Saturday, July 14, 2007

Canadians Will Not be Fooled by War Propaganda

When it comes to talking about the Afghanistan war, Allan Gregg's Strategic Council prefers this method:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.
- Joseph Goebbels

And one big proponent of that strategy is the boy king to the south:

“See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
- George W. Bush

From Friday's Globe & Mail:

OTTAWA — The Harper government has been told to stop referring to “fighting terrorism” and the Sept. 11 attacks, and to banish the phrase “cut and run” from its vocabulary if it is to persuade a skeptical public that the military mission in Afghanistan is worth pursuing.

A public-opinion report says only 40 per cent of respondents across Canada, and almost none in Quebec, support the deployment. To change the perceptions, it recommends putting the emphasis on “rebuilding,” “enhancing the lives of women and children,” and “peacekeeping.”

The report to Foreign Affairs was prepared last month by The Strategic Counsel . It paints a bleak picture of weak public support for the military mission, for which the firm blames “unbalanced, mostly negative” media coverage of the war and misperceptions about the mission's purpose.

Only 40 per cent of Canadians support the mission, according to Strategic Counsel data. And the firm says the public views information from Ottawa “through a thick lens of cynicism.”

“They feel that much of what government says is propaganda, intended simply to appeal to the voting public and to spin stories in a positive manner,” the report points out.

Because that's exactly what it is. Much to the chagrin of the Harper government, Canadians aren't stupid.

In January of this year, the Harper government thought they could push Canadian involvement in the Afghanistan war as "Democracy Promotion". Forget the fact that Afghanistan has already held democratic elections and that our forces aren't exactly over there teaching the Afghans about how to vote. You don't need guns and tanks to do that.

And when our completely inept foreign minister supports something like building a fence on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, despite the fact that the Afghan government was opposed to it, framing what we're doing there as "Democracy Promotion" is nothing but a joke.

The Strategic Council apparently agrees with NATO's secretary general who just last month was trying to convince Canadians that we were involved in something resembling "defend[ing] basic universal values". Square that with the huge number of civilians NATO and US forces have killed this year through multiple air strikes along with harsh criticism of Canada's International Development Agency being accused of undermining military success in Afghanistan.

This is reality in Afghanistan.

CIDA's "limited achievements" are undermining Canadian military efforts and compromising the likelihood of mission success, the report says.

Kandahar’s refugee camps are growing steadily and its hospital is dilapidated and filthy, the report states.

As well, there is no functioning food aid distribution system, and legal money-making opportunities remain extremely limited, according to the report.

"The failure to demonstrably address the extreme poverty, widespread hunger and appalling child and maternal mortality rates in Afghanistan — let alone boost economic development — is decreasing local Afghan support for Canada’s mission and increasing support for the insurgency."

So, tell me again about this humanitarian mission we're supposedly involved in.

Contrary to that Strategic Council report, the Harper government has tried to push the Good News™ in Afghanistan. The problem is, as I explained last September in this post which dissects Peter MacKay's Good News™ talking points, the Canadian people want the truth - not the half-baked lies dressed up as "progress".

Back to the G&M article:

The report warns that the Afghan mission could be “a lightning rod” for the government. And because of “continuously negative” media reports on casualties and lack of results, the legitimacy of Canada's involvement could be questioned. “Suspicion and cynicism are taking hold in the absence of hard facts and positive stories about progress,” the report states.

“There is a growing belief that the government is trying to avoid talking about the issue to play down the grim reality that the mission is failing.”

The mission is failing and we will not be drawn into an illusionary Rumsfeldian parallel universe where the actual truth is to blame for legitimate opposition to an endless war.

The report states that the biggest communications challenge is to change the perception that the mission is a departure from Canada's tradition of peacekeeping. In fact, the authors claim the Afghan mission simply adapts peacekeeping to “the changing nature of global conflict.”

In other words, the 60% of Canadians who oppose this war must be taught that peacekeeping equals going to war in a foreign country.

This was Canada's mission in Afghanistan when it was announced in October, 2001:

Defence Minister Art Eggleton said Monday that Canada is sending warships, planes, and special forces troops to join in the U.S.-led anti-terrorism campaign in Afghanistan. The mission is dubbed Operation Apollo.

So the Harper government can try and twist words as much as they want to. The truth will prevail.

(h/t to Impolitical for the G&M story)

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