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Commentary :: Media Criticism

Propaganda Equations

A list of examples of US corporate propaganda concerning the war in Iraq.
1. Civilian casualties equal collateral damage. Since guerrilla fighters depend on popular support for success, the intimidation or destruction of that base of support is a technique of counterinsurgency warfare. Civilian casualties are the real goal in Iraq, not an accidental occurrence. The extensive use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium weapons are additional evidence of this contention.

2. The piecemeal day by day bombing of cities like Falluja equals precision air strikes on terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Another official demon was necessary because Osama bin Laden is occupied in Afghanistan and, therefore, unavailable as an excuse. Of course, if the bombing of Falluja is continued long enough, the city will be completely destroyed without arousing the anger and international condemnation of one massive air strike.

3. Iraqi resistance fighters against colonial occupation and oil piracy equal terrorists, thugs, criminals, Saddam Hussein supporters and Islamic extremists

4. Foreign fighters equal Arabs from neighboring countries who have come to aid the Iraqi resistance, never the Poles, Bulgarians, Ukrainians, Italians, Danes, Japanese and others who comprise the coalition of the bribed and coerced.

5. Dirty bombs equal radioactive weapons which might be used against US cities by terrorists, never the radioactive bombs the US has already dropped on Afghanistan, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Iraq.

6. The torture of Iraqi prisoners of war at Abu Ghraib by US intelligence agents equals abuse by a few aberrant individuals, who will now be punished. Never will it be admitted that torture by sensory deprivation and humiliation has been a method employed by the CIA for decades and is an official policy described in torture manuals produced by the CIA. Notice carefully that the US corporate media always use the word "abuse" to describe these activities and not the much more accurate word, torture. Torture is something done by enemies of the United States and not by Americans themselves.

7. Bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq equals installing a former CIA agent named Allawi, who committed terrorist bombings in Iraq for the CIA and recently was accused of executing a group of Iraqi prisoners by shooting them in the head with a revolver. Wow, what a democrat and believer in the rule of law! It is very reminiscent of the puppet rulers like Diem, Ky and Thieu, who were put in power by the US during the Vietnam war. As John Fogerty says in his latest antiwar song, it is deja vu all over again.

8. Elections equal democracy. Not true. Elections are often a disguise that masks dictatorial or corporate rule. Vast inequalities in wealth inevitably lead to vast inequalities in political power. The United States desires to create the illusion that it is establishing democracy in other parts of the world by sponsoring elections. These elections are a farce when the US picks and finances candidates of its choosing and controls the media and the dissemination of information. Bribery and intimidation by threat of physical harm are also features of elections in repressive countries under US military occupation or influenced by the covert actions of the CIA. Obviously, the hope of the US government is to diminish popular resistance to US corporate domination by deceiving the people into thinking they have some input into how and for whom their own government operates. By creating what is called "stability," the stealing of other people's natural resources becomes that much easier. Elections in the United States itself are contests between two corporate-controlled parties, which are both much more representative of the interests of large corporations than the interests of the average American citizen. If elections could really significantly alter the existing wealth and power relationships in a society in favor of the working class, they would be illegal. Since the United States is itself not a democracy, how could it possibly bring democracy to the rest of the world? Like the British and the Romans, the United States is actually bringing empire to the world, masquerading as democracy.

9. The bombing of Iraqi homes equals security and stability operations, much like the burning of Vietnamese villages was designated as pacification by the Pentagon.

10. Improving the lives of Iraqi citizens by building schools, etc. equals the poisoning of their land for 4.5 billion years with thousands of tons of depleted uranium being utilized in the bombs, missiles and tank shells presently employed every day in Iraq. American soldiers giving candy to Iraqi children is scant compensation for the cancers and birth defects which will result in the future from depleted uranium exposure, causing immense suffering and often death for many children. Incidentally, since the atmosphere is not contained and is planetary in scope, this radioactive dust, though vastly diluted, will cause cancers all over the world, just as the nuclear testing done by the Soviet Union and the United States increased the number of cancers worldwide. It is a tribute to the power and mind-numbing effects of the US corporate media that this abysmal situation does not cause tremendous outrage. As an analogy to medieval Europe, there should be people with torches and pitchforks in the streets over this threat to the Earth and future generations.

11. Ambushes by Iraqi resistance fighters firing machine guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades against US convoys and street to street fighting in Najaf, Samarra and Sadr City equal military reports of one US soldier slightly wounded and over 100 insurgents killed. Go figure. The objective of guerrilla warfare is to inflict maximum casualties on the enemy from planned ambushes and then to retreat to fight another day.

12. Assurances from the US government that everything is going well in Iraq equal the famous "light at the end of the tunnel" phrase which was used year after year during the Vietnam war to reassure the American people of eventual success in Vietnam. As in Vietnam, that light may be that of an oncoming train. All empires collapse and the US military and economic empire is no different in this respect from all others in history. However, with the advent of nuclear weapons and the precarious state of the environment, this collapse could have catastrophic effects for humanity.

13. Assertions by the Bush administration that Iraq was an imminent military threat to the whole world equal a country too weak to be a military threat even to its neighbors. The first Persian Gulf war utterly devastated the infrastructure of Iraq and ten years of an economic embargo kept any repairs from being made, as well as killing over two million Iraqi citizens. The United States only attacks militarily weak countries like Grenada, Panama and Iraq, and this is a lesson being learned by future potential targets like North Korea and Iran, as they consider or are in the process of developing nuclear weapons.

14. Statements by US government officials and the US corporate media that oil has nothing to do with the reasons for this war equal a war that has everything to do with oil profits, exactly the opposite of what is professed. Great Britain conquered Iraq in 1917 and established a series of puppet governments there, which lasted until the 1958 revolution. This was done not because British oil barons were interested in ancient Babylonian history and artifacts, but because Iraqi crude oil was of high quality, lay close to the surface, required little labor expense to extract and, therefore, yielded enormous profits. Are American capitalists immune to the same impulses which motivated British capitalists? Or owning most of the wealth in the United States and the manufacturing base, are they incapable of influencing US government policies? I think not.

15. The apologetics for the lack of success in Iraq and US military officials' statements that more troops are needed equal the history of the Vietnam war all over again.

When searching for the use of propaganda in the corporate media, pay close attention to the manipulation of fear and the use of emotionally charged words and phrases. Also, look for unfounded assumptions and arguments which are illogical or inconsistent with the past history of the world. Propaganda is so prevalent in the US corporate media that I am positive you can discover other propaganda equations to add to this list.

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