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The Prism

Eye on the Media
  Cat's out of bag; Iraq scratched again?

In 1990 the US government prepared to attack the population of Iraq by carpet bombing of their cities, historical sites, and urban and agricultural infrastructure.

The government and its media lapdogs created the myth that the US' refusal to negotiate and drive toward war reflected the unified policy of a huge coalition of nations, a world against Saddam Hussein.

Well, conservative Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer finally let the cat out of the bag.

In his column appearing12/28/97 in the N&O, he describes George Bush's 'appeals' to the UN Security Council, a panel dominated by its 'permanent members' (the US, the UK, France, Russia, and China) who can veto any action by the UN. (The panel includes other nations on a rotating basis.) Through bribery and threats, Bush obtained a UN 'seal of approval' to attack Iraq.

Why? Krauthammer, who openly hopes for another US attack, gave two reasons for Bush seeking a 'coalition': one, to get a 'fig leaf' of international support so that Congressional Democrats would vote for the 'Gulf War' resolution; and two, to give a fig leaf of world support to the leaders of other Arabic nations, who would have to control their citizens. Arabic peoples may not be members of one big, happy family, but still most don't like it when a white superpower comes in to slaughter hundreds of thousands of people like themselves.

Krauthammer is too disciplined a conservative to admit that senior Democrats usually support wars against the Third World, but in this case this fake 'international community' helped them to quiet many of their loyal liberal supporters.

Why change the story now? Because they can. Iraq is destroyed, its people are starving to death, and there is no Soviet Union. Why bother with continuing the hoax when it gave them what they wanted when they needed it?

Also, the fraud is now frustrating war mongers who wish to see Iraqis bombed again. Politicians and pundits are banging war drums again, as Iraqi leaders refuse to allow US snoops (again acting with a UN fig leaf) to inspect 'weapons sites.'

A few months ago 'the allies' (French and Russian officials) and 'the coalition' (Saudia Arabian and Kuwaiti monarchs and US-paid Egyptian leaders) refused to support more bombing and misery. Now Russia and France only hedge.

Disobedience from 'the world' irks Krauthammer, who demands that now "we will have to dispense with multilateral fictions." (Krauthammer has somehow become one of the 'we' who will make these decisions. I'm not sure of the process.)

Agreed. Let's dispense with "multilateral fictions." Good people should know better when US officials and pundits justify international aggressions and power plays by tossing out warm and gooey phrases like 'coalition,' 'multilateral,' 'harmonious,' 'international community.'

If you don't like the image of a US rampaging around the globe bombing civilians without even pretending to obey international laws, then you should try to stop it from doing so, not cultivate fig leaves of 'multilateralism' to cover its naked aggression.

In fact, help stop the aggression the US is threatening now (early February), a renewed bombing of Iraq and a continuance of the embargo which has helped kill hundreds of thousands of people.

-Jeff Saviano

Large Turnout is True Media Event

Balance & Accuracy in Journalism got less help than usual from local community calendar listings, but the turnout was overwhelming. For its January event, BAJ showed the excellent video Fear and Favor in the Newsroom and featured a discussion led by Sue Sturgis of the Independent, Joe Dew, reporter from the Raleigh N&O, Chuck Stone, UNC journalism professor, and Jim Warren, director of NC Waste Awareness & Reduction Network.

Notice of the event went out by e-mail, by phone, and in the Spectator and the Chapel Hill Herald. There was a calendar listing on the day of the event in the Independent. But usually there are listings in the N&O and the Chapel Hill News as well as a full week's notice in the Independent.

Nevertheless there were 70 people packed into the space at the Community Church. (The previous top attendance for a BAJ event was 42). And the audience participation following Fear and Favor was vigorous.

I take it as a sign that there is plenty of public concern about the issue of media self-censorship.

-David Kirsh

When We Walked With The Stars

A big though belated thanks to the members of the Carolina Socialist Forum (CSF) and Balance & Accuracy in Journalism (BAJ) for inviting us to take part in a forum they sponsored at UNC Chapel Hill back in November.

Our own Mia Kirsh joined UNC sociology professor Christian Smith and University of Pennsylvania Professor Emeritus Edward S. Herman to discuss whether or not the major newsmedia are "liberal" (they're not) and what we could do to change what is 'news' (run our own paper).

Word is that CSF'ers worked for about a year to get the famous Prof. Herman down here, and he didn't disappoint, showing that every time you look at issues which were important to the upper classes, the media prove consistently right wing. Professor Smith discussed the results of his look into the movements which arose in opposition to the US' attack on Central American civilians during the 1980s. And I thought Mia gave a great history of and explanation for our paper.

Despite the cold weather and competing campus events, maybe 50 people showed up. CSF member Peter Bertone was impressed with the showing. Though familiar faces were there, most weren't, and they asked strong, critical, well-informed questions.

Thanks to CSF and BAJ for doing us & the community the favor. (Thanks also for the homemade goodies!)

-Jeff Saviano


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