From Operation Mockingbird to 'lie of the century,' U.S. hasn't changed

The U.S. doesn't seem to have changed in its penchant to concoct unfounded allegations in order to advance its geopolitical goals, as suggested by critics, including its own lawmakers. From Operation Mockingbird to the fabrication of the "lie of the century," an unambiguous behavioral pattern perpetuated by successive U.S. governments has damaged Washington's credibility regarding its stated foreign policy goals.

During the Cold War, the U.S. government reportedly manipulated domestic American news media organizations for propaganda purposes. Its aim was to counter communist influence as part of its geopolitical fight against the Soviet Union.

In Operation Mockingbird, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited journalists, editors and media executives as agents of influence, positioning them strategically within newsrooms. These agents played a pivotal role in shaping news coverage to align with U.S. government interests, disseminating disinformation and suppressing unfavorable stories.

The program's intent was to control the flow of information by promoting anti-communist sentiment, influencing international reporting and ensuring that the media reflected the government's narrative. Operation Mockingbird remains a controversial chapter in American history, underscoring the extent to which the U.S. government would trample its own constitution to serve its foreign policy agenda.

Such behavior didn't stop after the collapse of the USSR. In what is considered one of the most farcical incidents in U.S. history, the Bush administration asserted that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and deemed it an imminent threat to international security. It was under this pretext that the U.S. launched its invasion into the oil-rich Middle Eastern country in 2003.

However, as subsequent investigations and extensive searches failed to produce any concrete evidence of WMDs in Iraq, it became increasingly clear that the pretext was, at best, flawed and, at worst, manipulated to justify military intervention. The invasion not only led to a protracted and costly conflict but also damaged U.S. credibility on the world stage, eroding trust in the government's assertions and intensifying anti-American sentiment across the world. 

A prevalent consensus on why the U.S. exploited wrong intel was its pursuit of hydrocarbon reserves in Iraq and its attempt to assert American influence in the Middle East.

The propensity to rely on partial intel and ignore contradictory facts seemed to be a lesson lost on American policymakers. In one of the latest allegations fabricated by the U.S., which now sees China as its biggest competitor, Washington has accused Beijing of committing human rights abuses against Uygurs in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. These allegations are based on little evidence and seen as a means to undermine China's global standing, as numerous observers have suggested.

An Arab League delegation that visited the autonomous region earlier this year said they saw a different Xinjiang from the one that has been portrayed by the West. Elhassan Mohamed Musbha Rabha, a Libyan diplomat, said that China has made great efforts to ensure the freedom of religious belief and that people of all ethnic groups can live together in harmony, marking a direct rebuke to the Western narrative. Beijing has called Xinjiang-related allegations "the biggest lie of the century."

Nonetheless, the U.S.'s relentlessness in falsely accusing China did not stop. Last week, Washington once again overextended its reach, accusing China of investing billions of dollars to spread disinformation globally in a U.S. State Department report. In a rebuke, China's Foreign Ministry called the U.S. an "empire of lies," saying that "it is the U.S. that invented the weaponizing of the global information space."

"Some in the U.S. may think that they can prevail in the information war as long as they produce enough lies. But the people of the world are not blind," said the Chinese Foreign Ministry in a statement.

Rand Paul, a U.S. senator, once acknowledged that the U.S. government is the greatest propagator of disinformation in the history of the world.

(Cover: The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, DC, U.S., September 29, 2023. /CFP)

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