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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Reverberations « Previous | |Next »
March 26, 2003

There is a concerted effort by the Anglo-American war machine to control the flow of media images and words about the Iraqi war. The central message that comes through all the spin and disinformation circulated by the media is that it is only a question of time before Saddam Hussein falls. This will happen through the dictator being ousted from power by people tired of his tyranny. This scenario is held to be beyond doubt.

There is little space for a bit of Derridean difference in the US media's version of the Iraq war. What we get is eclipse of difference. Can we open things up by introducing the play of difference.

What is not wanted by the militarised Enlightenment are graphic TV shots of civilian air raid shelters bombed, incinerated corpses in burnt-out tanks, or badly disfigured bodies of children on Anglo-American television. So it controls the media through embedding journalists. As Philip Knightly puts it:

"... the fear in the broadcast news business is that the Pentagon is determined to deter western correspondents from reporting from the Iraqi side and will view such journalism in Iraq as activity of "military significance" and bomb the area.....My assessment of these early days is that the Pentagon is winning hands down. Its plan for "Managing the media in the war against Iraq" is up and running and aiming for tightly controlled, patriotic reporting of a "clean" war with minimum casualties – no matter what really happens. "

So we have to look elsewhere for the reverberations from the war. Well, for starters, lets ask:how is the war going? Russian intelligence reports paint a different picture to that of the tabloid Fox News. The initial dash to Baghdad strategy is not working.

This extract from the ABC's 7.30 Report creates some distinctions that the Americans have overlooked. Ian Mcphedran, an Australian correspondent in Baghdad, is speaking:

"I think there's been a lot of bombing of the Republican Guards to the south of the city, a lot of aerial work and some reports of artillery work, which I haven't been able to verify yet, so the campaign is getting ready to move forward and the people of Baghdad are getting ready to defend their city.

KERRY O'BRIEN: When you say "the people of Baghdad", to what extent is it your sense that it is Saddam Hussein's militia ... I mean, where are the civilians in all of this?

We're hearing some reports of an uprising in Basra, but what is your sense of where the civilians are in Baghdad?

IAN MCPHEDRAN: My sense of it is that they're behind the defence of their country.

I spoke to one guy yesterday who's definitely not a Saddam supporter, but he is an Iraqi and a proud Iraqi, and he said he will fight to defend his country's sovereignty.

He will not fight to defend Saddam Hussein.

He will fight to defend Iraq.

Now, I think there's quite a lot of people in that position here and just how they react when it comes down ... when push comes to shove ... will be crucial in the outcome."

This patriotism will be dismissed as paranoid nationalism by those suffering from compassion fatique but it means that ordinary Iraqi's will stand and fight for their country.

And this article is from the ArabNews in Saudi Arabia> It is filed by a correspondent in Amman Jordan. War will be easy compared to the peace. These perspectives give us an insight into the blowback of the Iraqi war in the Middle East. And this piece,Region braces for political shockwaves of a drawn-out conflict is a reasonable scenario. Shahram Akbarzadeh says:

"The unexpected resilience of Iraqi defence against the US-led attack is complicating the Pentagon's military strategy. It has thrown expectations of a quick victory in doubt and does not bode well for the US exit strategy. It looks as though US forces will be required to stay in Iraq; first, to subdue Iraqi resistance and, second, to protect the post-Saddam regime against internal malcontents.The latter challenges are yet to crystallise, but all indications point to their inevitability. "

The eventual success of US-led military forces in the war against Iraq could come at the expense of political reforms in post war Iraq and greater regional stability in the Middle East. Its the long politics that's crucial here.

All is not well in Washington either, with new fault lines opening up amongst the conservatives. Neo-cons and paleocons are going one anothers throats. The faultline? Israel.

And Australia? The policy makers in Canberra must have got beyond the dream of guns and roses by now. The would be in a state of security anxiety as they learn that what they dreaded is looking ever more likely to happen. This is a big backlash from the Islamic countries in our region as the US merges from its war with Iraq with control over of postwar Iraq; a US military protectorate running a divided country; and the UN sidelined in the re-building of Iraq.

Thase reverberations open up the space for difference to appear. Difference is the key to understanding what is happening not identity. This is how difference appears in the liberal media. It arouses a desire to step into the beyond and read the original articles, rather than make do with a summary. But no links are provided in the old media.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:57 PM | | Comments (1)


Whatever the provenance of the patriotism, it augurs badly for the ultimate death toll. Which I think is at heart the anti-war concern. Missiles hitting Baghdad market this morning seem to have unleashed some passionate anti-american (strange to have arrived at the time when this word now has actual meaning) feeling. Mistakes, so carefully avoided in the early stage managed phase of the war, seem to be on the rise. But apparently there was no other way for the Saddam question to be resolved. So we sit here and are forced to watch. Still cause to remain optimistic perhaps, but ...