I grew into adulthood and under certain Republican and hawkish narratives. As such, it was clear that my father's worldview of America was one that painted us as the good guys wearing the white hats, global cops for justice, who faced a world of mostly irrational and crazy thinking people who hated our freedom and wanted to destroy it and us at any cost.
Admittedly, I found a certain comfort in this narrative that was coincidently drum-beat by almost every TV show, Film, News Program and print media article. Music prophets of the time fortunately sang a different tune. I found a comfort in knowing that our military was the best in the world and could, if necessary, defeat anyone. Admittedly, I was naïve at the time and only considered that our US media, in a Walter Cronkite manner, would only tell the truth, for bad or for good. I never considered that our white hat wearing media would ever bias the news or distort the facts for propaganda purposes. Our American narrative stated that only evil nations would do such things. Wow, was I in for a big surprise once I started to wake up and study this whole media phenomena.
"The conscious and intellectual manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country." -- Dr. Edward L. Bernays, considered the founding Father of Public Relations.
You see, growing up during the Cold War as I did, the media narrative and group talk about Russia and their people went something like this. The Russians are Communists, amoral people, don't believe in God, don't value human life the way we do, their military and nuclear weapons are poised to preemptively destroy America because they hate our freedom, capitalism and everything we stand for. This was the ever-present drumbeat of the American media machine. This propaganda narrative, as I now know, was designed to keep Americans in fear and never to question the billions upon billions of hard earned taxpayers dollars going into our Nation's military buildup and ever growing arsenal of nuclear weapons. We had to be superior in order to win if a war was to ever occur with Russia. And, according to the media, this was just around the corner and was just a matter of time. Are you beginning to hear a familiar drum beat?
"If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." - James Madison (1751 -1836)
Then one day, a remarkable thing happened. President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to a peace accord and to bring down the Berlin Wall, the great symbol of separate ideologies and beliefs. The world watched on TV as people on both sides of the wall literally sledgehammered toward one another to meet, create an opening for freedom and unite in brotherly and sisterly love. The impossible had happened. People of the free and non-communistic world were now united with a people, whom we had been told through the US media, lived under the constant oppression and barbarism of Communism.
Our news media began to dialog with people and families in Russia and give American viewers, for the first time, a real look into life behind the iron curtain. Surprisingly and undeniably, the lives the Russian people was much like ours. They wanted to wake up, have their coffee and a good meal, make sure their children studied well, made good grades, expressed their creativity and succeeded in life. They wanted happiness, to find true love and to fulfill their dreams. They wanted peace and wanted a world of peace for their children and all other children of the world to grow up in. We painfully learned that they had never ever hated our freedom and the American way of life, as we had been told through our media. In fact, the exact opposite was true, they wanted and loved our freedom and everything it had to offer. It was a Santa Claus moment for millions upon millions of Americans, including myself.
My first direct touch point into politics came after graduating high school. I became a professional motocross racer of note in Northern Virginia, and as it turned out, Teddy Mondale, Vice President Fritz Mondale's son also raced. We met and became friends at the races. Occasionally I would go to Teddy's house at the Vice Presidential mansion in WDC. I went out on a couple of dates with his sister Eleanor and as a result got to meet and know VP Mondale. He was a remarkably nice and always gracious man. Living near the Washington beltway, as I did, the tension of our national and global politics was always in the air.
After my racing career, cut short by an injury, I went away to college. Political science and media communication classes started to shed light on how and for what purpose propaganda was used to lie to the masses. After graduating from college and taking my first job, I decided to explore politics a little further.
The first book I decided to read was Richard Nixon's The Real War. Corrupt as he was determined to be, Nixon had a reputation of being a brilliant foreign strategist and I wanted to know the big picture about how global politics worked. As I read through the book his worldview became obvious. In the global scheme of things, the earth was like a chessboard where world leaders and powers vied for control and ownership over certain strategic resources such as oil, natural gas, water and important metals like titanium, platinum, chromium, etc.
Having strategic resources and/or having access to them was paramount in the manufacturing process of military/missile weaponry, planes and jet aircraft engines. These resources were also key to industrial growth, technological development and the American way of life. Therefore, it was critical to keep strategic resources out of the hands of political powers or groups that had anti-western sentiments. It was especially paramount, because US soil had little to zero yield of strategic metals and without such, you could not manufacture jet aircraft engines, intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons and so on. As such, the US had to make sure the leadership of other countries, who had such resources on their soil, would give us access to them. Wow, now I was beginning to understand the reasoning behind the US having and maintaining some many (900 plus) military bases around the world.