How the Media Manipulates Public Sentiment for War

Rixon Stewart — August 18, 2016

In this frame grab taken from video provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC), a child sits in an ambulance after being pulled out or a building hit by an airstirke, in Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. Syrian opposition activists reported an airstrikes on the al-Qaterji neighborhood in Aleppo late Wednesday. (Aleppo Media Center via AP)

In this frame grab taken from video provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC), a child sits in an ambulance after being pulled out or a building hit by an airstirke, in Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. Click to enlarge

The media is now an integral part of any modern conflict, and not just as passive observers. They are active participants who play a key role in manipulating public opinion to support whatever has been decided by the politicians and generals.
Belsen 1992For example the 1992 photo of Fikret Alic, a Muslim, staring through a barbed wire fence, was used to “prove” that the Bosnians were running modern day “Concentration Camps”. As the headline of “Belsen 92” indicates, every possible association with the Nazis was made to sell the necessity of sending yet more NATO troops to the former Yugoslavia.
Yet Fikret Alic hadn’t been deliberately starved, his emaciation was the result of a congenital disease. Nor was he imprisoned. The British ITN News team that took the photo had simply filmed him through a stretch of broken barbed fencing that did not surround the entire facility.
In fact an investigation by German journalist Thomas Diechmann found the converse was true. The ITN News team had filmed Fikret Alic from a small, partially broken barbed wire enclosure that was inside the facility and that had originally enclosed a tool shed.
Fikret Alic2This gave the entirely false impression that Fikret and his companions were being held behind barbed wire in what appeared to be a concentration camp. Yet they were not being held in anything like a Nazi concentration camp but a refugee transit centre.
Nonetheless that didn’t stop the global media from whipping up an international outcry over the alleged ongoing atrocity. The first photos of the alleged “concentration camp” were published in August 1992. The media generated outcry that ensued allowed a “no-fly zone” to be imposed followed by direct NATO intervention in 1993.
Of course this is all history but it has a direct bearing on the world we live in. Because although these events are all past now they set a precedent; one that we should take heed of if we want to avoid being drawn into similar conflicts.
Hence my cynicism over what the Telegraph headlines as “The little boy from Aleppo who jolted the conscience of the world – the story behind the photograph”.
Now I’m not saying that the photo has been staged or faked. It’s yet another picture from the unfolding tragedy in Syria. One of many among which, no doubt, there are other pictures of atrocities carried out by Western-backed “moderate opposition groups”.
Significantly, the photo came from a video provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group, the Aleppo Media Center (AMC). Which sounds suspiciously like the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK based media group run by one man with suspected links to Western intelligence.

So why have various Western media outlets suddenly picked up this iconic image and held it aloft as one?
Are they hoping to whip up enough of an outcry to force Russia to scale back its air strikes? Even before this story was being promoted Russia had already offered civilians in Aleppo a 3-hour daily ceasefire.
So is the Western media trying buy more time for the so-called “moderate Syria opposition”, by getting the Russians to scale back their air strikes still further? If so they’ve also partially succeeded as Russia has just offered to implement a further, more extensive ceasefire.
Whether or not that will be enough to give militants in Aleppo enough time to recover is another matter. Because the Russian air campaign in Syria has been nothing if not intense and purposeful. By Feb 2016 Russia had launched TWICE as many air-strikes on militants in Syria as the U.S. had, and American forces had been active in the country nearly a year before Moscow intervened.
Add to that reports that U.S. planes were dropping bombs intended for Islamic State into empty desert and the U.S. campaign against militants begins to look worse than half-hearted.
But once again the Western media is being very selective in its coverage of events in Syria. Highlighting stories that portray Russia in a negative light while downplaying reports of the lacklustre, one might even say counterfeit Western military campaign against militants.

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