"Fascism" Frame Set Up by Right-Wing Press
Analysis by Jim Lobe
09/01/06 -- - WASHINGTON, Aug 31 (IPS) - The aggressive new
campaign by the administration of President George W. Bush to
depict U.S. foes in the Middle East as "fascists" and its
domestic critics as "appeasers" owes a great deal to steadily
intensifying efforts by the right-wing press over the past
several months to draw the same comparison.
The Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News Network and The Weekly
Standard, as well as the Washington Times, which is controlled
by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, and the
neo-conservative New York Sun, have consistently and with
increasing frequency framed the challenges faced by Washington
in the region in the context of the rise of fascism and Nazism
in the 1930s, according to a search of the Nexis database by
All of those outlets, as well as two other right-wing U.S.
magazines -- The National Review and The American Spectator --
far outpaced their commercial rivals in the frequency of their
use of key words and names, such as "appeasement," "fascism",
and "Hitler", particularly with respect to Iran and its
controversial president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Nexis, for example, cited 56 uses of "Islamofascist" or "Islamofascism"
in separate programmes or segments aired by Fox News compared
with 24 by CNN over the past year. Even more striking, the same
terms were used in 115 different articles or columns in the
Washington Times, compared with only eight in the Washington
Post over the same period, according to a breakdown by Nexis.
Similarly, the Washington Times used the words "appease" or
"appeasement" -- a derogatory reference to efforts by British
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to avoid war with Nazi
Germany before the latter's invasion of Poland -- in 25
different articles or columns that dealt with alleged threats
posed by Ahmadinejad, compared to six in the Post and only three
in the New York Times.
Israel-centred neo-conservatives and other hawks have long tried
to depict foreign challenges to U.S. power as replays of the
1930s in order to rally public opinion behind foreign
interventions and high defence budgets and against domestic
During the Cold War, they attacked domestic critics of the
Vietnam War and later the Ronald Reagan administration's "contra
war" against Nicaragua -- and even Israel's 1982 invasion of
Lebanon -- as "isolationists" and "appeasers" who failed to
understand that their opposition effectively served the
interests of an "evil" Soviet Union whose ambitions for world
conquest were every bit as threatening and real as that of the
Axis powers in World War II.
Known as "the Good War", that conflict remains irresistible as a
point of comparison for hawks caught up in more recent conflicts
-- from the first Gulf War when former President H.W. Bush
compared Iraq's Saddam Hussein to Hitler; to the Balkan wars
when neo-conservatives and liberal interventionists alike
described Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in similar terms; to
the younger Bush's "global war on terrorism" (GWOT), which he
and his supporters have repeatedly tried to depict as the latest
in a series of existential struggles against "evil" and
"totalitarians" that began with World War II.
Given the growing public disillusionment not only with the Iraq
war, but with Bush's handling of the larger GWOT as well -- not
to mention the imminence of the mid-term Congressional elections
in November and the growing tensions with Ahmadinejad's Iran
over its nuclear programme -- it is hardly surprising that both
the administration and its hawkish supporters are trying harder
than ever to identify their current struggles, including last
month's conflict between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah,
specifically with the war against "fascism" more than 60 years
As noted by Associated Press (AP) this week, "fascism" or
"Islamic fascism", a phrase used by Bush himself two weeks ago
and used to encompass everything from Sunni insurgents, al Qaeda
and Hamas to Shia Hezbollah and Iran to secular Syria, has
become the "new buzzword" for Republicans.
In a controversial speech Tuesday, Pentagon chief Donald
Rumsfeld was even more direct, declaring that Washington faced a
"new type of fascism" and, in an explicit reference to the
failure of western countries to confront Hitler in the 1930s,
assailing critics for neglecting "history's lessons" by
"believ(ing) that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased."
But Rumsfeld's remarks, which drew bitter retorts from leading
Democrats, followed a well-worn path trod with increasing
intensity by the neo-conservative and right-wing media over the
last year, according to the Nexis survey. Significantly, it did
not include the Wall Street Journal whose editorial pages have
been dominated by neo-conservative opinion, particularly
analogies between the rise of fascism and the challenges faced
by the U.S. in the Middle East, since 9/11.
Thus, the Washington Times published 95 articles and columns
that featured the words "fascism" or "fascist" and "Iraq" over
the past year, twice as many as appeared in the New York Times
during the same period. More than half of the Washington Times'
articles were published in just the past three months -- three
times as many as appeared in the New York Times.
Similarly, the National Review led all magazines and journals
with 66 such references over the past year, followed by 48 in
The American Spectator, and 14 by The Weekly Standard. Together,
those three publications accounted for more than half of all
articles with those words published by the more than three dozen
U.S. periodicals catalogued by Nexis since last September.
The results were similar for "appease" or "appeasement" and
"Iraq". Led by the Review, the same three journals accounted for
more than half the articles (175) that included those words in
some three dozen U.S. magazines over the past year. As for
newspapers, The Washington Times led the list with 46 articles,
50 percent more than the New York Times which also had fewer
articles than its crosstown neo-conservative rival, the
much-smaller New York Sun.
Searching on Nexis for articles and columns that included "Iran"
and "fascist" or "fascism," IPS found that the Sun and the Times
topped the newspaper list by a substantial margin, as did the
Review, the Spectator, and the Standard among the magazines and
journals. Nearly one-third of all such references over the past
year were published in August, according to the survey.
Nexis, which also surveys the Canadian press, found that
newspapers owned by CanWest Global Communications, a group that
owns the country's Global Television Network, as well as the
National Post, the Ottawa Citizen, and the Montreal Gazette and
several other regional newspapers, were also among the most
consistent propagators of the "fascism" paradigm and ranked far
ahead of other Canadian outlets in the frequency with which they
used key words, such as "appeasement" and "fascist" in
connection with Iraq and Iran.
The group is run by members of the Asper family whose foreign
policy views have been linked to prominent hard-line
neo-conservatives here and the right-wing Likud Party in Israel.
Copyright © 2006 IPS-Inter Press Service. All rights reserved.
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