Use of Children in Propaganda
International Man: Throughout history, governments have always used propaganda to drum up support for war. Often, their atrocity propaganda features children to get the maximum emotional response.
For example, during World War 1, the US media whipped up a frenzy by claiming that the Germans were bayoneting Belgian babies. The atrocities never happened.
In the run-up to the Gulf War in 1991, Americans were told that Iraqi soldiers were ripping babies from incubators in Kuwaiti hospitals. President George H.W. Bush later repeated the story. It was a pivotal event that increased support for the war. Later, the incident was revealed to be fake, and the woman making the claims was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington, someone who had a motive to get the US involved in the war.
More recently, the media told us about the Palestinian Hamas beheading 40 Israeli babies. President Joe Biden repeated the incident. It was later revealed not to have occurred.
These are just a few examples of this propaganda tactic.
What is your take on all of this?
Doug Casey: It’s long been said, quite correctly, that “The first casualty in war is truth.” Especially when it comes to war reporting, you never know what to believe. It’s impossible to separate truth from propaganda most of the time. Emotion almost always triumphs over reason.
Americans are particularly vulnerable to emotional arguments because they always see themselves as the “good guys.” Although their interventions almost always made things worse—starting with the US fomenting the Spanish-American War, then prolonging World War I and setting up the conditions for World War II. Foreign disasters have gotten worse since—in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Now, in the Ukraine and Gaza. And lots of others on the runway. Americans are particularly vulnerable to seeing themselves as saviors when they should just mind their own business.
Frankly, it’s not just the babies being used as excuses for more killing. In the recent Hamas attack on Israel, the Times of Israel says that “at least 1,200 Israelis” were killed, while Haaretz says “at least 1,400”. It is odd that in a tightly wrapped-society like Israel, they don’t know how many were killed. Neither paper has made any reference whatsoever to the hundreds of cars which were burned out and destroyed at the music festival. That’s especially odd since the Hamas attack was conducted with small arms—which couldn’t possibly have destroyed all those cars. It is, however, the type of thing that weapons on Israeli helicopters, which were apparently called in, could’ve done.
How many of the casualties were friendly fire? Meanwhile, when the Gazans report casualties, it’s right down to the single person as opposed to rough numbers, also odd. I suspect a lot of what we’re hearing is made up and shouldn’t be believed. Stories about the dead babies and the mass rapes seem quite incredible for a number of reasons.
International Man: Even if the lies are later exposed, it’s often too late. It seems the propaganda’s primary purpose is to initiate a war urgently.
What do you think?
Doug Casey: To quote another old aphorism, “A lie can get halfway around the world before truth even puts on its walking shoes.”
With propaganda, it’s important to get your word out as soon as possible because, generally speaking, the first things that people hear tend to be imprinted on their minds and accepted as the truth. Revisions are often suspect, the way “revisionist” history is suspect. Corrections in the newspaper are overlooked. What you learn initially is usually what sticks in your brain.
The war in the Ukraine is a perfect example of that. Everybody has blamed the Russians. Nobody is paying attention to either recent history or historical context. Few are aware that the current Ukrainian government was put in place by a US coup in 2014. Very few are aware of how Kruschev arbitrarily gave Crimea to the Ukraine, or that the Ukraine has been fighting a bloody war since 2014 against the Russian-speaking Donbas. Or that the US has overtly violated its agreements on expanding NATO. Or a dozen other serious matters.
To hear press reports, you’d think the Russians and Israelis both go out of their way to target schools and hospitals. That, of course, makes about zero military sense—unless the enemy purposefully puts heavy weapons near them for cover, which is usually the case.
What’s really happened in the Ukraine and Gaza is likely very different from what is widely reported. Lies are everywhere when politics or economics are the issue. You really can’t believe anything, especially from official sources most, especially if there’s a war going on.
International Man: How have the internet and social media changed war propaganda and its effectiveness?
Doug Casey: Social media and the internet have created a lot of dysfunctions. Among them, everybody’s reality today is primarily what’s shown on the screens of their computers or iPhones. Over time, this disconnects people from actual reality and results in a feeling of alienation.
On the other hand, there are good things. People no longer have to rely on the New York Times, Reuters, AP, or other establishment media for information. Individual bloggers now have boots on the ground, and they’re becoming increasingly dominant. “Little people” who were previously voiceless can now reach millions. Previously, if they saw something, word would never get out unless they could somehow get the ear of a mass media reporter. That’s changed.
The State and its mass media still retain credibility, of course, and they can also counterattack with organized trolls. As we recently saw, Twitter amounted to an alter ego for the State. I suspect Facebook and Google, though they’re ostensibly private, are also State-controlled media.
The answer to the question is that the internet and social media are definitely double-edged swords. But when it comes to reporting, they’re a good thing.
International Man: Governments have also used children to promote other agendas. For example, children feature prominently in the push for more restrictions and regulations on guns.
Children like Greta Thunberg have been featured in promoting the so-called “climate change” agenda.
What is your take?
Doug Casey: “The children,” and I put that in quotes, have always been a favorite hot button the fake humanitarians like to push. They’re used as pawns to justify absolutely any depredation. More laws to restrain free speech because they say it will corrupt the children. More gun laws. More drug laws, since they say the children are most at risk. In fact, these laws do little to protect kids, but a lot to enhance State power.
Children should be the province of their parents, not the State. The State uses them as political shuttlecocks to be batted around the media.
And now comes young St. Greta. She’s proof of the ignorance of children. But, more importantly, she illustrates the stupidity of the public, who are apparently willing to believe a kid devoid of experience, expertise, or even a reasonable education. It’s actually a laugh riot when she gives a lecture to adults for having ruined her childhood.
It’s scary the way an audience of adults can be swayed. She’s had one of the most privileged childhoods possible. She’s rich, famous, internationally traveled, and gets to sail across the Atlantic. She impresses me as a high-functioning autistic busybody, a wannabe authoritarian with loads of hostility, living in a dream world.
International Man: Given everything we’ve discussed today, how do you suggest people avoid being manipulated to promote these agendas?
Doug Casey: The only way to counter nonsense while maintaining your integrity and sanity is to use critical thinking. Critical thinking essentially amounts to listening carefully and questioning everything in a reasonable, intellectually honest way. Make sure that all words are defined and used properly. Pursue concepts until you get a full and complete answer. Determine as best you can whether someone is lying, or just spouting an ignorant meme, or actually knows what they’re talking about. A critical thinker checks the premises underlying every statement of belief.
Critical thinking is one of the most important skills anyone can have. Fortunately, anyone can train themselves to become a critical thinker. The first step is not to automatically believe anything. And that’s especially true if there’s emotive content in whatever is being said.
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