The people of the United States are bathed daily in the propaganda of what former CIA official and peace activist Ray McGovern has termed the MICIMATT (Military-Industrical-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academic-Think Tank) complex. One of the most important campaigns of this complex is to spread Cold War thinking amongst the populace in order that it will support US war efforts.
The essential message of the Cold War is that the people in the United States have enemies. These enemies turn out to be any government and the leaders of any government that do not cooperate in the “rules based order” created by the United States. In the current Cold War, the overwhelming power of MICIMATT complex programming is much greater than in the earlier Cold War period when Washington’s principal opponent was the Soviet Union. This was noted by historian Stephen F. Cohen in the early years of this century, when he pointed out the relative lack of alternative voices in the US media as compared with the earlier period.
Cold War messaging depicts the leaders of “enemy” nations as autocratic, dishonest, devious, and in the end demonic. According to the current Cold War narrative, because of these aspects of their character, what these leaders have to say about anything is not worth paying attention to and thus can be disregarded. It follows from this that one can understand what is happening in the world and why it is happening without taking into consideration what these “enemy” leaders are thinking and saying.
For the vast majority of people in the US who are not politically engaged in trying to foster peace, the Cold War messaging assures them that they can trust the messages of their political representatives and MICIMATT’S mouthpieces in the mass media. But even amongst people who are active in the peace movement one often finds the Cold War messaging of the MICIMATT complex is adopted.
What happens when a person cooperates with this process? Since what the other side is saying need not be attended to, people believe that they can know what is true without recourse to how the “enemy” sees things. It is through such a process that the limited political perspectives and opinions of one side (that of the aforementioned MICIMATT ) are turned into facts.
For purposes of illustration let us examine how this process is operating in regard to the current war in Ukraine. In the early days, following the launching of what Russia called its “special military operation” against Ukraine in February 2022, it was common to read and hear in the US press that Russia’s actions were unprovoked, illegal under international law, and a violation of the UN Charter.
These statements were not presented as political opinions but as facts, and many people simply accepted them as facts. An individual coming to a conclusion about how the world is without taking into account what the other side thinks is what I call “hegemonic thinking in the individual.”
If one takes the trouble to actually examine what Russian officials were saying prior to Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, and what they have been saying since, one would find that from Russia’s point of view its actions were clearly provoked, and that from Russia’s point of view its actions were neither illegal in international law nor were they a violation of the UN Charter. As an example consider this press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in which he gives a detailed discussion of the UN Charter and the principles of national sovereignty, self-determination, and territorial integrity.
Cold War messaging is a socio-psychological dimension of the war process, and so is hegemonic thinking in the individual. The peace process requires mutual respect and mutual understanding, the opposite of hegemonic thinking. But there are enormous social pressures to conform to hegemonic thinking. If one doesn’t, one opens oneself up to criticism of being an agent of the “enemy” or an apologist for evil.
If one doesn’t bend to this political pressure, one risks being marginalized and ostracized. This is the new form of McCarthyism that is operating in the current US Cold War atmosphere. Today the question isn’t “Are you now, or have you ever been a communist?” The question is “Do you now or have you ever failed to condemn Russia’s invasion?”
E. Martin Schotz, MD is a retired physician living in Massachusetts. He is the author of History Will Not Absolve US: Orwellian Control, Public Denial, and the Murder of President Kennedy. He is on the Board of Directors of the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice and is a member of the No Cold War Committee and the JFK Peace Speech Committee of Massachusetts Peace Action. The views expressed here are his and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of ACURA.