Following the war

Sam Smith
2003

AND NOW THE NEWS MODELS AT CNN lift up the shell and – whadayaknow? – it’s not Adolph Hitler under there at all but just some dispirited, ill-trained and ill- motivated Iraqis in soldiers’ uniforms looking to surrender.

The news media used the same con in Gulf War One to grab audience and grandiosity – promoting a glaringly false picture of the Iraqi military threat. This is not to say there is no threat – there are major ones ranging from the environmental to the nuclear and chemical – but these dangers are not those of conventional warfare but rather the responses of the desperate and the weak.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows of the disparity between U.S. and Iraqi military expenditures – about 400 to one – but to tell Americans that one little fact would greatly undermine the fraud being perpetrated by the administration and the media. In essence, what has happened is that the Dallas Cowboys have been sent to prove they can beat the Skowhegan Junior High Musketeers.

This fraud can be sensed by the perpetual media reiteration of one little phrase – “Saddam’s elite Republican guard” – which sounds good on TV but this outfit is even less elite, effective or provisioned than it was when it failed to serve any good purpose the first time around. They forget to tell you that.

There are other frauds – such as the illegal premise of the war – but these at least have gotten some public attention if not understanding. It would have helped if just one establishment reporter had pointed out that the determination of whether the purpose of UN resolutions are being carried out rests finally with the UN and not the Bush administration. Yet the media didn’t even notice that the UN might be a better arbiter of its own opinion than the born-again barbarians on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Here are a few clues for following the war:

– If the news articles or TV reports don’t have any bloodied or mangled bodies, you’re not getting the full story. War is a form of state sanctioned murder and without the bodies you’ve got no war.

– Stay away from all those imitations of good story-telling in which some correspondent purports to give you a feel for “what it’s really like” but essentially oozes over whoever happens to be around in uniform. These stories are inherently inaccurate because victims of our invasion will hardly ever be able to give their side, even if they are still alive.

– Stay away from those god-awful thumb suckers in which some somber-looking, camouflage-bedizened reporter attempts to describe the grand strategy of it all. These journalists are, in Russell Baker’s phrase “serving as megaphones for fraud,” reciting whatever has been told to them at the last briefing. The networks’ consultant-generals on assignment from the Pentagon are even worse.

The media is deeply embedded not only in the military operations but in the American elite’s self-destructive view of the world and its role in it. It lacks the means to break free and see any other point of view.

And it didn’t start with Iraq. Every White House and Pentagon reporter is embedded in the incumbent administration. They may not wish to be but all one has to do is to check how many hours a day they spend debedded amongst the general populace to understand what hostages they actually are.

So embedded are they that some with a straight face actually reported that America had commenced to “disarm Iraq” even as they described the first $40 million of extremely armed American missiles landing on Iraq. So embedded are they that they didn’t even look up the term ’embedded’ the dictionary where the definitions include “To enclose closely in or as if in a matrix. . . To make something an integral part of. . . To place or fix firmly in surrounding matter.” So embedded are they that in their callous, clerical incuriosity about the rest of the world, they don’t even know they’re telling you lies.

So stay curious, stay skeptical, and don’t let them embed you, too.

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