Other Conflicts and Peacetime Propaganda

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  • by Anup Shah
  • This Page Last Updated Sunday, June 04, 2000

Media and Peacetime Military Propaganda

When major military contractors own or influence large television stations in the US, it is difficult to produce media reports and documentaries that are critical of military-related issues. Yet such arrangements concurrently promote military policies.

Propaganda like this is irresponsible. It involves many industries, using politics and power-play to convince the people of a nation that a military threat is more real that it is. Such strategies, if successful, may lead to the public demanding or agreeing to an increase in military spending and budgets (which we pay for in the form of taxes) while real issues such as health and education get ignored or neglected. The eventual people who profit from this "increased security" is not the general public, but the arms dealer corporations and the arms dealers themselves, who earn very large commissions.

The Propaganda part of the Arms Trade Section of this web site provides more detailed information on how the media portrays various military arms related issues.

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Conflicts Ignored by Mainstream

And while the mainstream media concentrated on the Kosovo conflict earlier in 1999, others such as the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo that had raged on for over six months at the same time hardly received a mention even in the midst of louder calls for peace.

In fact, it is estimated that there are over 9.5 million refugees in Africa. Around the time of the Kosovo crisis there were some 7.3 million estimated refugees and many more internally displaced. Yet at that time, most of the international effort and aid was going to the refugees of Kosovo. Kosovo needed the help of course, but are not the lives of Africans also important? What of their suffering and injustices? Of the estimated 1.2 million displaced people from the conflict in Angola for example, there are an estimated 750,000 refugees since the war started in April 1999. Malnutrition risks were real at the same time of the Kosovo crisis, due to inaccessible food yet little of this was mentioned in the mainstream media. The plight of African countries in crisis was not reported by the mainstream media in any proportion to the way that it has in Kosovo.

Also at a similar time to Kosovo, the mainstream media has also ignored the civil war in Sierra Leone and the neighboring Guinea, where there were reported over 350,000 refugees at that time. Of those, 100,000 faced threats of violence.

The Conflicts in Africa section on this web site also provides more information.

These are just a few examples. There were many more around the world (before and after Kosovo).

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Coverage of Other Conflicts?

It is interesting to note how people's reactions and emotions in NATO nations have been affected by media images of the crisis in Kosovo; how, during the Gulf War, media images from military missions and air strikes led to such overwhelming support for attacks from people in UK and USA. Yet, as mentioned above, the media portrayal of these conflicts has been one-sided and the media has achieved mustering support rather than looking at the policies of the involved nations in an objective, critical way.

One wonders if objective media attention is given to various other places like Turkey, Indonesia, the DRC, Angola, Israel, Guatemala, Colombia and other nations, how people's opinions and attitudes might be affected, especially since in many of these regions nations like the USA have often supported brutal ruling regimes. Given the various interests that mainstream media owners have, balanced reporting is not likely.

In fact, while throughout this site, I haven't really discussed much about US foreign policies and military interventions, in as much detail as it could be, the following quote from Noam Chomsky talking about humanitarian interventions as far back as 1984 is a very critical look at how societies are led into various belief systems that allow various actions to go ahead:

"In a well-indoctrinated society with very effective systems of thought control, people actually believe this kind of nonsense [commenting on Russian propaganda when it invaded Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan to say they were doing it to defend themselves against American and West German militarism and how American propaganda will claim similar things]. The United States is one of the most indoctrinated societies in the world and consequently this ridiculous nonsense is believed. For example, when the United States invaded Grenada, people literally discussed the claim that Grenada was a military threat to the United States. And it was discussed as if this were a serious allegation, not mere black comedy. And right now, for example, there is talk about the Russian-sponsored aggression in Nicaragua and El Salvador. That the Russians aren't there is irrelevant, because this is theology, not rational discourse. In theology facts are irrelevant. This theological system is accepted by the political classes virtually without exception, though they do argue a little bit -- maybe the Russian threat has been exaggerated. The fact that we are considering American aggression and terrorism is almost never understood."

Noam Chomsky, in an interview with Heinz Dieterich, Latin America and the Vietnam War Syndrome, May 1984, quoted from Latin America; From Colonization to Globalization, Noam Chomsky in Conversation with Heinz Dieterich, (Ocean Press, 1999), p.22.

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Author and Page Information

  • by Anup Shah
  • Created: Friday, January 22, 1999
  • Last Updated: Sunday, June 04, 2000

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