Russia, North Korea, terrorism… fear as currency of Western tyranny

Finian Cunningham
Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.
A North Korean long-range rocket is launched into the air at the Sohae rocket launch site in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang February 7, 2016. © KCNA
For those with a weak heart it has been a testing week. Russian nuclear aggression, North Korea’s ballistic missiles, terrorists planning to attack the US and Europe. Please almighty, benevolent Washington – protect us!

History has long shown that fear is the currency of rule by tyrants. Get the people to fear some external enemy and then you can command their submission to any form of control – because it’s for their “protection”.

Organized crime calls it a “protection racket”; colonial powers called it “protectorates”; and modern Western supposed democracies claim it is in the name of “state security”.

In many ways it constitutes a risible ruse that should be easily seen through for the farce that it is. But the otherwise unbelievable farce is given a facade of plausibility, credibility and normality due to the immense conditioning power of the Western news media.

That, by the way, is why alternative new outlets are so vilified by Western powers because they dispel the fiction in a way that exposes the fiction-tellers as the dupes, liars and charlatans that they are.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this week pointed out the absurdity of Washington and its NATO allies hyping the “myth of Russia’s threat” to Europe. Particularly insulting to ordinary decent human intelligence is the claim put out by Western countries that “Russia is planning to use nuclear weapons to intimidate Sweden and the Baltic countries.”

As ever, Washington and its NATO allies do not present evidence to support their far-fetched claims. Tendentious assertions are simply turned into “facts” by force of repetition and dissemination, and sheer double think, as illustrated by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg making the bizarre statement that the military alliance is not posing a threat to Russia.

The fear factor in this case works to subdue public criticism in NATO countries of their governments piling up more military firepower around Russia’s borders. This week, the American Pentagon announces plans to increase its military spending in Europe fourfold to $3.4 billion, purportedly to “deter Russia’s threat”. Not only is this expenditure depriving American people of needed public services, such as clean drinking water, it is actually a deeply provocative act of aggression towards Russia.

But the trick tends to work, with apparent public consent, because it is all done in the name of “protecting us” from “evil Russians”.

The same goes for implementing state emergency powers in France this week and the long-established post 9/11 so-called Patriot legislation in the US, giving the authorities license to erode civil liberties.

The US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress this week that the country is facing a major attack this year from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ ISIS) terror group. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer described Clapper’s presentation as “a sober assessment”, thus giving it a veneer of substance. But in reality all that the intelligence (sic) chief said was that there were thousands of ISIS cadres in 40 different countries. How this presents a clear and imminent security danger to the US is not evidenced, but no doubt it will serve to maintain, if not extend, federal police powers against their own citizens.

And, of course, CNN or any other Western corporate media outlet would never question or probe the origins of ISIS and other Al Qaeda-linked terror networks as a willful creation of American, British, French, Saudi and Turkish state intelligence.

In the same Congress briefing, the US disinformation chief also gave a grim assessment of North Korea producing plutonium for nuclear weapons. Clapper said with apparent gravity that the secretive authoritarian state is “making steps towards developing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) which could target the United States.” And, dutifully, the Western news media amplify those words in order to give them credibility and ominousness.

A BBC World news ticker read: “North Korea close to having bomb”. Funnily enough, the very next ticker headline read: “Andy Murray’s wife has a baby”.

So you see, not only are vacuous claims about the alleged threat from North Korea transformed into a seemingly serious fact, the issue is also given a sense of normalcy and banality by mixing it up with news on a tennis player’s family.

Last week, North Korea did indeed launch a ballistic rocket into outer space to put an observation satellite in orbit. Yes, the launch breached UN resolutions banning Kim Jong-Un’s regime from using ballistic power. Pyongyang is no doubt using the satellite story as a cover for testing dual ballistic technology that could be, eventually, used to build an ICBM.

And, yes, North Korea carried out a nuclear test explosion last month – the fourth such explosion since 2006, again in violation of UN resolutions.
But such activity is a distant remove from actually being able to mount a nuclear warhead on to a serviceable ICBM and to be able to fire the weapon thousands of kilometers. Most international ballistic experts do not believe that North Korea is anywhere near that stage of development.

The AFP news agency quoted aerospace engineer John Schilling, who has closely followed the North’s missile program, as saying: “An ICBM warhead, unlike a satellite, needs to come down as well as go up. North Korea has never demonstrated the ability to build a re-entry vehicle that can survive at even half the speed an ICBM would require.”

In short, despite what the US and heaps of Western media coverage would have us believe, North Korea is not a threat to international security. Sure, the secretive state can be said to be in breach of UN resolutions. But a nuclear enemy of the world it is most certainly not.

The general view of the city of Hiroshima showing damage wrought by the atomic bomb was taken March 1946, six months after the bomb was dropped August 6, 1945. © Reuters

Meanwhile, Washington possesses more than 1,500 actively deployed nuclear warheads across the globe, ready to launch at the touch of a button. The US is the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons, killing more than 200,000 people in the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Nearly, 40 years after signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty mandating nuclear disarmament, the US is in a process of upgrading its nuclear arsenal at a cost of $1 trillion over the next 30 years.

Behind all the bombast over North Korea’s alleged “threat”, the US is moving ahead with the deployment in South Korea and Japan of its “missile shield” system. Such a move is much more destabilizing to international security than any alleged violation by North Korea, because as China and Russia have consistently argued over many years, such a so-called defense shield tends to give the US a “first strike nuclear capability”. That increases the risk of a nuclear war, making nuclear weapons escalation a relentless tendency rather than disarmament. So who is the rogue state here?

It should be noted too that the US-led NATO alliance is pushing ahead with deploying a similar missile shield system in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, at the same time that NATO is building up ever-more of a presence.

Where is the accountability of Western governments to their public for such provocative, precarious, police-state policies? If there is no accountability, then that is the definition of tyrannical power.

But how could such tyranny pertain in notional democracies, you may ask? Fear. Fear is the currency of tyranny. And servile news organizations – more accurately perception-management services – condition public acceptance of these fears. Fears that in a more rational perspective would be dismissed as outrageous fabrications.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.