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The Media War against Iraq

"How much blood will suffice as ink for empire's new maps?: Sinan Anton.

By Ghali Hassan

05/10/04 "ICH"
-- Never have the media been so influential in propagating war against innocent people. We are constantly being propagandised to approve of war. The media and the government sanitize war. Since 1991, the media have managed a campaign of virulent and psychological war against the people of Iraq. 

Human species (Homo sapiens) is the only species able to organise and wage violent wars against its own species for reasons very questionable and unintelligent. Most wars were not only unnecessary, but considered threat to the species own survival. Human has developed very devastated weapons of mass destruction, and inflicted great damage on the environment and resources considered to be vital for survival. Others who protested against war have been accused of being disloyal by the media and the government.

How can this "intelligent" and powerful species allowed this to happen? Human developed a system of mass communication to produce information or news. With only few people in charge of this influential communication system, wars have been glorified because it suits the few elites. Often those few who own the communication system are able to influence and control the government as well. The bodies of dead civilians and dead soldiers are removed from our TV screens. We must not forget that war, is killing and disfiguring human beings. The war on Iraq was unnecessary act of violence perpetuated by few influential people.

The first genocidal Gulf War on Iraq in 1991, which devastated Iraq and the people of Iraq, was also the "first" media war, in that the war was shown as an electronic game on TV screens around the world. No dead or mutilated civilians were shown, only occasionally civilian died by "crossfire" or as "collateral damage", as civilian victims are called theses days by the media. The reality of the war was: thousands of innocents Iraqis and thousands of Iraqi soldiers have been killed by a violent war. 

The war on Iraq did not end. The United States and Britain continued their undeclared war against the people of Iraq, which also included the genocidal United Nations sponsored economic sanctions that took the lives of three-quarters of a million Iraqi children. The economic sanctions, correctly called "weapon[s] of mass destruction" by Professor Joy Gordon of Fairfield University in the US, were designed to deprive Iraq from any trade with the outside world and to prevent Iraq from building its shattered infrastructure. After thirteen years of sanctions and weekly bombardments by US/UK army, Iraq infrastructure, economy and the living standard of its people decimated. (For the impacts of sanctions, see Joy Gordon, Cool War: Economic sanctions as a weapon of mass destruction, Harper's Magazine, November 2002).

Mainstream media was efficient in removing the suffering of the Iraqi people from Western audience. Iraq was portrayed in the media as a one-man (Saddam) desert, with no "people" to be concerned about. Thomas Nagy of George Washington University in the US wrote in The Progressive: "[f] or more than ten years, the United States has deliberately pursued a policy of destroying the water treatment system of Iraq, knowing full well the cost in Iraqi lives. The United Nations has estimated that more than 500,000 Iraqi children have died as a result of sanctions, and that 5,000 Iraqi children continue to die every month for this reason" (Thomas J. Nagy, The Secret Behind the Sanctions: How the U.S. Intentionally Destroyed Iraq's Water Supply, The Progressive, September, 2001). We were told by the mainstream media:" It was the fault of Saddam and Al-Jazeera".
In the days that followed September 11, 2001, the US administration immediately recognised the "golden opportunity", as it was called by Condoleezza Rice, to pursue a policy of "preventive strike" against defenceless countries inhabited by people of dark-skin colour. The aim was to dominate, by military power, and to control the world resources for America's corporations and Western elites. Afghanistan and Iraq was chosen immediately as the preferred targets. Both countries qualified for America's aggression.
In the case of Iraq, which proved beyond reasonable doubt to have no link to September 11 or any terrorist group, it is because Iraq is the heart of the Arab World wealth and Arab nationalism. Both of these, according to the neocons headed by Wolfowitz in Washington, have to be controlled; otherwise the example is too costly to be left alone. One Switzerland is enough.

The media war started before the war itself. Virginia Tilley wrote in Counterpunch online Magazine: "On Fox News, ranks of flunky intellectuals [who serve power unquestionably, such as Bernard Lewis, Jerry Falwell and Christopher Hitchens] would have soberly propounded the social-psychological violence inherent in Muslim theology and the "Arab mind"; tears of patriotic passion would have celebrated US military might as the golden force opposing the dark ferocity of the savage Arab masses".

Iraq was easy target, because the public opinion have been soften and ready to absorb more. Lies were fabricated and the media misinformation campaign against Iraq was up and running immediately after the "end of hostilities" in Afghanistan. George Orwell called this kind of misinformation: "the intention to cover criminal actions, especially killing people unjustly, with a veneer of justification and reason". Despite this, most people of the world, with the exception of the US, were against the war. Antiwar feelings were as high as 92-94% in Spain, Turkey and Bulgaria. However, it is important to mention that misperceptions of war propagated by the media played very important role in public opinion in the US. Iraq was doomed, and glorification of war was as good as the Nazis first invented it. 

Journalists in mainstream media become obsessed with loyalty. Any antiwar feeling doomed unpatriotic and "un-American" or "un-Australian". Journalists become propaganda agents and moved steps further down the ladder of honesty to become "imbedded" journalists, i.e. you say what the military says you do.

Again, the unnecessary war devastated Iraq and the Iraqi people. All reasons for the war were found to be untrue and utter lies. In the West and the US in particular, you only hear the US has a right to "defend" itself. Like Israel's right to "defend" itself against innocent Palestinians Israel is terrorising daily. Why there is no recognition for Iraqis right? Aren't Iraqis defending their country against illegal invasion and brutal occupation?

Racism was the media and the government sharpest tools in war. Iraqis were depicted as "not trustworthy", and "Islamic terrorists", despite the fact that Iraqis committed no terrorist acts in America or Europe. In boasting racism in war, Iraqis were called "Untermenschen" by US soldiers, like Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto who were called "sub-humans" by the Nazis. Even the British, who "invented modern imperial racism", condemned this form of racism against the Iraqi people.

Media denial is another form of war. It took only one honest reporter, Seymour Hersch of The New Yorker, to uncover the abuse, torture and executions of Iraqi prisoners by soldiers of the occupying powers in Iraq. Fascism has moved on with technology. Self-censored news and war propaganda are Hollywood style.

The President of the United States "apology" for the pain and terror his army inflicted on the Iraqi people is insincere and "comical". The President apology changed nothing on the ground for the Iraqi people. If one to believe George W. Bush sincerity, President Bush should withdraw his army of terror from Iraq, and compensate the Iraqi people for their losses. Enough Iraqi blood have been spilled.

Ghali Hassan is in the Science and Mathematics Education Centre, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia. G. Hassan@exchange.curtin.edu.au

Copyright: Ghali Hassan

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