A small lesson in threat construction, terror and the psychology of political authority: Iraq, Russia, some phantom WMDs, and an

200602221257RED SCARE, PART 4,394,480: ThinkProgress.org featured a video with a Fox News talking head, who informed us that Russian Spetznaz Teams smuggled Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction into Syria and the Bekaa Valley.

MCINERNEY: Well, I believe that — that [Saddam Hussein] had [WMD] and then the Russians convinced him, because they sent a team in, a Spetsnaz [Russian Special Forces] team in, and they moved those weapons into three locations in Syria and one into Bekaa Valley. And they did it very thoroughly. They were very professional. They were Spetsnaz with GRU. They knew exactly where all the material was, because they were preventing the inspectors from finding it. And then they had a brilliant what they call mass deroka – deception - campaign. When the Iraqi survey group didn’t find anything, then they spread throughout the capitals of Europe and the U.N: “See, there were no WMD.”

O’REILLY: So you believe that the Russians themselves moved the WMD’s?

MCINERNEY: Absolutely, absolutely.

Now this is bullshit, but it reflects how the new order of symbolic logic is being constructed this year. The general's threatening language must focus on Russia, because Russia is starting to make moves with HAMAS and Iran, plus people like McInerney surely see a need to finally kill Russia and steal their energy.

More realpolitik below the fold, but first let's look at the psychological effect of the information, rather than its truth value.

The everyday man on the street thinks "Iran equals The Nuclear" and therefore accepts what is happening. With Iraq, all it took was a small batch of defectors working for Ahmed Chalabi, a demonic press, and the ruling establishment to scare the shit out of this whole country. When you are held in fear, you unthinkingly fork over political power — more precisely, control over a kind of emotion that is pre-political power. The key to this power is found more in the id than the ego.

Generating psychological projection of fear onto Other groups is a crucial form of war propaganda — or psychological warfare performed on the domestic population, in some cases. The mental image of the WMDs becomes a source to project anger and anxiety towards. "We can't let them hit us" becomes a kind of mental crutch, colored goggles laid over the general sense of anxiety. It's not your fault, it comes from the outside, the government reassures us.

But don't think about Abu Ghraib, or any evidence the leadership is incompetent. Thoughts against the leadership endanger the information war! You are not smart or privileged enough to evaluate our performance. You cannot talk about military policy because only the Dark Priesthood (McInerney and his like) can truthfully tell YOU what is going on. This is the only safe way to feel authority and information.

200602221346Here in Minnesota, the Republicans are also testing the new "Midwest Heroes" ads from the RNC's 527 ad machine. These ads say: you must believe that distrusting the leadership equals making a dead soldier's mother cry. You must psychologically project motherhood into trusting the authority of the war-makers. (it's quite the cynical inversion of Cindy Sheehan, I have to say) These "mother == trust in war" and "father == the Bush aura of fear" concepts will surely play quite well, all year long, upon millions of fearful and angry American minds. As Progress for America Voter Fund admits:

Some politicians.... policies thwart the ability of American families to support the War on Terror, keep more of what they earn, provide a safe environment for educating their children,... [primal father?]

TV pundits like McInerney perform the intellectual carpet-bombing of absolute gibberish, week after week, so that the average drooling Fox viewer, rendered into a narcotized state from all the whooshing colors and racist theme music, is left with a hazy, angry impression that the fuckers are trying to bring us down. (This is assisted by frequently replaying 9/11 clips on a split screen: video masochism => longing for authority)

The Freudian Trip:

It is quite possible that the average viewer's sense of ego is deactivated or degraded. Their primitive id emotions can be pushed up and down. They experience a kind of 'primal father' longing for order and authority; a need to experience order, sadism, if you will. (Freud thought of Moses as an excellent, benevolent Primal Father figure)

200602221328

There are shadows in the dark. Only the light can drive this back, das volken are the true people of this country. We are clean, they are dirty... And around and around it goes.

Watch "On the streets of America 3" for the ultimate effect of these things.... Russia's actual role below the fold - this is what they're actually scared of....

Russia is going to do its own thing, and the hawks marketed to morons on Fox will perform Threat Construction to create an aura of fear and instability. Thus, we are soothed on our steady march towards doom. (Thanatos, the sublimated death wish instinct, might really be at the heart of the war, in producing an attraction to achieving a state of calm: the afterlife? Millennialism?)

Ok, ok.... That was a little nuts. But I'm trying to describe the general state of emotional manipulation these days. We need to stick to cold realism to understand more of what's really happening, beyond the tormented imagination of a Fox viewer.

So, more realistically, George Friedman lays it out in a Stratfor email: "The Middle East and Russia's New Game":

And this brings us to Moscow's invitation to Hamas. There are a number of reasons to make the invitation -- the single most important of which was that the United States did not want it to be done. ...... between the lines, the Russians wanted to deliver two messages to Washington.

The first was that Moscow no longer regards itself as a junior partner to the United States in foreign policy -- and, in fact, doesn't regard itself as a partner at all. Second, they wanted to make it clear that, just as Washington is making trouble for Russia in its own periphery, the Russians are equally capable of making trouble in areas that are of fundamental interest to the United States. Moscow's message is this: Do not assume that the failure of Russia to exercise its foreign policy options means that the Russians have no foreign policy options. Nothing Russia is getting from the United States in economic relations compensates for the geopolitical harm the United States is doing to Russia. In other words, this is about 2005, not 1995. A lot happened in the last decade, most of it not good for the Russians. The rules are changing.

There is another, more directly strategic reason for the move. Russia has, and has always had, strategic interests in the Middle East. Given the decay of Russia's strategic position in the formerly Soviet region, these interests -- which today include ties to Syria and a potential partnership with Iran on nuclear enrichment -- have become more important rather than less. The U.S. penetration of Central Asia, the Baltics and Ukraine cannot simply be countered in these areas; it is only by challenging the United States in the Middle East that Moscow can divert American attention from areas of great interest to the Russians. It is not just a matter of bandwidth -- meaning that the more trouble the United States has in the Middle East, the less time it has for the former Soviet Union. It is also the case that if Russia is to contain the American presence along its southern frontier, having influence and a presence to the rear of this region -- in the Middle East -- gives it leverage over some of the former Soviet republics.

......Russia's willingness to speak to Hamas creates a new dynamic in the Muslim world. Syria and Iran are seeking "great power" support against the United States. ....By inviting Hamas and possibly opening a channel between Hamas and the Israelis, Russia is positioning itself to become a mediator in other disputes, and to walk away with relationships that the United States has been unable to manage.

Given the robustness of Russia's arms industry, which is much more vital and advanced than is generally understood, the Russians could return to their role as arms provider to the region and patron of governments that are hostile to the United States. The situation from 1955 to 1990 was a much more natural geopolitical dynamic than the current situation, in which Russia is really not present in the region. Russia is a natural player in the Middle East.

Remember also that Hamas is very close to Saudi Arabia, with which Russia has an intensely competitive relationship in the energy markets. And then there is Chechnya. The Russians have long charged that "Wahhabi" influence was behind the Chechen insurgency as well as insurgencies in Central Asia. In the Russian mind, "Wahhabi" is practically a code word for "Islamist militants," including al Qaeda. The Russians also feel that, while the Americans have forced the Saudis to provide intelligence on al Qaeda, they have not elicited similar aid on the issue of the Chechens. In other words, Moscow perceives the United States not only as having neglected to help Russia on Chechnya, but as actually hindering it.

200602221416So what's the lesson? 2006 will have a certain Retro-Cold War tint to it. There may be a kind of vintage comeback for "Daisy" style political ads. Iran fits in as a kind of annex to the Evil Empire. And your id is subject to psychological warfare.

Just another Wednesday afternoon in the Information Age...

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