US ‘perception management’ deceives public on foreign policy
US President Obama paid tribute on Memorial Day to the US soldiers who died in past military conflicts, while saying this is the first such holiday in many years when the country is not engaged in a major war. His comments sparked controversy among those who see a much different picture of the global situation.
RT:President Obama has claimed that this is the first Memorial Day in 14 years without any major war going on. Do you think it's possible for him to say that the US isn't leading any wars right now?
Ross Caputi: No, that is not true at all. Apart from a number of proxy wars that we are supporting, we are participating directly in ongoing conflict in Iraq.
RT:Obama called this the first Memorial Day since the end of the war in Afghanistan. But is this war actually over? We know that the US is keeping some of its military personnel there.
RC: No, it’s certainly not over, and it won’t be over for many years, arguably even after US troops leave. Wars always leave a destructive wake of violence after them. There is sort of a lag to the violence also.
RT:Defense Secretary Ashton Carter created an international uproar by saying that Iraqi forces are to be blamed for recent advances by Islamic State militants. What's your opinion on this statement?
RC: It’s not true at all; it is a very deceiving use of language. The Islamic State [IS] is a reaction to the sentiments of injustice in the Middle East, injustice due to Western interference in the Middle East. It’s because of our repeated invasions and occupations in the area, and all of the injustices that flow out of this that a group like the IS was able to gain any amount of legitimacy for however brief that period was that allowed them to actually to capture territories and gain a foothold in the communities that they operate out of. At this point, I don’t think they have any legitimacy left in the eyes of Iraqis, Syrians, or anywhere where they operate. It was because of this destructive wake of the US invasion and occupation that they were even able to operate in the first place.
RT:Why do you think Obama is saying that there are no wars nowadays while in fact this isn’t true?
RC: This is sort of just kind of standard operating procedure - the US government tries to present a certain picture of US foreign policy and US military engagements around the world. Most of the time the picture that they are trying to present is very different from what is actually going on on the ground. This is part of something they call ‘informational operations’ and they use a number of tactics in these information operations. A lot of times it just has to do with vocabulary and framing, constructing a narrative. A lot of times they are deliberately using misinformation. It’s part of what they call ‘perception management’. That is what they are doing; they are trying to manage the way that the public perceives US foreign policy, even if that means deceiving them.
RT:As a former US marine, what do you think the real Memorial Day celebrations and commemorations should be about?
RC: I wish the way that this holiday was celebrated didn’t ask us to take a position on US foreign policy. And I think the way that it’s celebrated does - it asks us to remember those who died as heroes, and to remember them as having died for something great. I don’t like being asked to have that opinion free formed. I want to form my own opinions, do my own research, come to my own conclusions about these wars, and about what American veterans participated in. I think we need to be a bit more open-minded as a culture and a bit less quick to celebrate things that we don’t really understand.
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