The Media’s Bloody Footprints

“It was premeditated slaughter in every sense of the word. The Marines came in and they killed everyone inside.”

Khalid Ahmed Rsayef; Haditha eyewitness

Western media is the bullhorn for the political establishment. Its message is crafted to reflect the objectives of elites and defend the interests of ownership. The recent coverage of the massacre in Haditha doesn’t change the media’s essential purpose. It’s still a fully-vested partner in the corporate mechanism.

The reporting on Haditha has been excellent. The major American newspapers have run first-rate articles covering the incident in great detail. To its credit, the mainstream media still attracts some of the brightest, most talented people in the country. What a pity their talent is wasted promoting an immoral and tragic war which has led us to the brink of disaster.

We don’t know why the media giants have veered from their traditional cheerleading and focused on the atrocities at Haditha. There have been scores of similar incidents over the last 3 years; what makes Haditha so special? It’s impossible to exterminate 100,000 civilians without producing a lengthy list of war crimes. Haditha just fits into the familiar pattern of serial killing that is casually dismissed as “pacification”. The lack of coverage ensures that things will probably stay the same.

It’s doubtful that the media executives are suddenly bothered by “pangs of remorse” about the suffering they have created. More likely, the unexpected attention to Haditha indicates the growing divisions among American elites about Bush’s mismanagement of the war. In fact, the media still supports the occupation; it’s obvious by the cheery nationalism that accompanies their news programming.

Haditha is characterized as an anomaly that diverges from the norm of military conduct. But, that is not what the Iraqis say. Even the newly-appointed Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki admits that such killings are a “daily occurrence” and that American soldiers routinely “crush Iraqis with their vehicles and kill them on suspicion”.

These stories rarely find their way into the evening news. That would interrupt the flow of optimistic prognostication and jingoistic anecdotes that monopolize the storyline. No one in the mainstream would be brazen enough to challenge the notion that America intervened to spread democracy to the great unwashed of the Middle East. That would be a career-ending move, for sure.

The basic function of the media never changes. It’s a top-down corporate institution designed to provide a business-friendly world view and enhance the profits for its investors. They’re paid to transform a vicious colonial war into a “noble cause” and defend the indiscriminate killing of civilians as the highest expression of patriotism. Haditha is the logical extension of that system.

Voltaire said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities”. Haditha proves that Voltaire was right. He wisely anticipated the role of media in the modern era. It is the pitch-man for atrocities that are thinly-veiled as acts of self-sacrifice and humanity. Voltaire never could have imagined that the cynical manipulation of perceptions could have developed into an entire industry. In fact, media is more like an army than an industry; a band of mercenaries who are used to carry out information warfare against its own people. It plays a vital part in disseminating the lies and “absurdities” (WMD) which clear the way for war.

The media campaign has been the most successful part of the Iraq war. News programs deliver the same storyline from every soapbox in America, crowding out contrary points of view. The synchronization and uniformity of the message has left no doubt that the corporate propaganda-system is vastly superior to any other. The “profit-motive” creates the best possible incentive for manipulating the public mind and corrupting democracy. The media has become a more valuable asset to the Defense Department than an Abrams Tank or a laser-guided missile. It is the one truly indispensable weapon in the Pentagon’s arsenal.

Haditha has changed nothing. Iraq has produced thousands of Hadithas all of which remain uncovered; stories that will be left untold by the media.

Where are the photos from Falluja?.

2 years have passed since Rumsfeld flattened the city in a vindictive act of rage, and the media still hasn’t produced even one picture of the devastation.

The media knew of Haditha months before it appeared in Time magazine. They chose to ignore it rather than expose Bush’s blood-sport to the world.

The persistent slaughter in Iraq is not just the work of right wing fanatics and neocons, but of the information-managers who pumped their lies through the public air-waves and made the war a fati accompli. They played a central role in decimating Iraqi society and ruining hundreds of thousands of lives.

The bloody footprints from Haditha lead straight to the corporate headquarters at Time Warner and FOX News. They are every bit as guilty as anyone who served in Kilo Company.

An Amrican writer who runs his his own landscape company in Snohomish, Wa, U.S., Mike Whitney regularly features on ukurnet and other websites