February 06, 2012

The First Ad: Who Are the Nazis Now?

I plan to set out a number of ideas about what we can do to try to stop the drive to war with Iran, and I'll discuss them very soon in upcoming posts. Here, I want to offer an idea for the first ad in a series of ads. I offer this idea right now because I desperately want to see some people take it up -- or other, better ideas along the same lines -- as soon as possible.

In the preceding post, I referred to the action plan I set forth five years ago for the same reason. The purpose of the ad campaign remains what I said in 2007: "The major goals here are to educate, to lead, and to motivate a critical number of Americans to take action themselves..." Toward the conclusion of that article, I discussed the monolithic war-making ideology that rules the United States:
Most Americans have never heard an alternative point of view -- because almost no one in national life has an alternative point of view. That is why I say that a critical part of this campaign must be educational in nature: to explain, however briefly, an alternative view, specifically with regard to Iran. And consider a related point: most of you reading this are seriously engaged with political issues to one degree or another. But in many ways, that kind of involvement is a luxury unknown to most Americans. The great majority of Americans spend all their days, and often sleepless nights, worrying about very basic concerns: how to pay next month's rent, how to afford the medical care that one of the children needs very badly, whether they can afford to go to the movies -- or if they have to save that money for food next week. I think a lot of you who may read this forget how many Americans live. I don't forget it, in large part because I've lived with those kinds of concerns myself for the last few years, and continue to live that way now.

Most Americans rarely think about politics at all; they can't afford to, in any sense of that phrase. When they very briefly pay attention, they simply absorb the ideas that predominate on television or radio, or in newspapers they may occasionally glance at. Today, virtually everything they hear or read tells them that Iran is the "greatest threat" we face, and that an Iran with nuclear weapons is "intolerable" and "unacceptable." None of that is true ...

They don't hear another point of view, because there isn't one. It's past time for those of us who approach these issues in a radically different way to provide it to them, on the largest scale possible. For many of you reading this, your involvement in and knowledge about politics is a great luxury, one you often take for granted. But I would suggest that, along with that luxury, comes greatly increased responsibility. You know more, you are able to spend more time on these subjects, and so more can rightfully be expected of you.
It's terrible to read those words from five years ago -- and to realize that every aspect of what I described has only grown much worse during the intervening years.

Thus, the purposes of the ad campaign are to educate Americans, and then to motivate them to act. In this cultural atmosphere, the first goal must be that of education for the reasons I set forth. This past Saturday was a "Day of Mass Action" to demonstrate against a possible attack on Iran. There was very little coverage of the protests that I could find (and who decided it was a good idea to have them on Super Bowl weekend?); here's one story about the protests. In New York City -- New York City, mind you -- there were about 500 protesters.

Please understand that nothing I'm saying here is intended as criticism of any kind of the people who protested. They see something awful coming toward us, and they desperately want to stop it. I salute them for all of that, and I genuinely mean it. My point has only to do with strategy and outcomes: protests of this kind will stop absolutely nothing. And this isn't Field of Dreams and we're not Kevin Costner: it's not the case that protests can be announced -- and "they will come." Until they're provided the required education and motivation, they won't come.

But even much larger numbers of protesters won't stop the horror that may be coming toward us. Remember what happened in 2002-2003. There were huge protests across the world -- and still the war against Iraq began. So protests that last for a day or less and then disperse aren't sufficient. But what might work is 500,000 or a million people (or even more) descending on Washington, D.C. -- and simply staying. The purpose would be very simple:


Just shut it down. Don't leave. Shut the damned place down completely -- until the U.S. Government disavows any and all plans to attack Iran in the present and foreseeable circumstances. Think of it as Occupy multiplied by a factor of 10,000, or maybe 50,000. And think what might happen if New York, Chicago, San Francisco and several other cities were shut down in the same way. We'd at least get the bastards' attention. It would be a colossal news story.

Oh, that's crazy, you think. That could never happen. Why not? Attacking Iran is crazy. Invading Iraq was crazy. The U.S. Government claiming it has the "right" to assassinate anyone in the world for any reason at all -- or for no reason, just because they feel like it -- is crazy. Most of what's happened in the last ten years is crazy. I see no reason to believe that lunacy is a trait on which the fuckers in the ruling class hold a monopoly. Those of us on the side of peace and life, instead of war and death, are entitled to some craziness, too.

So the question is: How do we get from where we are today to the place where demonstrations of the kind I've described are possible? That's where the campaign to educate and motivate is crucial. And the first ad in that campaign is critical.

A month or two ago, I saw an ad that serves as a wonderful model for the the kind of ad that I think is needed to start this process. It's this Ron Paul ad. For our purposes here, please put aside every issue concerning Paul's candidacy and what you think of it. I don't care about any of that, and I suggest that you shouldn't care either. What I do care about is that the ad is stunningly effective, and it grabs your attention in an unforgettable way. Obviously, the key to the ad's effectiveness is the reversal at its heart: How would you feel if Chinese or Russian troops were stationed in the middle of Texas? The ad then goes through the major elements concerning the presence and behavior of U.S. troops in foreign countries, and asks how the viewer would feel if he were a citizen of one of those countries. Most people never think in those terms, but those are exactly the terms they should use in analyzing these questions.

The Ron Paul ad will never convince anyone who thinks America is the embodiment of nobility and goodness, and that nothing the U.S. ever does can be fundamentally, horribly wrong. We'll never convince those people either. Forget them. But there's a huge group of Americans who might respond to a radically different point of view, if they ever heard it. The point of an ad of this kind is to let them hear it in a way they'll be sure to remember. The Paul ad does that, and it does it brilliantly.

To put it another way, the major purpose of the first ad concerning Iran is simple, and crucial. It is, once again: to get people's attention. To that end, it should be as controversial as possible, while being entirely truthful. Part of the controversy will be that a great many people will be absolutely enraged. Great! That guarantees that it will be talked about a lot. That's exactly what we want.

I would want to see the ad on every major television network on the same night, right in the middle of primetime. It may well be that no network will run it. But, hey, no crime in trying. (Not this week, at least not yet.) In that case, we'd have to work to make it a huge internet phenomenon. Once it becomes big enough, major news outlets will cover it -- now as a news story. Also great!

The content of the ad would focus on the Gleiwitz incident which Germany used to "justify" Germany's invasion of Poland, as discussed in the preceding post. The ad would juxtapose Germany's claims about Poland's "provocation" with U.S. claims about Iran's "provocation." I would suggest using lots of photographs and/or film footage: shots of German leaders and troops, then shots of U.S. leaders and troops, battleships, planes, and so forth. Just imagine how angry some Americans will get. Fantastic!

When the German pictures/films are shown, we hear: "At the end of August 1939, Germany claimed that Polish saboteurs attacked a German radio station and took it over. The Polish saboteurs were actually Germans wearing Polish uniforms. The German government said that the Polish attack justified the German invasion of Poland. But it wasn't true."

Then we see the U.S. pictures/films, and we hear: "Today, the U.S. claims that Iran is working to get nuclear weapons. In fact, there isn't any proof of that. In fact, just recently 'the leaders of the U.S. intelligence community said that they were not sure that Iran was even trying to build a nuclear weapon.' The U.S. claims that Iran's determination to have nuclear weapons justifies an attack on Iran. But it isn't true."

Then we see more German pictures/films, and we hear more details of Germany's claims about why Germany had to invade Poland -- and then, "But it wasn't true."

Then more U.S. pictures, and another of the U.S. claims about Iran's actions, perhaps: "The U.S. says that Iran refuses to let inspectors verify that Iran isn't diverting materials to make nuclear weapons. In fact, Iran has repeatedly submitted to more extensive oversight and investigation of its nuclear program than any other country. The U.S. claims that Iran's secrecy and its refusal to be open about its work justifies an attack on Iran. But it isn't true."

After maybe five or six of these comparisons, we get to this:
After World War II, the U.S. was a key member of the Nuremberg Tribunal, which rendered judgment on the crimes of the Nazis. The Nuremberg Tribunal condemned Nazi Germany for waging aggressive war. It called aggressive war "essentially an evil thing," and said that "to initiate a war of aggression ... is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." [During this narration, we see photos and films of Nazi leaders and the German military, perhaps with film of Hitler at the end of this section.]

Today, the U.S. claims that Iran is a serious threat to America and to the world, and that an Iran with nuclear weapons is absolutely unacceptable. But there is no evidence at all that Iran is even seeking nuclear weapons. So the U.S. is threatening Iran with military action because of a threat that doesn't exist and may never exist. That means the U.S., which has the most powerful military the world has ever seen, is threatening a much weaker country, a country that couldn't possibly threaten the U.S. in any serious way -- and the U.S. is threatening to launch a war of aggression, which we ourselves have called "the supreme international crime." [During this narration, we see photos and films of U.S. leaders and the U.S. military. I would suggest film of Obama at the end of this section, but that might get us all thrown in jail. And we have more work to do. So maybe just a picture of the U.S. flag.]
And then at the very end of the ad, the tagline:
So ... Who are the Nazis now?
Imagine for a moment what would happen if an ad like that were shown on every television network at 9 PM. Yes, it would cause a huge controversy. As I said, that would be wonderful! This should be followed by four or five more ads -- one focusing on the effects of an attack on Iran, including how it is very possible (even likely) that a war could spread very quickly throughout the Middle East and even beyond -- that we might be in the middle of World War III within months. Another ad could focus on the effects here in the U.S.: rocketing oil prices, enormous economic hardship (particularly affecting the middle class and the poor), maybe widespread government crackdowns on dissenters. A separate ad could compare the lies about Iran to the lies told about Iraq -- and by the way, I wouldn't mention Iraq at all in the first ad. The focus should be solely on Iran, and I myself think nothing should distract from that. Keep the focus very tight, and just on Iran. The ad should be as powerful as possible, and the tight focus is very important for that purpose.

As I said above, it's certainly possible that no network would touch an ad like this. In that case, put it on Youtube and publicize the hell out of it. Every writer and blogger who gives a damn should talk about it nonstop. Make it a tremendous story.

To do all this obviously requires money. I have a very, very small readership, and there is no way I could raise the kind of money needed. As I did five years ago, I must ask for help. Surely there must be some writers with much larger audiences who would want to help with this project. If you don't like my ideas, come up with your own. We can all pretend we're in Mad Men. It's actually fun to work on ads like this. I did this very quickly, and I had a great time thinking about it. Try it! (I also repeat what I've said many times in the past. I feel no proprietary interest whatsoever in any of these ideas. If someone wants to use these ideas or some of what I've written about Iran, just take it. I want no credit or payment of any kind at all. In other words: steal as much as you want, please.)

There are writers who have written and spoken very passionately about the insanity of U.S. foreign policy, and about the insanity of an attack on Iran in particular. I would think that people like Hedges, Taibbi and Greenwald (among others, to say nothing of alternative and dissenting websites and organizations themselves) could raise a lot of money if they wanted to. They have large audiences. (And didn't Greenwald raise over half a million dollars several years ago for his PAC, Accountability Now? That's my memory. I can easily imagine that many reasons might well prohibit using that money for ads like this -- it wouldn't be within the defined purposes of the PAC or among the purposes for which people donated funds, etc. I mention it to make the point that writers with very large audiences can raise large sums when they put their minds to it.)

But get the first ad made, and then get it out there. If the ad is powerful and controversial enough, it will become a huge story. As I said in that post five years ago, we must make the insanity and criminality of an attack on Iran the major topic of conversation in the country. It has to become inescapable. Everyone will be talking about it, including those who think we're the worst kind of traitors. That's fine. We want everyone talking about it nonstop, all the time.

We need a lot of people to help with this. So in closing, for now, I'll repeat what I said at the end of that post from 2007:
We cannot choose the moment in history during which we happen to spend our lives. But we can choose what we do about it, and how we try to affect the course of events, to the extent we can. We are living during an especially critical time, one that is filled with terrible dangers -- and one that might change the world and our country for the rest of our lives. We may not have chosen this battle, but it is here whether we want it or not. So I hope some of you will choose to join it, on the side of peace, liberty and the infinitely precious value of a single human life.

And I hope some of you start, or continue with renewed dedication, today.
I have more ideas. I'll write about them in the next few days.