from Central America’s Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) have been forced out of their home countries by extreme poverty and gang violence. While initial expectations were that the Lopez Obrador administration would be more welcoming to migrants, policies have slowly mirrored those of his predecessor, and do not seem to have deterred refugees. COVID-19 led to a decrease in refugees arriving in Mexico, and many shelters in Mexico closed or have limited capacity due to social distancing restrictions. Now that the COVID-19 situation has changed, arrivals could increase again to the levels seen in late 2018 or 2019, with overcrowded refugee centers lacking in medical care as potential grounds for serious COVID-19 outbreaks.

Mexico increasingly shares a similar view as the US on this migration issue, seeking ways to detain or deport migrants rather than supporting or protecting them. For instance, Mexico’s National Immigration Institute has been conducting raids on freight trains to find and detain migrants. Public opinion likely shapes these policies. In the US, support for allowing migrants into the country appeared to increase slightly from 2018 to 2019, but no significant majority emerges. Meanwhile, Mexican public opinion increasingly exhibits anti-immigrant sentiments, declining considerably since 2018, with a 2019 Washington Post poll showing that 55% supported deporting Central Americans rather than providing temporary residence and a 2019 El Financiero poll finding 63% supportive of closing to border to curb migration.

New Data Shows the Mexican Public Unwelcoming

To gauge Mexican public opinion on refugees, we conducted an original web survey June 24-26 via Qualtrics, using quota sampling. We asked 625 respondents to evaluate the statement “Mexico should accept refugees fleeing from Central America” on a five-point Likert scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. For visual clarity, we combined disagree and agree categories in the figure below.

Overall, a plurality (43.84%) opposed accepting refugees, with less than a third (30.08%) supportive. Broken down by party affiliation, we see similar results, with the largest opposition from the main conservative party PAN (52.90%) and lowest in the ruling party MORENA (41.58%). Broken down by gender, we find women slightly more supportive compared to men (32.60% vs. 27.04%), consistent with findings elsewhere and perhaps acknowledgment that women and children historically comprise a disproportionate amount of refugees. Regression analysis again finds PAN supporters to be less supportive than other respondents, although this distinction declines once controlling for gender, age, education and income, of which only age corresponded with a statistically significant decline in support. It is common for older individuals to oppose immigration due to generational changes in attitude, so this finding is not unexpected.

We also asked the question “On a 1-10 scale, with 1 being very negative and 10 very positive, how do you feel about the following countries?” Among countries listed were the sources of the Central American refugees, the three Northern Triangle countries. All three received similar average scores (Guatemala: 4.33, Honduras: 4.05, El Salvador: 4.01), higher than Venezuela (3.25), but lower than the two other countries rated (US: 7.71, China: 7.26) Yet, even after controlling for general views of the Central American countries, we find the public generally unsupportive of accepting refugees.

How Should Mexico Address the Refugee Crisis?

Towards the end of the Obama administration, aid and other efforts directed at resolving the push factors for migration in Central America, including decreasing violence and limiting corruption, appeared to have some success at reducing migration north. President Trump’s policies largely did not improve the situation, and President Biden has begun to reverse those policies and re-implement measures successful under Obama.

As discussed in a meeting between the Lopez Obrador administration and US Vice President Kamala Harris, Mexico could adopt similar aid policies, and decreasing the flow of migrants may make the Mexican public respond more positively to accepting migrants. Lopez Obrador committed to increased economic cooperation with Central America days into his term, with pledges of aid as well, but these efforts remain underdeveloped. Threats to cut aid expedite deportations only risks worsening the refugee crisis, while doing little to improve public opinion.

Increasingly, the number of family units from Guatemala and Honduras seeking asylum in Mexico, or the United States, represents a mass exodus from Central America’s Northern Triangle to flee insecurity. Combating issues such as extreme poverty and violence in Central American countries producing the mass exodus of refugees could alleviate the impact of the refugee crisis on Mexico. By alleviating the impact of the refugee crisis, refugees seeking asylum will be able to navigate immigration processes easier thus decreasing tension surrounding the influx of refugees.

Likewise, identifying the public’s security and economic concerns surrounding refugees and crafting a response should reduce opposition. A spokesperson for Vice President Harris stated that border enforcement was on the agenda during meetings with the Lopez Obrador administration, but the Mexican foreign minister reportedly stated that border security was not to be addressed at the meeting. Other than deporting migrants at a higher rate than the US, Mexico also signed an agreement with the US in June pledging money to improve opportunities for work in the Northern Triangle. Nonetheless, questions about whether this agreement will bring meaningful change remain pertinent in the light of a worsening crisis.

Our survey research shows little public interest in accepting refugees. Public sentiment is unlikely to change unless the Lopez Obrador administration finds ways to both build sympathy for the plights of refugees and address public concerns about a refugee crisis with no perceived end in sight. For example, research in the US finds public support for refugees is often higher when the emphasis is on women and children, and the Lopez Obrador administration could attempt to frame the crisis as helping specifically these groups who historically comprise most refugees. Likewise, coordinating efforts with the US and other countries may help portray to the public that the burden of refugee resettlement is being equitably shared rather than disproportionately placed on Mexico.

Facing a complex situation affecting multiple governments requires coordinated efforts and considerable resources to reach a long-term solution. Until then, the Central American refugee crisis will continue and public backlash in Mexico likely increase.

Isabel Eliassen is a 2021 Honors graduate of Western Kentucky University. She triple majored in International Affairs, Chinese, and Linguistics.

Alianna Casas is an Honors Undergraduate Researcher at Western Kentucky University, majoring in Business Economics, Political Science, and a participant in the Joint Undergraduate/Master’s Program in Applied Economics.

Timothy S. Rich is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Western Kentucky University and Director of the International Public Opinion Lab (IPOL). His research focuses on public opinion and electoral politics.

Funding for this survey was provided by the Mahurin Honors College at Western Kentucky University.

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