9/11, Psychological Warfare and the American Narrative- Part IV07/09/2011 18:56
Wednesday, 7. September 2011 by Fitzgerald_Gould
Willie Wonka & the National Security State
9/11. New York’s twin trade towers exploded and vaporized in a hypnotic Old Testament moment. It was as if some invisible dark force had reached out and in one swift strike brought on a biblical, primeval Apocalypse. The destruction seemed to defy gravity itself as 200,000 tons of steel and 425,000 cubic yards of concrete fell so freely and effortlessly to the street below, it resembled a controlled demolition. This was no simple Pearl Harbor that could be avenged with a counterstrike of air and sea power. This was a poisonous wound to the American psyche, a more devastating act of psychological warfare than any military strike could ever have accomplished.
From ten years on, everything about 9/11 feels otherworldly and irrational, the reasons for it, the apparent helplessness in the face of it, the curious identities of the people involved and the American government’s response to it. It defied logic then and it still does. The World Trade Towers were proud symbols of who we were as early 21st century Americans, at least who we thought we were. After all, wasn’t the spiritual motto of the original 1939 Flushing, NY World’s Fair “World trade center” pavilion dedicated to “world peace through trade?”
There would be no peace after 9/11. The destruction loosed a demon that had been struggling for America’s soul since the creation of the Cold War in 1947. The U.S. would now be freed to pursue “evil” wherever it could be found and there would be no turning back. The creation of the World Trade Towers by Rockefeller brothers Nelson and David had been steeped in psychological symbolism from their start in the early 1960s. As the most well known scions of American business, the Rockefeller family brought more than just money to their endeavors, they brought a vision for the future of the planet and a philosophy to guide it.
Begun as a massive undertaking to revitalize lower Manhattan, Chase Manhattan Bank Chairman David and New York Governor Nelson pushed hard for the project and each tower stood as a symbol of their respective power. As metaphor, the towers were more than just two of the tallest buildings in the world. It might be said they were as important as the two pillars Joachim and Boaz which stood at the entrance to Solomon’s Temple; mystical gates to a Cathedral of wisdom in which all could worship under one religion; the religion of business, Capitalism.
The Rockefellers were no strangers to the power of psychological warfare and its impact on American opinion. During World War II Nelson had headed the U.S. government’s intelligence agency for Latin America, the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (CIAA). CIAA’s film division guided the 1942 production of Walt Disney’s Saludos Amigos to promote pro-American sentiment in South America. In 1954 Nelson was appointed as President Eisenhower’s White House special assistant on Cold War tactics and psychological warfare. Nelson Rockefeller played a central role in formulating domestic propaganda programs throughout the 1950s as chairman of the Planning Coordination Group which, in addition to its propaganda work, oversaw all CIA covert operations. His 1956 Special Studies Project directed by Rockefeller protégé Henry Kissinger produced many of the domestic policy recommendations that came to be known as President Kennedy’s New Frontier. His family’s philanthropic support of the arts had been carefully coordinated with the CIA and was both overtly and covertly propagandistic.
As a committed Anglophile, Rockefeller had aided British intelligence during World War II when he rented space in New York’s Rockefeller Center at a steep discount to a number of British propaganda agencies including their secret intelligence service for the Americas, the British Security Coordination (BSC). The BSC’s chief, Sir William Stephenson (Intrepid) set up shop in New York City with the help of some of New York’s wealthiest families with one main objective in mind: Get the United States into the war in Europe on Britain’s behalf.
One key agent in the psychological war for American public opinion was young RAF pilot Roald Dahl who along with James Bond creator Ian Fleming, playwright Noel Coward and Gallup pollster David Ogilvy were given free rein to commit sabotage, political subversion and propagandize “the natives” (Americans) through whatever means possible.
Dahl’s creative fiction earned him praise from the New York Times and publishing contracts from Random House as well as entrée to Hollywood where he would collaborate with Walt and Roy Disney in their studio’s transformation into an arsenal of animation while inspiring numerous imitators. Dahl would go on to marry a movie star and become a Hollywood icon with perennial successes, most notably “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” The cult of intelligence would ultimately become so seamlessly blended into every aspect of publishing, television and film, the CIA would jokingly be referred to as “the Chocolate Factory.” Along with Fleming, Ogilvy and Coward, Dahl would help to get the United States into the war with Germany and craft an enduring Anglo-centric cultural narrative in the public’s mind whose main objective was the promotion of a British agenda for the United States. That agenda would quickly shift from anti-fascist to aggressive Cold War anti-communist (read anti-Russian) as World War II ended, with Britain playing a seminal role in the creation of America’s national security state.
President Harry Truman’s March 12, 1947 proclamation laying out the rationale for the Cold War (Truman Doctrine), fundamentally altered America’s identity by embedding a permanent psychology of fear. But a hidden aspect of this conflict was the slow, grinding corruption that its unreality fostered in America’s leadership. That unreality was finally revealed in the catastrophe of Vietnam.
In a remarkably self-effacing (especially by today’s standards) January 8, 1972 New Yorker article tracing the origins of the devastation caused by Vietnam titled “Reflections: In Thrall To Fear,” Senator J. William Fulbright bemoaned the mental corruption caused by the Truman Doctrine during the 1940s, 50s and 60s, whereby “Our leaders became liberated from the normal rules of evidence and inference when it came to dealing with Communism… The effect of the anti-Communist ideology was to spare us the task of taking cognizance of the specific facts of specific situations. Our ‘faith’ liberated us, like the believers of old, from the requirements of empirical thinking… Like medieval theologians, we had a philosophy that explained everything to us in advance, and everything that did not fit could be readily identified as a fraud or a lie or an illusion.”
What Fulbright’s brilliant but tragic reflections fail to include is that America’s assumptions about the Cold War were never empirical. In fact the assumptions weren’t even necessarily American but had been crafted by America’s Anglo-centric intelligence bureaucracy and rooted in messianic 19th century British designs for control of the Eurasian landmass. A recent release of classified documents reveals that Britain’s wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill was so obsessed with Eurasian conquest, he’d envisioned rearming Germany and attacking the Soviet Union right up to the end of World War II in a plan named Operation Unthinkable. Faced with the absurdity of confronting an overwhelmingly superior Soviet force and starting World War III, Churchill’s operation was shelved, but his famous Iron Curtain speech of 1946 would animate the idea while establishing the ideological narrative by which all future U.S./Soviet relations would be defined.
The inspiration for Churchill’s speech and its warning of the growing Communist threat to “Christian civilization” was the American child of British immigrants, James Burnham. As the godfather of neoconservatism, Burnham would work his way from Bolshevik revolutionary Leon Trotsky in the 1930s, to authoring a book that would forge the foundations of a new kind of planned, centralized society, to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II. His much critiqued landmark 1940 The Managerial Revolution would be read and admired by Hitler’s general staff and viewed as the blueprint for George Orwell’s 1984 in which a new class of business executives, technicians, bureaucrats and soldiers would destroy the old capitalist order, crush the working class and seize all of society’s wealth for themselves.
In a 1945 Partisan Review article titled “Lenin’s Heir” Burnham, while still at the OSS, infused his apocalyptic political views with mystical allusions to the Eurasian heartland as “the magnetic core” of Soviet power, comparing it to the mystical “reality of the One of Neo-Platonism,” whose inexorable and unstoppable “emanative progression… descends through the stages of Mind, Soul, and Matter” towards its ultimate destination beyond the Eurasian boundaries and through “Appeasement and Infiltration (England, the United States).” Burnham was a keen advocate of dirty tricks. He would play an important role in the overthrow of Iran’s Mohammed Mosaddeq and the installation of the Shah. His book The Machiavellians would become a handbook for CIA planners.
As an “anti-Communist ideology” Burnham’s apocalyptic warnings about the inevitability of Soviet expansion from Eurasia’s magnetic core ring like a medieval theologian’s incantation throughout Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech. George Orwell even makes clear in his 1946 “Second Thoughts on James Burnham” that Burnham’s words read like a mystical invocation and were most likely intended to hypnotize.
Twenty six years later, Senator Fulbright would realize that only because of the disastrous outcome of Vietnam was there any willingness at all to reexamine the basic assumptions of American postwar policy toward the Soviet Union and what had brought the United States to such a sorry state. The 1972 Strategic Arms Limitation Talks SALT would spring from this realization, as would the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty ABM and eventually SALT II, until in January of 1980 President Jimmy Carter would ask the Senate to delay consideration of the Treaty on the Senate floor because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. That treaty would never be passed.
Our involvement in the Afghanistan story began in the summer of 1979 when we began production of a documentary titled Arms Race and the Economy: A Delicate Balance. During the next months numerous experts including economist John Kenneth Galbraith lent their experience to our understanding of the unseen damage that a massive new diversion of tax dollars and investment capital would represent to the civilian economy. Galbraith insisted that accelerated defense spending and renewing the Cold War – as the neoconservative right was demanding at that critical moment – would ultimately destroy the civilian economy. He was convinced that the Cold War had already made America more and more like the Soviet Union, ruled by a military-industrial-academic establishment suspended from reality.
But by the time our program aired that winter, the argument was no longer whether our government should call a halt to the nuclear arms race and reinvest in the civilian economy. The December 27, 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan had rolled back the narrative to 1947, the Truman Doctrine, to Churchill and Burnham’s mystical, medieval enchantment and the psychological warfare campaign necessary to bring it back to life was about to begin.
J. William Fulbright’s 1972 “Reflections: In Thrall To Fear” represented an awakening from the deep hypnotic trance imposed upon Americans by Cold War ideology. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan brought about its re-emersion, but this time to a deeper and totally detached level of unreality.
With the election of Ronald Reagan in the fall of 1980, the United States not only rejected Fulbright’s concerns for the intellectual dishonesty represented by the continuation of the Cold War, but willfully embraced the fraud, the lie and the illusion as its own and was willing to take it one step further.
The U.S. had silently, almost imperceptibly crossed through a mirror in 1947 with the creation of a second and covert national-security-government. But few in Washington understood at the time, the Faustian bargain they were signing onto. Now that secret government would take the U.S. on a fairytale journey into a mirrored image of itself from the 1940s, interweaving its own delusion with a remanufactured, two dimensional Hollywood invention named Ronald Reagan as the host. America would never be the same.
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