On The Monitor this week:
- Race, War, Ethics, and the American Political Landscape with Wilmer J. Leon
- What “Humanitarian Intervention” has actually meant in practice with David Gibbs
More about this week’s guests:
Wilmer J. Leon III, Ph.D. is a Political Scientist whose primary areas of expertise are Black Politics, American Government, and Public Policy. For 11 years he was a Lecturer/Teaching Associate in the Political Science Department at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Currently, Dr. Leon is a nationally broadcast radio talk show host on SiriusXM Satellite radio channel 126, nationally syndicated columnist, and regular political commentator on national and international news programs.
Dr. Leon earned a BS degree in Political Science from Hampton Institute, a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from Howard University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Howard University. He was a contributing author to Democratic Destiny and the District of Columbia (Lexington Books, 2010). His latest book is “Politics another Perspective: Commentary and Analysis on Race, War, Ethics, and the American Political Landscape. 2016 Author House.
Dr. Leon is a regular contributor to TruthOut.org, The Root.com, Politics In Color.com, BlackStar News.com, Black Agenda Report, Black Politics on the Web, and over 200 newspapers and other web sites across the country. He can also be seen as a regular contributor and analyst on TV-One’s News On Now with Roland Martin, Press-TV and RT TV.
A serious void exists in the public discourse relating to the issues that directly and/or disproportionately impact the African-American community. Dr. Leon discusses issues such as the prison industrial complex, environmental racism, school vouchers, health care, crime policy, economic globalization, American domestic and foreign policy from as much of a non-biased and academically accurate perspective as possible. Dr. Leon’s perspective and lectures are grounded in the history of the African American community and the radical tradition of African American scholarship.
David N. Gibbs is professor of history at the University of Arizona, who specializes in international relations and military intervention. His most recent book is First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia from Vanderbilt University Press.
Quote: “U.S. policy is embarking on a reckless course, one that is unlikely to produce any positive results, either in terms of enhancing U.S. security or alleviating human suffering. Even if the policy is successful, regime change in Syria would only increase the ongoing chaos and humanitarian catastrophe, as the multiple rebel groups turn on each other. In general, the history of U.S. efforts at overthrowing dictators in such cases as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya has led to instability and many years of civil war, as well as new terrorist threats against the West. There is no reason to believe the situation in Syria would be any different. In addition, military interventions in Syria are sure to worsen U.S. relations with Russia, and will thus increase the risk of nuclear war.”
- “Why Trump is Pushing the Doomsday Clock to the Brink of Midnight: Noam Chomsky Discussed Trump, Russia, History, and the Future at the University of Arizona,” Salon, April 2, 2017. For full text, click here. For French translation, click here. For Japanese translation, click here.
- Interview with Joan Brunwasser, “Trump Might Actually Be Right about NATO?” OpedNews, July 23, 2016. For full text click here.
- “The Future of NATO,” RT News, April 4, 2016. For full text, click here.
- “Why the Srebrenica Massacre Should not be Used as an Excuse for Intervention,” History News Network, December 27, 2015. For full text, click here.
On The Monitor this week:
Mark Bebawi is still on the road and not easily able to put together the normal show with live interviews. By way of thanking all those who gave to generously during the pledge drive, this week’s show features more of Adam Curtis’ work: Part 1 of his 2002 documentary titled “The Century of the Self“.
This first part is called “Happiness Machines“. It is the story of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his American nephew, Edward Bernays. Bernays invented the public relations profession in the 1920s and was the first person to take Freud’s ideas to manipulate the masses. He showed American corporations how they could make people want things they didn’t need by systematically linking mass-produced goods to their unconscious desires.
Bernays was one of the main architects of the modern techniques of mass-consumer persuasion, using every trick in the book, from celebrity endorsement and outrageous PR stunts, to eroticising the motorcar.
His most notorious coup was breaking the taboo on women smoking by persuading them that cigarettes were a symbol of independence and freedom. But Bernays was convinced that this was more than just a way of selling consumer goods. It was a new political idea of how to control the masses. By satisfying the inner irrational desires that his uncle had identified, people could be made happy and thus docile. Bernays wrote that
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” (Edward Bernays Propaganda (1928) p9–10.)
It was the start of the all-consuming self which has come to dominate today’s world.
Originally broadcast on 29th April 2002.
- Donald Trump nominates Betsy DeVos to be his Secretary of Education. We discuss the topic with Diane Ravitch.
- News or Propaganda? What is happening to the news and what is the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” about? We discuss the topic with Rick Sterling.
Diane Ravitch is an historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University. She was born in Houston, Texas, attended the Houston public schools from kindergarten through high school, and graduated from Wellesley College in 1960. She received her Ph.D. in the history of American education in 1975. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Ravitch is author of many books, including Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools and The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. She served as Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to the Secretary of Education from 1991-1993 under the George H. W. Bush administration. She now blogs at dianeravitch.net
Quote: “Betsy DeVos should not be approved by the Senate committee or confirmed by the Senate as U.S. Secretary of Education. She has no experience or qualifications for the job. She is a lobbyist for alternatives to public schools. Eighty-five percent of the students in the U.S. attend public schools. Her only plan is to weaken and destroy them by diverting public money to charter schools and vouchers for religious schools. DeVos is a billionaire who has never worked in a public school, never attended a public school, never sent her own children to public school. She has lived in a billionaire bubble of privilege. She has no understanding of the needs of our nation’s public schools, and she is in fact actively hostile to them. This is unacceptable. She is unacceptable. Our public schools are one of the cornerstones of our democracy. We have never had a Secretary of Education who was opposed to public schools. We should never have one.”
Rick Sterling is a retired electronics / aerospace engineer turned independent investigative journalist. He just wrote the piece “The War Against Alternative Information” for ConsortiumNews.com — which states: “The U.S. establishment is not content simply to have domination over the media narratives on critical foreign policy issues, such as Syria, Ukraine and Russia. It wants total domination. Thus we now have the ‘Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act’ that President Obama signed into law on Dec. 23 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, setting aside $160 million to combat any ‘propaganda’ that challenges Official Washington’s version of reality. The new law mandates the U.S. Secretary of State to collaborate with the Secretary of Defense, Director of National Intelligence and other federal agencies to create a Global Engagement Center ‘to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.’ The law directs the Center to be formed in 180 days and to share expertise among agencies and to ‘coordinate with allied nations.’The new law is remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least because it merges a new McCarthyism about purported dissemination of Russian ‘propaganda’ on the Internet with a new Orwellianism by creating a kind of Ministry of Truth — or Global Engagement Center — to protect the American people from ‘foreign propaganda and disinformation.’ As part of the effort to detect and defeat these unwanted narratives, the law authorizes the Center to: ‘Facilitate the use of a wide range of technologies and techniques by sharing expertise among Federal departments and agencies, seeking expertise from external sources, and implementing best practices.’ (This section is an apparent reference to proposals that Google, Facebook and other technology companies find ways to block or brand certain Internet sites as purveyors of ‘Russian propaganda’ or ‘fake news.’) Justifying this new bureaucracy, the bill’s sponsors argued that the existing agencies for ‘strategic communications’ and ‘public diplomacy’ were not enough, that the information threat required ‘a whole-of-government approach leveraging all elements of national power.’ The law also is rife with irony since the U.S. government and related agencies are among the world’s biggest purveyors of propaganda and disinformation…”
This week’s show is a little different. It is a mix of audio clips edited together featuring: part of “Hypernormlization” by Adam Curtis, the voice of Carl Sagan, JFK’s “Peace” speech, a clip from “Mississippi Burning” and Charley Chaplin’s speech in “The Dictator“. I hope you enjoy the journey.
- On the Fraud of Charter Schools with Diane Ravitch
- On the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff with James Green
Diane Ravitch is an historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University. She was born in Houston, Texas, attended the Houston public schools from kindergarten through high school, and graduated from Wellesley College in 1960. She received her Ph.D. in the history of American education in 1975. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Ravitch is author of many books, including Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools and The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. She served as Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to the Secretary of Education from 1991-1993 under the George H. W. Bush administration. She now blogs at dianeravitch.netwhere you can read her recent piece “Please Write and Tweet John Oliver to Thank Him for His Program Revealing Charter Fraud,” which states: “A few days ago, John Oliver ran an excellent segment about charter schools and the fraud associated with them. He barely scratched the surface. Charter supporters are furious and are saying that he “hurt” children, he savaged children, etc. (This is a familiar tactic; when I criticized the improbable test scores in New York City almost a decade ago, I was told that I was “hurting children and their teachers” by questioning the validity of the dramatic rise in scores.) Fraud is a feature of deregulation, not a bug. When no one is looking, some people steal. Not everyone steals, but many do. That is why Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and California are scamming taxpayers. No one is demanding accountability. Politicians get paid off by charter friends, then cripple any effort to oversee them. Ohio and Michigan spend $1 billion a year to subsidize charter schools, which are lower-performing than public schools.The corporate reformers and privatizers are bombarding John Oliver with tweets and messages attacking his show.
On The Monitor this week:
- Gareth Porter on How Putin’s leverage shaped the Syrian ceasefire
- Max Blumenthal on Israel, BDS, and U.S. media coverage of Israel and Palestine
There is an event on Tuesday the 29th of March that is probably of interest to our listeners: The Ervin Frederick Kalb Lecture in History at Rice University. The title is “America, Energy and War” and the speaker is Toby C. Jones. The event starts at 7:00PM. Get all the details here and come along, if you can. See you there!
More about this week’s guests:
Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian who specializes in U.S. national security policy. He writes regularly for Middle East Eye and has also published investigative articles on Salon.com, the Nation, the American Prospect, Truthout and The Raw Story. His blogs have been published on Huffington Post, Firedoglake, Counterpunch and many other websites. Porter was Saigon bureau chief of Dispatch News Service International in 1971 and later reported on trips to Southeast Asia for The Guardian, Asian Wall Street Journal and Pacific News Service. He is the author several books, including Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in 2005, and Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare in 2015. He has taught Southeast Asian politics and international studies at American University, City College of New York and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Follow him on Twitter
Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Guardian, The Independent Film Channel, The Huffington Post, Salon.com, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. He has written several books, including The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party (a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller). He also recently completed a short documentary with James Kleinfeld in which they speak to far right activists in Finland. Watch it here. Follow him on Twitter