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The weakened American soul
By Olavo de Carvalho
From Diario de Comercio, Jan 14, 2008
The dominant discourse in the mainstream media, show business and universities in the USA today is so frankly anti-American that it is only in details of style - if that - that it can be distinguished from the defamation campaigns undertaken by the USSR in the 50s and 60s. The American elite boasts of having won the Cold War, but it seems as if it was dominated psychologically by the vanquished enemy and wound up believing everything the enemy said against it. The posthumous vengeance of the Soviets gleams in the pages of the New York Times, at prime time on CBS, and in the films by Michael Moore and George Clooney with a splendor that not even Willi Muenzenberg, the genius of communist disinformation, would have dared dream of.
Whatever is said against the American government, against the American military, and against American culture, seems to enjoy automatic credibility today, so much so that it can be shouted from the rooftops without the least fear of an exasperated response, to the extent that any pro-American word must be prefaced with politically correct precautions for fear of the inevitable and vociferous retaliation, if not of a lawsuit. To follow the American debate is to confirm daily the prophetic sense of the verse by William Butler Yeats: "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." Something has changed radically in the heart of America in the second half of the 20th century, and has changed precisely in the direction in which the country's bitterest enemies would have wanted it to change.
How was this possible? The agents of change want us to believe that it was all a spontaneous, natural and inevitable process, lending the course of the transformation the authority of an impersonal historic law that only the small minded reactionary would dare to question. But many years ago I realized that impersonal laws of history are almost always mere camouflage for human actions that want to pass unperceived so that their effects take on an aura of divine mystery.
The change that weakened the American soul was precipitated by three major disinformation operations that, because they were launched from Washington and not from Moscow, managed to deceive the entire nation and forge a new "common sense" (in the Gramscian sense of the word), whose influence not even the most conservative and patriotic completely escape. On these three occasions, the lies carefully elaborated by the government itself to cast onto the United States the blame for the malicious actions of its enemies not only became official truth, uniformly repeated today by the media and the education system, but spread around the world, creating the monstrously deformed image that today feeds and legitimizes anti-American hatred everywhere. It may seem absurd that government officials would choose to participate in the defamation of their own country to avoid problems with the USSR or to save their own electoral image, but that is exactly what three American presidents did, two of which, ironically, are portrayed by leftist rhetoric as exemplary embodiments of anti-communism and "Yankee imperialism."
The three operations were conceived in the high spheres of the Democratic Party, but at least one of them had intense Republican collaboration. Three recently published books, one of which I already commented on here and the other I mentioned in passing, finally reveal what happened behind the scenes on these occasions, the incredible machinations of politicians and journalists, who for the sake of short-term gains, unhesitatingly favored the enemy and bequeathed to future generations an increasingly morally weakened country.
The first of these episodes was the operation carried out by the Truman administration — and faithfully pursued by Eisenhower — to deny or cover up the massive presence of Soviet agents in high posts of the American government, particularly in the State Department, and also in technical and administrative functions, where they had access to secret information of a military nature.
This story is told in detail with extensive documentation by M. Stanton Evans in "Black Listed by History. The Untold Story of Senator Joseph MacCarthy and His Fight against America's Enemies," New York, Crown forum 2007. If you can't read the book, you can listen to a good resume presented by the author at the Heritage Foundation, with a commentary by Herbert Rommerstein, the one personally responsible for major investigations into Soviet infiltration in the USA (see Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy).
To get an idea of the strategic risks involved in this situation, suffice to say that practically the entire tone of North American policy in China during the communist revolution was set on the basis of reports fabricated by Soviet agents who infiltrated the American diplomatic service in Beijing. By means of prodigious falsifications, these agents managed to persuade the Washington government to withhold needed aid from their ally Chiang Kai-shek and support the communist troops of Mao Zedong, who without this would never have managed to overthrow the Chinese government and install the bloodiest of genocidal dictatorships the world had ever known. American Ambassador Patrick Hurley saw through the ruse and warned Washington in time, but his messages were ignored. Feeling sullied, Hurley asked to be relieved of his post and was replaced by General George Marshall, who believed in these stories as if they had been revealed gospel. Marshall was not procommunist, obviously, but if his behavior in this case was not a clear-cut example of what Eric Voegelin called "criminal stupidity," I don't know what could fit that category. Following the record genocide of 70 million people, the Chinese government, having accumulated atomic bombs with the money generously supplied by American investors, is today the number one security risk for the USA.
Alerted to these and other innumerable cases of Soviet infiltration, the Truman administration opted to kill the messenger, and did everything it could to give the impression that the only serious danger for America was anti-communism, particularly that of Senator Joe McCarthy, whose demonized image still remains vivid in world memory. To obtain this result, Harry Truman's shock troops unhesitatingly covered up the essential documents, which, revealed only now, show that, in essence, all the accusations made by McCarthy were true and even modest in comparison to the real dimensions of the problem. Besides suppressing evidence and protecting itself behind false testimonies, the Truman administration, instead of dismissing the suspects, preferred to support their careers, enabling them to rise in the hierarchy and continue offering services to the Soviet dictatorship with American taxpayer money.
An entire culture of anti-McCarthyism, supported by textbooks, cinema and journalism, grew out of this enterprise of intentional falsification. The consequences of this extend to the present day, making Americans, repenting of sins they never committed against communists, sense greater fear of a possible "return to the McCarthy era" than of a joint assault of Chinese generals and Islamic radicals.
I see the second episode of the series when Lee Harvey Oswald killed President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Not only the White House but also the CIA and the FBI knew that Oswald was a fanatical communist and that his intention in shooting Kennedy was to frustrate any American initiative against Fidel Castro's dictatorship. Chilled at the prospects of a national outbreak of anti-Communist revolt targeting the Democratic Party and reviving suspicions of the Harry Truman era, President Lyndon Johnson did what he could to turn the attention of the Warren Commission away from this sensitive point, explaining Oswald's crime not as the result of his ideological convictions but of generic motivations such as emotional instability, family problems, etc. As unbelievable as it seems, the commission agreed to analyze the most famous political homicide of the 20th century without mentioning politics. Coming to the president's aid, the chic media and enlightened intellectuals then produced a copious literature of pseudo-sociological claims that placed the blame for the crime on the "American culture of violence" and other vapid generalities which, in their final conclusion, were laid to the charge of conservatives. The anti-American discourse of the new left, which was then starting to gain prominence, thus received powerful backing from the very government of Washington at which it directed its hysterical eloquence. This discourse wound up incorporating itself in "common sense," to the point that today it is routinely repeated by the mainstream media without anyone noticing anything out of place. The book that described this enormous psychological mutation that was born in the highest spheres in Washington and spread throughout the American culture is Camelot and the Cultural Revolution. How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American liberalism, by James Pierson (New York, Encounter Books, 2007).
The biggest irony in all of this is that Lee Oswald, a convert to communism since adolescence, could in no way be considered representative of the reactionary trends supposedly responsible for the "American violence" that would have prompted him to homicide, much less the fanatical Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan, who in 1968, assassinated the ex-president's brother, Robert Kennedy. It is not by coincidence that we now know Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority was from head to toe a brainchild of the KGB (http://www.weizmann.ac.il/home/comartin/israel/pacepa-wsj.html), but at the time, this tireless myth factory of the leftist elite was able to make two crimes committed by procommunist agents against two notoriously anti-Communist politicians appear to be the handiwork of the "reactionary right," and to have this rigorously inverted version of reality embed itself in the American psyche so deeply that it would take many decades to uproot it, if indeed it were at all possible.
The third big lie, also definitively incorporated in the rituals of America's pseudo-moralistic masochism was also the work of Lyndon Johnson. After having hampered the action of American troops in Vietnam by all possible means, Johnson drew the logical conclusion from his own strategy, transfiguring the victory into a defeat. On January 31, 1968, the North Vietnamese army of Ho Chi Minh launched a major offensive against the Americans and South Vietnamese. The idea was to occupy all at once the cities of South Vietnam, starting with the capital, Saigon, instigating a general uprising with the help of Vietcong fighters. Militarily, the offensive was a monumental failure. The Communists lost, in a few days, 50,000 soldiers and all the objectives that they had conquered. Even the famous attack on the American embassy in Saigon was a failure. Not a single Vietcong was able to enter the building — they all died at the gate. Meanwhile, since the American army followed the standard procedure for such occasions, quickly evacuating the civil servants by means of helicopters on the embassy rooftop, the images of the evacuation were shown on American TV as evidence of general panic and a sure sign of the imminent defeat of South Vietnam. When President Johnson saw these scenes being interpreted this way by veteran TV news commentator Walter Cronkite, he reasoned "if I've lost Cronkite I've lost the nation." The North Vietnamese commander, General Giap, showed how right that was when he admitted that his main weapon against South Vietnam was the American media. By endorsing the legend of the American defeat, Johnson brought down on his country a humiliation that the elegant media and prattling intellectuals have been celebrating incessantly since then as a just punishment meted out to the reactionary, fanatical and violent people who persecuted innocents in the MacCarthy era and assassinated two Kennedys…
Only now, with the first volume of the book consecrated to the Vietnam War by historian Mark Moyar is the reality of the victory artificially disguised as a defeat beginning to appear. Read 'Triumph Forsaken. The Vietnam War 1954-1964? (Cambridge University press, 2006).
No other country in the world has had as many traitors per square mile as the USA. All of the anti-American mythology circulating in the world originated in Washington and New York — with nothing more than initial light shoves him from the KGB. The fact that the USA managed to survive such devastating lies hurled against the country by its own government officials and its most renowned intellectual leaders is something that can be explained only by the residual persistence of the people's fondness for American traditions. It is true that we Brazilians need not come to North America to learn about a good people governed by swindlers. But the nagging question in my mind is whether these swindlers in Brazil would have risen as high as they did without the aid of the swindlers in Washington.
Translated by Donald Hank (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The author, Olavo de Carvalho is a correspondent for various Brazilian newspapers and hosts a Portuguese-language talk show (www.blogtalkradio.com/olavo) on Mondays at 5 p.m. EST. He has spoken before the Hudson Institute, the Atlas Foundation and the America's Future Foundation.