Once again the main news media in the Western world is ignoring, or at the very least minimising, critical new developments pertaining to Iraq. Last night the Turkish parliament voted against allowing US forces the use of bases on Turkish soil to attack Iraq. Even as US ships lay berthed in Turkish waters waiting to offload men and heavy military hardware.
The vote, won by a narrow margin but with wide popular support, closes the possibility of attacking Iraq on two fronts. Leaving the Anglo-American alliance with only one front with which to take on Iraq, militarily.
Which means that if a war with Iraq does transpire it will be longer and bloodier than one fought on two fronts.
The BBC however relegated this important development to only a brief reference, made in passing by one of its correspondents last night. While most other news organisations made little mention of it, if at all. Instead the public in the western world were treated to reports that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the operational commander allegedly behind the assaults on New York and Washington, had been captured during a raid on a hideout near Islamabad.
This was, said the BBC, a “major victory” in the War on Terror: making much of the fact that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was one of the FBI’s ten most wanted men.
According to the BBC the Bush Administration: “has been under pressure at home from critics who complain it has neglected the hunt for al-Qaeda as it focussed on Iraq, and the arrests will take some of that heat off.”
In effect propaganda at its most potent, playing down setbacks and defeats while underscoring morale with news of victories. Even if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the real mastermind behind the September 11th attacks – and there is good reason to think that he was not – public attention has briefly been distracted from contemplating the prospect of heavier casualties, in a campaign against Iraq, than might otherwise be the case.
Meanwhile ships bearing armour and supplies for the Fourth Infantry Division, now waiting off Turkey`s Mediterranean coast, will now have to be diverted quickly south to join an invasion force massing in the Gulf area.
By denying the US military access, Turkey stands to lose a multi- billion-dollar U.S. aid package to shore up an economy recovering from its deepest recession since 1945. In addition a $16 billion (10 billion pound) IMF loan package could also now be in jeopardy.
So while US and British forces build up in the Gulf in preparation for an attack on Iraq, the “news” is being carefully managed to minimise any obstacles to such an assault. One potential obstacle is western public opinion, that is now being fed misinformation cleverly dressed up as news in an effort to neutralise opposition.