Monday, April 28, 2008

Eat Your Heart Out Joseph Goebbels!

Selling the President's General

by Tom Engelhardt

"......Launching Brand Petraeus

Recently, in an almost 8,000-word report in the New York Times, David Barstow offered an unparalleled look inside a sophisticated Pentagon campaign, spearheaded by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in which at least 75 retired generals and other high military officers, almost all closely tied to Pentagon contractors, were recruited as "surrogates." They were to take Pentagon "talking points" (aka "themes and messages") about the president's War on Terror and war in Iraq into every part of the media – cable news, the television and radio networks, the major newspapers – as their own expert "opinions." These "analysts" made "tens of thousands of media appearances" and also wrote copiously for op-ed pages (often with the aid of the Pentagon) as part of an unparalleled, five-plus year covert propaganda onslaught on the American people that lasted from 2002 until, essentially, late last night. Think of it, like a pod of whales or a gaggle of geese, as the Pentagon's equivalent of a surge of generals.

In that impressive Times report, however, one sentence has so far passed unnoticed; yet, it speaks the world of Gen. Petraeus, and of how this administration and its chosen sons have played their cards from the moment George W. Bush mounted a pile of rubble on Sept. 14, 2001, at Ground Zero in New York City and began to sell his incipient War on Terror (and himself as commander in chief). From that day on, the propaganda campaign, the selling war, on the American "home front" has never stopped.

Here, in that context, is Barstow's key sentence: "When David H. Petraeus was appointed the commanding general in Iraq in January 2007, one of his early acts was to meet with the [Pentagon's retired military] analysts." In other words, on becoming U.S. commander in Iraq, he automatically turned to the military propaganda machine the Pentagon had set up to launch his initial surge – on the home front......"

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