How many times in the past five years have you turned on CNN or another news network to find some “military analyst”—usually a former general or military official—giving his opinion on how well the occupation of Iraq was going, or why the U.S. should continue with the war?
An extensive exposé in the April 20 New York Times has revealed that many of these “opinions” have been bought by the Bush administration in an unprecedented and ongoing propaganda campaign.
The article, “Message Machine: Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand,” described a network of military analysts that “represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants … all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions by the administration’s war on terror.”
At the beginning of 2002, the campaign to garner public support for the second Iraq war was launched, with these analysts at the forefront.
Whenever the Pentagon wanted a particular spin on affairs, or whenever negative coverage of the “war on terror” appeared in the media, the analysts would be rushed to briefings and scripted tours—from Guantánamo to Iraq—where they would be given the Pentagon line.
They then would appear on the news or write op-ed pieces repeating that line. “Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as ‘message force multipliers’ or ‘surrogates’ who could be counted on to deliver administration ‘themes and messages’ to millions of Americans ‘in the form of their own opinions,’” the Times reports.
In return for espousing favorable sentiments on the air, the analysts—who were instructed not to publicly discuss their contacts with the Pentagon—received business advantages from the Bush administration, including paid trips to Iraq; briefings with military leaders and White House, State Department and Justice Department officials; and access to classified materials. Those who failed to put forth the “correct” version of the war were dropped.
Entire ruling class complicit
The exposé reminds readers of “other administration tactics that subverted traditional journalism. Federal agencies, for example, have paid columnists to write favorably about the administration. They have distributed to local TV stations hundreds of fake news segments with fawning accounts of administration accomplishments. The Pentagon itself has made covert payments to Iraqi newspapers to publish coalition propaganda.”
What is becoming clearer through revelations like the Times article is that it’s not just the Bush administration that is guilty of the war and occupation of Iraq—it’s the entire ruling class, from the corporate media to retired generals to the Democrats. All saw the means to make profit from the war and continued occupation, and therefore all kept their mouths shut despite any misgivings they may have had. This article only appears now because many in the ruling class see the situation in Iraq as a complete disaster.
The article is useful in that it provides more evidence of what anti-war forces and independent media outlets have been saying since before the war began: that the case for war was built on a bed of lies. Yet the article fails to mention the anti-war movement at all, once again ignoring it in favor of “experts”—even in an article exposing those experts as charlatans.
Less than a week after the Times exposé was published, the corporate media was awash with what appears to be a buildup for war against Iran—including increased public allegations that Iran is supporting the insurgency in Iraq; the firing of warning shots by a U.S. Navy-contracted vessel at two speedboats several miles off the coast of Iran; and the statement by Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the Pentagon is planning “potential military courses of action” with regards to Iran.
Like Iraq, this new buildup has been spoon-fed to the “military analysts,” according to the Times. In April 2006, when several generals openly criticized then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a special meeting with the analysts was held.
“Even as they assured Mr. Rumsfeld that they stood ready to help in this public relations offensive,” the Times reports, “the analysts sought guidance on what they should cite as the next ‘milestone.’ …
“Days later, Mr. Rumsfeld wrote a memorandum distilling their collective guidance into bullet points. Two were underlined:
“Focus on the Global War on Terror—not simply Iraq. The wider war—the long war.”
“Link Iraq to Iran. Iran is the concern.”
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