At a packed Media Workers Against War (MWAW) meeting at Westminster Universtity on April 10th, speakers addressed the audience on the topic "How the media sells war and why".
Becky Branford (BBC News) began by introducing Lindsay German as "one of the founders of one of the biggest social movements this country has ever seen - the Stop the War Coalition". Among other things German Commented on the toppling of Sadam's statue, the propaganda usage of Halabjaand the lie that UK troops are "keeping the peace" in Iraq and Afghanistan. She also bemoaned the lack of Iraqi and Afgani civilian voices in the mainstream media.
Next up was Kim Sengupta of the so-called Independent who discussed 'post surge' and the formalised seperation of Shia and Sunni neighbourhoods and looked at some of the constraints that western journos face when working in Iraq.
Nick Davies (Guardian), author of Flat Earth News discussed the role of PR types such as Alistair Campbell, looked at how changes in media ownership have affected journalism, astroturfing campaigns, and how the CIA ran the largest PR operation in the world during the Cold War, and seems to be doing so again, including giving Al- Zarqawi an extra leg!
The final speaker was Dahr Jamail, independent journalist and author of Beyond the Green Zone. Jamail bemoaned the lack on context in most western reporting of the Iraq War, and cited three documents which he thinks places US policy in context. These were The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, The Quadrennial Defense Review and Joint Vision 2020(pdf).
Jamail says that after reading those three documents one would have to be braindead not to see that there is a very clear USA agenda for control of most of the world's major resources and control of the shipping lanes. In addition he believes most main stream coverage of the Iraq war fails to include context with regards to corporate profiteering and oil needs.
Jamail discusses media repression in Iraq, noting the increased number of floating checkpoints being set up by intelligence, military and resistance factions and notes that one of the first demands in the negotiotions between the fighters and US military in Fallujah, was the US military demand that an Al Jazeera camera team that had been transmitting images of the invasion be forced to leave the city.
He believes that the propaganda accompanying the 'surge' has been very effective in masking the true situation in Iraq with over 30% of the population currently either in need of assistance, displaced or dead. Despite claims that violence in Iraq has been reduced by the surge, there is a month on month rise in the number of civilain casualties.
Jamail notes that there is currently an enormous PR campaign against Iran in progress. (Audiophile notes that sadly there is no hope that Lindsay German's 'largest social movement ever!' will be able to stop another genocide there............)