This means war

I have to admit that I was never a big fan of history. In terms of politics, government, state’s forces or war I only know what everyone knows. Last class video made me think about the media and its stories, propaganda and the ways in which people are fooled. Should they use any method and do this with any price? Of course not, but who can stop them? And by them, I’m referring to the media. Looking through some Romanian newspapers, I found an article that says: “Propaganda during war sells best.” It’s clear that a war means a major global media event. But like every big event of its kind, there are always different sides of the story and the ones that spread it around. Many channels around the world used its own ways of telling people what is happening in Iraq in 2003. While the U.S. networks framed the event as “Operation Iraqi Freedom” as the Pentagon concept, or the Canadian CBC named “War on Iraq,” the Arab networks presented it as an “invasion” and “occupation.”

Even if during 1991 the North American media had the monopoly on war coverage, including the Arab-Muslim world watching, the situation was different in 2003. The Al-Jazeera television showed the real face of the war and Arabs could watch with their eyes what is happening. The media partisan was visible even before the actual start of military operations. The conflict was developing behind the scenes, at the green table of political and diplomatic negotiations and in newspapers, television talk shows or figures in opinion polls.

Al-Jazeera has started to attract widespread attention in the West in 2001. It was the only TV station with a permanent 24-hour satellite link to Kabul during the Afghan war. Many other channels were using its exclusive images. The television became quickly notorious because it was broadcasting videotaped messages from Al-Qaida leaders.

During the Afghan war, the U.S. bombed Al-Jazeera’s bureau in Kabul, as well asits bureau in Baghdad during the US-led invasion of Iraq. It was later reported that President Bush had wanted to bomb Al-Jazeera’s headquarters in Qatar too, but the British prime minister, Tony Blair, disagreed with his plan. Despite the hostility of the Bush administration towards it, Al-Jazeera’s historical role in promoting the free flow of information and opening up political debate in the Middle East is difficult to over-estimate.

A war is not predictable and it cannot be controlled. It is the same case with the media. Its spectacles can backfire and are subject to dialectical reversal as positive images give way to negative ones. Spectacles of war can be subject to different framings and interpretations, as when non-U.S. broadcasting networks focus on civilian casualties, looting and chaos, and U.S. military crimes against Iraqis rather than the U.S. victory and the evils of Saddam Hussein.



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