In a recent interview with The Corbett Report, the Ron Paul Institute’s Daniel McAdams spoke disdainfully of those ostensibly anti-interventionist libertarians who picked this moment of all times to loudly and aggressively condemn Venezuela’s president Maduro, just as the US power establishment is ramping up its campaign to topple the Venezuelan government.
“All of a sudden now there are millions of Venezuela experts in America, and many of them could not point Venezuela out on a map five days ago,” McAdams said. “And everyone has to have this disclaimer, ‘Well, I know it’s probably worse than North Korea, but the US government shouldn’t get involved.’ It’s cowardice, because once the war starts, they can say ‘Hey I never called for US intervention!’ No, but you’re a conveyor belt for propaganda. You’re a conveyor belt to get the machine ginned up for war. And so you’ve got to stand up and take responsibility.”
McAdams has for years consistently operated in the hub of one of America’s most forceful and effective branches of opposition to US interventionism, and he is absolutely correct here. On both sides of America’s political divide, the primary objections you will see to this administration’s campaign to delegitimize and topple the Venezuelan government are prefaced with a strong condemnation of Maduro followed by some feeble equivocations voicing vague objections to Trump’s actions, if that.
Even more often, what you will see is excuses made for the US government’s aggressive attempts to control who runs Venezuela, followed by some mumbling along the lines of “I don’t want us to go to war, though” dribbling out of the corner of their mouths. Some silly, arbitrary line in the sand saying that Trump’s current ongoing starvation sanctions, CIA covert ops and premeditated campaign to delegitimize and overthrow Venezuela’s government is fine, and hey, maybe arming some right-wing militias via Columbia would be fine too, but don’t send American troops to do the killing or we’ll be a tad upset.
All these wimpy, wishy washy “I oppose US interventionism sorta kinda but not really P.S. fuck Maduro” mouth noises are infuriatingly obnoxious, for a number of reasons. Firstly, someone who claims to be antiwar or anti-interventionist but reserves their objections solely for the most overt forms of warfare is not really antiwar or anti-interventionist, because warfare in modern times is designed to take many less overt forms in order to prevent the kind of attention-grabbing public objections seen over Vietnam and Iraq. A look at what the US empire did to Libya and Syria shows that hundreds of thousands can be killed, millions can be displaced, and humanitarian disasters beyond our ability to imagine can be unleashed without any overt conventional invasion.
Secondly, by wrapping your resistance to US warmongering in loud criticisms of the Venezuelan government and “Go people’s rebellion!” cheerleading, you are functioning as a pro bono propagandist for the CIA and the US State Department, and thereby helping to advance the warmongering agendas of those depraved agencies.
Before they launch missiles, they launch narratives. Before they drop bombs, they drop ideas. Before they invade, they propagandize. Before the killing, there is manipulation. The front line of any antiwar movement is a fight against mass media psyops. What you’re doing matters.
— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) January 24, 2019
A common refrain is “It’s possible to be opposed to US interventionism while also opposing these tyrannical governments, you know.” But it isn’t. Not really. It’s impossible to oppose US interventionism while also helping to advance its propaganda narratives against targeted governments.
All US-led military agendas begin with propaganda. If the public were allowed to see the reality of war with fresh eyes, they would all instantly recoil in horror and adamantly demand its immediate end. The only reason the US-centralized empire is able to sow death and destruction around the world without this happening is because of propaganda, which is why Americans are the most aggressively propagandized people in the world: the violent agendas of the most powerful military force ever assembled are far too important to be left up to the will of the citizenry.
So before they can launch missiles, planes, and ships, they launch propaganda. They launch mass media psyops. They launch narrative control campaigns to make sure that Americans hate the leader of Targeted Nation X and want the people of Targeted Nation X to have Freedom and Democracy™. Day after day after day, they seed the idea that Targeted Leader X “must go”, until the story has become so thoroughly indoctrinated that it almost looks like the US and its allies have no choice but to intervene with increasingly violent measures.
When you help advance those propaganda narratives, you are actively facilitating the first steps of war in a very real way. It’s the same as if you personally picked up a rifle and began picking people off; the only difference is that you’re participating in an earlier stage of the bloodshed rather than a later one. The people are just as dead in the end as if you personally had killed them with your own hands, you just helped with an earlier part of the mechanizations of war rather than a later one. Hell, the one firing the bullets is arguably in a more moral position, because at least they’re putting something on the line and reckoning sincerely with the reality of what they’re doing. The one hiding behind a keyboard and acting as a pro bono war propagandist while inserting “…but I oppose direct interventionism” at the end is vastly more cowardly and dishonest. In the end, the one with the gun is just delivering the bullet that was put in the mail by the propagandist.
Life pro tip: If you find yourself cheering for the same “people’s uprising” in a foreign nation that the US State Department says you should cheer for, it’s because you’ve been propagandized. Please revise your media consumption habits and critical thinking skills accordingly.
— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) February 1, 2019
Over and over and over I run into this stupid herd mentality while arguing about this stuff online where people (seemingly deliberately) conflate the notion of Venezuelans sorting out Venezuelan affairs with US interventionism. I’ll be clearly and explicitly condemning US interventionism, and some foam-brained Trump supporter will come up to me saying “I don’t understand, Caitlin! Why don’t you support the Venezuelan people??”
That phrase, “the Venezuelan people,” incidentally, is exclusively used in propaganda articles to refer to those who support regime change in Venezuela, as documented here by Fair.org’s Alan MacLeod. Like the people who support their government aren’t Venezuelan people.
And I don’t mean to just single out Trump supporters here; they’re just the ones who are more vocally gung-ho for this particular intervention. For the last two years I’ve had Democrats up in my face all the time calling me a “genocide denier” and an “Assad apologist” for opposing the Syrian war propaganda and demanding to know why I hate the Syrian people. The rest of the time I’m being asked why I don’t support the Iranian people by Republicans and why I love Putin by Democrats. This mind virus is totally bipartisan.
“I oppose interventionism, but I like to act as a pro bono CIA propagandist and regurgitate US State Department talking points at every opportunity.”
~ Old partisan hack proverb
— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) February 1, 2019
It is unlikely that the US war machine is gearing up for an all-out invasion of Venezuela as its Plan A. That’s not its MO. First we’re likely to see continually tightening starvation sanctions, more narrative control, more CIA covert operations, and the arming of oppositional militias within Venezuela. If that doesn’t work we can perhaps expect to see some drone warfare and a coalition being formed, with ground troops sent in only if these other measures fail to rip the country apart by themselves, and only if our rulers can manufacture consent for it. The time to begin disrupting that consent-manufacturing apparatus is now, not later.
The only thing keeping the public from using its numbers to force an end to imperialist warmongering is that most people lack a deep understanding of how horrific and widespread it is, and the only thing preventing them from developing that understanding is propaganda. By regurgitating the propaganda narratives being spouted by neoconservative death cultists like Mike Pompeo, John Bolton and Elliott Abrams, you are helping them pave the road to acts of mass slaughter as sure as if you were perpetrating it yourself.
If you wouldn’t go to a country and start killing everyone between you and its leader personally, stop helping to construct the narrative framework that is being set up to accomplish exactly that. The most powerful thing in our society is narrative. Please treat it with an appropriate level of respect.