portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

imperialism & war

The Great Propaganda Spectacle

War as a television spectacle filled with lies, distortions and fabrications
I have noticed a couple of glaring contradictions in the way the corporate mass media are covering this war. With constant repetition, they portray the missiles and bombs which are striking Baghdad as precise, satellite-guided weapons that invariably strike their targets within a few feet of intended impact, causing very few civilian casualties. If these missiles are so accurate, why did several of them veer way off course and hit Iran?

Now, it is reported that these were Iraqi missiles, but that could be more disinformation to cover up their embarrassment. Remember that the Patriot missiles were depicted as extremely accurate in the first Persian Gulf war, and it was later discovered that this was untrue. Regardless of the accuracy of a Tomahawk cruise missile, they contain depleted uranium as ballast and the warhead also contains this radioactive element, if it is a bunker buster. Due to its density, uranium is one of the best substances known for breaking through armor or concrete, and the United States has tons of it because it is a byproduct of the enrichment of uranium used in nuclear weapons. Those gigantic explosions in Baghdad have undoubtedly lifted a great deal of radioactive dust into the atmosphere, posing a threat to all the civilian population of Baghdad.

Donald Rumsfeld has stated that Iraqi television showing the captured American soldiers is a violation of the Geneva Convention. I noticed that American television is showing pictures of the captured Iraqi soldiers. What's the difference? Also, the United States is really in violation of the Geneva Convention for torturing Afghan prisoners at Bagram air base in Afghanistan and keeping the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba shackled and hooded. Denial of sunlight and sleep leads to severe mental problems and is a terrible form of torture.

CNN, MSNBC, and Fox are treating this war more like a gigantic fireworks display than as something which causes intense human suffering. During the Vietnam War, there were courageous journalists who showed the reality of that war-the children running with napalm burning their flesh, the huts burning, the My Lai massacre and the fear and anger on people's faces. Not any more. Grenada, Panama, the first Persian Gulf war, Yugoslavia and now this war against Iraq have all been very controlled, sanitized versions of the reality of war. One sees maps and discussions with generals and military analysts about strategy and tactics. There are other discussions about the intricacies of all the various weapons systems. No opponents of the war are ever allowed to question its morality or the possible economic and political reasons for it. If pictures of wounded Iraqi children are shown, there are always commentators there questioning whether these aren't fictitious creations of Iraqi propaganda.

Then, there is the rampant lying that always accompanies war. How many times have I heard that Umm Oasr, Nasiriya and Basra have been captured, only to later find out that fierce fighting was still going on there? Neither side tells the truth about casualties. I heard a story that the Republican Guard is using civilians as human shields. Do they really need to do this? Those Iraqi parents who have lost children by the thousands to sanctions and cancers from depleted uranium are certainly angry enough to fight themselves. I am confident that before or after the conclusion of this war, weapons of mass destruction will suddenly be "discovered" so that they can adequately justify this mass destruction of Iraqi civilization.

CNN is immediately calling every American soldier who is killed a hero, and they then conduct interviews with family members of soldiers involved in the war, showing their wives and little children. A real heroine is Rachel Corrie who stood in front of the Israeli bulldozer and gave her life to help Palestinians, but the media refused to call her a heroine. They repeatedly ran a quote by the father of a soldier who was killed saying that antiwar demonstrators could better spend their time working for charity or picking up litter. These are blatant propaganda techniques. Are the American people so anesthetized by decades of sophisticated propaganda by the mass media and in school that they simply can't visualize the motivations of the American government as being anything other than noble and protective? If so, we are going to be subject to one war after another on behalf of corporate power and control, which is what really motivates all wars of aggression by capitalist nations.