Priming the pump
Various propaganda efforts discernible in the media today, including those that surround Iran, Pakistan, Darfur and the Israeli-Palestine conflict, all share a common pattern of execution. This pattern is remarkable for the systematic way in which it is recurs. It involves initial forays of disinformation, notable omissions and, crucially, something that might be called "priming the pump." Recently, this priming pattern has appeared regarding the extended deployment of troops in Iraq, wherein various Bush administration officials have come forth with halting statements regarding a long term occupation of Iraq and the increasingly obvious imperative that US forces could find themselves there to stay for a very long time, indeed. The "South Korea model," as it has been described, is finding greater and greater voice as the situation in Iraq continues to worsen, or at least not improve. General Petreaus has lately been "hinting" at the fact that, despite earlier assurances a "progress" report due in September would determine the fate of the US occupation, the results of any report in September, expected to be undoubtedly grim, will be ignored and that the surge will continue in an ad hoc, as-needed basis. Media talking heads, in particular the trusty Fox News Piltdown man Chris Wallace, have taken up their charge and, rather than question this direction, appear to encourage this path of greatest resistance by asking, "You surely don't think the job would be done by the surge by September?" Parish the thought, the general agreed, and informed the public that there is still a lot of "heavy lifting to do."
This particular pump priming is needed for two reasons. One, which the construction of multi-billion dollar, permanent bases from the early days of the post-invasion period clearly demonstrated, is that there has always been a plan to occupy Iraq for a very long time. This was never admitted, of course, and now that the American public has grown utterly weary of the debacle, the propaganda effort is being directed toward preparing the national psyche for what has always been the ultimate reality of the invasion. It is important that the notion of long term occupation appear to be an ad hoc result of ongoing mayhem rather than the initial plan it has been all along, which is why the subject is only being broached now.
The second reason for the nascent propaganda effort is to slowly inculcate the public with this reality and to imbue them with the very false sense that the occupation is to continue for the benefit of the Iraqi people and their obvious security needs. It is not the Iraqi public to whom this pablum is being spooned, but rather, we are witnessing the slow but deliberate force feeding of the American public in order that they come around to the position that long term occupation is not only desirable but necessary. Iraqis themselves are overwhelming convinced that US forces, if not directly stirring sectarian violence, at least have no incentive to see it diminished. As long as such violence continues, the conspicuous raison d'etre for the occupation is guaranteed. This Iraqi view is extremely cynical but it is a cynicism borne of the local knowledge that American forces have always planned to stay. It is a knowledge that, thanks to our vested media organs, most Americans simply never have had. To them, the idea of long term occupation has been entirely organic, a result of the situation "on the ground."
But it is not only the public that needs to be primed for the reality of long term occupation in a hostile land. US troops themselves, increasingly weary and near breaking, are now being confronted with the possibility that they will have their tours extended once again, after Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, only two months ago, announced newly extended tours of fifteen months. This latest message simply following the pattern by slowly preparing minds for what will surely be an eventuality, despite it being called the "last option on the list."
While the White House propaganda effort with respect to Iran smacks of a distinctly more pressing imperative -- it is highly unlikely that an attack on Iran will occur once the Bush/Cheney administration leaves office -- the effort to prepare both the American public and US troops with the grim reality of semi-permanent occupation of Iraq is being executed with measured pace. It can be measured because this agenda not only occupies the imperial minds of the Bush administration, but is also fully embraced by the leading contenders for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. This affords a longer time table by which public sentiment can be slowly and methodically coerced into accepting the position of imperial occupier that both major political parties of the United States have already embraced.