Consent Manufactured by Propaganda Is Not Informed Consent

Caitlin Johnstone digs into the dishonesty of a recent tweet by the top U.S. diplomat.   

U.S. Army paratrooper walks with two chemical lights, Camp Ramadi, Iraq, Oct. 26, 2009. (U.S. Army, Flickr, Michael J. MacLeod)

By Caitlin Johnstone

A new Twitter post by U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken reads as follows:

“We will never hesitate to use force when American lives and vital interests are at stake, but we will do so only when the objectives are clear and achievable, consistent with our values and laws, and with the American people’s informed consent – together with diplomacy.”

This is an absolute lie.

Firstly, U.S. military force is never used to protect “American lives” in modern times, unless you count the lives of U.S. troops and mercenaries in foreign lands they have no business occupying in the first place. The U.S. military is never used to defend American lives against an invading enemy force; that simply does not happen in our current world order.

It is only ever used to protect the agenda of unipolar planetary domination, which would be the “vital interests” to which Blinken obliquely refers.

Secondly, Blinken’s claim that the Biden administration will never use military force without “the American people’s informed consent” has already been blatantly invalidated by President Joe Biden’s airstrikes on Syria last month.

The American people never gave their consent to those airstrikes, informed or uninformed. A nation the U.S. invaded (Syria) was bombed because troops are being attacked in a second nation the U.S. invaded (Iraq) on the completely unproven claim that a third country against whom the U.S. is currently waging economic warfare (Iran) supported those attacks. At no time were the people asked for their consent to this, and at no time was any attempt made to ensure that they were informed of the situation before it happened.

Thirdly, U.S. military force is never, ever conducted with the American people’s informed consent. Literally never. Consent is always manufactured for U.S. wars by lies and mass media propaganda, one hundred percent of the time, without exception. The bigger the military operation, the more egregious the deceit used to manufacture consent for it. Even in relatively “peaceful” times when the U.S. is merely raining dozens of bombs and missiles per day on foreign soil, Americans are subject to a nonstop deluge of distorted and outright false narratives about their military and the nations it targets for destruction.

Consent that has been artificially manufactured by propaganda is not informed consent, any more than sex with someone who’s been dosed with Rohypnol can be considered consensual.


A U.S. Navy mass communication specialist at work at Camp Pendleton, Calif. (U.S. Navy, Johansen Laurel) (Released)

U.S. imperialism does not rely on informed consent, it relies on disinformed consent; consent for it is manufactured by disinformation. Informed consent plays no role whatsoever in the use of U.S. military force, nor indeed in any other major aspect of the behavior of the U.S. or its allies.

Every aspect of the U.S.-centralized power alliance is propped up by a relentless deluge of mass-scale psyops. Imperialism, capitalism, electoral politics; consent for all its key pillars is constantly being manufactured by the plutocratic news media, by television, by movies. All of the most influential generators of modern mainstream thought and culture are heavily influenced by a plutocratic class which has a vested interest in keeping power out of the hands of the people.

This is the only thing keeping us from moving into a healthy new paradigm where we collaborate with each other toward a healthy world based on truth and beauty instead of competing with each other over who can create the most profitable pieces of future landfill. No hard obstacles are in place stopping us; our cages only exist between our ears. It is only because powerful people are manipulating our minds to their advantage that we have not already used the power of our numbers to create a healthy, harmonious and enjoyable earth.

It’s important to be aware of the fact that our consent has been manufactured for this mess, because it means we never gave them our informed consent, which means no existing power structures have any legitimacy at all. They have power because they stole our power from us, and it is our prerogative to take it back. We do not need to go through the political systems they have rigged to their advantage or the ideological spectrum of acceptable debate that they have confined mainstream discourse to. We can just take it.

This will only happen after we have freed ourselves in sufficient numbers from their mass-scale psychological manipulations, which will only happen after we have prioritized weakening public trust in their propaganda operations and waking the mainstream public up to the truth. Once a sufficient number of people have been awakened from their propaganda-induced slumber, we can reclaim our world from the sociopathic manipulators without firing a shot, just by standing up to our true size and flexing our giant muscles.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.   Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

This article was re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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18 comments for “Consent Manufactured by Propaganda Is Not Informed Consent

  1. Dennis Hanna
    March 12, 2021 at 03:13

    The god of money is the most powerful of all the gods.
    You and I struggle against it; we fight to deny it.
    You doubt it?
    Look in the mirror.
    What do you see?
    Look all around you.
    What do you see?
    Does money make right?
    Money makes what is
    … in sight.
    Feel free to take it as a slight.
    Principles and values can make might.
    One [ You ] must be willing to fight.
    Not with words you speak or write.
    Only fighting and dying, regrettably, are true.
    What you say, think, [ write, feel ] believe means nothing, or next to nothing; the only consequence is what you do.
    Why am I wrong?
    dennis hanna

  2. Dennis Hanna
    March 12, 2021 at 03:06

    A people who elect 
    corrupt politicians, imposters, 
    thieves and traitors are not “innocent” victims … 
    but accomplices.

    George Orwell 
    ( Eric Arthur Blair )

    Updated and current: 

    A people who elect 
    corrupt politicians, imposters, 
    War Criminals and initiators of Wars of Aggression are not “innocent” victims … 
    but accomplices.
    (dennis hanna)

    No Democratic Party; No Republican Party; No Duopoly.
    One “Party” and only one Party; monopoly:  

    Warfare-Welfare Party.

    Sometimes … people do not want to hear the truth because it destroys their illusions.
    Frederick Nietzsche  

    dennis hanna

  3. Dennis Hanna
    March 12, 2021 at 03:02

    America an Oligarchy

    We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing.
    All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites.

    The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they cannot had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal.

    We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end.

    One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

    Is the United States of America any different, any better?

    Are we not in a long line of and are we not the embodiment of …

    God’s Chosen People
    Saved in Jesus Christ
    The New Soviet Man (Person) a.k.a. The New Man (Person)
    The Master Race
    American Exceptionalism*
    The Earth’s Last Best Hope**
    The Indispensable Nation***
    The One Indispensable Nation****

    The first reference to the concept by name, and possibly its origin, was by French writer Alexis de Tocqueville in his 1835/1840 work, Democracy in America:

    “The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one. Their strictly Puritanical origin, their exclusively commercial habits, even the country they inhabit, which seems to divert their minds from the pursuit of science, literature, and the arts, the proximity of Europe, which allows them to neglect these pursuits without relapsing into barbarism, a thousand special causes, of which I have only been able to point out the most important, have singularly concurred to fix the mind of the American upon purely practical objects. His passions, his wants, his education, and everything about him seem to unite in drawing the native of the United States earthward; his religion alone bids him turn, from time to time, a transient and distracted glance to heaven. Let us cease, then, to view all democratic nations under the example of the American people.”

    President Abraham Lincoln
    Annual Message to Congress — Concluding Remarks

    Washington, D.C.
    December 1, 1862
    One month before signing the Emancipation Proclamation, President Lincoln sent a long message to Congress which was largely routine, but also proposed controversial measures such as voluntary colonization of slaves and compensated emancipation.

    “… We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. …”

    It is the threat of the use of force [against Iraq] and our line-up there that is going to put force behind the diplomacy. But if we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us.
    Madeleinee K. Albright,
    U.S. Secretary of State (1997–2001).

    Stated on NBC’s Today Show (February 19, 1998)

    “The United States is and will remain the one indispensable nation in the world. Now, sustaining our leadership, keeping America strong and secure means we have to use our power wisely,” Obama said in his address to the American Legion in North Carolina. August 27, 2014 ( not the first or last time he uttered these words )

    Please note, President Obama
    clarified and specified “… the one indispensable nation …”
    The President, thus, closed the rhetorical door on any other nation being “indispensable.”

    In meaning and use, “the,” definite article, acts as a function word to indicate that a following noun or noun equivalent is a “unique” or “a” particular member” of its class; i.e. “the” President as compared to “a” president.

    President Obama, of course, knew this being “ivory league” educated at Columbia University (B.A.) and Harvard University (J.D.)

    “Repetition is necessary to catapult the propaganda.” President George W.Bush
    [ “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.” — George Bush, “President Participates in Social Security Conversation in New York,” May 24, 2005. ]
    Why am I wrong?
    dennis hanna

  4. Julian C
    March 12, 2021 at 01:18

    Caitlin Johnstone makes an *excellent* point regarding informed consent. Without informed consent, then the action is illegitimate.

    If Johnstone sounds a bit strident please remember that:
    – They lied to get us into Iraq.
    – They lied to get us into Libya.
    – They lied about Yemen (mostly by omission).
    – They never told us that we had essentially invaded part of Syria. Never told us!
    Then turn around and act like an attack on troops there 100% illegitimately are for our own “protection”
    I could go on and on.
    It’s a warmongering lie after a war mongering lie.
    These are not minor things. Nations/civilizations FAIL because of this stuff.

    These lies are made possible because the FBI/CIA/NSA has thoroughly infiltrated our major media outlets. Openly! The TImes, CNN, Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS, ALL OF THEM, regularly trot out “former intel officials” who now work for THEM and ostensibly have “contacts” back at their former agency which give the news outlet “access”.

    This should be ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN. Illegal. Never.

    There used to be a huge taboo on this. In say 1975, a former top official from the CIA/FBI/NSA would never have dared attempt to work at NBC and NBC would not have hired him in a million years.

    How does that seem like a “galaxy far away”

    It is that kind of thing right there that can destroy democracy.

    If we do not fight this we are done.

    If we do not turn this tide back we are done.

    It will be endless war until exhaustion or collapse.

  5. Julian C
    March 12, 2021 at 00:59

    Let’s go to a story from Nazi Germany that illustrates the potent, devastating power of propaganda.

    This story was relayed to me by a neighbor (Bill Geisel). I will endevour to have him record it maybe on Youtube.

    It’s February or March 1945, Bill is 5 or 6 years old. Germany is getting beaten up and hammered from all sides. Every major industrial area and every major city faces air raides regularly. Electricity is kaput. Water supply out. Food growing scarce. Hospitals are full or injured and dying troops.

    I asked Bill if why he thought the Germans were still fighting so hard given it must have been obvious the war was lost, or did hey actually think they still had a chance? If so how in gods name could they think that.

    His answer, which led to the chilling story was: “you could not BELIEVE the propoganda”. So in short, the Germans (those around him anyway) had pretty much *no doubt* that Germany was going to win. So asked “what exactly did the propaganda say?”. The big theme was “if you think this is bad, you should see what we are doing to them”. The newspapers were filled with maps of supposed German attacks on [whatever] and planned German attacks on [whatever]. The theme of “if you think this is bad you should see what we are doing to them” was pretty relentless. Another thing they would say was “this is the last desperate gasp of the enemy.”

    Propoganda tells people *what they want to hear* and oh boy did those Germans desperately want to believe it (see above).

    One day, Bill is out, walking down the street (must have been with parents getting food?), and a large military truck came by with a bunch of young German soldiers in the back, the truck was open top, and the soldiers were standing and singing. To Bill they looked about 13 to 15 maybe and they were filled with patriotic ferver and almost “joy” even. They were singing some song about “marching off to victory” and Bill says he has never seen such ferver before or since. Older men “officers?” were leading the singing.

    These poor kids really thought that the war was just about over and *they* were marcing off to victory.

    THIS is the power of propoganda. Do not ever underestimate it.

    Repition, emotion. And telling people what they want to hear.

    We have not gotten that bad (yet) here, but the trend is *bad*. Really bad.

    General Petreaus a while back said something like “It’s not what happened that matters, it’s what people think happened.”

    No kidding! And it’s more reason why we need a free press, not a captive press, a press that tells us (as much as is possible) the truth.

    If people are told the truth then that statement by Petreaus is moot.

    If people get propoganda and not information all is lost.

  6. Julian C
    March 12, 2021 at 00:10

    I could not agree with this more! Propaganda *must* be the number one priority for anyone who hopes to save liberty, equality and freedom.

    Throughout my adult life, I have seen an evolution of the media from being mostly free and mostly independent to being overwhelmingly a state propaganda tool.

    The Daniel Ellsberg of our time (Julian Assange) languishes in prison.

    As long as the press is a captive of the “Plutocratic warmongers”, there is no hope.

    NO HOPE.

    There is no point in really attempting to addressing anything else until *serious* progress is made on this front.

    It should be A number one, a top priority.

    Hopefully, this system allows me to do another post, because I have a story from Nazi Germany – relayed to me by a “senior” neighbor who was a child there which will illustrate the devastating power of propaganda and the ramifications if you let it take root.

    He is still alive and I have to make sure that I tape record him telling it soon.

    Bottom line: when the CIA/FBI/NSA has infiltrated your media the way they have here and feeds by “leaks” and the Hedge Fund plutocrats own your media, you’re screwed.

    End of story.

    You lose.

    Endless war go on forever.

    Anything “positive” is temporary and will be reversed.

  7. Piotr Berman
    March 11, 2021 at 21:21

    Blinken told about using force only when it is “(a) clear and (b) achievable, (c) consistent with our values and laws, and (d) with the American people’s informed consent – together with diplomacy.”

    Of those point, it is easiest to comprehend is (c)the one about “informed consent”. To a person living in USA, it means pages of impenetrable small print and a salesman smiling “please sign where the arrow is attached”. Alternatively, “clicking [enter] means that you consent to blah blah”. In short, an annoying legality (legality? I guess). Caitlin, an Australian, may be excused for not knowing how this term is used on the other side of Pacific.

    “Consistent with our laws and values” may need some thought. “Laws” is the easy part, American courts are very deferential to the reasons of State, so if “laws” means some text to be interpreted by well selected judges (not selected by Caitlin), then they are not an issue. “Values” is more puzzling. Do they know anything about values, people like Blinken and his milieu? Then again, you cannot be inconsistent with “our values” if this means values of Blinken and friends, unless you want to take something out of their pockets.

    Concerning “clear”, we enter a truly difficult zone. Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (“that Palmerston”), described as the father of “internationalist liberalism” that is invoked by people like Blinken, was instrumental in starting Crimean War, the purposes keep baffling people till today. When a liberal talks about clear reasons for a war, run for the hills or risk a mental disorder (Caitlin seems to suffer from such exposure). Mussolini, for all his faults, was clear “Every man should have his little war.
    ” or “To make a people great it is necessary to send them to battle even if you have to kick them in the pants. That is what I shall do.”

    If your were thinking that “clear” was hard, do not even try to comprehend what “achievable” means in the mouth of Blinken.

  8. DH Fabian
    March 11, 2021 at 17:35

    Re-read Tony Blinken’s comment at the start. Was that really “an absolute lie?” Or was it simply a routine recitation of what the US government has told the public at least since World War l?

    • Julian C
      March 12, 2021 at 12:39

      Whether it was an “absolute lie” or not is irrelevant.

      It is propaganda.

      The American public – and no public, as a matter of fact, would have accepted the ridiculous foreign wars of the twenty-first century had informed consent been required.

      There was no informed consent. There were lies. Lies, omissions, and more lies. The WMD episode of 2002/2003 being the first big lie in the sequence.

      No informed consent means these wars are ILLEGITIMATE. Which means we do not have to go along with them.

      These wars are not for the purpose of protecting the American public, they are for the .

  9. Nathan Mulcahy
    March 11, 2021 at 15:33

    Secretary Blinken:

    What are “our” objectives in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, etc? Not MIC’s or Israel’s.

    If these are clear and achievable objectives then why haven’t we achieved them even after two decades of quagmire?

    When you say that they are also consistent with our values and laws, then are you suggesting that illegal wars and war crimes are consistent with our laws and values?

    The majority of Americans have consistently opposed these illegal wars by electing presidents who had promised to end these wars but then broke their promise. Examples are Obama and Trump.

    Which planet do you live in when you claim that Americans have given consent to these illegal wars and war crimes?

    You lie!!

  10. dfnslblty
    March 11, 2021 at 14:34


    The difference is that the author professes non-violence – even outside of current political processes.

    Keep writing and working for reclamation.

  11. phreeman
    March 11, 2021 at 13:19

    Ms. Johnstone certainly has a way with words. And I do not disagree with her thesis.

    The thing that strikes me and concerns me, however, is how similar in theme this article is to the Q-anon and militia claims about the “deep state” that is running US politics and how that played out January 6. While this article ends with a nonviolent statement, it does so after saying ” . . . they stole our power from us, and it is our prerogative to take it back.” Such statements suggest that some level of force would be justified.

    We can only hope that our public is able to deprogram without resorting to violence, but that will largely depend on how the establishment responds to the attempts to deprogram. The response to BLM protests is not encouraging. Every time tear gas is used on peaceful (and I emphasize peaceful as opposed to violent) protesters, more people will conclude that violence is the only way to effect meaningful change.

    • Julian C
      March 12, 2021 at 12:47

      to: phreeman

      If I was one of those persons interested in endless foreign wars to “bolster the empire for the plutocrats” so to speak here is one thing I would do.

      I would hire some folks and have them join Qanon and post standard anti-war stuff and post all sorts of things alleging a “vast conspiracy theory” of deep-state->Lochheed martin->Plutocrats fomenting foreign wars. Which is essentially the truth.

      Then turn around and say “that’s what Qanon says”

      This is a very standard tactic.

      Hitler had operatives litter the area around the Reichstag with “Communist stuff” when the fire was set.

      Standard misdirection.

  12. Tristan Patterson
    March 11, 2021 at 11:42

    This is all well and good but, I think you’ll find that a referendum in the US about dropping bombs on Arabs would be as closely fought as any election. It has turned into the greatest death cult the world have ever seen.

    • DH Fabian
      March 11, 2021 at 17:46

      “Dropping bombs on Arabs” takes in a more complicated issue. The US targets the Arab nations because that’s where the oil is. US oil corporations want control of it. (Also explains US interests in Venezuela, which has significant oil reserves.) American troops “liberating” the resources of other countries.

  13. Randal Marlin
    March 11, 2021 at 10:03

    I agree with this, but in the words of recently deceased Bill Greider, who will tell the people?
    To preserve our self-esteem, sanity or other vital concerns, we filter out conflicting truths before they can do damage.

    Trump and Covid-19 have revealed the folly of rejecting deeply upsetting news when the news is genuine and not fake.

    President Joe Biden should discard the propaganda machine in favor of respecting truth, however uncomfortable, and engage in humility and compassion for the victims of technological wishful-thinking (e.g. “surgical strikes”). Diplomacy before military should not be treated as a merely temporal ordering. (“OK, we’ve done the diplomatic route, now let’s bomb!”) It should become a moral imperative to eliminate the latter, with a rare exception allowed only with fullest transparency and informed consent of the people.

  14. March 11, 2021 at 09:13

    I mostly agree with Ms. Johnstone, but near the end of her piece she says our power has been taken away from us, and we don’t need to go through any mainstream political systems to get it back; “we can just take it.”

    I wonder if that is not exactly the attitude of the white racist insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol.

    Now, many of them, both wacky conspiracy theorists and hardcore militiamen and vigilantes are clinging to ideas that have nothing to do with informed consent or lack of it. We– men and women of good will, Americans who can envision themselves in a world citizenship– are not, theoretically at least, fooled by the propaganda, and are smart and resourceful enough to carry out the change from acceptance of some plutocratic class’s agenda to one that doesn’t hurt the earth (as badly).

    But “just take it”? A lotta American people going to get hurt and killed, I reckon. Though as it stands, everybody else but us– Syrians, Yemeni, Palestinians, compatriots of various other African and Asian nations– is doing the bleeding, so maybe the trick is to do triage, and try to have as few people hurt as little as possible in the accomplishment of (here’s the word, I almost hate to use it, because it is so often misused) an American revolution.

    • Em
      March 11, 2021 at 15:39

      “(W)e can just take it.”

      You selectively omitted the entire paragraph of consequence:

      This will only happen after we have freed ourselves in sufficient numbers from their mass-scale psychological manipulations, which will only happen after we have prioritized weakening public trust in their propaganda operations and waking the mainstream public up to the truth. Once a sufficient number of people have been awakened from their propaganda-induced slumber, we can reclaim our world from the sociopathic manipulators without firing a shot (peaceful resistance), just by standing up to our true size and flexing our giant muscles.

      Introducing “white racist insurrectionists” into the argument is nothing more than a deflective tactic of keeping the general populace in fear and panic.

      Sounds as though you are for status quo continuation of systemic malfeasance.

      If my assessment is wrong, I preemptively apologize.

Comments are closed.