Media critic Norman Solomon on how the U.S. media keeps the human consequences of the country’s foreign policy out of view.

by Current Affairs

Today we speak to Norman Solomon about his new book War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military MachineNorman is one of the country’s leading progressive media critics. In the book, he talks about how the media helps construct a mental wall between the people of the United States and the victims of U.S. foreign policy. He talks about how the reality of violence is kept from view and how heroic whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning and Daniel Hale are punished when they try to put cracks in the “wall” and show people the reality of their country’s crimes abroad. The interview was conducted by Nathan J. Robinson and appeared originally on the Current Affairs podcast. It has been lightly edited for grammar and clarity.

US Army Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division conducting a patrol.

Nathan J. Robinson:

I want to begin by quoting a paragraph that stood out to me in your introduction:

“Patterns of convenient silence and deceptive messaging are as necessary for perpetual war as the Pentagon’s bombs and missiles, patterns so familiar that they’re apt to seem normal, even natural. But the uninformed consent of the governed is a perverse and hollow kind of consent. While short on genuine democracy, the process is long on fueling a constant state of war. To activate a more democratic process will require lifting of the fog that obscures the actual dynamics of militarism far away and close to home. To lift that fog, we need to recognize evasions and decode messages that are routine every day in the United States.”

I liked that paragraph because it captured a lot of the themes that run through War Made Invisible, one of which appears to be this connection between democracy and knowledge. That is to say, in a system where supposedly the voters are entrusted with holding power to account and have to decide who will be in charge, they can’t make those decisions well if things that are really important are, as your title puts it, made invisible.

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