When soldiers protest at propaganda

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Blogg, Jun 7, 2007.

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  1. http://www.newstatesman.com/200706110021

    Pilger at it again. Backs into the "Newsnight" thread.

    Some valid points but clearly ramping up his new film/book.

    What our squaddies really think of having to serve in Iraq and be tools of Bush's foreign policy

    An experienced British officer serving in Iraq has written to the BBC describing the invasion as "illegal, immoral and unwinnable", which, he says, is "the overwhelming feeling of many of my peers". In a letter to Newsnight and Medialens.org he accuses the media's "embedded coverage with the US army" of failing to question "the intentions and continuing effects of the US-led invasion and subsequent occupation". He says most British soldiers regard their tours as "loathsome", during which they "reluctantly [provide] target practice for insurgents, senselessly haemorrhaging casualties and squandering soldiers' lives, as part of Bush's vain attempt to delay the inevitable Anglo-US rout until after the next US election". He appeals to journalists not to swallow "the official line/White House propaganda".

    In 1970, I made a film in Vietnam called The Quiet Mutiny, in which GIs spoke out about their hatred of that war and its "official line/White House propaganda". The experiences in Iraq and Vietnam are both very different and strikingly similar. There was much less "embedded coverage" in Vietnam, although there was censorship by omission, which is standard practice today.

    What is different about Iraq is the willingness of usually obedient British soldiers to speak their minds, from General Richard Dannatt, the current military chief, who said the presence of his troops in Iraq "exacerbates the security problem", to General Michael Rose, who has called for Tony Blair to be impeached for taking Britain to war "on false grounds" - remarks that are mild compared with the blogs of squaddies.

    What is also different is the growing awareness in the British forces and the public of how "the official line" is played through the media. This can be quite crude: for example, when a BBC defence correspondent in Iraq described the aim of the Anglo-American invasion as "bring[ing] democracy and human rights" to Iraq. The dir ector of BBC News, Helen Boaden, backed him up with a sheaf of quotations from Blair that this was indeed the aim, implying that Blair's notorious word was enough.

    More often than not, censorship by omission is employed - for example, by omitting the fact that almost 80 per cent of attacks are directed against the occupation forces (source: the Pentagon), so as to give the impression that the occupiers are doing their best to separate "warring tribes" and are crisis managers rather than the cause of the crisis.

    There is a last-ditch sense about this kind of propaganda. Seymour Hersh said recently: "[In April, the Bush administration] made a decision that, because of the totally dwindling support for the war in Iraq, they would go back to the al-Qaeda card, although there's no empirical basis . . . Most of the pros will tell you the foreign fighters are a couple of per cent and they're sort of leaderless . . . there's no attempt to suggest there's any significant co-ordination of these groups, but the press keeps going gaga about al-Qaeda . . . It's just amazing to me."

    Gaga day at the Guardian was 22 May. "Iran's secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq", read the front-page banner headline. "Iran is secretly forging ties with al-Qaeda elements and Sunni Arab militias in Iraq," wrote Simon Tisdall from Washington, "in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition forces intended to tip a wavering US Congress into voting for full military withdrawal, US officials say."

    The entire tale was based on anonymous US official sources. No attempt was made to substantiate their "firm evidence" or explain the illogic of their claims. No journalistic scepticism was even hinted, which is amazing, considering the web of proven lies spun from Washington over Iraq. Moreover, it had a curious tone of something-must-be-done insistence, reminiscent of Judith Miller's scandalous reports in the New York Times claiming that Saddam Hussein was about to launch his weapons of mass destruction and beckoning Bush to invade. Tisdall in effect offered the same invitation; I can remember few more irresponsible pieces of journalism. The British public, and the people of Iran, deserve better.

    John Pilger's new film, "The War on Democracy", opens at cinemas on 15 June. His latest book, "Freedom Next Time", is published in paperback by Black Swan (£8.99)
  2. With regards to morale, I refer posters to my post in the Newsnight Now thread
  3. Every man in the British Army is a volunteer, if you join the army then you must have given it some thought that some time or other you will fire your weapon in anger. Once it gets to this state then people will get killed, so why is this there all this pulling of the hair and beating of chests when this happens. Lets face it, it is a soldiers lot and has been since battle ever took place
  4. He's syndicated it to the (actually quite good) Spam website www.Antiwar.com under the irritating title 'Rebellion in the British Army'...
  5. Very true indeed, but even volunteer squaddies have a right to expect that they're not asked to pointlessly squander their lives simply to prop up the egos of two corrupt psychopaths.

  6. Pilger is another Left Wing Agitator that will be up against the wall come the revolution.
  7. Pilger has a nerve to criticise the Guarniad for printing unsubstantiated stories. He has a reputation for writing them himself and getting them printed in the, oh yes, Guarniad.