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[Nettime-nl] propaganda en oorlog
kees/ventana on Thu, 20 Sep 2001 01:33:07 +0200 (CEST)


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[Nettime-nl] propaganda en oorlog



"We have only to go to Lebanon, to Syria, to Jordan, to
witness firsthand the intense hatred among many people for the
United States, because we bombed and shelled and unmercifully
killed totally innocent villagers, women and children and
farmers and housewives, in those villages around Beirut...as a
result, we have become a kind of Satan in the minds of those
who are deeply resentful. That is what precipitated the taking
of hostages and that is what has precipitated some terrorist 
attacks."  Former President Jimmy Carter, New York Times -
26th March 1989

Altijd leuk zo'n citaat, en deze keer niet van de unabomber
maar van de ex-president en wel de enige die ooit geprobeerd
heeft het thema mensenrechten in het (buitenlands) beleid te
integreren. Hetgeen hem uiteraard op veel hoongelach van de
kant van de powers that be (economisch, militair...) kwam te
staan. 

Behalve de onophoudelijke stortvloed van taferelen die de tv
ons de afgelopen dagen heeft voorgeschoteld, raakte ik nog het
meest onder de indruk van een bezoek aan de Bruna-kiosk bij
mij om de hoek in de Amsterdamse Pijp. De internationale
weekbladen staan daar tentoongesteld en dat biedt niet bepaald
een smakelijk beeld. De omslagen van Time, Newsweek,
Businessweek, Economist, etcetera zijn even treurig als
uniform en schreeuwen om oorlog. De stars and stripes wappert
je tegemoet op een schaal die voor de 11e september ondenkbaar
was geweest. 

Terwijl de VS zich klaarmaakt voor oorlog en alles uit de kast
trekt om zoveel mogelijk bondgenoten aan haar zijde te
scharen, wordt in de nederlandse media-wereld, of in ieder
geval door zich als journalist beschouwende vertegenwoordigers
op nettime, tegen beter weten in gesteld dat media en
propaganda twee volledig gescheiden werelden zijn, die elkaar
op geen enkel vlak ontmoeten. Het schizofrene beeld dat de
kiosk mij biedt, wijst echter zeer sterk op het tegendeel. De
vraag is nu wie er nu gek is.

Media-onderzoekers als Noam Chomsky en Edward S. Herman (neem
Manufacturing Consent of de vele commentaren op www.zmag.org)
hebben tamelijk overtuigend uiteengezet welke rol propaganda
speelt bij het uitvoeren van beleid door huidige westerse
machthebbers, en zeker in dit soort crisis-situaties. 

Door hen in een soort nieuwe koude-oorlog polarisatie in te
schalen (onverbeterlijk links) wordt gepoogd deze theorieen
kalt te stellen. De vraag is hoe (lang) dat vol te houden is.
Daarbij zou het ook de moeite waard zijn om de oude Orwell er
nog eens bij te pakken. Al was het alleen zijn essay over
'Politics and the English Language' waarin onder meer uit de
doeken wordt gedaan hoe zeer geleerde deskundigen, die heel
goed weten hoe de wereld in elkaar zit, en nooit op een
directe leugen betrapt kunnen worden, zich gewillig laten
meevoeren in het volstrekt vervormen van de werkelijkheid.
Iets zegt mij dat dit alles te maken heeft met het genante
gedraai waar onze minister president Kok zich op dit moment
presenteert. Of de illustratieve selectie citaten die het
media-observatie instituut FAIR zojuist uitgebracht heeft:


                                 FAIR-L
                    Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
               Media analysis, critiques and news reports

MEDIA ADVISORY:
Media March to War

September 17, 2001

In the wake of the devastating attacks on the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon, many media pundits focused on one
theme: retaliation. For some, it did not matter who bears the
brunt of an American attack:

"There is only one way to begin to deal with people like this,
and that is you have to kill some of them even if they are not
immediately directly involved in this thing."
--former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger (CNN,
9/11/01)

"The response to this unimaginable 21st-century Pearl Harbor
should be as simple as it is swift-- kill the bastards. A
gunshot between the eyes, blow
them to smithereens, poison them if you have to.  As for
cities or countries that host these worms, bomb them into
basketball courts."
--Steve Dunleavy (New York Post, 9/12/01)

"America roused to a righteous anger has always been a force
for good. States that have been supporting if not Osama bin
Laden, people like him need to feel pain. If we flatten part
of Damascus or Tehran or whatever it takes, that is part of
the solution."
--Rich Lowry, National Review editor, to Howard Kurtz
(Washington Post, 9/13/01)

"TIME TO TAKE NAMES AND NUKE AFGHANISTAN."
--Caption to cartoon by Gary Brookins (Richmond
Times-Dispatch, 9/13/01)

"At a bare minimum, tactical nuclear capabilites should be
used against the bin Laden camps in the desert of Afghanistan.
To do less would be rightly seen by the poisoned minds that
orchestrated these attacks as cowardice on the part of the
United States and the current administration."
--Former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Thomas Woodrow,
"Time to Use the Nuclear Option" (Washington Times, 9/14/01)

Bill O'Reilly: "If the Taliban government of Afghanistan does
not cooperate, then we will damage that government with air
power, probably. All right? We will blast them, because..."

Sam Husseini, Institute for Public Accuracy: "Who will you
kill in the process?"

O'Reilly: "Doesn't make any difference."
--("The O'Reilly Factor," Fox News Channel, 9/13/01)

"This is no time to be precise about locating the exact
individuals directly involved in this particular terrorist
attack.... We should invade their countries, kill their
leaders and convert them to Christianity.  We weren't
punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his
top officers.  We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed
civilians.  That's war. And this is war."
--Syndicated columnist Ann Coulter (New York Daily News,
9/12/01)

"Real" Retribution

Many media commentators appeared to blame the attacks on what
they saw as America's unwillingness to act aggressively in
recent years.

As conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer (Washington
Post, 9/12/01) wrote: "One of the reasons there are enough
terrorists out there capable and deadly enough to carry out
the deadliest attack on the United States in its history is
that, while they have declared war on us, we have in the past
responded (with the exception of a few useless cruise missile
attacks on empty tents in the desert) by issuing subpoenas."

The Washington Post's David Broder (9/13/01), considered a
moderate, issued his own call for "new realism-- and steel--
in America's national security policy": "For far too long, we
have been queasy about responding to terrorism. Two decades
ago, when those with real or imagined grievances against the
United States began picking off Americans overseas on military
or diplomatic assignments or on business, singly or in groups,
we delivered pinprick retaliations or none at all."

It's worth recalling the U.S. response to the bombing of a
Berlin disco in April 1986, which resulted in the deaths of
two U.S. service members: The U.S. immediately bombed Libya,
which it blamed for the attack. According to Libya, 36
civilians were killed in the air assault, including the
year-old daughter of Libyan leader Moamar Khadafy (Washington
Post, 5/9/86). It is unlikely that Libyans considered this a
"pinprick." Yet these deaths apparently had little deterrence
value: In December 1988, less than 20 months later, Pan Am 103
exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, in an even deadlier act of
terrorism the U.S. blames on Libyan agents.

More recently, in 1998, Bill Clinton sent 60 cruise missiles,
some equipped with cluster bombs, against bin Laden's Afghan
base, in what was presented as retaliation for the bombing of
U.S. embassies in Africa. One missile aimed at Afghan training
camps landed hundreds of miles off course in Pakistan, while a
simultaneous attack in Sudan leveled one of the country's
few pharmaceutical factories. Media cheered the attacks (In
These Times,9/6/98), though careful investigation into the 
case revealed no credible evidence linking the plant to
chemical weapons or Osama bin Laden, the two justifications
offered for the attack (New York Times, 10/27/99, London
Observer, 8/23/98).

Despite the dubious record of retributory violence in insuring
security, many pundits insist that previous retaliation failed
only because it was not severe enough. As the Chicago
Tribune's John Kass declared (9/13/01), "For the past decade
we've sat dumb and stupid as the U.S. military was transformed
from a killing machine into a playpen for sociologists and
political schemers." This "playpen" dropped 23,000 bombs on
Yugoslavia in 1999, killing between 500 and 1,500 civilians,
and may have killed as many as 1,200 Iraqis in 1998's Desert
Fox attack (Agence France Presse, 12/23/98).

The Wall Street Journal (9/13/01) urged the U.S. to "get
serious" about terrorism by, among other things, eliminating
"the 1995 rule, imposed by former CIA Director John Deutsch
under political pressure, limiting whom the U.S. can recruit
for counter-terrorism. For fear of hiring rogues, the CIA
decided it would only hire Boy Scouts." One non-Boy Scout the
CIA worked with in the 1980s is none other than Osama bin
Laden (MSNBC, 8/24/98; The Atlantic, 7-8/01)-- then considered
a valuable asset in the fight against Communism, but now
suspected of being the chief instigator of the World Trade
Center attacks.

Who's to Blame?

In crisis situations, particularly those involving terrorism,
media often report unsubstantiated information about suspects
or those claiming responsibility-- an error that is especially
dangerous in the midst of calls for military retaliation.

Early reports on the morning of the attack indicated that the
Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine had claimed
responsibility on Abu Dhabi Television. Most outlets were
careful with the information, though NBC's Tom Brokaw, while
not confirming the story, added fuel to the fire: "This comes,
ironically, on a day when the Israel Foreign Minister Shimon
Peres is scheduled to meet with Yasser Arafat. Of course,
we've had the meeting in South Africa for the past several
days in which the Palestinians were accusing the Israelis of
racism"-- as if making such an accusation were tantamount to
blowing up the World Trade Center.

Hours after a spokesperson for the Democratic Front for the
Liberation of Palestine denied any responsibility for the
attack, the Drudge Report website still had the headline
"Palestinian Group Says Responsible" at the top of the page.

Though the threat from a Palestinian group proved
unsubstantiated, that did not stop media from making gross
generalizations about Arabs and Islam in general. New York
Times columnist Thomas Friedman wondered (9/13/01): "Surely
Islam, a grand religion that never perpetrated the sort of
Holocaust against the Jews in its midst that Europe did, is
being distorted when it is treated as a guidebook for suicide
bombing. How is it that not a single Muslim leader will say
that?"

Of course, many Muslims would-- and did-- say just that. 
Political and civil leaders throughout the Muslim world have
condemned the attacks, and Muslim clerics throughout the
Middle East have given sermons refuting the idea that
targeting civilians is a tenet of Islam (BBC, 9/14/01;
Washington Post 9/17/01).

Why They Hate Us

As the media investigation focused on Osama bin Laden, news
outlets still provided little information about what fuels his
fanaticism. Instead of a serious inquiry into anti-U.S.
sentiment in the Middle East and elsewhere, many commentators
media offered little more than self-congratulatory rhetoric:

"[The World Trade Center and the Pentagon] have drawn, like
gathered lightning, the anger of the enemies of civilization.
Those enemies are always out there.... Americans are slow to
anger but mighty when angry, and their proper anger now should
be alloyed with pride. They are targets because of their
virtues--principally democracy, and loyalty to those nations
which, like Israel, are embattled salients of our virtues in a
still-dangerous world." --George Will (Washington Post,
9/12/01)

"This nation symbolizes freedom, strength, tolerance, and
democratic principles dedicated to both liberty and peace. To
the tyrants, the despots, the closed societies, there are no
alterations to the policies, no gestures we can make, no words
we can say that will convince those determined to continue
their hate." --Charles G. Boyd (Washington Post, 9/12/01)

"Are Americans afraid to face the reality that there is a
significant portion of this world's population that hates
America, hates what freedom represents, hates the fact that we
fight for freedom worldwide, hates our prosperity, hates our
way of life? Have we been unwilling to face that very
difficult reality?" --Sean Hannity (Fox News Channel, 9/13/01)

"Our principled defense of individual freedom and our
reluctance to intervene in the affairs of states harboring
terrorists makes us an easy target." --Robert McFarlane
(Washington Post, 9/13/01)

One exception was ABC's Jim Wooten (World News Tonight,
9/12/01), who tried to shed some light on what might motivate
some anti-U.S. sentiment in the Middle East, reporting that
"Arabs see the U.S. as an accomplice of Israel, a partner in
what they believe is the ruthless repression of Palestinian
aspirations for land and independence." Wooten continued: "The
most provocative issues: Israel's control over Islamic holy
sites in Jerusalem; the stationing of U.S. troops in Saudi
Arabia near some of Islam's holiest sites; and economic
sanctions against Iraq, which have been seen to deprive
children there of medicine and food."

Stories like Wooten's, which examine the U.S.'s highly
contentious role in the Middle East and illuminate some of the
forces that can give rise to violent extremism, contribute far
more to public security than do pundits calling for
indiscriminate revenge.

                               ----------

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please send copies of your email correspondence with media
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