Holding Two Contradictory Beliefs in One’s Mind Simultaneously

Source: Dana E. Abizaid in Salon, January 2

Despite what politicians say, understanding U.S. foreign policy is much more difficult than applying a black and white, good and evil, us versus them approach. To begin to comprehend the maze of conflicting interests involved and how the U.S. acts against its oft-stated ideals, one needs to lean on George Orwell’s definition of “doublethink,” or “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

George OrwellThe central means of population control in Orwell’s 1984, doublethink is also essential to the U.S. government’s and media’s abilities to craft counterproductive foreign policies and narratives that go largely unquestioned by the mainstream media and American public.

Doublethink allows the U.S. government and media to apply its attention and ire selectively while maintaining that the U.S. supports democracy and opposes human rights abuses in the Middle East. It also facilitates the implementation of policies that blatantly contradict each other.

Glaring areas where doublethink has triumphed in U.S. foreign policy include American support for the draconian Saudi monarchy, the hardline Egyptian military dictatorship and the Iraqi regime allied closely with Iran. Doublethink is also conspicuously at play in U.S. condemnation of their enemies’ transgressions while ignoring its own as well as those of its allies. This is most clearly illustrated in U.S. support of Israel and condemnation of Russia….


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