Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Myth of the Myth

Johnny Ryan, also gave Noam Chomsky a big tickling in the Irish Times last year.

Like many leftists, such as Michael Moore or those in the BBC, whose recent Power of Nightmares combined cretinous opinions with the soundtrack from the Magic Roundabout, he picks up the theme that the fear of terror is largely the outcome of the manipulation of public opinion after 9/11 by the Bush administration.

Some evidence on this quesiton, apart from videos of the President's speeches would not go amiss. Luckily, the most recent surveys in the series conducted regularly by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, coming after 9/11 and the Iraq war, shows spreading democracy internationally, perpetually unpopular, last among foreign policy goals, with only 14% of citizens considering it very important (See p.21); among foreign policy experts, support is barely higher (See p.21). Regardless of the merits of the President’s emphasis on spreading democracy, through force if necessary, it ill represents the views of the American people.

The CCFR survey data shows the American public believing (pp.6-12) even in polls taken years prior to both 9/11 and Bush’s election, that WMD and international terrorism were the greatest threats facing the US. While the reported levels of concern had increased, 1998 and 2002, they have consistently remained the gravest foreign policy problems in the eyes of ordinary Americans, with around three quarters feeling it is "very important". Again, the foreign policy elite echo this.

In his address at West Point in 2002, Bush stated, "Containment is not possible when unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver those weapons on missiles or secretly provide them to terrorist allies." Later in 2002, Vice President Cheney echoed this alarm about the links between terrorism, WMD and Iraq: Addressing a convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he described Hussein as "a murderous dictator" who now had WMD, was, he stated unequivocally, "as great a threat as can be imagined."

From the attitude surveys, it's obvious that the American public came to this view well before President Bush did. So much for the sheepish masses being led astray by media manipulation.