Winning the War on Terror
- This essay is on Wikiversity to encourage a wide discussion of the issues it raises moderated by the Wikimedia rules that invite contributors to “be bold but not reckless,” contributing revisions written from a neutral point of view, citing credible sources -- and raising other questions and concerns on the associated '“Discuss”' page.
- Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.
This essay (a) reviews evidence suggesting that the War on Terror is not going well, (b) surveys research that provides a credible explanation for why it’s not going well, and (c) recommends minimizing the use of force and focusing instead on rule of law and on subsidizing democratically managed media to manage armed conflicts including terrorism and the Islamic State.
In the following, we (1) note that terrorism is minuscule as a cause of death nearly everywhere, (2) review the literature on the long-term impact of alternative responses to terrorism and conflict more generally, (3) discuss the role of the media in shaping public reactions to terrorism (and virtually any other public policy issue), and (4) summarize implications of the above for personal action and public policy.
1. Terrorism is minuscule as a cause of death
Before discussing possible contributors to the recent spike in terrorism deaths, we first note that terrorism is essentially minuscule as a cause of death, except for a small number of countries with active armed conflicts: Even in the worst year on record, 2014, terrorism deaths were less than 0.08 percent (one twelfth of one percent or 800 per million) of all deaths worldwide that year. More generally, terrorism has been responsible for the deaths of 0.02 percent (one fiftieth of one percent or 200 per million) of all the people who have died since the first entry in the Global Terrorism Database in 1970. You're several times more likely to die from a fire (0.55%) than terrorism. Or from accidental poisoning (0.61%). Or drown (0.67%). Or die from a fall (0.69%, using World Health Organization data from 2002).
Certainly, deaths are not the only problem from terrorism: Terrorist attacks also injure people , and destroy property. However, analysis of the numbers of incidents and people injured essentially tell the same story.
The research summarized in this essay suggests that this recent spike in terrorism is a product of the militarization of conflicts (section 2 below) driven by a fascination with death and how that interacts with media funding and governance (section 3 below).
- The primary problem from terrorism seems to be the collateral damage from military responses used to combat it.
Unfortunately, collateral damage was not mentioned in either the index or the table of contents of An end to evil: How to win the War on Terror by Frum and Perle, which appeared in January 2004; that was roughly nine months after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and seven after President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech. Instead, they complained, "Pessimism and defeatism have provided the sound track to the war on terrorism from the beginning". The evidence summarized in this essay suggests that "pessimism and defeatism" have played far less of a role than collateral damage in the ensuing violence that has engulfed that region since 2003; this includes the rise of ISIL and the recent spike in terrorism documented in Figures 1 and 2 and in Appendix 1.
We next consider terrorism in France, the US, and the dozen countries most impacted by this recent spike in terrorism before reviewing research relating to these recommendations.
1.1. Terrorism in France and the United States
Figure 2 plots terrorism deaths in France through 2015. The number for 2015 is labeled, not plotted, because it is over 6 times the second largest recorded number of terrorism deaths in France since the first entry in the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) in 1970, and plotting it would make it difficult to see the earlier variability. GTD data for 2016 are not yet available. However, the Wikipedia "list of terrorist incidents in France" reports 89 deaths for that year. That’s just over half the number for 2015 and over three times the previous maximum. These relatively high numbers have made security a key issue in the French presidential campaign in progress as this is being written.
These numbers are, nevertheless, tiny as a cause of death. The 161 terrorism deaths in France in 2015 is roughly 0.03 percent (one thirtieth of a percent or 300 per million) of all French deaths that year.
The two biggest terrorist attacks on US soil were the September 11, 2001 attacks that took roughly 3,000 lives, and the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people in 1995. For the US, GTD records show no recent spike comparable to that for the world and France in Figures 1 and 2; see Figure 3. The most recent years suggest a modest upward trend -- possibly a return to the environment of the early 1970s, but nothing like 2001 nor the recent worldwide or French numbers. The GTD records 1,397 US citizens killed in terrorist incidents between 1970 and 2000, and 943 between 2002 and 2015, for an average of 116 per year over these 46 years; without 2001, it averages only 52 per year. For 2001 through 2016, an average of 257 US citizens were killed per year. Averaged over the 46 years in the Global Terrorism Database, terrorism has taken the lives of 0.005 percent (one half of one hundredth of one percent or 50 per million) of all Americans who died during that period.
To put these numbers into perspective, we provide two comparisons:
- 42,196 people were killed on US highways in 2001, averaging 3,516 per month. Thus, more people were killed in the average month in 2001 than in the worst terrorist incident ever recorded. Between 2001 and 2015, 569,229 people died on US highways and 3,939 died from terrorist attacks -- a ratio of 145 to 1.
- Roughly 440 men die in the US each year due to breast cancer. (This doesn't count breast cancer among women, who are roughly 100 times as likely to get it as men.) That’s roughly 0.03 percent (one thirtieth of a percent or 300 per million) of all male deaths in the US. Thus, breast cancer has taken the lives of roughly six times as many men in the US as terrorism since the first entry in the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) in 1970. This rate, 0.03 percent, is the same rate as the worst year on record for France, and roughly a third of the recent worldwide spike in Figure 1.
- Between 1999 and 2003, a total of 1,676 Americans were reported to have drowned in a bathtub, hot tub or spa, averaging 335 a year.
In other words, America’s highways and tubs are greater risks than terrorism, and breast cancer is a greater risk even for males, except in countries with active armed hostilities like Iraq. Beyond this, as noted above, you are several times more likely to die from a fire, accidental poisoning, drowning or a fall.
This is not to trivialize terrorist deaths, but only to say that we should not spend more money on protection against terrorism than the threat deserves -- and we should avoid actions that could make it worse, as suggested by the evidence summarized here.
1.2. Countries with the most terrorism deaths 2014-2015
Figure 4 summarizes the total number of terrorism deaths by country in 2014 and 2015. France and the US are buried in the thirteenth “other” category in this plot. Terrorism is not a substantive problem for France or the US or anywhere else except for the relatively small number of countries with active armed hostilities, identified in Figure 4.
Not one of these countries had a comparable terrorism problem prior to the announcement of the US-led “War on Terror”. This is clear from plots similar to Figures 1-3 for each of these dozen countries individually (available in Appendix 1). Pakistan, Egypt, and Sudan had terrorism problems prior to 2001 but nothing comparable to what they’ve experienced since the US declared a War on Terror.
This claim is supported by more than just the relatively tiny number of deaths and injuries. It is also supported by research on the long-term impact of alternative approaches to conflict. This is called here "effective defense" and summarized in the next section.
2. Research on the long-term impact of alternative approaches to conflict
- When people are killed and property destroyed, the apparent perpetrators often make enemies.
- General David Petraeus as commander of US Central Command understood that “you can't kill your way out of an insurgency, … [Y]ou have to find other kinds of ammunition, and it's not always a bullet," according to one of his closest colleagues.
- General Stanley McChrystal, who held several command positions in Iraq and Afghanistan, wrote, "we found that nearly every first-time jihadist claimed [that the torture at] Abu Ghraib had first jolted him into action." He also said that, "mistreating detainees would discredit us. ... The pictures [from] Abu Ghraib represented a setback for America's efforts in Iraq. Simultaneously undermining US domestic confidence in the way in which America was operating, and creating or reinforcing negative perceptions worldwide of American values, it fueled violence".
The research reviewed here suggests that the world would be safer, more prosperous, and more democratic if the West treated terrorism as a law enforcement issue, strengthening international law, while dramatically reducing its reliance on military force. We need more research to better understand what drives people off the sidelines to support one side or the other in conflict and what motivates them to increase or decrease their level of support and to defect.
2.1. How terrorist groups end
In 2008 two researchers with the RAND Corporation, Seth Jones and Martin Libicki, discussed all the terrorist groups they could find that were active between 1968 and 2006: they found 648. Of those, 136 splintered, 244 were still active, leaving 268 that had ended. Of the ones that ended, 83 percent succumbed to rule of law, including 43 percent converting to non-violent political actors and 40 percent taken out by law enforcement. Only 20 groups, 7 percent, were defeated by military action; 10 percent won.
When Jones and Libicki focused only on terrorist groups that became large enough to be called an “insurgency,” like the Islamic State, the percentages changed: 18 of 38 (47 percent) were ended by negotiations. 10 (26 percent) ended in victory for the insurgents. 8 (21 percent) succumbed to military force. 2 (5 percent) were suppressed by law enforcement.
Thus, when a terrorist group converted to an insurgency, the use of military force increased. Perhaps most importantly, the effectiveness of law enforcement fell dramatically at the expense of major increases in victories by both the terrorists and the military.
Jones and Libicki concluded by recommending “that United States should make police and intelligence efforts the backbone of US counterterrorism policy and move away from its mantra of fighting a war on terrorism.”
Using data from Jones and Libicki (2008), Bapat found that US military aid has tended to reduce the incentives of recipient governments to negotiate, thereby prolonging the threat.
In other words, to the extent that Bapat's analysis is accurate, the War on Terror has been more a war for terror than against terror.
- Why is the West using the least effective approach to terrorism (the military)?
- To what extent are Western governments pressuring other countries to respond militarily to terrorism rather than relying on law enforcement and negotiations, as Bapat claims? Are the results really as negative as Bapat suggests?
2.2. The long-term impact of alternative approaches to conflict
Chenoweth and Stephan (2011) identified all the major governmental change efforts of the twentieth century. They found 217 movements that were predominantly violent and 106 that were primarily nonviolent. Outcomes were classified as either (1) failure, (2) partial success or (3) success. The basic results are summarized in Table 1: Nonviolence was twice as likely to succeed as violence.
Number of conflicts
|(*) Percent within conflicts of the same primary nature. Thus, the "violent" column percents add to 100. The nonviolent total differs from 100 only because of round-off.|
There has been some study of whether the existence of a radical flank increases or decreases the likelihood of success of a primarily nonviolent movement. Chenoweth and Schock (2015) said that, "no study has systematically evaluated the effects of simultaneous armed resistance on the success rates of unarmed resistance campaigns." To fill this gap, they studied which of the 106 primarily nonviolent campaigns in Chenoweth and Stephan (2011) had a radical flank. They concluded that, "large-scale maximalist nonviolent campaigns often succeed despite intra- or extramovement violent flanks, but seldom because of them.”
However, the benefits of nonviolence extend beyond the end of a conflict. Chenoweth and Stephan merged their data with the Polity IV database, which 'is a widely used data series [summarizing] annual information on the level of democracy for all independent states with greater than 500,000 total population and covers the years 1800–2013. ... For each year and country, a "Polity Score" is determined, which ranges from -10 to +10, with -10 to -6 corresponding to autocracies, -5 to 5 corresponding to anocracies, and 6 to 10 to democracies.'
|minimum value||maximum value|
Table 3 shows the average increase in democratization from one year before the start of a conflict to one, five, and ten years after. The results suggest that win or lose, nonviolence tends on average to be followed by an increase in the Polity IV rating while violence has relatively little impact on democratization. As noted above, nonviolence builds democracy, while violence perpetuates tyranny, on average, in the long run.
|(*) None of the changes following violent campaigns are statistically significant while all the changes following nonviolent campaigns are significant at the 0.05 level, and all but three have significance probabilities less than 0.001.|
The reality is more complicated than the simple summary of Table 3: A primary determinant of the level of democracy after a conflict, apart from the primary (violent or nonviolent) nature of the conflict, is the level of democracy before. Figure 6 plots the Polity IV democracy score 5 years after each conflict vs. 1 year before.
This plot includes six panels grouped by the primary nature (violent or nonviolent) of the conflict and the outcome (failure, partial success, success). Points on the dotted diagonal line in each panel indicate conflicts that were accompanied by zero change in their Polity scores for the indicated time frame.
The solid lines in each panel are based on the best fit of several models considered. This expresses the democracy score after the conflict as linearly dependent on the democracy score before plus interactions between outcome and both the democracy score before and the primary nature of the conflict.
These plots show more detail behind the simple summary of Table 3: Successful nonviolent revolutions have on average had a substantial impact in increasing the level of democracy among autocracies but no impact among the best democracies. By contrast, the worst long term outcomes tend to be from successful violent revolutions. This is worth repeating:
- Successful violent revolutions provide the worst prospects for democracy in most cases.
This can be explained by observing that successful violence brings to power people who know how to use violence but are not as good at solving problems without violence. (The comparable analyses of democratization 1 and 10 years after the end of the conflict are essentially the same; those plots are in Appendix 2.)
In sum, the overall image supports the claim made above: Win or lose, nonviolence builds democracy, while violence perpetuates tyranny, on average, in the long run.
This is consistent with the findings of Jones and Libicki (2008) mentioned above, that better outcomes for democracy are achieved when governmental officials support rule of law and negotiations. More on this comes from research on why people obey the law, when they do.
2.3. Why people obey the law
People tend to obey the law, when they do, when legal procedures seem fair to them. Tyler and Huo (2002) concluded that people of different ethnicities in the US have essentially the same concept of justice as majority whites but different experiences. This was based on a survey of African-Americans, Hispanics, and whites. They describe two alternative strategies for effective law enforcement:
- Deterrence: effective but inefficient
- Process-based: efficient and effective
Tyler and Huo's analysis suggests that biased, unprofessional behavior of police, prosecutors and judges not only produces concerns of injustice, it cripples law enforcement efforts by making it more difficult for police and prosecutors to obtain the evidence needed to convict guilty parties.
This is important for winning the War on Terror, because it describes some of the negative consequences of official behaviors that convince substantive segments of society that law enforcement is unjust.
Retired US Green Beret Lt. Col. D. Scott Mann described how US Special Forces units defeated the Taliban by living for extended periods in small Afghan villages, treating the local people with respect, and showing sensitivity to their culture and concerns. In this way, they gradually earned people's trust to the point that people would inform them of Taliban activities in that geographic area and other problems. Where this was not done, Mann said the Taliban was winning.
For more extreme cases, we turn to the work of Robert Pape on “dying to win” and “bombing to win”.
2.4. Dying to win
Suicide terrorism is a primary focus of the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism founded by Robert Pape at the University of Chicago. These data were discussed in his (2005) Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism and his (2010) Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It, with James K. Feldman. Dying to Win analyzed 315 suicide terrorism attacks around the world from 1980 through 2003. Cutting the Fuse evaluated more than 2,100 attacks, over 6 times the number in the first book. Pape and Feldman’s conclusions include the following:
- "Overall, foreign military occupation accounts for 98.5% -- and the deployment of American combat forces for 92% -- of all the 1,833 suicide terrorist attacks around the world in the past six years [2004-2009]."
- "Have these actions ... made America safe? In a narrow sense, America is safer. There has not been another attack on the scale of 9/11. ... In a broader sense, however, America is not safer. Anti-American suicide terrorism is rapidly rising around the world."
- "[I]n both Iraq and Afghanistan ... local communities that did not inherently share the terrorists' political, social, and military agenda, eventually support[ed] the terrorists organization's campaign ... after local communities began to perceive the Western forces as an occupier ... as foreign troops propping up and controlling their national government, changing their local culture, jeopardizing economic well-being, and conducting combat operations with high collateral damage ... . But, we have also seen in Iraq that this perception of occupation can be changed ... ."
- "For over a decade our enemies have been dying to win. By ending the perception that the United States and its allies are occupiers, we can cut the fuse to the suicide terrorism threat."
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, fit Pape’s model: The US maintained a substantive military presence in Saudi Arabia from the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War until 2003. It seems virtually certain that without those foreign troops on Saudi soil, Al Qaeda could not have found 19 young men willing to commit suicide on September 11, 2001, to send a message to the people of the United States.
This position is supported by US government documents declassified on July 15, 2016, that reported that some of the suicide mass murderers of September 11, 2001, had received help from employees of the Saudi Embassy and Consulates in the US, including members of the Saudi royal family, to obtain housing and other things they needed to get the training required to do what they did on that fateful day. Moreover, ranking officials in the George W. Bush administration knew of this complicity at least in 2002 before the US-led invasion of Iraq and successfully convinced the Joint congressional inquiry into the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 to redact 28 pages containing that information from their December 2002 report.
- Given the documented support of Saudi government officials for the September 11 attacks, why did the US invade Afghanistan and Iraq?
- We have enemies, because we have friends like these.
It seems worth noting in this context that negotiations for the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline were suspended after the 1998 United States embassy bombings over Taliban support for bin Laden, who had been accused of masterminding those 1998 bombings. Pipeline construction began in 2015 without the need for a jury trial of bin Laden. This coincidence does not prove that the pipeline was part of the motivation for invading Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, but the coincidence is striking.
2.5. Bombing to win
Bombing to win by Robert Pape provides a qualitative survey of all the uses of airpower up to the early 1990s. He concluded that strategic bombing was wasteful, and the only uses of airpower that contributed to military victory involved support of ground operations. He made a possible exception for nuclear weapons, but noted that when the Japanese Emperor Hirohito informed his military of the need to surrender after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he did NOT mention the atomic bomb. Instead he noted the Soviet entry into the war and the rapid collapse of the elite Japanese forces in Manchuria that followed. Hirohito’s true motives are unclear, because when he spoke to the civilian population, he mentioned the atomic bombings and not the Soviets.
Regarding nuclear weapons, retired US Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich claimed that, “Nuclear weapons are unusable. Their employment in any conceivable scenario would be a political and moral catastrophe. … [T]hey are unlikely to dissuade the adversaries most likely to employ such weapons against us -- Islamic extremists … . If anything, the opposite is true. By retaining a strategic arsenal in readiness ..., the United States continues tacitly to sustain the view that nuclear weapons play a legitimate role in international politics”.
Bacevich’s concern is strengthened by an estimate of the probability distribution of the "time to extinction of civilization". That analysis concludes that there is a probability of between 10 and 20 percent of a nuclear war in the next 40 years that would loft so much soot into the stratosphere where rain clouds rarely form and where most of it would remain for decades preventing up to 70 percent of the sunlight from reaching the surface of the earth. This would produce a nuclear winter during which roughly 98 percent of humanity would starve to death.
Considerations like these have driven some senior US statesmen like former US Senator Sam Nunn, former US Secretary of Defense William Perry, former US Secretary of States Henry Kissinger and George Shultz to support nuclear disarmament, though not necessarily unilaterally.
On the broader question of the effectiveness of strategic bombing, the US Air Force (USAF) funded a 1999 study by the RAND corporation on that. It did NOT support Pape’s conclusions. However, this RAND study produced a database of “all instances of air power coercion from 1917 to 1999”, which was used by Horowitz and Reiter (2001). Applying multivariate probit analysis, Horowitz and Reiter concluded the following:
- Coercion is more effective when the target's military vulnerability is higher.
- Higher levels of civilian vulnerability have no effect on the chances of coercion success.
- Target regime type (its Polity score) has no effect.
- Success is less likely when the attacker demands the target change its leadership.
The first two of these four conclusions provide a more solid empirical basis for Pape’s claims. The fourth of these conclusions seems consistent with the observation of Jones and Libicki (2008) discussed above, that 43 percent of terrorist groups ended with a negotiated political settlement.
One interpretation of this is that the collateral damage from strategic bombing can easily be viewed as excessive by the victims and people on the sidelines. However, with ground operations, it’s generally less obvious who should be blamed for collateral damage.
As noted above, we need more research to better understand what drives people off the sidelines to support one side or the other in conflict and what motivates them to increase or decrease their level of support and to defect. Moreover, this research should be funded and managed by sources independent of anyone with a conflict of interest in the conclusions. This information should be compiled in more or less in real time with at most a few months delay in making it available to the public.
The research available today suggests that the impact of collateral damage on the evolution of conflict may be substantially greater than is acknowledged by those driving current US military operations. As noted in the introduction to this section, when people are killed and property destroyed, the apparent perpetrators often make enemies.
However, until the public gains a better understanding the counterproductive nature of collateral damage, we cannot expect wisdom in this area to weigh very heavily in the selection of political and military leaders. A tragic example is how the G. W. Bush administration politicized intelligence to justify invading Iraq. People were fired for insisting that the available evidence did not support claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or links to al Qaeda. We need more research on how to win (or better avoid) wars -- and more public awareness of this distinction.
Without this, it's easy for the side with a bigger military to win battles and lose wars. Generals and admirals are too often pushed to choose strategies that resonate with their superiors but manufacture enemies faster than they can be neutralized. This is part of how the British lost the American Revolution, and how the US lost its war in Vietnam, to name only two examples. There is a growing body of evidence that “collateral damage” is rarely neutral.
The Obama administration has claimed that drones (unmanned combat aerial vehicles) are over 95 percent effective in killing enemy combatants. Their opposition, including many former drone pilots, who have spoken out at risk of being prosecuted for exposing classified information, claim that the figure may be closer to 50 percent. The discrepancy is explained by the claim that people killed in a drone strike are classified as EKIA (enemy killed in action) unless there is substantial evidence to the contrary.
2.7. Islamic terrorism
There is evidence to suggest that the two most effective recruiters for Islamic terrorism may be Saudi Arabia and the United States.
- As noted in the discussion above of "dying to win", without US troops on Saudi soil 1991-2001, no Islamic terrorist organization would likely have found 19 young men willing to commit suicide in a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.
- Saudi government complicity in the preparations for that attack became known to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as early as 1999. This was documented in "The 28 Pages", declassified 2016-07-15 by then-President Barack Obama. Those "28 pages" include a discussion of an America West flight that made an emergency landing in 1999 when someone tried to break into the cockpit. The apparent perpetrator showed the FBI a Saudi passport and a ticket apparently paid by the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC. That information was classified "Top Secret", presumably to keep it from raising too many questions about the US military presence in Saudi Arabia and about the efforts of G. W. Bush administration to invade (a) Afghanistan just under a month after the September 11 attacks and (b) Iraq in March 2003.
- The growth of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also called the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) or "Daesh", appears to have been a product of both (a) excessive collateral damage and (b) media censorship (discussed below) that enabled corruption to grow excessively in the post-Saddam Iraqi government and military. A former Chief Strategist in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism of the US State Department, David Kilcullen, said that "There undeniably would be no Isis if we had not invaded Iraq." Graham Fuller, a former CIA agent, was quoted in a 2014 interview as follows: "I think the United States is one of the key creators of [ISIS]. The United States did not plan the formation of ISIS, but its destructive interventions in the Middle East and the war in Iraq were the basic causes of the birth of ISIS.
- Other sources note that, “[A]lmost all of ISIL's leaders ... are former Iraqi military and intelligence officers, … who lost their jobs and pensions in the de-Ba'athification process” undertaken by the US-led occupation. “ISIL is a theocracy, proto-state and a Salafi or Wahhabi group.”
- The Salafi / Wahhabi branch of Islam is the most violent form of Islam, promoted by the Saudi royal family in part by funding schools and mosques throughout the Muslim world that taught their branch of Islam. At the same time, Structural adjustment programs pushed by the US through the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have allegedly made life more difficult for all but the ultra-wealthy in many poor countries while pushing those countries to reduce their funding for education. As a result, the Saudi-funded Wahhabi-Salafist schools became the primary educational alternative for the children of many poor people. Many ISIL fighters reportedly came out of such schools.
- ISIL relies mostly on captured weapons. For example, in Mosul between 4 and 10 June 2014 a group of between 500 and 600 ISIL troops “were able to seize six divisions’ worth of strategic weaponry, all of it US-supplied” from a force with a paper strength of 120,000 men. This invasion included suicide attacks, which are almost always motivated by a foreign occupation (as discussed above). The invading troops were faced by an army where “every officer had to pay for his post”, and made money from soldiers who would kick back “half their salaries to their officers in return for staying at home or doing another job”, and from receiving funds to feed an organization three times the size on paper as were actually there.
- In 2008 Stuart A. Levey, the Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in the US Department of the Treasury, told the US Senate Finance Committee that “Saudi Arabia today remains the location where more money is going to terrorism, to Sunni terror groups and to the Taliban than any other place in the world." In October 2010 he reported “significant improvement in the partnership between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia in targeting al Qaeda financing.” However, two months later, Wikileaks published leaked US diplomatic cable saying that, “Private individuals in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states friendly to the United States are the chief source of funding for al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups,” quoting a 2009 cable from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying, "It has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority”. And in August 2018 the Associated Press reported that Saudi Arabia was paying al Qaeda to help them fight the rebels in Yemen.
The sources cited above suggests that key decisions in the rise of Islamic terrorism were made by virtually every US president dating back to Franklin Roosevelt, but especially George W. Bush.
- We have enemies, because we have friends like these.
- The widespread demonization of terrorists with minimal context is an obstacle to effective action that could address the issues that drive people to support violence and escalate a conflict.
Fact check: Radical Islamic terrorists represent between 0.03 and 0.14 percent (between one out of 700 and one out of 3,000) of the more than 1.7 billion Muslims in the world today, according to Brian Steed, a Lt. Col. on the faculty of the US Army Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth and author of a recent book on the Islamic State.
One more point about Islamic terrorist groups: Part of their appeal is their claim that the West hates Islam.xenophobic rhetoric coming from people like Marine Le Pen in France, and Donald Trump in the US, both of whose electoral success is based in part on anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim platforms.It's easy to believe that if you listen to the
Their ability to attract support would be reduced if the West increased its support for refugees, including Muslims. An important precedent for this discussion is the implicit support for the Nazis provided by the refusal of other countries to accept Jewish refugees in the late 1930s and the story behind the book and movie, Voyage of the Damned: The MS St. Louis left Hamburg for Cuba on May 13, 1939. Most of her 937 passengers were Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. En route, Cuba revoked their entry visas. Only 29, most with valid visas to other countries, were allowed to enter Cuba. Of the rest, 288 eventually settled in Britain. Most of the rest died during the war, primarily in Nazi death camps.
If the US, Britain, and other countries had accepted at least the vast majority of people wanting to leave Nazi Germany, it would have weakened the Nazi program in at least two ways:
- The death camps would not have been built, because the Nazis would not have had enough support from their own people to prevent the refugees from leaving.
- It would have raised questions about the Nazi rhetoric that the jews were parasites like tape worms or lice. This in turn could have made it more difficult for them to get public support for war, possibly even reducing the strength of their military. The war likely still would have occurred, though that's not certain. If it did, the refugees would have had greater motivation to fight than just about anyone else in the countries allied against the Axis.
2.8. The cost of US wars in the Middle East
In a campaign rally October 26, 2016, then-candidate Trump 'repeated his call to "drain the swamp," knocking the "failed elites in Washington" for being wrong about everything from foreign policy to health care. "The people opposing us are the same people — and think of this — who’ve wasted $6 trillion on wars in the Middle East — we could have rebuilt our country twice — that have produced only more terrorism, more death, and more suffering – imagine if that money had been spent at home".
PolitiFact rated Trump's $6 trillion figure as "half true", because "he is confusing money that’s been spent with money that researchers say will be spent", like obligations for benefits for combat-related disabilities of veterans that will eventually be paid over the coming decades. In this analysis, PolitiFact compared this $6 trillion number with sources giving numbers ranging from $4.8 to $7.9 trillion.
We first note that Trump's concern that US "wars in the Middle East ... have produced only more terrorism" is consistent with the evidence summarized elsewhere in this article.
However, we also wish to focus on this $6 trillion figure: That relates to wars between 2001 and 2016 -- 15 years. Thus, the US has been spending (or incurring obligations for future spending) at the rate of roughly $0.4 trillion. By comparison, we note that the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was estimated at $18.6 trillion for 2016. With this base, $0.4 trillion is over 2 percent of GDP. We will return to this in the section below on "media funding and governance" and especially "citizen-directed subsidies".
2.9. Trump and refugees
Very early in his Presidency, Donald Trump took several actions to implement some of the anti-immigrant policies that had formed a key part of his campaign. However, his justification for those policies have generally been contradicted by the available evidence.
For example, he promised to suspend immigration from "areas of the world when there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States”. However, his executives orders 13769 from January 27, 2017, and 13780 from March 6, 2017, reportedly did not include any Muslim-majority countries with which he has business relations. In particular, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and Indonesia were not mentioned in his executive orders, even though nationals from Saudi Arabia and Egypt were directly involved in the September 11 attacks -- and there is substantial documentation of other connections between Saudi Arabia and Islamic terrorism, as noted above.
How were the leaders (including their staffs) who made these key decisions selected?
2.10. Leaders and experts
Leaders and experts in many fields make worse predictions than simple rules of thumb developed by intelligent lay people, according to research psychologist Daniel Kahneman. After studying the quality of expert opinion, Kahneman concluded that “true skill” requires two things:
- An environment that is sufficiently regular to be predictable.
- Opportunities to learn through prolonged practice.
Some fields have these attributes; others do not.
One of Kahneman's examples involves financial markets. Two things happen every trading day. First, the financial markets either go up or down. Second, the nightly news features a pundit, who tells us why. The value of this commentary for predicting the future is zero. That's because this situation lacks sufficient regularity to support learning (Kahneman's first condition), as enough people with enough money are already in the market trying to predict it. The daily movements in prices reflect what's left and is essentially random. However, claims of random variability will not attract an audience, but “experts” spouting nonsense will -- as long as the audience doesn't know it's nonsense.
Kahneman's two conditions rarely apply in politics. With media primarily focused on selling behavior change in their audience to funders (as noted in the discussion of the media below), xenophobic politicians are too often promoted while people trying to facilitate understanding and deescalation over escalation in conflict may be vilified as naive appeasers. Former Vice President Cheney's One Percent Doctrine was used to justify torture and preventive war in the absence of substantive evidence to support it, with no apparent consideration of how such policies might manufacture support for the opposition.
In a survey of empirical research on "Interventions / Uses of force short of war," Prins wrote, "hawkish leaders frequently rise to power by exploiting fears of conflict escalation. The increasingly coercive polices designed to check a rival only exacerbate security concerns and deepen national perceptions of enmity." From at least some perspectives, US Vice President Dick Cheney and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon might fit this description by Prins.
Similar questions have been raised about how military officers are promoted. During active hostilities, the ability to win military battles can weigh heavily in promotion criteria. However, the impact of those battles on the long term outcome of the conflict is rarely a consideration.
- It is difficult if not impossible for military and political leaders to acquire Kahneman’s “true skill,” because the long-term impact of their actions is difficult to discern in the short term and not rewarded by the current political climate.
This short-term information deficit increases the need to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on what motivates one’s opposition. Moreover, the system for collecting and disseminating such information should be independent of the policy makers, because the temptation to suppress bad news is generally too great to resist.
- Virtually every party to conflict thinks they know more than they do about what motivates their opposition.
This follows from the overconfidence that virtually everyone has in the value of current knowledge, discussed below. Independent collection and dissemination of information on the motivations of people in conflict may help open paths to dialog and resolution, thereby reducing the duration and lethality of conflict.
The quotes from Generals Petraeus and McChrystal in the introduction to this section on “effective defense” suggest that some leaders may understand this, at least at some level. However, these kinds of observations generally get too little coverage in the mainstream media, perhaps because they do not support the responses apparently favored by major advertisers like the major oil companies. (See also the discussion of media ownership, funding and profitability, below.)
2.11. US foreign interventions in opposition to democracy
- Are the US and the rest of the world better off as a result of its numerous interventions in foreign countries in opposition to democracy?
Consider the military coups that destroyed democracy in Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, Brazil 1964, and Chile 1973: In all these cases there is solid documentation of US involvement. Beyond this, there are substantial claims that the US clandestinely supported the 1949 Syrian coup; at minimum, the Trans-Arabian Pipeline, which had been held up in the Syrian parliament, was approved roughly 6 weeks after the coup.
Consider also the 1952 Cuban elections, which were canceled by a military coup on March 10 organized by Fulgencio Batista. Batista had been supported by the US as de facto head of state of Cuba since 1933, but polls showed him losing badly. The US officially deplored the coup but recognized the new Batista government on March 27.
Fidel Castro, a 25-year old attorney, had been running for a seat in the Cuban House of Representatives in that election. If democracy had not been overthrown in Cuba, Fidel likely would have had a career as a politician and attorney in a democratic Cuba.
Similarly, Che Guevara had been working in Guatemala at the time of the 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état. That coup turned him into a revolutionary. Without that coup, Guevara would likely have had a successful career improving public health and democracy in Latin America.
Also, former President Eisenhower said, "I have never talked or corresponded with a person knowledgeable in Indochinese affairs who did not agree that had elections been held as of the time of the fighting [leading to the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954], possibly 80 per cent of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh". History records that Eisenhower used that information to get Ngo Dinh Diem appointed as the head of the government in the southern region of Vietnam following the Geneva Accords of 1954, and Diem effectively canceled the reunification elections scheduled for 1956 as part of those agreements. In spite of substantial discussion in the US media of the need to win the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people, the US in essence turned a blind eye to the governmental corruption that had driven people to support Ho Chi Minh and ignored the massive “collateral damage” that drove people to continue to support the insurgents.
An October 14, 2014, story quoted then-President Obama as saying, “Very early in [the discussions about helping Syrian rebels], I actually asked the C.I.A. to analyze examples of America financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well. And they couldn’t come up with much.”
- If the overall record of US foreign interventions is positive, the successes are well hidden.
2.12. G. W. Bush: "Why do they hate us?"
He gave his own answer to this rhetorical question: "They hate [our] democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other."
We need serious, unclassified research into why people choose one side or the other in this and other conflicts, why some people remain on the sidelines, and why some change their affiliations over time, increasing or decreasing their level of support, deserting or defecting. Such research might identify a large portion of US enemies motivated a desire for the freedoms the US claims to hold so dear and a hatred of US support for governments that deny them those freedoms.
And in addition to researching such questions, we need a media system that will disseminate the results, free from the conflicts of interest that encumber the mainstream media virtually everywhere today, as suggested elsewhere in this essay.
In fact, US governmental officials knew on September 11, 2001, that the government of Saudi Arabia was involved in the preparations for the September 11 attacks. This is documented in "The 28 Pages" of material redacted from the December 2002 report of the joint US House and Senate Committee investigating intelligence failures regarding the September 11 attacks, removed on the insistence of US President George W. Bush. Those documents do not say whether President Bush himself knew that when the US, the UK, Canada and Australia invaded Afghanistan 2001-10-07.
However, before the US invaded, the government of Afghanistan offered to turn over Osama bin Laden, but they wanted evidence of bin Laden's complicity in the September 11 attacks.
Evidently, the US invaded Afghanistan for other reasons. And the failure of the mainstream media in the US to support the Afghani request for evidence of bin Laden's complicity and their virtually nonexistent coverage of "The 28 Pages" seems to support the assertions elsewhere in this essay.
- The rules of evidence in the court of public opinion are whatever will maximize the power of those who control media funding and governance.
The future prospects for peace on earth would be enhanced greatly by (a) research into what motivates people in conflict and (b) media that would be more likely to tell the public what they need to know to understand their opposition in conflict.
2.13. Obama's approach to counterterrorism
On December 6, 2016, Obama gave his last foreign policy address as President. He had seven major points:
- Keep the threat in perspective.
- Don't overreach.
- Respect rule of law.
- Fight terrorists in a way that does not create more.
- Insist on transparency and accountability not just in times of peace but, more importantly, in times of conflict.
- Emphasize diplomacy.
- Uphold the civil liberties that define us.
These points seem to summarize the thrust of this essay up to this point. The recent spike in terrorist deaths in Figures 1 and 2 and in Appendix 1 all seem to be products of violations of these principles.
2.14. Eli Lake on "How Trump could finally win the war on terror"
Three days after Obama's December 6 speech, Eli Lake acknowledge that what Obama said makes good sense for the most part.
Lake continued by saying that the failure of G. W. Bush and Obama to win the war on terror is due to a failure to acknowledge that jihadists "seek conquest." They don't hate us because of our freedom, as President George W. Bush claimed. "Their objective is not to provoke an overreaction where America ceases to be a democracy. ... These groups want to force the non-Muslim world ... to submit to Islamic rule."
The analysis here does not contradict Lake's claim regarding the goal of some of the Jihadists' leadership. However, it's not clear why that's even relevant. If you, dear reader, know of any evidence why it should make a difference, please post it here.
We next consider how the structure of the media contribute to the escalation and perpetuation of conflict, and how alternative systems for funding and governing media might improve the prospects for conflict resolution and world peace.
This section first discusses research on human psychology and how that interacts with the political economy of the media. This suggests that winning the War on Terror might require greater democratic control of the media. Alternative systems for media funding and governance are then reviewed.
3.1. Human psychology and the media
This section discusses two important observations by Daniel Kahneman, mentioned above:
- Humans tend to be excessively overconfident in the value of what they think they know.
- People pay too much attention to things that are novel and poignant and too little attention to things that are more important and more common.
Most humans tend to remember news and information that is consistent with their preconceptions and forget or don’t even see conflicting evidence. To counteract this Kahneman pushes us to be more humble about what we think we know: We should look for credible information sources that conflict with our preconceptions. If we do, we may find with the famous comic strip character Pogo that, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
- How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and [how] hard it is to undo that work again! 
- I’m hurt less by things I don’t know than things I do know that ain’t so.
3.1.2. Novel and poignant
This essay began with a discussion of the minuscule nature of terrorism compared to other causes of death. This raises the following question:
- Why do we place so much more emphasis on terrorism than on other issues that are much more common causes of death?
Kahneman says that people pay more attention to things that are novel and poignant, like terrorism incidents. As a result, media organizations look for that kind of material.
This becomes a problem when reports lack adequate context, thereby leading the public to believe that problems highlighted are far worse than they really are. For example, "strokes cause almost twice as many deaths as all accidents combined, but 80% of respondents [in a survey] judged accidental death to be more likely. ... [This is because media] coverage is itself biased toward novelty and poignancy. The media do not just shape what the public is interested in, but also are shaped by it."
3.1.3. Availability cascade vs. media feeding frenzy
This discussion of novelty and poignancy helps explain the phenomenon of a self-reinforcing cycle of high public interest in a certain topic that invites the media to produce a series of stories about that issue. The resulting cycle is sometimes called an availability cascade.
However, an availability cascade rarely occurs when it might displease someone with substantive control over the media, discussed in the next section on the “political economy of the media.” The term "media feeding frenzy" is almost synonymous with “availability cascade,” but "media feeding frenzy" may suggest more of a role for flinching, shading or even suppressing a story or limiting its run to minimize displeasure to media owners, managers, or funders.
3.2. The political economy of the media
- Media organizations sell changes in the behaviors of their audience to their funders.
A media organization without an audience won’t have funding for long. If the audience fails to change behaviors in ways that please the funders -- or, worse, if they change behaviors in ways that threaten the funders -- the money will go elsewhere. A media organization must please both its audience and its funders.
With commercial media, story coverage is sometimes "tailored to maximize its appeal to key demographic groups: those who are most likely to buy the advertised product. When target audiences place low value on hard news, media outlets have an incentive to reduce current affairs and political reporting in favor of entertainment and sports coverage."
Tailoring news to sell products is serious but minor relative to suppressing coverage of favors that major advertisers get from government, which is the primary activity of legislators, at least in the US Congress, according to Lawrence Lessig's Republic, Lost. It is also minor when compared to suppressing information regarding likely US actions against democracy in foreign countries or stampeding the US into war on questionable grounds, discussed elsewhere in this essay.
Moreover, the National Association of Broadcasters vigorously opposed FCC support for research into the critical information needs of different communities in the US. Why would they do that? Are they afraid that the research might suggest that the public has information needs that are not being met and might lead to efforts to fix that problem?
3.2.1. Media coverage of conflict
As conflicts escalate, at some point media organizations become party to the conflict, amplifying the propaganda that drives people apart and reduces the chances for negotiated settlements and resolution using law enforcement. This is more subtle and more destructive than the standard dictum that, "Truth is the first casualty of war." We consider three examples: The U.S. Civil War, the Cold War, Israel today, and the US since the September 11 attacks.
By the time of the U.S. Civil War, many moderately sized cities in the US had at least two newspapers, often with very different political perspectives. As the South began to succeed, some papers in the North recommended that the South should be allowed to leave. “The government, however, was not willing to allow 'sedition' to masquerade (in its opinion) as 'freedom of the press.'” Several newspapers were closed by government action. After the massive Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run, angry mobs in the North destroyed substantial property used by “successionist” newspapers. Those still in publication quickly came to support the war to avoid mob action and government repression and to retain their audiences.
Given what is known today about the evolution of conflict (including the research on the long-term impact of alternative approaches to conflict discussed above), it seems likely that nearly everyone would be better off today if the North had let the South succeed. This is consistent with the findings of Chenoweth and Stephan, discussed above. It is also supported by the fact that the South had a substantial population of free whites, many of whom did not like having to compete with slave labor and might have supported slaves fleeing to the Union without Union troops on Confederate soil. The violence of the Civil War built (or at least strengthened) bonds between poor Southern whites and the Southern aristocracy that contribute to the problems with racism that plague the US to this day.
Many of the questionable actions of the Cold War can be explained as heavily influenced by mainstream media support for US international business interest. For example, if major oil companies in the US did not advertise, might more questions have been raised about the destruction of democracy in Syria in 1949 and Iran in 1953, at the behest of international petroleum interests? If United Fruit did not advertise, might more questions have been raised about the 1954 coup in Guatemala? The tie is less specific regarding the cancellation of elections in Cuba in 1952 or Vietnam in 1956, but if the mainstream commercial media in the US had raised too many questions about those events, they likely would have offended executives in many multinational corporations. If all of Eisenhower's contacts "knowledgeable in Indochinese affairs" agreed that Ho Chi MInh would likely have gotten 80 percent of the popular vote in 1954, the mainstream commercial media in the US should have been aware of that; the fact that substantive questions were not raised about the cancellation of elections there in 1956 strongly suggests editorial decisions to suppress that coverage. Similar claims can be made about the destruction of democracy in Brazil in 1954 and Chile in 1973. This may not qualify as proof beyond a reasonable doubt, required for a criminal conviction. However, it would seem to meet the standard of a "preponderance of the evidence', required in a civil trial.
The evolution of the media in Israel followed roughly the development of the US media, according to Israeli scholar Yorim Peri: At the creation of the state of Israel, newspapers tended to be associated with political parties. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, they became more commercial and professional.
However, the range of acceptable political discourse has always been constrained by concerns about national security. “When the security situation is tense, pressure for consensus and uniformity tends to increase. At such times, the audience is less willing to hear different opinions. Therefore the media cannot completely fulfill its function as the arena where issues are hashed out or hammered out before being brought to the political system for a policy decision. An ongoing state of emergency undermines the readiness for pluralism, tolerance and liberalism and amplifies public expectations that the media will exhibit more ‘social responsibility’ -- be less critical, more committed to the collective endeavor, and more supportive of the national leadership. Above all, a state of emergency legitimizes the state’s deeper and deeper intrusion into the private sphere and into civil society.”
Peri further claimed that the Israeli media could have warned of the impending attack prior to the initiation of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. After the war “Israeli journalists conceded that their total dependence and trust in the government and uncritical adoration of the top brass were responsible for media not issuing a warning that war was about to break out.”
Peri continued, “In the 1990s -- during the peace process, which made it appear that the era of warfare was at an end and that Israel was becoming a postwar society -- the professional autonomy of the media grew, and journalists adopted a more critical stance. However, the failure of the peace talks in the summer of 2000 and the outbreak of the second Intifada with its suicide attacks aimed at the heart of the civilian population led to a serious retreat ... . State agencies and the public even more so again exerted pressure for media reorientation, demanding that the media restrain its criticism and circle the wagons."
Peri’s claims are consistent with an earlier paper on “Palestinian civil resistance against Israeli military occupation,” which claimed that the nonviolence of the First Intifada made a greater contribution to the ability of Palestinians to live and prosper in that region than anything Palestinians have done before or since.
The First Intifada began spontaneously after four Palestinians were killed and eight seriously injured after an Israeli military vehicle struck a car carrying Palestinian day laborers on December 7, 1987. This led to 65,661 nonviolent protests and 140 shooting incidents in 1988 and 1989. Overreaction by Israeli troops and settlers over the first 18 months led to the deaths of roughly 650 Palestinians, totally out of proportion to the physical threat.
Press coverage led to condemnation of this overreaction in Israel and around the world. Yitzhak Rabin was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1992, promising negotiations with Palestinians, defeating the more hawkish Yitzhak Shamir.
While nearly everyone in occupied Palestine understood they could not win with guns, those advocating nonviolence were unable to prevent everyone under occupation from using firearms, as quantified in Figure 8: Shootings a a proportion of total incidents were only one sixth of a percent in 1988 and rose to four thirds of a percent in 1992; they averaged half a percent from 1988 to 1992.
The nonviolent advocates were also unable to keep youth from throwing rocks, which many supporters of Israel did not see as nonviolent. Moreover, Israel was clandestinely arming Hamas, as a counterweight to both the nonviolence and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). And many PLO leaders were still advocating violence. Chenoweth and Stephan classified the First Intifada as a "partial success," because it obtained some concessions including international recognition but failed to shake off the occupation.
Unfortunately, too few Palestinians recognized what they had gained through nonviolence. On September 28, 2000, Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount complex, the holiest place in the world to Jews and the third holiest site in Islam, accompanied by an escort of over 1,000 Israeli police officers.
This was seen as a deliberate provocation by many and produced a violent response by Palestinians. That violence seemed to help Sharon win the election for Prime Minister the following February 6 with 62 percent of the vote. The research on nonviolence summarized above and elsewhere suggests that if the Palestinian response had been nonviolent, it could have helped bridge rather than deepen the gap between Jews and Palestinians.
To what extent might Peri’s comments apply to the US response to the September 11, 2001? This includes the suppression of debate in the mainstream commercial media over the official justification for the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. It also includes the creation of the US Department of Homeland Security and the expansion of surveillance activities by agencies like the US National Security Agency (NSA) without authorization from Congress. This was exposed by Ed Snowden following the apparent perjury of James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, before a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
In the three examples of this section, the US Civil War, Israel and the US since September 11, 2001, the media arguably became a party to the conflict. In the first two cases, their audiences seemed to demand it. In the latter two cases, there’s substantial evidence that the general interests of the bottom 99 percent of the people in Israel and the US were ill served by the following:
- Intelligence services that either failed to appropriately assess potential threats or suppressed information or fabricated evidence to please superiors.
- Excessive willingness of the media to support unquestioningly the policies and pronouncements of those leading the national security apparatus.
For more, see the discussion in “Implications,” below.
Let’s now turn from audience to funding and management of media organizations.
3.2.2. Media ownership, funding and profitability
- Media organizations can libel and slander poor people with impunity but must of necessity flinch before disseminating anything that might offend anyone with substantive control over the media.
The basic economics of journalism has multiple consequences for efficiency:
- Stories impacting poor people can be disseminated with little or no fact checking, because their ability to retaliate is minimal.
- Stories that might offend anyone with substantive influence over the media require much more fact checking and editing that might otherwise be required and may never appear.
Evidence of this is seen in the five-fold increase in the incarceration rate in the US between 1975 and 2000, after the incarceration rate had been relatively stable at roughly 0.1 percent for the previous half century; see Figure 9. The obvious driver of this was a shift in US politics that began around 1975 to "get tough on crime."
This political change was driven by a shift in editorial policies of mainstream commercial broadcasting to focus on the police blotter. The broadcasters found they could reduce expenditures for investigative journalism, thereby reducing the risks of offending major advertisers, while still retaining (and perhaps increasing) their audience.
The public got the impression that crime was out of control, even though no increase in crime was evident in the best available data. Politicians who wanted to "get tough on crime" replaced those who resisted this trend. The laws were changed, and the incarceration rate in the US jumped dramatically, especially among people of color.
Beyond this, what happens when police and prosecutors get convictions based on torture, coerced perjury, planted or falsified evidence or suppression of exculpatory evidence? Because stories from the police blotter are so cheap to produce, journalists and media outlets have a conflict of interest in honest reporting on any case involving official misconduct unless it becomes so big the media would lose audience for failing to report it.
This provides an opportunity for corrupt police, prosecutors and judges, who believe they get promoted on convictions. They get credit for fighting crime without actually impacting the crime rate, because the real perpetrators are still free.
When fraudulent convictions are obtained disproportionately against minorities, increasing portions of minority communities come to distrust the police. This in turn makes it more difficult to obtain the cooperation of the community, thereby making policing more difficult. The law enforcement budget is safe, primarily because the media continue to report crimes committed by poor people with few, if any, references to the fact that there has been no substantive change in crime to support the changes in law that have driven up the incarceration rate documented in Figure 9.
Between 1989 and March 2017 at least 15 major police scandals came to light involving over 1,800 innocent defendants convicted on planted or falsified evidence, forced confessions, coerced perjury, suppression of exculpatory evidence, inadequate defense, and other forms of official misconduct by police, prosecutors and judges -- who evidently believe that they get promoted based on convictions.
It would be interesting to study how this might be different with citizen-directed subsidies for media, as discussed below. If the research summarized in this section is accurate and balanced, then citizen-directed subsidies for media might provide
- More coverage of crimes committed by major advertisers and earlier exposure of official misconduct by police, prosecutors and judges, and
- Fewer people sentenced to death or long terms in prison for crimes they did not commit.
- Frustration with the meddling of a CBS executive in stories of great importance to the nation, and
- The fact that CBS was firing senior investigative journalists at that time.
One of his examples was a discussion of “Tobacco on Trial”. This story was of particular concern to Lawrence Tisch, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CBS at the time. Tisch was also a co-founder and major stockholder in Loews, which owned Lorillard Tobacco, a party to a lawsuit discussed in “Tobacco on Trial.”
- Journalism is spreading what someone does not want you to know; the rest is propaganda.
This episode of 60 Minutes was one small battle pitting honest journalism against the survival and profitability of the US tobacco industry. A few years later, in January 1994, a former R. J. Reynolds employee with a doctorate in engineering began talking secretly to the Food and Drug Administration and to journalists. She exposed how the tobacco industry manipulated nicotine levels to maximize addiction and company profitability while also “quietly nudging US Department of Commerce and US trade representatives to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to pry open foreign markets to American cigarettes”. After some of this aired on ABC’s Day One, Philip Morris filed a $10 billion libel lawsuit against ABC and the show’s lead producers for what they claimed was “false and defamatory” reporting that had been produced “knowingly, recklessly, and with malice.” ABC had already invested half a million dollars in an expanded investigation of this, which was ultimately canceled to end the litigation. “Philip Morris had shown that ‘for a paltry $10 million or $20 million in legal fees … you can effectively silence the criticism,’” Lewis wrote.
The decision to cancel that show was a sensible business decision on the part of ABC: They had much less at stake than Philip Morris, whose entire future was threatened. It was highly unlikely that ABC could ever gain an increase in audience sufficient to cover their legal costs in this Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP).
Meanwhile, Philip Morris also got what they wanted in international trade agreements. They’ve used these trade agreements to sue the governments of Uruguay, Australia, and Norway for lost profits due to labeling requirements in those countries that have led to reductions in tobacco consumption (and improvements in public health).
The more stringent tobacco labeling requirements in Uruguay have improved public health there, but the legal fees are a major drain on the government's budget. Fortunately, former New York Mayor Bloomberg and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation launched a multi-million dollar fund to help smaller countries (including Uruguay) fight legal battles with tobacco companies. Bloomberg said, "We are in this to help countries that can't afford to defend themselves against an industry which will try to kill a billion people this century,"
- With more citizen direction in the selection of news, would the laws have been written to allow Philip Morris to file suit in cases like this?
What does this discussion of incarcerations and tobacco say about how the Middle East might be different without the impact of big oil or other major international businesses with major advertising budgets? Would the United States have supported the Saudi royal family since the 1930s if major US advertisers did not believe they benefitted from maintaining the power of the House of Saud?
3.2.3. Media and politics
The mainstream media interacts with politics as follows:
- The mainstream media create the stage upon which politicians read their lines.
By selective coverage, the mainstream media can paint the black white and the white black.
- The mainstream media define the range of acceptable political discourse.
This disturbing measure of the outsized impact of funding on elections is a product of the interaction between the business model of the media and the fact that we humans too often make decisions based on what comes readily to mind -- and too seldom check our facts, as outlined in the discussion above of Kahneman's research.
Investigative journalism is expensive and risky, as noted in the previous section on “Media ownership, funding and profitability”.
Fact checking during political campaigns could make it easier for politicians to get elected with less advertising. That’s a losing business from at least two perspectives:
- Politicians and their big money supporters, whose questionable claims were exposed, would be offended by being challenged.
- Voters could make more intelligent decisions in the voting booth with less advertising purchased by candidates.
Most journalist working for the mainstream broadcasters in the US today have little time to check facts, and are largely encouraged to let people state their positions without question. An exception is Democracy Now!, where hosts like Amy Goodman frequently ask guests for their response to what their opposition says.
This lack of fact checking has contributed to the current post-truth era in the US, where political discourse is increasingly driven by fake news circulating in part on social media. By some accounts, the success of the Brexit referendum in the UK and the Trump candidacy in the 2016 US presidential election were build in part on highly successful placement of claims in social media selected to be credible to a specific audience based on data mining of people’s online activities. A leader in this field was for a time Cambridge Analytica, whose Chief Executive, Alexander Nix, said:
- "Today in the United States we have somewhere close to four or five thousand data points on every individual. ... So we model the personality of every adult across the United States, some 230 million people."
On May 1, 2018, Cambridge Analytica officially ceased operations. In doing so, it maintained its innocence, claiming it "has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas." There are, as Cambridge Analytica claimed, other organizations (possibly including "cyberwarfare" arms of security services of different nation states) doing similar work, contributing to the Balkanization and exploitation of the international body politic. It is unclear how different Cambridge Analytica's activities differed from those of such other organizations that have so far not been similarly "vilified" and whether the demise of Cambridge Analytical will materially reduce the level of Balkanization created by these types of activities.
Before leaving this discussion, it may be worth suggesting that "conservatism" as defined by the US corporate elite seems to have created the current environment of fact-free news and post-truth politics. The creation and maintenance of this environment seems to require denigrating fact checking.
Three groups of people are generally more careful about checking their facts than the public at large:
- Investigative journalists,
- University professors, and
All three have been under attack. The virtual elimination of investigative journalism from mainstream broadcasting in the US was discussed above. Beyond this, there have been numerous claims at least since the 1980s that the media have a liberal bias.
Accusations of a liberal bias in academia date back at least to Senator Joe McCarthy's infamous "second red scare," 1947-1956, when McCarthy and his followers made numerous "accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence." The Wikipedia article on "Liberal bias in academia" cites research by different people, with known conservatives and Libertarians working hard to document a perceived liberal bias, which other researchers failed to confirm.
Liberal or conservative, most faculty members at major universities owe their positions to publications in refereed academic journals. Manuscripts submitted to serious academic journals must cite credible sources and otherwise provide solid documentation for what they say.
Some conservatives have claimed that Wikipedia has a liberal bias. In fact almost anyone can change almost anything on Wikipedia -- and almost anyone else can change (or even delete) what others wrote. What stays is generally written from a neutral point of view, citing credible sources.
3.2.4. Media and corruption
Econometric research has found that countries with greater press freedom tend to have less corruption. Greater political accountability and lower corruption were more likely where newspaper consumption was higher in data from roughly 100 countries and from different states in the US. A "poor fit between newspaper markets and political districts reduces press coverage of politics. ... Congressmen who are less covered by the local press work less for their constituencies: they are less likely to stand witness before congressional hearings ... . Federal spending is lower in areas where there is less press coverage of the local members of congress." This was supported by an analysis of the consequences of the closure of the Cincinnati Post in 2007. The following year, "fewer candidates ran for municipal office in the Kentucky suburbs most reliant on the Post, incumbents became more likely to win reelection, and voter turnout and campaign spending fell.
An extreme example of media and corruption followed the closure around 1999 of the local newspaper in Bell, CA, a city of roughly 35,000 near Los Angeles. The city manager, Robert Rizzo, decided, in essence, that the watchdog was dead, and it was time to party. He convinced other city leaders to join him. When the problems were documented in 2010, Rizzo's compensation was over $1 million per year, and the city was near bankruptcy.
Rizzo was a "control fraud", in the parlance of Bill Black, who was the lead litigator involved in sending Charles Keating to prison in the Savings and loan scandal of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Black discussed this in his book, The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One: How Corporate Executives and Politicians Looted the S&L Industry. A "control fraud" is a leading executive who removes "the checks and balances on fraud within a company such as through the use of selective hiring and firing", especially of auditors.
In 2014 Bill Moyers noted that, "No banking executives have been criminally prosecuted for their role in causing the biggest financial disaster since the Great Depression." Bill Black replied that, "Obama wouldn’t have been president but for the financial contribution of bankers.”
One major conclusion of the present analysis is that campaign contributions like these would not likely have the impact they do in the US today if the public had more control over media content. From this perspective, it was easier for the mainstream media to expose Charles Keating than the banking executives who manufactured the Financial crisis of 2007–2008 and manipulated the political process to benefit from it, because the advertising budgets of the control frauds of the Savings and loan industry were tiny relative to those of the current international bankers.
Even ignoring extreme cases like Bell, CA, the dumbing down of US commercial broadcasting was documented in research comparing the public's knowledge of current affairs between the US, the United Kingdom (UK), Denmark and Finland; see the accompanying Figure 10: College graduates in the US answered correctly roughly 70 percent of questions about political issues as people with the equivalent of high school in Denmark and Finland, while high school graduates in the US could only answer roughly 30 percent of the same questions. The primary difference was funding for mass media, according to McChesney and Nichols (2010): This was $1.35 per person in the US in 2007 vs. the equivalent of $101 in Denmark and Finland. The UK was in between: They spent the equivalent of $80 per person, and Brits with roughly 12th grade educations correctly answered almost 60 percent of the questions on average.
The $101 per person per year invested in public media in Denmark and Finland seems comparable to the 0.2 percent of GDP that the US spent in citizen-directed subsidies under the US Postal Service Act of 1792, discussed below in the section on "Media and nation building."
On December 7, 2015, and February 29, 2016, Les Moonves, President and CEO of CBS bragged to investor conferences that the Trump campaign "may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS. ... The money's rolling in, this is fun." This was, in essence, an admission that CBS was sacrificing the best interests of the nation and humanity to favor the short term pecuniary interests of CBS. It seems virtually certain that all the other mainstream broadcasters in the US and Britain were doing essentially the same.
The rules of business in the US almost certainly contributed not only to the Trump victory but to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the long-standing US support for the Saudi royal family, and the US role in destroying democracy in foreign countries, as discussed above in the section on "US foreign interventions in opposition to democracy." The Saudi connection, in turn, contributed to the September 11 attacks and the creation of ISIL, all discussed elsewhere in this essay.
In particular, the role of the mainstream media in the US and the UK in US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 might seem to qualify as "inciting a riot" under the standard of "falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater." Moonves and others in similar executive positions in the other mainstream broadcasters are safe, because the magnitude of the crime is too large for it to be widely understood, let alone prosecuted.
In other words, these comments of CBS President Moonves combined with the other evidence summarized in this essay suggests that the current structure of the mainstream media in the US and Britain provide real and present threats to international peace and security.
3.2.5. International business ownership of media
In France, the US and elsewhere, international business interests have ties to how the media are funded. One of the more obvious examples is Le Figaro, the oldest national daily newspaper in France and one of the most widely respected newspapers in the world. It is owned by the Dassault Group, one of the world’s leading arms merchants.
Le Figaro therefore has a conflict of interest in honestly reporting on anything that might question the advisability of any arms deal. It has a clear motive to overdramatize the problem of terrorism as long as they can do so in a way that supports further French weapons sales and more use of French overt and covert power to support repressive governments favored by French multinational executives, who advertise in Le Figaro.
Similarly, Westinghouse owned CBS between 1995 and 2000 before selling it to Viacom. During that period, CBS and all the other mainstream commercial broadcasters in the US fired nearly all their investigative journalists, retaining only enough for popular shows like 60 Minutes.
- Investigative journalism is essential for democracy and a threat to people with substantial control over the media.
As in France, the mainstream media in the US have a clear motive to overdramatize the problem of terrorism as long as they can do so in a way that supports further US sales of weapons, especially to repressive governments favored by US multinational executives.
3.2.6. How media personalities are selected
It seems reasonable to assume that most journalist believe they are honest, fair and balanced in what they report. The situation is similar to Lawrence Lessig’s description of the US Congress: Very few people in the US House and Senate demand and receive bribes. However, all are elected in a system that requires them to spend huge amounts of time asking people with lots of money for campaign contributions -- and then listening to their lobbyists to the exclusion of people who can not afford to buy such access. Candidates who are perceived to be unfriendly to the major campaign contributors (including especially those with control over major advertising budgets) are unlikely to get elected, as noted above.
Similarly, media personalities are selected and fired depending on their ability to attract an audience while largely supporting the official line. Phil Donahue was fired from MSNBC in the runup to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq for trying to provide airtime to people who challenged the official rationale used to justify the invasion. He was dismissed in spite of having high ratings.
BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan, chairman Gavyn Davies and director-general Greg Dyke resigned under fire for claiming that the British government had “sexed up” a report claiming Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). The official Hutton Inquiry in 2003 cleared the government of wrongdoing and strongly criticized the BBC. Thirteen years later on 6 July 2016, an official Iraq Inquiry of the British government acknowledged that the Blair government had “sexed up” reports.
Since the invasion it has become more widely known that Saddam Hussein had gotten WMD technology from the US, Britain and others with the support of Western governments and had used them against coalition forces in the 1990-91 Gulf War. After the 2003 invasion relatively small numbers of weapons of mass destruction were found, but they all seemed old and degraded, thus substantiating the 1999 comment from former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter that Iraq had no militarily viable biological or chemical weapons on any meaningful scale.
Mainstream media executives in the US and Britain surely must have known that the official rationale for the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq were questionable at best and possibly fraudulent. Apart from the BBC executives who resigned under fire for questioning the official rationale, they actively worked to suppress honest debate. In so doing they effectively stampeded the public in the US, Britain, and other countries in G. W. Bush’s “Coalition of the willing” into supporting the invasion without adequate debate. In retrospect, it’s clear that the justification was at best wrong and likely fraudulent -- and the media executives should have known at the time that more evidence and debate were needed.
3.3. Media and nation building
Robert McChesney and John Nichols claim the US has three positive experience with nation building: its own and Germany and Japan after World War II. All three involved substantive subsidies for journalism.
This section reviews publications discussing a possible relationship between media and nation building in the US, Germany, Japan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Brazil, and Africa. If you know of other evidence relevant to this question, please post a discussion of it here or on the companion "Discuss" page.
3.3.1. United States
Under the US Postal Service Act of 1792 newspapers were delivered up to 100 miles for a penny and beyond that for a penny and a half, when first class postage was between six and 25 cents depending on distance. This subsidy was citizen-directed and did not discriminate on content.
The cost was roughly 0.2% of the economy (GDP, Gross Domestic Product), or just over $100 per person per year in today's money, according to McChesney and Nichols (2016). That’s $2 per week for every man, woman and child in the US.
3.3.2. Germany and Japan
US President Harry Truman and his top military leaders including Dwight Eisenhower, and Douglas MacArthur were all veterans of World War I. They agreed that "the war to end war" (World War I) had not ended war, and they needed to do something different to prevent another war in another 20 years.
To support the development of a democratic tradition, they forced the post-fascist governments in Germany and Japan to provide substantial subsidies for journalism. After the official German government surrendered, Eisenhower “called in German reporters and told them he wanted a free press. If he made decisions that they disagreed with, he wanted them to say so in print. The reporters having been under the Nazi regime since 1933, were astonished”. Ike felt that the post-fascist media would lose credibility if they failed to criticise the occupiers. In addition, a cantankerous free press is an essential constraint on abuse of power by elites.
In discussing free press and media subsidies in the US and post-fascist Germany and Japan, McChesney and Nichols asked how the history of Iraq might be different if the US had made similar commitments to free press, “rather than L. Paul Bremer’s edicts -- which one Iraqi editor interpreted as, “In other words, if you’re not with America, you’re with Saddam”.
Might a free press in post-Saddam Iraq have dramatically limited the growth of the Islamic State?
- Corruption grows to consume the available money.
Might a more vigorous press environment in both Iraq and the US have reduced the risk of a military disaster like that in Mosul in 2014? Sure. It might still have happened, but it would have been less likely.
One symptom of conflicts of interest in both the mainstream media and the US congress is the fact that the Department of Defense (DoD) is the only US government agency to have failed every audit since all government agencies were required to pass such audits by the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990.
Might the US have invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, if the mainstream media had expressed more concern with the rule of law, including the request of the Afghani government for evidence of bin Laden's involvement in the suicide mass murders of September 11, 2001, before extraditing him? Might the mainstream media in the US and the UK have made more of an issue of this if multinational oil companies had less influence over government and media in both countries? These questions are impossible to answer with certainty, but one suspect that there would be less militarism and terrorism without these conflicts of interest.
How might Afghanistan be different today if the US had a more vigorous watchdog press, forcing US elected officials to require that the Department of Defense pass an audit, and Afghanistan and Iraq protect and subsidize a cantankerous press, as Truman, Eisenhower and MacArthur had done for Germany and Japan after World War II, as discussed above?
A tentative answer to these questions appears in the 2015 book Thieves of State by Sarah Chayes. She claimed that the Afghani government supported by the US has become a kleptocracy that collects bribes, not taxes, and reports people who do not pay appropriate bribes as Taliban to the US-led forces there. US-led military units then kill the alleged Taliban. Chayes described multiple cases where corrupt Afghani officials were arrested for corruption then released after (she believes) intervention by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to “protect their assets.”
"During the colonial period, Portugal made consistent efforts to reduce the economic, political and intellectual autonomy of Brazil," according to de Albuquerque. This condition improved slightly "when the Portuguese Court moved to Rio de Janiero," during the Napoleonic occupation of Portugal. However, "During the rest of the nineteenth century, most publications were leaflets, pamphlets and short-lived newspapers, dedicated chiefly to political polemics." Newspaper readership is still quite low compared to other countries: 60.6 per 1,000 adult population in 2000 vs. almost 12 times that in Norway (719.7) and 4.3 times that in the US (263.6). Brazil's current democracy dates from 1985.
This Brazilian experience does not prove that better media help with nation building, but it is consistent with the claims of McChesney and Nichols (2010, 2016) discussed above.
Cagé and Rueda studied newspaper readership and democratic engagement as a function of distance from Protestant missions with printing presses in Africa in 1903. Those missions printed educational material and public health information as well as the Christian Bible and related religious material. Cagé and Rueda found that, "within regions close to missions, proximity to a printing press is associated with higher newspaper readership, trust, education, and political participation" -- over a hundred years after the data on missions they used!
Of course, empirical evidence is never complete. Still, this evidence is consistent with the general thrust of the other cases discussed in this section.
3.4. Media funding and governance
Media is a public good. When elites control the editorial policies, it threatens democracy. We focus here on proposals to democratize funding and governance, focusing especially on the work of McChesney and Nichols (2010) and Cagé (2016).
3.4.1. Citizen-directed subsidies
McChesney and Nichols (2010, esp. ch. 4) discuss several different ways of providing democratically controlled subsidies for media. The US Postal Service Act of 1792, discussed above, provides one example. News publications still get a modest postal subsidy in the US; McChesney and Nichols recommends increasing that, especially for publications with little or no advertising. They also suggest that the government could pay, e.g., up to half of journalists' salaries for publications with low circulation.
“In exchange for accepting subsidies, post-corporate newspapers would be required to place everything they produce on the Web [in] the public domain -- creating vast new deposits of current and, ultimately, historical information.” They also propose a “Citizenship News Voucher”, whereby every American adult gets a $200 voucher that s/he can donate to any nonprofit news medium or combination of such nonprofits.
McChesney and Nichols (2010, pp. 170-172) also recommend subsidizing high school newspapers and radio stations to help develop a democratic, civic culture in the youth.
Bruce Ackerman proposed "Internet news vouchers" that ask Internet users to "click a box whenever they read a news article that contributes to their political understanding. ... [A] National Endowment for Journalism ... would compensate the news organization originating the article on the basis of a strict mathematical formula: the more clicks, the bigger the check from the Endowment."
Dan Hind proposed "public commissioning" of news, where "Journalists, academics and citizen researchers would post proposals for funding" investigative journalism on a particular issue with a public trust funded from taxes or license fees. "These proposals would be made available online and in print in municipal libraries and elsewhere. ... The public would then vote for the proposals it wanted to support."
Dean Baker suggested an "Artistic Freedom Voucher," similar to these other options but not limited to journalism: He claims that the copyright system today, at least in the US, locks up entirely too much information behind paywalls. His idea, therefore, was to provide citizen-directed subsidies for virtually any artistic creation that would be placed in the public domain -- on the web to the extent that it can be digitized. This would make it easier for aspiring artists, performers, or writers to get started. After they become well enough known, they could stop accepting "Artistic Freedom Voucher" money and sell what they produce using the existing copyright system. This may be used if it seems too difficult to develop an acceptable legal definition of "investigative journalism;" see the discussion of this in section "4.4.3. Citizen-directed subsidies" for media below.
What's the optimal level of funding for investigative journalism? The best information available, at least in this essay, is the 0.2 percent of GDP, suggested by McChesney and Nichols (2010), and the comparable amount in Scandinavia, discussed with Figure 10 above.
The discussions above of terrorism, conflict, economics, and incarcerations including the scandal in the city of Bell, CA, and "control frauds" suggests that it might be wise to provide citizen-directed subsidies for investigative journalism comparable to what organizations spend on accounting; see "Implications" for "Subnational" entities below for more on this.
3.4.2. Nonprofit media organization (NMO)
Julia Cagé proposes a new model of funding and governance for media she calls a ‘’Nonprofit media organization’’. This is a charitable foundation with democratic governance split between the funders, the journalists, and their audience.
3.4.3. Net neutrality
The fight over net neutrality is a question of how media will be funded and governed. US President Donald Trump is opposed to net neutrality. In September 2015 he was quoted as saying, "Obama's attack on the Internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target the conservative media."
Ajit Pai, Trump's Chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), agrees: He has claimed that net neutrality in an attempt to weaken the "culture of the First Amendment," because it deprives Internet service providers (ISPs) of their freedom of speech. He said it was "conceivable" that the FCC would seek to regulate political speech offered by edge providers such as Fox News or the Drudge Report.
Pai is correct that net neutrality limits the free speech rights of ISPs. One implication of this essay is that there is a compelling national security interest in doing something to improve the way in which news is selected, produced, supplied to and consumed by the public. Net neutrality is one such measure that has broad support among the US public.
Limits on free speech appear in the Hatch Act and Department of Defense Directive 1344.10, which prohibit employees of the US executive branch from engaging in certain types of political activities.
Whether ISPs are allowed to provide content or not, net neutrality could be improved by a tax on advertising placed with content-providing Internet service providers. ISPs that were common carriers would not have to pay this tax, nor would content providers that were not ISPs.
The above discussion suggests policy implications at five levels: personal, interpersonal, subnational, national, and international.
- The primary difference between rich and poor countries is politics.
- The primary difference between rich and poor people within a country is politics.
Individuals need to understand that unless they control the funding for the media they patronize, changes in their behaviors are being sold to the people who do control the funding. The discussion above illustrates only a few of the problems this generates.
4.1.1. Fact checking
The research of Daniel Kahneman (2011) indicate that humans have two methods for ascertaining truth:
- How does it fit with my preconceptions?
- How does it fit with credible sources?
The first approach leads to many decision errors, including blind support by the American public for the destruction of democracy in Iran, Guatemala, Brazil, and Chile, the cancelation of elections in Cuba and Vietnam, all without public debate, and the invasion of Iraq with severely restricted debate, as discussed above.
This suggests that society would benefit if a critical mass of the electorate were to actively search for more credible sources of information on the most important issues of the day and then discuss what they learn with others. The good news for this is Chenoweth's 3.5 percent rule: Of the 323 major governmental change efforts of the twentieth century (summarized in Tables 1 and 3, Figure 6, and Appendix 2), every one that got the active support of at least 3.5 percent of the population was successful -- and all of those were nonviolent.
The Indivisible movement in the US may already have that many supporters. However, for them to effect substantive change beyond blunting the agenda of President Trump, they may need to check their facts more carefully. Otherwise, they may succeed in blocking the worst parts of President Trump's agenda but fail to substantively alter the continued transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to "job creators," summarized in Figure 7 above.
4.1.2. Turn off the mainstream media
Turn off the mainstream media. Support instead noncommercial investigative journalism with transparent funding that places everything they produce on the web in the public domain, as suggested in the discussion of media funding and governance above.
Good nonprofit media organizations are not always easy to find. One reasonable list of suggestions is available from How to Find and Support Trustworthy Journalism, DailyGood, Feb. 6, 2017, retrieved 2017-03-31 Check date values in:
|date= (help). Two not listed there are the following:
- Democracy Now!, which produces a one-hour daily news broadcast, Monday through Friday, that “is funded entirely through contributions from listeners, viewers, and foundations and does not accept advertisers, corporate underwriting or government funding.” They also post transcripts on their web site.
- AllSides.com, which provides side-by-side comparison of how typically left, center and right sources cover a particular story.
Interested readers are invited to add to this list any nonprofit news organization not listed here or in the "How to ..." site mentioned, especially if they have transparent funding and makes everything they produce available on the web in the public domain (or a relatively unrestricted license like the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license).
4.1.3. Make politics a primary entertainment.
The discussion of Kahneman's work above suggests we should not assume that current knowledge is adequate. No human can possibly check their facts on everything. That's part of why we make so many decisions based on what comes most readily to mind.
However, Kahneman says we would better ourselves and others if we identified a few very important issues and spend time and money looking for alternative sources of information on those issues. This should include looking for information that might conflict with our preconceptions.
How can we get time for this? Turn off the mainstream media, as suggested in the previous section, and make the search for alternative information a primary entertainment.
People say, “We don’t talk politics.” In a democracy that’s undemocratic.
If we don’t talk politics, it becomes easier for corrupt elites to divide and conquer the poor and the middle class, getting them to support policies that benefit the elites at the expense of everyone else. Examples include the public support for the War on Terror and the “get tough on crime” wave that drove the five-fold increase in the incarceration rate described above.
In both these examples, the results appear to have been detrimental to society as a whole, to the extent that the analysis above is accurate.
We need to talk politics. We should not argue. Instead, we need to ask questions, listen with respect and show our audience that we’ve heard their concerns before we share our perspective.
- We should strive to agree to disagree agreeably.
Also, people with computer skills can help others improve their ability to use computers to get better information.
As suggested above, governmental organizations at all levels, including subnational entities (e.g., state and local governmental organizations in the US) might benefit their constituents by devoting a portion of their budget roughly comparable to what they spend on accounting to something like an Endowment for Journalism that would provide citizen-directed subsidies for local investigative journalism organizations.
A system like this might also be funded in part by businesses and ordinary citizens, who would like to subsidize investigative journalism in their service area or community. More experiments like this are needed.
For national reforms, at least in the US, the above discussion favors net neutrality and major limits on government secrecy.
4.4.1. Net neutrality
Internet censorship would put government bureaucrats in charge of fact checking. Destroying net neutrality would make it harder for consumers to obtain information that is not subsidized by big money interests. This in turn supports a continuation of the biased reporting that created the five-fold increase in incarcerations in the US, discussed above, and the "935 lies" that stampeded the Western world into invading Iraq on fraudulent grounds in 2003.
If net neutrality is destroyed, congress could later overturn that action, though precedents for that are not encouraging. Congress could, however, encourage common carriers by taxing ISPs that also provided content, as suggested above.
4.4.2. Limiting government secrecy
The 1995 Moynihan Commission on Government Secrecy in the US made a number of recommendations including the following:
- Excessive secrecy has significant consequences for the national interest when policy makers are not fully informed, the government is not held accountable for its actions, and the public cannot engage in informed debate.
- Some secrecy is important to minimize inappropriate diffusion of details of weapon systems design and ongoing security operations as well as to allow public servants to secretly consider a variety of policy options without fear of criticism.
- The best way to ensure that secrecy is respected, and that the most important secrets remain secret, is for secrecy to be returned to its limited but necessary role. Secrets can be protected more effectively if secrecy is reduced overall.
Politicized intelligence was one contributor to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, without which ISIL might never have been big enough to make international headlines, if it existed at all. This suggests two additional reforms:
- Make all the intelligence services report to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).
- Drastically limit the duration of secrecy of any classified information created by intelligence services. The duration should be long enough to protect the element of surprise in democratically authorized military operations but short enough to make it much more difficult for the US government to interfere in the internal affairs of foreign countries without a full and open public debate.
Making the intelligence services report to the GAO would not eliminate politicization of intelligence, but it would limit the ability of the executive branch to do it on its own initiative, as seems to have been the case in the run-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The Moynihan Commission recommended "returning secrecy to its limited but necessary role." Limiting the duration of classification to something like six months could be part of that. Six months seems long enough that it would not likely seriously impede any active military operations but short enough to effectively eliminate US efforts to destabilize foreign governments without a full and open public debate.
We do not need uninformed "debates," like those that stampeded the US congress into approving the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964 or the use of force in Iraq in 2003.
Like truth and reconciliation processes, military personnel and other government employees should be given wide latitude for honest mistakes. However, the history of previous US government efforts to destroy the prospects for democracy in foreign countries suggests a need for a substantially shorter period of classification than is the practice today.
To these and Moynihan's reforms, we would add one more:
- Overturn the US Supreme Court decision in US v. Reynolds.
Under that decision, no judge and no defendant can question the government’s claim of national security. US v. Reynolds has effectively given US government officials who can classify a document the ability to conceal malfeasance and criminal activities. For example, in the trial of Daniel Ellsberg for leaking the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg was not allowed to argue that the information he released was improperly classified. Recently, Ellsberg said that Ed Snowden could not get a fair trial in the US; US v. Reynolds effectively says that a fair trial is impossible in any civil or criminal case involving US information that could plausibly be classified.
One more example: Wikileaks recently disclosed that the CIA has the ability to hack many devices including modern automobiles. The Washington Post noted, "The fear that your car can be hacked and made to crash is not new, and it’s not completely unfounded. ... Concerns about automotive cyber security have been raised since automakers began outfitting cars and trucks with computer-controlled systems. ... [S]atellite, Bluetooth and Internet ... make them more vulnerable to hackers who can then gain access to the computerized systems without ever stepping foot near the actual vehicle. ... The WikiLeaks release even renewed suspicions about the death of journalist Michael Hastings, who was killed in a single-car accident in Los Angeles in 2013."
It would be irresponsible to say that the CIA killed Hastings. However, given the CIA's history briefly summarized above, it would be equally irresponsible to claim that they did not have the means and a history of far worse. Moreover, Hastings told others before his death that he was working on a story involving the CIA. If that's true, CIA personnel likely knew. This would have given them a motive, especially since an earlier article by Hastings forced the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal.
The recommendations of the Moynihan Commission have so far been ignored. Why?
The discussion above suggests that major US international business executives likely believe they benefit from having the US government promote regime change in foreign countries on their behalf. Since many of those international businesses also control major advertising budgets, the mainstream commercial media as currently structured have a conflict of interest in honestly reporting on those activities.
This is very clear in some cases, less clear in others. Big oil, for example, seems to have benefitted from the US support for the Saudis since the 1930s. They also seem to have benefitted from the destruction of democracy in Syria in 1949 and Iran in 1953 as well as from the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, as noted above.
4.4.3. Research on why people support one side or another in conflict and change their support over time
The world needs an "International Conflict Observatory" doing research that can not be kept secret into what motivates people to leave the sidelines to support one side or the other in conflict, to increase or decrease their level of support over time, and to desert or defect, when they do. The results of such research should be freely available, in the public domain, produced in a way that would not allow any government to try to classify it to keep it from the public, as discussed in the section above on G. W. Bush: "Why do they hate us?".
4.4.4. Citizen-directed subsidies for media
The discussion above suggests a need for citizen-directed subsidies for investigative journalism on the order of 0.2 percent of GDP with a preference for non-commercial investigative journalism with transparent funding that puts everything they produce on the web in the public domain.
More research is needed into whether and how "investigative journalism" might be defined so politicians could not easily divert these subsidies to organizations that supported only their political agenda. If this seems too difficult, some or all of the money given to an "Endowment for Journalism" that manages these funds could be disbursed under citizen direction to virtually all creative artists and / or nonprofit media organizations with transparent funding, who agree to place all they produce on the web in the public domain in exchange for citizen-directed subsidies; see also section "3.4.1. Citizen-directed subsidies" above.
As noted above, McChesney and Nichols suggested that each taxpayer be given a tax rebate of up to $200 that they can split between qualifying nonprofit media organizations. An alternative might be to provide, e.g, five to one matches for small dollar amounts given to qualifying nonprofits up to a maximum of, e.g, $50 for every man, woman and child (max subsidy = $250 for each).
Consistent with the recommendations of Cagé, outlined above, it may be wise to require the recipients to be "Nonprofit Media Organizations" (NMOs) meeting her requirements.
An alternative might involve an "Endowment for Journalism" that would distribute funds in proportion to qualified Internet clicks. A system like this could be used by a local governmental entity, subsidizing only selections made by residents in that jurisdiction, or even a business wanting to promote local transparency in government within their primary service area.
The discussion above suggests several actions that can be taken by any country in the world.
- Strengthen international law.
- Support further research into the long-term impact of alternative approaches to conflict (effective defense).
- Support research and dissemination of information on what motivates people on all sides of violent conflict to do what they do.
- Support the widespread dissemination of the research into the relative effectiveness of violence and nonviolence and techniques of nonviolent civil disobedience.
- Support free press everywhere. This includes increasing protections for journalists both domestically and by placing a national security tax on trade with countries with a documented history of mistreating journalists. It also includes supporting citizen-directed subsidies for noncommercial investigative journalism -- including in foreign countries. In particular, the security of Western nations could be enhanced through financial support for citizen-directed investigative journalism in foreign countries that also encouraged nonviolent civil disobedience in seeking redress of grievances.
- Support research and experimentation with demand-side economics, as mentioned above.
- Non-nuclear nations could place a “national defense tax” on trade with nuclear states to encourage nuclear disarmament.
- Limit arms trade only to functioning democracies that vigorously support free press everywhere.
- Accept refugees and support their adjustment with demand-side economics, as discussed above.
- Drastically limit the use of airpower, including armed drones, only to support of ground operations.
The above discussion summarizes research suggesting that the approach that has been taken so far to combating international terrorism has increased, not decreased, that threat.
People everywhere can help reduce the risks described herein by being more selective in the media they choose to consume and by asking more questions. Research by Kahneman (2011), outlined above, make it clear that virtually all conflicts are driven in part by things people think they know that aren't so.
People everywhere can also learn more about nonviolent civil disobedience. You can build civil society by listening respectfully to others including those with whom you may disagree, asking questions, and summarizing what you think you heard to show them that they've been heard. Then the others may be more willing to listen to your concerns.
This may not apply everywhere, because local law and other considerations may make it too risky to discuss certain issues openly.
The “Implications” section of this essay also includes suggestions for changes in national and international policies.
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- Pape, Robert; Feldman (2010), Cutting the fuse : the explosion of global suicide terrorism and how to stop it, U. of Chicago Pr., ISBN 9780226645605 Text "Robert Pape " ignored (help); Unknown parameter
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- Sacco, Vincent F (2005). When Crime Waves. Sage. ISBN 0761927832. and Youngblood, Steven (2017). Peace Journalism Principles and Practices. Routledge. pp. 115–131. ISBN 978-1-138-12467-7.
- Tyler, Tom R.; Huo, Yuen J. (2002). Trust in the Law: Encouraging Public Cooperation with the Police and Courts. Russell Sage Foundation. ISBN 0871548895.
Appendix 1. Terrorism death trends for the dozen countries with the most terrorism deaths, 2014-2015
Figures 1 and 2 above and the plots in this Appendix were all created from the Global Terrorism Database using the summaries in Graves (2017).
Appendix 2. Democratization 1 and 10 years after the end of a conflict
The two figures in this appendix are similar to Figure 6 in the text. That shows the level of democracy 5 years after the end of a conflict vs. 1 year before. The two in this appendix show the level of democracy 1 and 10 years after the end of a conflict vs. 1 year before.
- Anonymous ancient proverb, wrongly attributed to Euripides. Euripides, Wikiquote, retrieved 2017-02-19
- using data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), summarized by Graves (2017).
- Graves (2017). Questions have been raised about the quality of GTD data, especially its consistency over time and whether individual events are or are not classified as suicide terrorism. For suicide terrorism in particular, the GTD is not consistent with the Suicide Attack Database maintained by the Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST). We used the GTD, because it seems to be the best data available on the subject, and we don’t believe its defects raise substantive questions about our conclusions.
- This assumes that the death rate numbers from the World Bank are adequate for present purposes; see Graves (2017). Data published by the CIA often differ from the World Bank. We have not explored those discrepancies but would be surprised if the differences raise substantive questions about our conclusions.
- Frum and Perle (2004, p. 8)
- List of terrorist incidents in France, Wikipedia, retrieved 2017-02-17
- Giudicelli, Anne (2017-02-15), "Elections in France: It's all about security", Al Jazeera, retrieved 2017-02-17
- This assumes that the death rate in France is roughly 8.4 per thousand population, which is the number for 2014 (the most recent available) in the World Bank WDI.xlsx data, and the population of France is roughly 67 million. World Development Indicators - Downloads: WDI (Excel)-ZIP (80 MB), World Bank, December 2016, retrieved 2017-03-11
- Oklahoma City bombing, wikipedia, retrieved 2017-02-17
- The GTD records 2,910 US citizens killed in terrorist incidents in 2001. The official number of people killed in the September 11 attacks was 2,996. The difference is non-US citizens killed in those attacks.
- Graves (2017)
- List of motor vehicle deaths in U.S. by year, wikipedia, retrieved 2017-03-07
- Females are more likely than males to survive breast cancer, because their cancers are usually caught earlier. Male breast cancers are not caught earlier, because the risks are so low that it has so far never seemed worth the effort to develop sensible screening procedures for it. Male breast cancer, wikipedia, retrieved 2017-02-26
- Alejandra Fernandez-Morera (26 February 2018), "Someone drowns in a tub nearly every day in AmericaExperts blame alcohol; others suspect homicide", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Wikidata Q60226981
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- McChrystal, Stanley (2013). My Share of the Task: A Memoir. New York: Portfolio/Penguin. pp. 172, 200–201. ISBN 9781591844754. OCLC 780480413.
- Jones and Libicki (2008, p. 19)
- Jones and Libicki (2008). For detailed analysis of a few cases, see Cronin, Audrey Kurth (2009), How terrorism ends: Understanding the decline and demise of terrorist campaigns, Princeton U. Pr., ISBN 978-0-691-15239-4
- Jones and Libicki (2008, p. 101, Table 5.1)
- The percentage of cases ending in negotiated settlements increased slightly.
- Jones and Libicki (2008, p. 8)
- Bapat (2011)
- Their database includes all violent and nonviolent campaigns ending between 1900 and 2006 that involved over 1,000 people at some point with a goal of changing the government.
- Chenoweth, Erica (2011), Nonviolent and Violent Campaigns and Outcomes (NAVCO) Dataset, v. 1.1, University of Denver, retrieved 2014-10-08
- Erica Chenoweth; Kurt Schock (December 2015), "Do Contemporaneous Armed Challenges Affect the Outcomes of Mass Nonviolent Campaigns?", Mobilization, 20 (4): 427–451, Wikidata Q83970885. Other studies cited in the Wikipedia article on "Radical flank effect reached the opposite conclusion; however, these other studies were earlier and smaller. In addition, they seemed to be less systematic than Chenoweth and Schock.
- Polity data series, Wikipedia, retrieved 2017-02-26
- Plots of data from the NAVCO1.1 database; see Chenoweth and Stephan (2011).
- For more detail, see Chenoweth and Stephan (2011).
- Pape and Feldman (2010, p. 28)
- Pape and Feldman (2010, p. 318)
- Pape and Feldman (2010, p. 333)
- Pape and Feldman (2010, p. 335)
- The US has rejected the characterization of its presence as an "occupation", noting that the government of Saudi Arabia consented to the presence of troops. However, the dominant factor in the motivation of our opposition is how ‘’they’’ perceive it, not how the US perceives it.
- See references cited in the Wikipedia article on ”The 28 Pages”.
- Pape (1996)
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- Beyond this, there have been numerous allegations that Saudi Arabia and Qatar may have clandestinely provided funds to ISIL, though that has not been proven.
- Josh Meyer (2 April 2008), "Saudis faulted for funding terror", Los Angeles Times, Wikidata Q61889276
- Charlie Rose; Stuart A. Levey (6 October 2010), Stuart Levey, Wikidata Q61890613. See also w: Stuart A. Levey#Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence
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- Maggie Michael; Trish Wilson; Lee Keath (6 August 2018), "AP Investigation: US allies, al-Qaida battle rebels in Yemen", Associated Press, Wikidata Q61890713
- Jihad “is an Arabic word which literally means striving or struggling, especially with a praiseworthy aim.” It is occasionally used to mean “Holy war,” but that is relatively rare. Thus, it is similar to the German word Kampf, which means “struggle,” as that word is commonly used in English. The title of the infamous Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler simply means, “My struggle.”
- Steed is fluent in Arabic and has spent substantial time working in different Arabic-speaking countries. These comments were his personal, professional opinion and were not official policy of the United States government. Steed, Brian L. (2016-05-19), "Undersanding ISIS: Maneuver in the Narrative Space", in Harritt, Ira (ed.), Confronting Extremist Violence, the Refugee Crisis, and Fear: Faith Responses, American Friends Service Committee, retrieved 2017-03-04,
I'm speaking as a private citizen and not as a representative of the US government. ... Violent jihadists represent between 0.03% and 0.14% of Islam. (0:43 and 10:50 of 14:23 mm:ss)
- Steed, Brian L. (2016), ISIS : an introduction and guide to the Islamic State, ABC-CLIO, ISBN 1440849862
- Jacques, Jacques (1993), Unarmed against Hitler: Civil resistance in Europe, 1939-1943, Praeger, ISBN 0-275-93960-X
- If the US had had an open immigration policy like this, the Nazis may have sent some saboteurs posing as refugees. However, many if not all of these could have been identified by procedures that checked personal connections with other refugees: Potential saboteurs would not likely have had as many personal connections to other refugees and to people already in host countries. No screening system is perfect. However, it seems likely that the benefits to the hosts from receiving the refugees would outweigh the risks.
- Qiu, Linda (October 27, 2016), Did U.S. spend $6 trillion in Middle East wars?, Politifact, retrieved 2017-12-05
- 6/15 = 0.4
- In 2002, US GDP was $11 trillion; $0.4 trillion was 3.6 percent of that. US GDP has been growing since then, except for a minor correction in 2009. This means that this $0.4 trillion has been declining as a percent of GDP but was always greater than 2 percent.
- Qiu, Linda (June 13, 2016), "Wrong: Donald Trump says there's 'no system to vet' refugees", Politifact, Politifact.com, retrieved 2017-03-10
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- Kahneman (2011, ch. 22. Expert intuition: When can we trust it?, esp. p. 240). One of Kahneman's examples is anesthesiology (p. 242), because problems with anesthetics can lead fairly quickly to death of the patient. A contrasting medical example is provided by back surgeons, discussed by Harvard Medical School Prof. Jerome Groopman. He wrote that back surgery practices in the US are grandfathered to procedures used in the nineteenth century. This lack of research has retarded the development of improved procedures in that field and increased the misery of people everywhere with back pain. This research deficit is at least partly a result of lobbying the US congress by companies that manufacture devices implanted in people's backs -- and the fact that serious coverage of lobbying would threaten the profitability of the mainstream media; see the discussion of the media in this essay. Groopman, Jerome (2007), How Doctors Think, Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 9780618610037 Text "Jerome Groopman " ignored (help)
- For a summary of the research on financial markets, see, e.g., Siegel, Jeremy J. (2008), Stocks for the Long Run, 4th ed., McGraw-Hil, ISBN 9780071494700 Text "Jeremy Siegel " ignored (help).
- Parton (2014)
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- This is supported by comments about Vietnam in Chayes (2015)
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- See comments about Thomas Carothers in Noam Chomsky; David Barsamian (2013), Power Systems: Conversations on global democratic uprisings and the new challenges to US empire, Metropolitan Books, Wikidata Q61754939
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- One of Kahneman's (2011) major themes is that nearly everyone tends to overestimate the value of current knowledge and underestimate how far wrong their preconceptions likely are. This approach works fine for most situations -- and helps us avoid wasting time searching for better answers to unimportant questions. However, it tends to produce poor assessments of some of the most important situations we encounter. We could often arrive at much better decisions if we pushed ourselves to identify really important issues and look harder for contrary information for those cases.
- Twain, Mark (2013), Griffin, Benjamin; Smith, Harriet Elinor (eds.), Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 2, p. 302, retrieved 2017-02-17
- Richard Salmon, personal communication, circa 1973.
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- See the discussion of the 5-fold increase in the incarceration rate in the US over the past 40 years accompanying Figure 9 in this essay.
- Ognyanova, Katherine (2016), "Researching Community Information Needs", in Lloyd, Mark; Friedland, Lewis A. (eds.), The Communications Crisis in America, And How to Fix It, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 1-349-95030-0
- Lloyd and Friedland (2017, p. 14)
- The first use of that phrase in this form appears to have been by Philip Snowden, 1st Viscount Snowden.
- Knightley, Phillip (2004) , 'The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-Maker from the Crimea to Iraq (3rd ed.), Johns Hopkins U. Pr., ISBN 0801880300
- Harris (1999, esp. ch. 8, pp. 97-107)
- Gillespie, Michele (2004), Free labor in an unfree world: White artisans in slaveholding Georgia, 1789-1860, U. of Georgia Pr., ISBN 0820326704
- This was written 2017-03-05. The violence of the American Revolution and the role of race in that conflict also contributed to the current racism in the US in the same way, though to a lesser extent.
- Peri (2012)
- Peri (2012) noted that many of the journalists joining the profession starting especially in the late 1960s had been trained in the US and followed US journalistic practices to a large extent.
- Peri (2012, pp. 22-23)
- Peri (2012, p. 23)
- King, Mary Elizabeth (2009), "chapter 10. Palestinian civil resistance against Israeli military occupation", in Stephan, Maria J. (ed.), Civilian Jihad: Nonviolent struggle, democratization, and governance in the Middle East, Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 131–155, ISBN 978-0-230-62141-1
- See also Chenoweth and Stephan (2011, pp. 119-120, 138, 145)
- Chenoweth and Stephan (2011, p. 120)
- Chenoweth and Stephan (2011, p. 123)
- Chenoweth and Stephan (2011, p. 120, Table 5.1)
- Chenoweth and Stephan (2011, p. 145)
- Edward Snowden, Wikipedia, retrieved 2017-02-17
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- It is now known that members of the Saudi royal family and employees of the Saudi embassy and consulates in the US helped the suicide mass murderers of September 11, 2001, get training in the US to help them do what they did on that fateful day. This is documented in "The 28 Pages," which the George W. Bush administration insisted were classified and were therefore not published with the rest of the December 2002 report of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 and were largely declassified in July 2016. This documents that the Bush administration knew before it invaded Iraq, and possibly before it invaded Afghanistan, that 9-11 was supported by high-level Saudis, in addition to the information available shortly after 9-11 that 15 of the 19 suicide mass murderers of Sept. 11 were Saudis. So why did the US NOT invade Saudi Arabia and instead invaded Afghanistan and Iraq? And why did the mainstream US media so eagerly support the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003? And why has the mainstream US media NOT made an issue of the new information in "The 28 Pages" released in July 2016? The thrust of the present article is that several factors contribute to this documented record of media failure, one of which is doubtless the fact the big oil companies advertise and have had great relations with the Saudi royal family dating back to the 1930 -- and the Afghanis had refused to approve the construction of a pipeline on their soil, finally begun on December 13th, 2015.
- United States incarceration rate, wikipedia, retrieved 2017-02-26
- e.g., Sacco (2005) and others cited in incarceration rate in the US.
- This is consistent with the discussion of "availability cascade," as discussed by Kahneman (2011, pp. 142-145) and summarized above.
- Alexander, Michelle (2010). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: The New Press. ISBN 978-1-59558-103-7.
- Tyler and Huo (2002)
- The 2016 annual report of the National Registry of Exonerations reported, "1,994 known exonerations in the United States since 1989 (as of February 26, 2017)." These 1,994 cases do not include over 1,800 defendants cleared in 15 large-scale police scandals. Exonerations in 2016 (PDF), National Registry of Exonerations, Newkirk Center for Science and Society, U. CA, Irvine, March 7, 2017, retrieved 2017-03-17 and Gross, Samuel R.; Possley, Maurice; Stephens, Klara (March 7, 2017), "Race and wrongful convictions in the United States" (PDF), report, National Registry of Exonerations, Newkirk Center for Science and Society, U. of CA Irvine, retrieved 2017-03-17
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- Without a business relationship dating back over 30 years between the Bush family and the House of Saud, would the George W. Bush administration have turned a blind eye to Saudi complicity in the September 11 attacks and diverted attention instead to Afghanistan and Iraq, even though neither seemed to have been complicit in the event?
- For example, David Frum, former speechwriter for George W. Bush, has also said, "Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we're discovering we work for Fox." "David Frum on GOP: Now We Work for Fox". Nightline. ABC. March 23, 2010. See also the Wikipedia article on "w:Fox News controversies".
- This seems more like plutocracy than democracy.
- Balcerzak, Ashley (November 9, 2016). "Where the money came from, not how much, mattered in the presidential race". OpenSecrets.org. Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved 2017-02-21.
- McChesney, Robert W. (2004), The Problem of the Media, Monthly Review Press, p. 81, ISBN 1-58367-105-6
- Cheshire, Tom (21 October 2016), Behind the scenes at Donald Trump's UK digital war room, Sky News, archived from the original on 21 October 2016
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- "Cambridge Analytica and Scl Elections Commence Insolvency Proceedings and Release Results of Independent Investigation into Recent Allegations". CA Commercial. Cambridge Analytica. 2 May 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
- For a discussion of this, see the Wikipedia article on "media bias in the United States".
- Examples of Bias in Wikipedia, Conservapedia, retrieved 2017-03-21
- In a few cases, people editing Wikipedia from certain internet protocol (IP) addresses have been blocked, because of repeated attempts to burnish the images of some and attack opponents. See, e.g., United States Congressional staff edits to Wikipedia.
- Brunetti, Aymo; Weder, Beatrice (2003), "A free press is bad news for corruption", Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, 87: 1801–1824, retrieved 2017-06-24
- Adserà, Alícia; Boix, Carles; Payne, Mark (2000), "Are You Being Served?: Political Accountability and Quality of Government" (PDF), Working Paper, Inter-American Development Bank Research Department (438), retrieved 2014-08-17 and Adserà, Alícia; Boix, Carles; Payne, Mark (2003), "Are You Being Served? Political Accountability and Quality of Government" (PDF), Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization, Oxford U. Pr., 19: 445–490, retrieved 2014-08-31
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- In 2012 he similarly said that "Super PACs may be bad for America, but they’re very good for CBS." Fang, Lee (February 29, 2016), "CBS CEO: "For Us, Economically, Donald's Place in This Election Is a Good Thing"", The Intercept, First Look Media, retrieved 2017-03-22
- Similar things could be said about media in other countries. See, e.g., Peri (2012) for a similar analysis of the Israeli media.
- Cagé (2016)
- Andrew Feinstein (2011). The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade. Hamish Hamilton. ISBN 978-0-241-14441-1.
- McChesney, Robert W. (2004), The Problem of the Media, Monthly Review Press, p. 81, ISBN 1-58367-105-6
- "The arming of Iraq", Frontline, United States Public Broadcasting System (PBS), 1990-09-11, retrieved 2017-02-26
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- This quote came from an interview published on the web whose URL is no longer valid. A similar quote is available in Hurd, Nathaniel (27 April 2000). "Interview with Scot Ritter". Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. Retrieved 2017-03-17.
- McChesney and Nichols (2010, esp. Appendix II. Ike, MacArthur and the Forging of Free and Independent Press, pp. 241-254)
- McChesney and Nichols (2016, p. 167) wrote, “If the United States government subsidized journalism in the second decade of the twenty-first century as a percentage of GDP to the same extent that it did in the first half of the nineteenth century, it would spend in the area of $35 billion annually.” The US population in 2017 has been estimated at 325 million; $35 billion divided by 325 million is $108 per person. The US GDP for 2016 was reported to be $18.6 trillion; $35 billion divided by $18.6 trillion is $1.9 per thousand, which we round to 0.2 percent.
- McChesney and Nichols (2010, Appendix II. Ike, MacArthur and the Forging of Free and Independent Press, pp. 241-254)
- McChesney and Nichols (2010, p. 242)
- This is from Louis Brandeis (1914) ‘’w:Other People's Money and How Bankers Use It’’ (Frederick A. Stokes). Brandeis joined the US Supreme Court in 1916.
- Government Accountability Office investigations of the Department of Defense, wikipedia, retrieved 2017-02-27
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- "Bush rejects Taliban offer to hand Bin Laden over". The Guardian. 2001-10-14. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
- Chayes (2015). She says she went to Afghanistan with National Public Radio and stayed hoping to found a school for entrepreneurship. She found that the corruption made that impossible. She shared her concerns with US military officers there, who recommended that their superiors listen to her. For a time she reported directly to Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2007-2011). She claims the CIA blocked her efforts to get that message to US President Obama.
- de Albuquerque (2012, p. 79)
- Cagé, Julia; Rueda, Valeria (2016), "The Long-Term Effects of the Printing Press in sub-Saharan Africa", American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 8 (3): 69–99, retrieved 2017-03-30
- Quote from W. Edwards Deming from a public seminar in the 1980s.
- See the discussion of the research by Kahneman (2011) elsewhere in this essay.
- McChesney and Nichols (2010, p. 189)
- McChesney and Nichols (2010, p. 201)
- For more, see media and corruption, especially regarding Bruce Ackerman’s proposal to distribute subsidies in proportion to qualified Internet clicks.
- Ackerman, Bruce (2010). "5. Enlightening politics". The Decline and Fall of the American Republic. Harvard U. Pr. p. 133. ISBN 978-0-674-05703-6. Text "Bruce Ackerman " ignored (help)
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- See also Free Culture: Lessig, Lawrence (2015). Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity (US paperback ed.). Petter Reinholdtsen. ISBN 978-82-690182-0-2.
- Cagé (2016)
- Caroline Craig, Where the candidates stand on Net neutrality, InfoWorld (September 25, 2015).
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- Takala, Rudy (February 16, 2016). "FCC commissioner: U.S. tradition of free expression slipping away". Washington Examiner.
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- Lewis (2014)
- Information allowing the identification of specific individuals involved in questionable activities prior to the passage of reform legislation suggested herein might be classified for 30 years to protect those individuals. Such protections should also extend to private considerations of options considered but not implemented, to allow public officials to consider all options without fear of retaliation for options not submitted for public consideration. However, such protection could not extend to protect information from challenge in legal proceedings under US v. Reynolds, because US v. Reynolds seems to be a threat to US national security, and should be overturned, according to the argument in this section and supporting evidence.
- As noted above, the US DoD failed to pass an audit since first required to do so in 1990. This is partly a result of interference by elected representatives.
- as documented, e.g., by Lewis (2014)
- Ellsberg, Daniel (2014-05-30), "Snowden would not get a fair trial – and Kerry is wrong", The Guardian, retrieved 2017-03-09
- Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed, WikiLeaks, 2017-03-07, retrieved 2017-03-14
- Overly, Steven (2017-03-08), "What we know about car hacking, the CIA and those WikiLeaks claims", Washington Post, retrieved 2017-03-14
- See also , Endowment for Journalism http://endowment4journalism.org, retrieved 2017-03-16 Missing or empty
- The matching funds for minors could be "with the approval of their parents / legal guardians."
- Qualifications would apply both to the individual making the click and the recipient organization. They would ensure that both the individual and the recipient would have an appropriate connection to the indicated governmental entity or business.