Atrocity fabrication – the invention and reporting of atrocities purportedly committed by an adversary – has a centuries-long history at the heart of propaganda and power politics as an effective means of moving public and international opinion. Its use can provide pretext for a range of hostile measures against its targets, transforming in the public eye wars of unprovoked aggression into wars of liberation of the oppressed, or turning blockades to starve enemy civilians into humane efforts to pressure abusive governments under the moralistic label of sanctions. As it plays a large and growing role in global conflict in the 21st century understanding atrocity fabrication and the consistent means and ends to which it has been used has become crucial to comprehending geopolitical events in the present day.
This book elucidates the seldom explored but central role played by atrocity fabrication in eleven major conflicts from the 1950s to the present day: from Korea, Vietnam and Cuba during the Cold War to Iraq, Libya and the emerging Sino-U.S. cold war more recently. It highlights the many variations of atrocity fabrication, the strong consistencies in how atrocity fabrication is used, and the consequences it has for the populations of the targeted countries. The book demonstrates the roles played by media and both government and non-governmental organizations in misleading the public as to the actuality of these highly publicized events. The emerging trend towards this mode of action, and the deep implications this has for world order, make an understanding of its history particularly critical.