Aletho News


Propaganda Techniques of Empire

By James Petras | October 2, 2016

Washington’s quest for perpetual world power is underwritten by systematic and perpetual propaganda wars. Every major and minor war has been preceded, accompanied and followed by unremitting government propaganda designed to secure public approval, exploit victims, slander critics, dehumanize targeted adversaries and justify its allies’ collaboration.

In this paper we will discuss the most common recent techniques used to support ongoing imperial wars.

Propaganda Techniques of Empire

Role Reversal

A common technique, practiced by the imperial publicists, is to accuse the victims of the same crimes, which had been committed against them. The well documented, deliberate and sustained US-EU aerial bombardment of Syrian government soldiers, engaged in operations against ISIS-terrorist, resulted in the deaths and maiming of almost 200 Syrian troops and allowed ISIS-mercenaries to overrun their camp. In an attempt to deflect the Pentagon’s role in providing air cover for the very terrorists it claims to oppose, the propaganda organs cranked out lurid, but unsubstantiated, stories of an aerial attack on a UN humanitarian aid convoy, first blamed on the Syrian government and then on the Russians. The evidence that the attack was most likely a ground-based rocket attack by ISIS terrorists did not deter the propaganda mills. This technique would turn US and European attention away from the documented criminal attack by the imperial bombers and present the victimized Syrian troops and pilots as international human rights criminals.

Hysterical Rants

Faced with world opprobrium for its wanton violation of an international ceasefire agreement in Syria, the imperial public spokespeople frequently resort to irrational outbursts at international meetings in order to intimidate wavering allies into silence and shut down any chance for reasonable debate resolving concrete issues among adversaries.

The current ‘US Ranter-in-Chief’ in the United Nations, is Ambassador Samantha Power, who launched a vitriolic diatribe against the Russians in order to sabotage a proposed General Assembly debate on the US deliberate violation (its criminal attack on Syrian troops) of the recent Syrian ceasefire. Instead of a reasonable debate among serious diplomats, the rant served to derail the proceedings.

Identity Politics to Neutralize Anti-Imperialist Movements

Empire is commonly identified with the race, gender, religion and ethnicity of its practitioners. Imperial propagandists have frequently resorted to disarming and weakening anti-imperialist movements by co-opting and corrupting black, ethnic minority and women leaders and spokespeople. The use of such ‘symbolic’ tokens is based on the assumption that these are ‘representatives’ reflecting the true interests of so-called ‘marginalized minorities’ and can therefore presume to ‘speak for the oppressed peoples of the world’. The promotion of such compliant and respectable ‘minority members’ to the elite is then propagandized as a ‘revolutionary’, world liberating historical event – witness the ‘election’ of US President Barack Obama.

The rise of Obama to the presidency in 2008 illustrates how the imperial propagandists have used identity politics to undermine class and anti-imperialist struggles.

Under Obama’s historical black presidency, the US pursued seven wars against ‘people of color’ in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Over a million men and women of sub-Saharan black origin, whether Libyan citizens or contract workers for neighboring countries, were killed, dispossessed and driven into exile by US allies after the US-EU destroyed the Libyan state — in the name of humanitarian intervention. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs have been bombed in Yemen, Syria and Iraq under President Obama, the so-called ‘historic black’ president. Obama’s ‘predator drones’ have killed hundreds of Afghan and Pakistani villagers. Such is the power of ‘identity politics’ that ignominious Obama was awarded the ‘Nobel Peace Prize’.

Meanwhile, in the United States under Obama, racial inequalities between black and white workers (wages, unemployment, access to housing, health and educational services) have widened. Police violence against blacks intensified with total impunity for ‘killer cops’. Over two million immigrant Latino workers have been expelled – breaking up hundreds of thousands of families — and accompanied by a marked increase of repression compared to earlier administrations. Millions of black and white workers’ home mortgages were foreclosed while all of the corrupt banks were bailed out – at a greater rate than had occurred under white presidents.

This blatant, cynical manipulation of identity politics facilitated the continuation and deepening of imperial wars, class exploitation and racial exclusion. Symbolic representation undermined class struggles for genuine changes.

Past Suffering to Justify Contemporary Exploitation

Imperial propagandists repeatedly evoke the victims and abuses of the past in order to justify their own aggressive imperial interventions and support for the ‘land grabs’ and ethnic cleansing committed by their colonial allies – like Israel, among others. The victims and crimes of the past are presented as a perpetual presence to justify ongoing brutalities against contemporary subject people.

The case of US-Israeli colonization of Palestine clearly illustrates how rabid criminality, pillage, ethnic cleansing and self-enrichment can be justified and glorified through the language of past victimization. Propagandists in the US and Israel have created ‘the cult of the Holocaust’, worshiping a near century-old Nazi crime against Jews (as well as captive Slavs, Roma and other minorities) in Europe, to justify the bloody conquest and theft of Arab lands and sovereignty and engage in systematic military assaults against Lebanon and Syria. Millions of Muslim and Christian Palestinians have been driven into perpetual exile. Elite, wealthy, well-organized and influential Zionist Jews, with primary fealty to Israel, have successfully sabotaged every contemporary struggle for peace in the Middle East and have created real barriers for social democracy in the US through their promotion of militarism and empire building. Those claiming to represent victims of the past have become among the most oppressive of contemporary elites. Using the language of ‘defense’, they promote aggressive forms of expansion and pillage. They claim their monopoly on historic ‘suffering’ has given them a ‘special dispensation’ from the rules of civilized conduct: their cult of the Holocaust allows them to inflict immense pain on others while silencing any criticism with the accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ and relentlessly punishing critics. Their key role in imperial propaganda warfare is based on their claims of an exclusive franchise on suffering and immunity from the norms of justice.

Entertainment Spectacles on Military Platforms

Entertainment spectacles glorify militarism. Imperial propagandists link the public to unpopular wars promoted by otherwise discredited leaders. Sports events present soldiers dressed up as war heroes with deafening, emotional displays of ‘flag worship’ to celebrate the ongoing overseas wars of aggression. These mind-numbing extravaganzas with crude elements of religiosity demand choreographed expressions of national allegiance from the spectators as a cover for continued war crimes abroad and the destruction of citizens’ economic rights at home.

Much admired, multi-millionaire musicians and entertainers of all races and orientations, present war to the masses with a humanitarian facade. The entertainers smiling faces serve genocide just as powerfully as the President’s benign and friendly face accompanies his embrace of militarism. The propagandist message for the spectator is that ‘your favorite team or singer is there just for you… because our noble wars and valiant warriors have made you free and now they want you to be entertained.’

The old style of blatant bellicose appeals to the public is obsolete: the new propaganda conflates entertainment with militarism, allowing the ruling elite to secure tacit support for its wars without disturbing the spectators’ experience.


Do the Imperial Techniques of Propaganda Work?

How effective are the modern imperial propaganda techniques? The results seem to be mixed. In recent months, elite black athletes have begun protesting white racism by challenging the requirement for choreographed displays of flag worship… opening public controversy into the larger issues of police brutality and sustained marginalization. Identity politics, which led to the election of Obama, may be giving way to issues of class struggle, racial justice, anti-militarism and the impact of continued imperial wars. Hysterical rants may still secure international attention, but repeated performances begin to lose their impact and subject the ‘ranter’ to ridicule.

The cult of victimology has become less a rationale for the multi-billion dollar US-tribute to Israel, than the overwhelming political and economic influence and thuggery of billionaire Zionist fundraisers who demand US politicians’ support for the state of Israel.

Brandishing identify politics may have worked the first few times, but inevitably black, Latino, immigrant and all exploited workers, all underpaid and overworked women and mothers reject the empty symbolic gestures and demand substantive socio-economic changes – and here they find common links with the majority of exploited white workers.

In other words, the existing propaganda techniques are losing their edge – the corporate media news is seen as a sham. Who follows the actor-soldiers and flag-worshipers once the game has begun?

The propagandists of empire are desperate for a new line to grab public attention and obedience. Could the recent domestic terror bombings in New York and New Jersey provoke mass hysteria and more militarization? Could they serve as cover for more wars abroad …?

A recent survey, published in Military Times, reported that the vast majority of active US soldiers oppose more imperial wars. They are calling for defense at home and social justice. Soldiers and veterans have even formed groups to support the protesting black athletes who have refused to participate in flag worship while unarmed black men are being killed by police in the streets. Despite the multi-billion dollar electoral propaganda, over sixty percent of the electorate reject both major party candidates. The reality principle has finally started to undermine State propaganda!

October 2, 2016 - Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , ,


  1. “Washington’s quest for perpetual world power is underwritten by systematic and perpetual propaganda wars. Every major and minor war has been preceded, accompanied and followed by unremitting government propaganda designed to secure public approval, exploit victims, slander critics, dehumanize targeted adversaries and justify its allies’ collaboration”
    I could understand this if the USA was actually the beneficiary of all the propaganda. But where is the USA at the moment? National debt heading towards $20,000,000,000,000(20 trillion dollars). The “less than 1%” are the only beneficiaries while America’s industrial production has been moved to Asian & Mexican ‘sweatshops’ at the expense of American labour. The failure of the Dept of Justice to uphold the law as Americans once knew it. The American people being spied upon for ‘surveillance’ and commercial reasons, an incarcerated population of over 2,000,000 mainly poor people, Bankster criminals being bailed out by the US Treasury, via a private bank falsely calling itself the “Federal” Reserve.
    And to top it all off, the American taxpayers being forced to give Israel, a country that has spied on, and physically attacked the USA in the past(The USS Liberty, 9/11), $38 Billion over the next 10 years.
    What’s in this “shitty deal” for the USA???

    Comment by Brian Harry, Australia | October 3, 2016 | Reply


    The Thirteenth Century: The English King and the Pope

    “In the Middle Ages amidst the nations of Europe, two powers contended for supremacy—the Pope and the King.

    “The Pope, as the Vicar of Jesus Christ, first assumed the title of Universal Bishop, and afterwards claimed temporal dominion over all the monarchs of Christendom. Long and fierce struggles ensued in consequence of this claim and much blood was shed. In some countries the strife was carried on for centuries, but in England it was happily terminated at an early period. The great man to whose wisdom, patriotism, and piety the nation owes this happy result was John Wycliffe.

    “In the early years of the thirteenth century, the kingdom of England became subject to the Pope. A dispute had arisen between King John and the canons of Canterbury concerning the election of an archbishop for that diocese, in place of Hubert, who died in 1205. Both the canons and the king appealed to the Pope, and sent agents to Rome. The pontifical chair was then filled by Innocent III, who like his predecessor, Gregory VII, was vigorously striving to subordinate the rights and powers of princes to the Papal See, and to take into his own hands all the ecclesiastical appointments of the Christian nations.

    “Innocent annulled both the election of the canons and also that of the king,
    and caused his own nominee, Cardinal Langton, to be chosen to the see of Canterbury. But more than this, he claimed the right for the Pontiff of appointing to this seat of dignity for all coming time…” p. 9–10

    “King John braved this state of things for two years, when Innocent pronounced sentence of excommunication upon him; absolving his subjects from their allegiance, and offering the crown of England to Philip Augustus, King of France. Philip collected a mighty armament, and prepared to cross the Channel and invade the territories of the excommunicated king.
    “At this time, John was on bad terms with his barons on account of his many vices, and dared not depend upon their support. He saw the danger in which he stood, and …determined upon an unconditional surrender to the Pope…He then ‘resigned England and Ireland to God, to St. Peter and St. Paul and to Pope Innocent and his successors in the apostolic chair,’ agreeing to hold these dominions as feudatory of the Church of Rome, by the annual payment of a thousand marks…”

    On May 15, 1213, “…The King of England kneeling before the legate of the Pope, and taking the crown from his head, offering it to Pandolf, saying, ‘Here I resign the crown of the realm of England into the Pope’s hand, Innocent III, and put me wholly in his mercy and ordinance.’

    “…The barons determined that they would never be the slaves of a Pope, and unsheathing their swords, they vowed to maintain the ancient liberties of England or die in the attempt. On the 15th of June, 1215, they compelled John to sign Magna Charta at Runnymede, and thus in effect to tell Innocent that he revoked his vow of vassalage, and took back the kingdom which he had laid at his feet. The Pope was furious. He issued a bull declaring that he annulled the charter, and proclaiming all its obligations and guarantees void.
    “From this reign England may date her love of liberty and dread of popery…” p.11, 12

    “But while feeling a dread of the papacy, the people still held to the doctrines of Rome. Enveloped in ignorance and sunk in social degradation and vice, they had not the Scriptures to enlighten their path. The Bible was a sealed book. Freedom of conscience was denied, and the religion of the country consisted in outward ceremonials appealing to the senses but not influencing the heart…” p. 13

    “In this age of liberty it is difficult to imagine the arbitrary power exercised by the popes of the Middle Ages. In England during the fourteenth century a battle was constantly being carried on between the King and his Parliament on the one side, and the Papal Court on the other.” p.44

    “In Wicliffe’s time, it was a maxim that the reading of the Bible was injurious to the laity, and accordingly the priests forbade it…” p. 77

    Wicliffe’s “idea was to give the whole Bible in the vernacular to the people of England, so that every man in the realm might read in the tongue wherein he was born the wonderful works of God.” p. 77

    Wicliffe’s “great aim was to bring men back to the Bible. He exalted it as the one great authority before which all should bow…” p. 100

    Excerpts from: John Wicliffe: The Morning Star of the Reformation
    by D. J. Deane, sixth edition,

    Yechezkel Moskowitz
    Advanced Foundations of Education
    Professor David Himes
    University of Scranton

    Unlike the educational system in the United States, which has lacked true sense of direction since its foundation. There have been educational systems throughout history, which have had a set goal s in mind since their inception. These educational systems are usually coupled with a form of religious observance. Of those goal oriented educational systems, the Jesuit and Jewish brands of education are two very important systems to analyze. The similarities between these two systems are very noticeable when one takes a closer look at their inner workings. The purpose of this reflection essay is to analyze the most basic level of core values for both these systems of religious education, and to simply compare the two side by side.

    The Foundations of Jewish and Jesuit Education: A Comparison

    Education being about more than just a form of transmitting basic survival skills has been on the mind of humanity since the earliest forms of civilization. In the earliest Egyptian written records there is evidence of a formal educational system in place. This Education was usually only available to the wealthy and the connected. It was designed to teach basic communication skills such as writing, language, and trade. Agricultural and religious practices were taught as well. However, there is no indication that these institutions had established a system of education for the sake of knowledge or the betterment of mankind. Rather, “the education was determined wholly by social need and was thus essentially technical and professional” (Laurie, 1893). It would not be until around 2000 years later in the 2nd millennium B.C.E., that through a divine revelation to a newly freed nation of Egyptian slaves, a different form of education would come into the world.

    Foundations of Jewish Education: Devotion to God through Revelation

    Jewish tradition, as passed down from generation to generation, tells that on the seventh day of the third month of the year 2,448 from the creation of the world (1312 B.C.E.). God revealed himself to approximately three million Jews standing at the foot of Mount Sinai and said, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Ex. 20:2). God then proceeded to give Moses the nine other commandments, and the Old Testament, in order to teach to it to the Jews. The Written Law coupled with the Oral Law as given over by Moses, would be from then on to this very day, “[…] a law, an inheritance of the congregation of Jacob” (Deut. 33:4). The Old Testament-or rather the Torah for my discussion- and the oral law, are believed to be a blueprint for every Jew on how lead a life of servitude and devotion to God. Naturally, teaching and studying all aspects of the Torah plays a central and integral role in Jewish Society to this very day.

    The Power of Tradition

    The transmission of the Torah has remained virtually the same since its reception over three thousand years ago. The Torah is vertically transmitted from generation to generation in the same fashion as famed anthropologist Margaret Mead put it, “by the old mature and experienced teacher (in our case a Rebbie, meaning a Torah Scholar) to the young immature and inexperienced pupil” (Mead, 1958). This tried and true method of Transmission has been an integral part of Jewish Education since its foundation. The Vertical aspect is so important, that “A student should not say anything which he has not heard from his teacher unless he mentions who he learned the matter from” (Maimonides, 1177). The Reason for such strict conduct is based on the how Jewish Tradition dictates, that the Torah in its entirety was given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. This is brought to point in the Talmud (Tractate Brachot, Folio 5A) by Rabbi Levi the son of Chana (290 C.E) who said it in the name of Rabbi Shimon the son of Lakish (200 C.E.):

    Why does it say in the Torah, (ex. 24:12) “And I shall pass on to you the stone tablets, the Torah and the Commandments that I wrote down for you to command them”. The [word] Tablets [in the verse]; [refers] are the Ten Commandments. The Torah; is the Old Testament. The Commandments; is the oral law. That I wrote down for you; is the Prophets and the Writings. To command them; is the Talmudic texts. From here [the above deductions] we see that all the above was given to Moses at Sinai.

    Therefore, in Jewish Scholarship, sourcing is imperative, as every code of law or dictum must be sourced in order to verify that it has been passed via vertical transmission.

    Moral and Ethical development

    Like it was stated before, the purpose of Torah study is to ensure the knowledge of proper servitude to God. This means that the Scholars who transmit the Torah and all its laws, are to be men of the highest caliber; men with an unwavering set of divinely inspired morals and ethical behavior. To the point that,

    It is prohibited to learn from a teacher who does not go in the good path – even if he is a great scholar and the people need him – until he repents and rectifies his ways […] for he is the messenger of god, and our sages teach us that we may only study by a teacher who is like an Angel of Heaven (Maimonides, 1177)

    Simply stated, people are only as good as their role models. As a society that is built around the idea of being devoted to God, and must be an example of that devotion to all the nations around them. It’s only logical that, “the old mature and experienced teacher” must be exactly that, an example to all those around him. Through the right form of conduct the Jewish people would fit the description in Samuel II (7:23)

    “Who is like your nation Israel – a unique nation in the land.”

    Foundations of Jesuit Education

    The Society of Jesus – whose members were known as Jesuits – was founded in the 16th century by a Spanish knight, Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) as a society within the Catholic Church that would bring forth the glory of God to the world. Interestingly, the early years of the order attracted many so called New Christians, as a way to avoid expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula or worse, the hell fire of the Auto De Fe. Most fascinating, is how the Jesuits had ties with Jews early on.

    The Jesuits remained true to Christian principles longer than many other Catholic institutions in Spain. Facing wide spread pressure to adopt “racial legislation”, it was only in 1593 […] that the Jesuits instituted purity of blood legislation. Until then, those with “Jewish blood” were welcomed and some of these reached high positions in the order, including Ignatius’ secretary, Juan Alfonso de Polanco, and his successor as Superior General, Diego Laynez, who was a significant intellectual leader of the Catholic Reformation. Francisco de Toledo, also of Jewish descent, was the first Jesuit to be appointed a cardinal. New Christians were so common in the order that King Phillip II of Spain termed the Jesuits

    “a synagogue of Hebrews.”

    (The fascinating subject of Jesuits and Jewish blood has received a full and expert treatment in Robert Aleksander Maryks’ recent work The Jesuit Order as a Synagogue of Jews.). (Shapiro, 2013)

    With this knowledge in mind, I read the article, Higher Standards by Dean Brackley S.J. and furthered my research by reading selections from A Jesuit Education Reader by George W Traub SJ. What I found astonishing was that there were so many themes within a Jesuit Education that resembled classic Jewish thought.

    Devotion to God trough Social Justice

    Jesuits are educators for the greater glory of God, following in the mind of Ignatius Loyola that an Educator must help others “find peace and direction in their lives out of the inspiration of the gospels” (Gray, 2008). It is my understanding, that this is the motivation for Jesuit institutions to put an emphasis on inspiring their students to better the world as they know it. A Jesuit Education will make them aware of the troubles of others. Through this awareness and the desire to go out into the world to promote Social Justice, the students will find peace and direction out of following in the ways of the Christian spirit, emulating the just ways of God himself.

    Finding God in all Things

    A Jesuit’s education desires to instill devotion to God through seeing the world through God’s eyes. Seeing God in all things enables the student to feel the tremendous gift that god has bestowed on him, life itself. With this self-awareness, a student will see the endless gifts of God all around him and desire to partner in God’s work, the betterment of the world. Brackley defines this higher standard as the goal of education, wisdom in the language of faith.

    Wisdom, not mere information is the goal of education. Again, let us study obscure insects and obscure authors […] but let the study be part of a quest to understand what life means, how life and well-being are threatened and how they can flourish. […] In the language of faith (Brackley, 2006)

    Seeking Truth
    Jesuit Education aspires to instill within the student an inbred ability to seek out the truth. This is done by students freeing themselves from bias through “uncovering hidden interests inside us and outside us” (Brackley, 2006). This concept of self-reflection is consistent with Judeo-Christian values and are well within the realm of Ignatius’ ideal of experience and awareness. When a student can engage in the suffering of others they are challenged with the question “what am I doing with my life? (Brackley, 2006) Without such questions, a student will never aspire to achieve greatness for the benefit of mankind.


    I must emphasize that until I began my higher education in a Jesuit Institution, I was unaware that a Jesuit education is a Christian Education at its core. However, from a Jewish perspective that is not necessarily a negative thing. On the contrary, if Jesuits truly follow in the true Christian spirit as written by Pope John II in his Ex Corde Ecclesiae “to service others in promoting social justice…” (No. 34) and “…serve the human community on a national and international level” (Paul II, 1990) then it is something to be observed and even learned from. Such a concept is not my own innovation by any stretch of the imagination. The Talmud in Tractate Kiddushin, Folio 33A states that the great Jewish sage, Rabbi Yochanan (279 C.E.) would stand for non-Jewish scholars out of respect for their wisdom. Maimonides went further, and wrote in the introduction to his commentary for Chapters of our fathers “…hear the truth from whoever says it” And I believe that is exactly the core goal of both a Jewish and Jesuit Education system; Educate to seek the truth, mold better human beings, and bring the world to see the glory of God.


    Brackley, D. (2006). Higher Standards. America Magazine Vol 194, No. 4.
    Gray, H. (2008). The Experience of Ignatius Loyola: Background to Jesuit education. In G. W. Traub, A Jesuit Education Reader (p. 69). Chicago: Loyola Press.
    Laurie, S. (1893). The History of Early Education II. The Anciant Egyptians. The School Review Vol. 1 No. 6, 353-364.
    Maimonides. (1177). Mishneh Torah (Vols. Mada, The Laws of Torah Study).
    Mead, M. (1958, December). Thinking Ahead. Harvard Budiness Review (Vol. 36), p. 23.
    Paul II, J. (1990). APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION. Retrieved from Vatican:

    Shapiro, M. B. (2013, March 20). Is a Jesuit Good for the Jews? Retrieved from Tablet:

    Comment by Harry | October 5, 2016 | Reply

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