Twenty years after being exiled from the Soviet Union, Alexander Zinovyev—one of the most prominent living European authors—has decided to leave his adopted homeland, France, and to return to Russia. His reasons are summarized in the title of a long interview in Le Figaro Magazine: “The West has become totalitarian” (July 24). While he was thundering dissent in Brezhnev’s Russia, Zinovyev was lionized by the American establishment. His novels were translated, published, and prominently reviewed. His views on the contemporary West, however, are unfit to print on this side of the Atlantic:
Today we know that the Cold War was the climax of Western history. Material abundance, meaningful freedoms, social progress, huge technical and scientific achievements. But the West was changing, almost imperceptibly. Early integration of the developed countries was the harbinger of globalization of the economy and politics that we are witnessing today, based on vertical structures dominated by supranational power. . . . The end of communism was the end of democracy. We are living not only in post-communism but also in post-democracy. We are witnessing the establishment of democratic totalitarianism, or, better still, totalitarian democracy.
According to Zinovyev, “democratic totalitarianism” exercises ideological control over its citizens far more effectively than communism or fascism ever did. Ideas are less important than the mechanism of their dissemination. Today’s Western media, Zinovyev argues, are more powerful shapers of human minds than the Vatican at the peak of its influence, and he warns that there is now but one ideology, which serves as the ultimate source of political power:
Western ideology combines and directs ideas as required, on the assumption that Western values and way of life are superior to all others. And yet, for most people of this planet, those values are fatal. Try to tell an American that Russia is dying from them! By maintaining that Western values are universal, the media and Western politicians become steeped in ideological dogmatism which makes it possible for them to impose it on the rest of the world. . . . It is enough to switch on the TV set, to go to the movies, to open a bestseller, to listen to the ubiquitous music, and you’ll find them propagating the cult of sex, violence and money. Noble slogans about tolerance and respect for others are concealing those three pillars of totalitarian democracy.
Liberalism is dead, according to Zinovyev: There is no real personal initiative and no personal risk left in the world of huge financial conglomerates. The importance of the individual, once the cornerstone of liberalism, has diminished. It doesn’t matter who is at the helm of one country or another—Bush or Clinton, Kohl or Schroeder, Chirac or Jospin. They conduct the same policy. They all joined in the war against Yugoslavia, he says, but in doing so
Western European countries were waging war against Europe. Serbia was chosen because it resists the globalist steamroller. Russia may be the next, before China. The next century will exceed in horrors everything we’ve seen in history. . . . The nations that have created our civilization—I mean the Latin nations first and foremost-will gradually disappear. Western Europe is deluged by foreigners. This is neither accidental, nor . . . spontaneous. The objective is to create in Europe [a] situation similar to that in the United States. The realization that Humanity will be happy, but without any Frenchmen left alive, should not be a source of joy to today’s French.
An unheralded step in the direction of this particular variety of the end of history is the creation of a new U.S. government agency—the International Public Information Group—which is designed to “influence foreign audiences” in support of U.S. foreign policy and to counteract propaganda by enemies of the United States. According to a report in the Washington Times (July 28),
The aim is “to enhance U.S. security, bolster America’s economic prosperity and to promote democracy abroad,” according to the IPI Core Group Charter . . . the charter also says that IPI control over “international military information” is intended to “influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups and individuals.”
According to the Charter, the Clinton administration hopes to encourage the United Nations and other international organizations to make “effective use of IPI . . . in support of multilateral peacekeeping.” On April 30, at the height of the war against Serbia, President Clinton issued a secret Presidential Decision Direction—PDD 68—ordering the creation of the IPI. The Washington Times points out that
Numerous clauses in the document have an Orwellian ring that gives the impression of a vast, coordinated propaganda operation. “The objective of IPI is to synchronize the informational objectives, themes and messages that will be projected overseas . . . to prevent and mitigate crises and to influence foreign audiences in ways favorable to the achievement of U.S. foreign policy objectives,” the charter says. U.S. officials, and the text of the charter, explicitly state that the new information policy will not be used as a propaganda weapon against the American public—which is prohibited by U.S. law. However, since foreign media reports often get played back in U.S. media, it will likely be impossible to prevent a backwash of the pro-U.S. information into America. The charter recognizes this by calling for the government’s domestic public affairs activities to be coordinated with its foreign IPI efforts. Information aimed at domestic audiences should “be coordinated, integrated, deconflicted and synchronized with the [IPI Core Group] to achieve a synergistic effect for [government] strategic information activities,” the charter says.
Clinton’s PDD 68 orders officials from the Defense, State, Justice, Commerce, and Treasury Departments and the CIA and FBI to set up the core group. The IPI core group will arrange “training exercises at the National Defense University, National Foreign Affairs Training Center, the Service War Colleges” and other institutions, and its activities could go beyond broadcasts and press releases. The core group is ordered to “assist efforts in defeating adversaries . . . The intelligence community will play a crucial role . . . in identifying hostile foreign propaganda and deception that targets the U.S.”
An early target for the new agency could be the Guardian of London, which revealed some disturbing details on the effects of U.S. depleted uranium weapons on Iraqi civilians (July 30), including “grotesquely deformed babies”:
They were born with huge black growths on their heads, or with no feet, or with tiny heads, or with huge clefts in their backs. They have distorted limbs and disfigured torsos, their tiny bodies appearing mangled. These are the offspring of Iraqi soldiers subjected to hundreds of thousands of rounds of shells tipped with depleted uranium, fired by US forces during the 1991 Gulf war. . . . It is a controversial issue and a topical one. American A-10 ‘tankbusters’ used uranium-tipped weapons against Serb targets in Kosovo.
Three years ago, Madeleine Albright proudly declared that all this—the death and maiming of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians due to war and sanctions—was “worth it” in pursuit of U.S. policy objectives. It is therefore fitting that, at ASEAN’s Singapore summit last July, Mrs. Albright replied to Chinese criticism of NATO’s bombing of Serbia by saying, “I am very proud of the action the United States and NATO took” (Agence France Presse, July 27). She further stated that the United States will act unilaterally in the future, whenever “the U.N. cannot act, because it is blocked by those who are not supporting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the necessity to try to bring justice when crimes against humanity are being committed.”
Ironically, on that same day in neighboring Indonesia, 24 people died in clashes between Muslims and Christians in Ambon. According to Reuters (July 28),
Fighting gripped five different parts of Ambon city, much of it in ruins after months of clashes, and spread to villages outside, witnesses said. Hospital sources said most of the new victims died of gunshot wounds. It brings the number of dead there this week to at least 34. “They virtually used every weapon available, machetes, spears, bows and arrows—even crude bombs,” said a local journalist.
This item proved no more fit for print or commentary than the ongoing butchering of millions of Christians by their Muslim overlords in southern Sudan or the daily murder of the remaining Serbs in Kosovo. Contrast this lack of coverage with the American media’s hagiographical tribute to the late King Hassan of Morocco. The Independent of London (July 25) noted a few facts ignored by the American press:
When a Middle East dictator faithfully follows US policy in the region, you can be sure that he will be mourned in death as a “peacemaker”, a “moderate”, a “friend of the West”. And so it was for Hassan II , Commander of the Faithful, as the world’s leaders set off for Rabat to express their sorrow at the demise of the longest-serving Arab monarch. No mention, of course, of the decades of imprisonment without trial for his political opponents, of the secret mountain prisons, of the “disappearances”, of the occupation of the Western Sahara. For was this not the man who helped set up the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, the Oslo agreement, the Jordanian peace treaty, who produced an Islamic call against “terrorism”? However much he received in cash from the CIA-and the Arab world still speaks of this with both anger and envy-King Hassan was on “our” side.
Hassan’s profound understanding of today’s Western world was apparent in the word of advice he gave to Yassir Arafat in 1994. According to the Independent, he counseled the Palestinian leader to toe Israel’s line:
“Those people [the Israelis] are very powerful,” Hassan said. “Consider what they have done for you. In 24 hours they have changed your image from terrorist to peacemaker, enabling you to go to the White House, to dine at the State Department, to have lunch at the World Bank, to enter 10 Downing Street.”
“Yours has always been a voice of reason and tolerance,” President Clinton gushed to the king in 1995. He was saying the same in Rabat, in the last week of July, when he met Hassan’s successor, Sidi Mohamed. Our king is dead. Long live our king.