By Cymry Gomery, World BEYOND War, March 15, 2022
On March 09 2022, Montreal for a World BEYOND War hosted a screening of War Made Easy: How presidents and pundits keep spinning us to death. The film is recommended on the WBW web site, and it has even been reviewed by WBW’s David Swanson, who wrote:
“It’s simply stunning to watch this brilliantly edited video of numerous past presidents using identical lines to promote equally fraudulent wars, and to watch how the media gives the propaganda the same basic spin for each new war.”
This film screening was attended by Montreal World BEYOND War chapter members Lesley, Michael, Jacques, Marjorie, Sumi, Sally and yours truly—and we were pleased to welcome Al Mytty and Barb Graveson of the Florida WBW chapter, Padma Dyvine from North Carolina, and Andrea Coburn.
War Made Easy deals with the way that various actors “sell” us a lie in order to make us accept war, which is, one assumes, hugely profitable for certain shadowy investors and for the weapons manufacturers, chemical companies, fossil fuel interests, and who knows what else. The US “defense” budget is in the trillions and accounts for 3.5% of the GDP; Canada’s is an equally ignominious 1.4%.
The footage of this film is taken from various US invasions, including Vietnam, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and is chilling to watch. But equally chilling, in another respect, is the footage of the news media, which, sometimes through coercion and sometimes through deceit, have been time and again partners with the government in setting the agenda for war. Journalists who rebelled or who refused to take on this role, like Phil Donahue and Peter Arnett, to give two famous examples–were fired from their jobs. A similar fate awaited politicians who spoke out—Barbara Lee (“Let us not become the evil that we deplore”)–being one of these extremely rare and courageous people. Another was Senator Wayne Morse, who rocked the boat by insisting that it should be the American people who decide foreign policy, not the President.
The film also shows how the news media unthinkingly turned to military types—like “security advisors” and retired generals—to act as interpreters of the war for the public, which resulted in a Rah Rah hawkish glorification of war and what the filmmakers refer to as “an acculturated callousness.” And then there was the whole issue of embedded journalists, who surrendered or lost their ability to report objectively—something that is the cornerstone of good journalism. The public was always fed a one-sided, highly biased portrait of the various wars.
This steady diet of lies and propaganda make it very hard to end wars, once started. As the film point out, “War becomes perpetual when its used as a rationale for peace.”
We had a good conversation after this film, musing about current wars in the world, especially Ukraine-Russia since that is top of mind for many right now. Some of the ideas put forward were:
- Write letters, sign petitions, telephone the Prime Minister (Alison has actually done this); • Challenge op-eds by military personnel;
- Cultivate objectivity and be mindful of media bias;
- Show movies such as this one and have discussions such as the one that we had! To host this film for your chapter contact Media Education Foundation. They gave me a very reasonable price ($20 Cdn.) for our small group screening, and provided an organizer’s kit and a personalized screening page that was available for several days beyond the official date. (In fact, until March 20 2022, our screening page with the film is still online.)