All effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points, and (you) must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand
by your slogan.
— Adolph Hitler
George W. Bush’s butchering of the English language is the stuff of legends, and listening to his long list of mispronunciations, grammatical gaffes, and syntactical slips is always good for a laugh. But there is one term he uses that should not be taken lightly: the War on Terror.
Bush first used the term after 9/11, and it worked wonders for him. His popularity sky-rocketed and everyone forgot about the rigged 2000 presidential election. Since then he has used it over and over, especially whenever he gets caught lying about such trifles as the war in Iraq, or torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib, or spying on innocent peace activists without a warrant.
In fact, whenever our fearless leader mentions the term, American citizens react as if they are a bunch of frightened kids, mainstream news reporters prostrate themselves at his feet and declare fealty, and members of Congress give him a green light to trample on the Constitution as if it were Pat Nixon’s old “cloth coat.” Not bad for a guy who can’t pronounce the word “nuclear.”
The problem is, the War on Terror is not a war and it is not about terror. The classic definition of a war is when two sovereign nations use armies to battle it out with one another until one surrenders. World Wars I and II were classic wars.
The War on Terror is like the “War on Drugs” or the “War on Crime.” It is a propaganda slogan, and the “war” that it describes is a figure of speech, a rhetorical device. As a result, this type of war has no end or resolution– which is just the way the Bush regime likes it because it helps keep them in power.
After all, the word “terror” means fear. And is it possible to have a war on fear? No, not a real war. Only a metaphorical war designed to keep the population in a perpetual state of fear so they will be willing to trade off their civil liberties for safety and security.
What about calling it a “War on Al Qaeda”? Again, this term does not meet the classic definition of war, since al Qaeda is a terrorist group, not a sovereign nation. So what are we engaged in then, if not a war against al Qaeda? Is there a precedent? Yes, and we don’t have to look too far back in history for an example.
If you recall, in the 1970s and ’80s, terrorist groups like the Baader-Meinhof Gang of Germany and the Red Brigades of Italy were tearing around Europe, blowing up buildings and assassinating people on the streets. The Red Brigades even went as far as to kidnap and kill Aldo Morro, the prime minister of Italy.
Imagine what would happen if a similar situation occurred in America and one of our top government officials was kidnapped or killed by al Qaeda. It is a good bet the Bush regime would declare martial law in about ten minutes. This would mean the end of our Constitution and our individual liberties, and fascism would be a daily reality of life for all Americans.
But did the Italian government react that way when their prime minister was assassinated? And did they declare an unending war on terror that turned their country into a fascist state? No, they had already played that game with Mussolini, and they were not about to sacrifice their individual liberties to another iron-fisted duce.
Instead, they treated the Red Brigades as a gang of criminals that had to be infiltrated, hunted down, and brought to justice. And this is how the Italian government slowly but surely defeated them. The same method was used to defeat the Baader-Meinhof Gang in Germany and also the white militia groups in the U.S. during Bill Clinton’s term of office.
In other words, there was no need for any scary propaganda or infringement on civil liberties. All that was required to solve the problem was a proportional government response using a combination of force, good detective work, and diplomacy. As a result, the terrorist groups of the twentieth century were defeated and “put out of business,” something Scotty McClellan can only dream about.
Too bad we didn’t follow this approach with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Instead, the Bush regime diverted its attention (and the public’s attention) away from the real terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and started an unnecessary war in Iraq under false pretenses. Ironically, the illegitimate war in Iraq has created more terrorists than we could have ever imagined and the United States is persona non grata around the world.
Call me conspiratorial, but it almost seems as if Bush doesn’t want to catch bin Laden. But that couldn’t be, could it? We’ve been diligently searching for him ever since 9/11. Or have we? “I really don’t think that much about him,” Bush told the press when he was asked about bin Laden way back when.
Today, if you ask ranking members of the CIA about bin Laden, they always say something like: “We know he’s hiding out somewhere in the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan, but damned if we can find him!” Thirty billion bucks a year we spend on our intelligence community and we can’t find an NBA-sized Saudi prince hiding out in a cave whose family has business connections with the Bush boys and the Carlyle Group!
So whenever you hear Herr Bush and his stiff-arm saluting sycophants in the mainstream media use the term War on Terror as a pretext for eavesdropping on your phone conversations, or spying on your private activities, or curtailing your individual liberties, just remember that the term is a propaganda slogan that has nothing to do with protecting our freedom or democracy and everything to do with keeping average Americans under the boot heel of our fearless leader.