A favorite tactic of U.S. propaganda is to label a foreign adversary “crazy” to justify a military attack — as is now happening with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un although his nuclear program really makes logical sense, observes Ted Snider.
By Ted Snider
The “insanity” label that America attaches to North Korea has a lot of political utility. First, it colors the interpretation of everything North Korea does. The consideration of a rational motivation for undesirable actions can be prevented: the actions are assumed to be crazy.
Secondly, it makes the target of blame clear. Thirdly, and most importantly, it justifies the claim that rational discussion and diplomacy are pointless and misguided. Since the regime is irrational, it is incapable of listening to reason: the only approach that works is threats, military action and regime change.
There is a long American history of calling opponents crazy. At times, the installation of a compliant but brutal and insane dictator has even been seen as desirable, since later – when compliance turns to inconvenience – applying the crazy label can justify his removal. (For instance, think of Panama’s Manuel Noriega or Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, who received American backing before their unpredictable behavior made them targets for regime change.)
More than half a century ago, the insanity strategy was honed by the British and the Americans in Iran. They colorfully painted the democratically elected Mohammad Mossadeq, their target of regime change at the time, as mad, both to blame him for a political crisis and to justify the need to replace him.
Publicly, the media and the politicians created a collage of lunatic adjectives to paint Mossadeq as mad. Ervand Abrahamian, in his book The Coup, has curated a number of them: “impervious to common sense”; “bewildered and desperately short sighted”; and “marred by nervous instability.” He was called “hopelessly irrational”; “eccentric”; “hysterical”; “mentally unstable”; and “crazy.” He was consistently portrayed as childish, erratic and emotional. Abrahamian says government…