humanitarian propaganda & kpfa

"Humanitarian" Propaganda

by Daniel Borgström

KPFA is now in the midst of an election for its Local Station Board (LSB), and being a candidate for that board, questions come my way. Recently a friend of a friend, a person I don't know, asked this:

"What does it mean to be antiwar without supporting humanitarian interventions?"

That's a very important question because it's exactly the sort of thing that our station's programmers should be investigating and explaining to listeners. Unfortunately, some of today's KPFA programmers seem to be confusing the issue, actually promoting "humanitarian" intervention while pretending to be antiwar and promote peace.

Let me go back to when I was in the USMC, and say that during those 4 years, I totally believed that I was helping to defend the "Free World" and democracy against aggressors. Looking back, that notion was totally absurd, but I believed it because that's what I'd been taught in school, heard on the radio, read in books, etc. It actually took me many years to see through that very transparent lie and finally see that the number one aggressor since World War II has been none other than the US establishment -- the military, CIA and State Department.

(And my guess is that many who voiced and promoted that propaganda probably believed it, just as I did.)

Since the Second World War, the US has intervened in dozens of countries, sometimes covertly as in Guatemala, Iran, and Chile, and sometimes openly with military force as in Korea and Vietnam. An incident I was nearly involved in was the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961; for a few days it appeared that my outfit would be sent to Cuba to back up the CIA-trained invaders. Fortunately, then president John F. Kennedy stood up to the CIA and said no. (That was of course the first nail in his coffin, another case of the CIA defending something other than democracy.)

The pretext for such interventions was always "to promote democracy." The US always presented itself as being on the side of oppressed people, opposing dictators and tyrants.

And in every case (I can't think of any exceptions), what the US installed was something worse than what was there. A prime example was Saddam Hussein, hardly a nice guy, but look at what happened after they kicked him out.

Every target was a "tyrant," that's the way I heard it presented when I was a little kid (thinking of some day growing up to be a Marine), and that's the way I still hear it being presented today. "Democracy" is only one of the weaponized terms that US establishment spokespersons (official as well as unofficial, media pundits, etc.) use to promote a warmongering agenda. "Humanitarian" causes is another pretext. In the 1980s the US sent "humanitarian" aid to the Contras in Nicaragua. It's hard to see how aid to terrorists can be considered "humanitarian," but that's what they called it.

In recent years, they've come up with doctrines such as "the Responsibility to Protect." And the term "humanitarian" intervention has become quite popular. Of course if they really cared about humanitarian values, they would be cutting off military aid to Israel which brutally suppresses Palestinians. They might also be concerned with finding ways to protect the people of Saudi Arabia from their rulers who happen to be staunch US allies. Well, they don't, and that's because all those wonderful sounding pretexts are nothing more than lies and propaganda.

"Humanitarian" intervention sounds very high-minded, but it's only a pretext for war and killing and destruction, followed by resource extraction, the creation of vassal states, etc.

KPFA 94.1 FM has a long and honorable history of investigating and exposing such propaganda. And some excellent programmers continue in that tradition. However, the sad thing is that some of the stations programmers have been increasingly jumping on the establishment bandwagon to echo the corporate media's neoliberal propaganda, subtly opening the way for "humanitarian" intervention.

So an important part of KPFA's role as an antiwar voice is to expose the use of "humanitarian" intervention and other nice-sounding pretexts for waging wars.

February 12, 2019

Related article:

“We Love the CIA!”—or How the “Left” Lost Its Mind By Ann Garrison

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KPFA 94.1 FM is one of five stations of the Pacifica radio network located in major cities across the country. The other stations are WBAI 99.5 in New York, WPFW 89.3 in Washington, DC, KPFT 90.1 in Houston, and KPFK 90.7 in Los Angeles. There are also about 250 affiliate stations.

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