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Demonizing others and portraying them as absolute evil in order to frighten people as a prelude to exterminating them or waging war against them, represents one of the main devices of McCarthyism. It was used by McCarthy in the 1950s in the United States to demonize communism and anyone subscribing to socialist ideas. It was also used by George Bush Junior, with the help of the Neoconservatives, especially after the September 11 attacks, during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq as well as after the invasion.

During that period, all US intelligence agencies became actively engaged in surveillance both on the domestic scene and abroad. They made no exception for friends or allies, or for any citizens, especially if they happened to be Muslim or black. Thus the culture of fear spread, not just in the United States, but all over the world. Helping to spread it were social media websites, which became rife with images of slaughter and killing, as well as of those responsible for it and their decrees declaring permissible the killing of anyone who would disagree with them. Also contributing to this were the media and studies rife with descriptions of the extent of American power, as well as films depicting Americans as superhuman beings who cannot be defeated and never die. US Marines are supermen whose only concern is to spread freedom in the world, sent to faraway countries at the ends of the earth, with "hardly (...) any information at all about those countries" and about their peoples, and in fact "very little information about [their] own country and its past" (Gore Vidal).

Fear dominated the American people, as it did Washington's friends and allies, under Bush.

Everyone knew that intelligence services were spying on them, but no one dared say it. This explains the US administration's anger when the WikiLeaks documents were published, exposing the fear of officials, their collusion and their obsequiousness with Washington. It also explains the latter's current anger at the publishing by former intelligence agent Edward Snowden of documents that confirm the surveillance of the telephones of 35 heads of state, among them friends of Washington such as Hollande and Merkel, who considered the matter to represent a breach of trust.

There was nothing strange about what Snowden exposed, as the matter was well known. But those whose names had been published were frightened that their silence over such "treason" for all these years would become known, and that their peoples would know how scared they were of Washington's might. This is why they summoned Ambassadors and voiced protest. Yet such protest has not exceeded diplomatic formulas, and everyone will soon return to the same "warm embrace", to coordinate policies and wars. Indeed, the interests of governments demand it, especially when it comes to sharing influence and control over the world, with "Big Brother" getting the largest share.

And if the surveillance documents expose a "breach of trust", in the words used by Merkel, the bigger scandal would have been for her, and her 35 fellow heads of state, to remain silent about what is quite clear to everyone, people and officials. Indeed, right before their eyes, and with their help, US forces wage "soft" wars using unmanned drones, while the CIA assassinates leaders and officials, sets up coups, feeds civil wars, rewards some regimes and punishes others. This kind of behavior is not restricted to one administration and not another.

Gore Vidal had called America "the United States of Amnesia", in reference to this phenomenon of memory loss. But it seems as if it is the world that is losing its memory, as every time a new President is elected to the White House, it renews its hopes of peace and security.

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Publication:Dar Al Hayat, International ed. (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Oct 26, 2013
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