The Sydney Morning Herald (9.1.2008) contains three interesting articles which illuminate the power of the PR industry.
1) The Gulf of Tonkin incidence, according to which North Vietnam attacked US destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964, was used by President Lyndon Johnson as a pretext to dramatically escalate US involvement in Vietnam. The then US Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara declared to Congress that the evidence for the attack was “unimpeachable”. A new report shows that these claims were fabricated. The report was released by the National Security Agency responsible for much of the codebreaking by the US and eavesdropping work, in response to a “mandatory declassification” request, the Federation of American Scientists said yesterday. Review of classified documents clearly shows that “no attack” happened that night. But who cares, 45 years ago everybody believed in the attack as claimed by the US government, ably fed to the gullible public by the PR machine, without scrutiny of the evidence.
2) Widely reported in the press, five Iranian speedboats charged at three US Navy ships entering the Persian Gulf. The US President, now in the Near East (or on the way to the Near East) claimed this to be “provocative”, the Iranians, in contrast, said similar incidents in the narrow straits had happened before and had always been resolved when the two sides had identified themselves. Why should Iran, at this moment in time, want to provoke the US?
3) “Israel hiding settlement facts to protect image
The Israeli Government has told a court that it does not want to reveal the true extent of Jewish settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories because the information would damage its image abroad, a local newspaper has reported.” According to the International Court of Justice and accepted by most countries, such settlements are illegal, and the Israeli government is indeed correct in believing that revealing the extent of settlements would damage its image. It seems obvious that the international community is widely unaware of what is happening, largely due to the failure of the PR machine to provide the relevant information.