March 25, 2003
IRAQ: PROPAGANDA, U.S. POW'S REINFORCE 'POWER OF
** Some observers alleged
that the "Allied media strategy has failed."
** Others claimed the U.S.'
"well-prepared psychological war" has manipulated global opinion.
** Writers expressed
revulsion at Iraq's media exploitation of POW's and casualties.
** Many cited U.S.
treatment of Iraqi and Guantanamo POW's to discredit the U.S. invocation of the
Many claim 'the American administration has lost the war on the
media level'-- German, Israeli,
Tunisian and Pakistani papers agreed the U.S. "has lost the first
propaganda phase of the war."
Several judged that in this "war of information," Qatar's
Al-Jazeera has "showed the truth which the Americans were trying very hard
to hide." A West Bank daily added
that now the U.S. cannot easily "erase the image of the American as an
occupier and invader." European
observers said the "devastating" war images were "quite
dangerous ammunition" that may prove "a bigger threat to the U.S.
crusade" than Iraqi troops. French
and Austrian dailies carped that viewers worldwide are still "waiting in
vain for footage of rejoicing liberated Iraqis."
Some applaud, others criticize U.S. efforts to win the 'war of
information'-- Many observers
backhandedly praised the U.S.' "well-prepared psychological war
campaign," but several asserted the U.S. sought to "mislead the world
through deception." Portuguese and
Danish dailies found it "embarrassing" that "the American
propaganda machine" and the "Pentagon's ventriloquists" had so
impressed local officials. In Guatemala,
India and Malaysia, dailies blasted the "forgery and falsification"
in the U.S. "web of deceit, disinformation and lies." Many doubted whether the global audience
could distinguish the good reporting from the chaff." As France's Catholic La Croix
rhapsodized, "in the jungle of lies, public opinion is a misguided
referee." But some declared there
is "no room for censorship" in today's world, with Brazil's liberal Folha
de Sao Paulo supporting those "taking pains" to question all
reports from the front.
Are the Geneva Conventions 'binding for Iraq and not for the
U.S.?'-- Several writers said the
"international outcry" over the display of U.S. casualties and POW's
by Baghdad's "propaganda machine" was "justified." Paraguay's conservative Noticias
termed it a "flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention." Vienna's centrist Die Presse was
confident that "America won't be daunted" by the "distressing"
footage. More, however, cited "the
handling of those interned at Guantanamo" to criticize U.S. "double
semi-independent Al-Raya vituperated that the U.S. did "not
remember the Geneva Convention" when U.S. broadcasters "showed Iraqi
POWs" in a "humiliating" manner.
Others such as Uganda's independent Monitor indicated that if an
adversary has attacked Iraq "without a UN mandate, why should he require
[Iraq] to respect a UN convention?"
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey
is based on 57 reports from 35 countries over 22 - 25 March 2003. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Bush Right
To Condemn Iraq [On POWs]--But His Outrage Rings Hollow"
The center-left Independent observed (3/25): "The international outcry over the
display of American casualties and prisoners on Iraqi state television is
thoroughly justified. This was not only
a flagrant violation of the Geneva convention...it was also an offense against
the very fundamentals of human decency....
For all his pledges that the U.S. would treat Iraqi prisoners of war
humanely, however, Mr. Bush's words rang just a little hollow. The fact is that Iraqis are not the only
foreign combatants in U.S. custody. When
the military operation against Iraq began, the U.S. was already holding more
than 600 foreign prisoners in camps in Guantanamo Bay, its base in
Cuba.... Mr. Bush's call for U.S.
prisoners to be treated humanely would command more credibility and wider
sympathy if his administration had appeared more amenable to accepting rules
that most other civilised countries accept.
This does not excuse the behaviour of the Iraqi regime, even one that is
fighting for its survival."
"Can the Geneva Convention Still Protect PoWs?"
Adam Roberts, Professor of International Relations at Oxford
University, wrote in the center-left Independent (3/25): "There were good reasons for the U.S.
government to express concern over the fate of prisoners held in Iraqi
hands.... Iraq's record of treating
prisoners is dire.... The fears that
there has been ill-treatment or torture are well-founded. A particular hazard for prisoners in this war
is that the Americans' treatment of prisoners in the 'war on terror' has
exposed the U.S. to the criticism that it has itself avoided full application
of the 1949 Geneva POW Convention in its treatment of al-Qa'ida and Taliban
detainees. Iraqi violations of the
Geneva rules regarding POWs began long before Guantanamo and cannot be
justified or explained by reference to U.S. actions. On the other hand, the US has much work to do
to convince a sceptical world that it is fully committed to consistent
application of all aspects of the law of war.
It has a good case--few if any armed forces have such serious manuals on
the application of the law of war--but in recent years that case has not been
FRANCE: “The Error”
Serge July opined in left-of-center Liberation (3/25): “The U.S. is waging a war without a mandate
and in hostile isolation. Pillars of its alliance, such as Turkey, have
defected.... The war was supposed to be
a policing operation based on a political hypothesis, not a war of
destruction.... The ideal scenario did
not include house-to-house street combat. This strategic plan has been upset in
the first five days of combat. There is undoubtedly manipulation by the media,
but certain scenes which General Franks would love to show are just not there.
Like refugees fleeing.... On the
contrary, thousands of Iraqis living in Jordan are returning to fight…
Negotiations with Iraqi officials are not going as planned.... There are no open Iraqi cities.... For the time being, America’s war on Iraq has
not caused the regime to fall and the years of embargo have triggered a surge
of patriotism… The war of liberation planned by Washington’s hawks will probably
not happen. If the war turns murderous and destructive, America’s military
victory will resound as a new political defeat. The specter haunting Washington
is that of military combat in Baghdad: a terrible error in strategy.”
Claude Cabanes remarked in communist l’Humanite (3/25): “The war in Iraq is unfolding in the dark
tunnel of the unknown.... President
Bush’s prissy request that prisoners be treated according to the Geneva
conventions is astounding.... How can
one wage a war in full contempt of international laws and ask that these laws
be respected when things turn ugly? The syndrome of Vietnam is haunting the
White House.... The scenario is not
going according to plan...and instead of refugees fleeing Iraq, Iraqis are
returning from Jordan to fight.... Can
President Bush not see that in spite of Saddam’s tyranny, the people of Iraq
are attached to their country and their flag?”
Bruno Frappat wrote in Catholic La Croix (3/25): “War is not the best of times to speak of
international laws. And when a war like this one is waged without an
international mandate, how can one expect legality to be respected? The
Americans and their British allies are rightly shocked to see the Geneva
conventions ignored by the Iraqis....
Just like the Iraqis who were shocked to see similar images of Iraqi
detainees.... In addition to the human
lives lost, this war has in five days brought down international legality and
truth. In the jungle of lies, public opinion is a misguided referee.”
GERMANY: “The Price Of War”
Joachim Kaeppner stated in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung
of Munich (3/25): “The power of images
might turn out to be a bigger threat to the U.S. crusade against Baghdad than
the Iraqi Republican Guard. Those who
planned this war have created a dangerous illusion among Americans--the
illusion that, as in the three previous wars since 1990, another victory can be
had without significant losses among U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians.”
Malte Lehming declared in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of
Berlin (3/25): “The more media coverage
there is, the more restless the U.S. population becomes.... Paradoxically, this means a grave danger for
Iraq’s civilians. If the war goes on for
a long time and domestic support for the campaign crumbles...U.S. military
leaders will be under increasing pressure to speed things up and act less
carefully. That would be a disaster, but
what is the alternative? U.S.
withdrawal? Anyone who considers this an option is naïve. The U.S. administration is convinced that
showing weakness feeds terrorism. The
Americans are decadent; they can be defeated--if this were the message picked
up throughout the Arab world, Al Qaida would triumph.”
“Lost Battle In Media War”
Julius Endert stated in business-oriented Handelsblatt of
Duesseldorf (3/25): “The Allied media
strategy has failed. The military’s
attempt to place reporters and cameramen in fighting units and thus win their
favor and make them controllable is producing a flood of images whose
production the military can control, but whose impact is devastating for the
United States and its allies.... The
problem with ‘embedded media’ is this: While the journalist attached to the
unit can provide highly current information, it remains virtually impossible
for the viewer to interpret what he is seeing.
The images do not add up to a realistic representation of the military
situation, their confusing barrage underlining the absurdity of war.... Contrary to Pentagon expectations, people in
the United States and Europe discover new connections. They use the different pieces of the media
puzzle to arrive at an unexpected image, recognizing war for what it is:
horrific, demeaning, and brutal. What does not come through are the U.S. goals
behind the military campaign or its justification.”
ITALY: “Now The War Risks A
Umberto Cecchi commented in conservative, top-circulation
syndicate La Nazione/Il Resto del Carlino/Il Giorno (3/25): “It’s peculiar. American people...tend not to learn from
history. And therefore they often repeat old mistakes. As in the case of a
war...and as in the case of war information....
Indeed, the coalition troops in Iraq risk a Vietnam drift in the
conflict due to the media and public opinion.... In the era of media wars, it is much better
to ignore the fear of information and to fight as it has always been
fought--without fearing to appear too militarized and without fearing TV images
of dead soldiers.... To have these fears
means hindering operations and multiplying the death toll.”
AUSTRIA: “Victims Of Their
Livia Klingl commented in mass-circulation Kurier
(3/25): “One of the decisive questions
in the Iraq war is which images exactly TV stations will air until the collapse
of the Iraqi regime. After all, ‘selling the war’ is just as important as
winning the war.... However, so far
viewers around the world have been waiting in vain for footage of rejoicing
liberated Iraqis. Looks like they don’t exist.
And instead of masses of defecting soldiers, there’s the Iraqi army,
putting up an amazing amount of resistance.
No discoveries and no Iraqi deployment of biological or chemical
weapons, either.... Apparently, the
Washington strategists have become the victims of their own propaganda.”
“Problems On The Home Front”
Christoph Winder commented in liberal Der
Standard (3/25): "The first
reactions from Washington show just how serious the Bush Administration is
taking (the footage of captured U.S. soldiers).
President Bush delivered a somewhat awkward speech, and even Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appeared to be rather nervous.... All of this shows how powerful images become
in times of war, and what a tremendous impact they can have.... No wonder the media have been called the
‘fourth front,’ as TV images can turn into quite dangerous ammunition."
“POWs--The Super Weapon?”
Andreas Unterberger stated in centrist Die
Presse (3/25): “It is doubtful
whether--from an Iraqi point of view--the images of captured US soldiers will
have the desired impact on the American general public. Not because these
images are not distressing. Not because U.S. TV networks have decided to delay
airing them, but simply because this time the people in the U.S. are apparently
quite determined. For them, the Iraq war is not the overly ambitious global
policeman in action; it is the direct consequence of 9/11. America won’t be daunted by the footage of
U.S. soldiers in Iraqi hands. But neither will Baghdad be impressed by
references to international law or the Geneva Convention.”
Split-based Slobodna Dalmacija carried a piece by Tomislav
Klauski stating (3/25): "George W.
Bush should not bring himself into a situation in which Americans will start
wondering why their children, brothers and husbands are losing their
lives. He must fill the television space
with direct broadcasts of bombardments of Baghdad, and reduce the number of
pictures of dead Americans to the smallest number possible. At the moment when war has burst on the
doorsteps, Bush will push the truth outside of the window with all of his
Program Faces Acid Test"
Center-left Politiken judged (3/25): "The decision to Embed British and American
journalists was viewed with some suspicion before the war as it was believed
that this may compromise the freedom of the press. The fact that journalists are not being
allowed to report freely is obvious, but the Embed program has brought us
closer to the war. If something goes
wrong, we will surely hear about it. If
we do not, something will have gone very seriously wrong [regarding the press
"Awed Fogh Cannot See Guantanamo Connection"
Sensationalist tabloid Ekstra Bladet asserted (3/25): "The Iraqis have been warned against
mistreating their American POWs. Meanwhile...3000 detainees in Guantanamo are
[already] being treated badly.... It is
embarrassing that PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen is so impressed by the American propaganda
machine and his own role as a fellow warrior, that he cannot see the
Laszlo Valki said in liberal Hungarian-language Magyar Hirlap
(3/25): "Not the TV channels and
the newspapers, but the Iraqi, the American and the British authorities are to
blame that the media show images of POWs, which is a violation of the Geneva
Endre Aczel pointed out in leading Hungarian-language Nepszabadsag
(3/25): “The Iraqi people learnt that
Secretary Rumsfeld spoke days ago about the collapse of the Iraqi military
command and the broken communication between Saddam and his units. Then, what do the Iraqi people see? That
their leader, Saddam has the precise information and knowledge of the status of
his troops down in the South. He talks
about their achievements and put them forward as a model for the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people have the impression that
somebody here is not telling the truth, and that it is not Saddam Hussein. What is the concept here? One can only
guess. The American-British forces are
most probably going to encircle Baghdad within days. Taking advantage of their
absolute advantage in the air, they are going to destroy everything existing or
left in Baghdad, the propaganda machine included."
NORWAY: “Prisoners Of War
Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten opined (3/25): "There is little doubt that the Iraqi
authorities moved outside of the Geneva Convention’s border when this weekend
they allowed filming of interrogation of American soldiers who have been taken
prisoner.... But Americans would have
made it easier for themselves if they had shown a little greater understanding
of the criticism that is directed at the handling of those who are interned at
Guantanamo.... It is understandable that
Americans, after the shock that the terrorist attacks created, are less
preoccupied with Al-Qaida terrorists’ rights under American law and
international law. But few of the
cornerstones of democratic society are more important than the principle that
innocent people shall not be punished, and that suspects shall have their case
investigated. It is itself the
foundation for the just and necessary fight against democracy’s enemies that is
undermined when these principles are deviated from. For Saddam Hussein it is a non-existent
problem. For the U.S. that is not the
PORTUGAL: "Right And
José Vitor Malheiros offered this commentary in influential
center-left Público (3/25):
"It is obvious that images of prisoners should not, strictly
speaking, be shown...but what is strange is that this issue is not being raised
when the prisoners are on the other side....
It is evident that there is an enormous dose of partiality, ethnocentrism
and even racism in the West's reaction.
Don't Iraqi prisoners have the same right? And how many have already been shown on our
television screens at dinnertime without it seeming even minimally abusive of
their rights?.... Differential standards
are almost inevitable--we feel closer to our neighbors, to the people whose
language we speak, to the people who like the same movies we do. But we have to at least be conscious of this
and try to fight its (and our) hypocrisy.
And not let an appeal to international law be made only when it serves
"The Pentagon's Ventriloquists"
Vital Moreira vituperated in influential center-left Público
(3/25): "One of the most intriguing
aspects visible in Portugal in relation to the United States' attack on Iraq
is...the alignment by the generality of the press and other media with the
American position, seconded by the Portuguese government.... With the onset of this illegal and
unjustified war, our televisions have been assaulted by a host of well-known
ventriloquists of the Pentagon, celebrating the massacre of Iraq in unison, as
if all of Portugal were unanimously rejoicing over the prowess of a superpower
rapidly flattening a practically defenseless country."
Elena Chirita wrote in leading pro-opposition Romania Libera
(3/25): "Saddam’s message did not
only intend to encourage his people and especially his army, but it also
touched a sensitive issue for the Muslim and Arab world, namely the religious
message calling for sacrifices in the name of Allah, reminding the martyrs that
they will go to Paradise.... Saddam does
not have military equipment comparable to the Americans, but he does have the
national TV station. Why is the Pentagon
allowing Saddam to control this propaganda channel? Why didn’t they neutralize his means of
SPAIN: "In Real
Centrist La Vanguardia editorialized (3/25): "The strategy seems clear: to lure U.S.
and British troops towards urban areas with the aim of reducing the
technological distance and laying ambushes and surprise attacks with more possibilities
of success.... Everything seems to indicate
that days are coming in which the U.S. command will try to eradicate any sign
of euphoria, while the regime of Baghdad will try to turn any evidence of
resistance, even if it is very small, into a propaganda success. On the other side, there are not no
precedents for such an analyzed and 'X-rayed' war, with such a direct impact on
financial and commodity markets."
TURKEY: "Shock And
Erhan Basyurt wrote in Islamic-intellectual Zaman
(3/25): "The U.S. operation in Iraq
has been named 'shock and horror.'
However, the course of the action shows that the 'shock' part went to
the coalition forces due to an unexpectedly stiff resistance.... There are two major reasons why the Iraqis
resist despite the US intention of freeing the Iraqi people and bring
democracy. The U.S. conducted a
well-prepared psychological war campaign in the media prior to the operation,
but none of the messages got through to the people of Iraq. A people living without satellite dishes or
Internet access does not know anything about the real world. The Iraqis still believe that they are
fighting against British colonial
forces, which they fought for independence, or against the new superpower,
which is after oil. It seems that
Saddam's regime has successfully managed to inject this psychology into the
minds of the Iraqi people."
“Law Is Patience”
Oktay Eksi remarked in mass appeal Hurriyet (3/25): “President Bush calls on the Iraqi regime to
comply with the Geneva Conventions on treatment of POWs. He is very right by referring to the Geneva
Conventions on this issue. Yet something
is just not right. President Bush
remains at the top of the list of ‘leaders who blatantly violate international
law.’ However, he now calls on others to
comply with international law and regulations.... One wonders if the Geneva Conventions are
binding for Iraq and not for the U.S.”
Winning On Ground, Iraqis On Television"
Zeev Schiff commented in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(3/25): "It may well be that
[Saddam Hussein] has concluded that if what he saw was the promised
awe-inspiring blow that the experts predicted, then as far as he is concerned,
it is still tolerable. In contrast to
Iraq's advantage in the propaganda war, the Americans have registered several
successes on the ground.... The
coalition certainly has enough force to move rapidly toward the grand goal,
Baghdad, but they still need more soldiers to hold on to what was left behind. Under these circumstances, they won't have the
patience for what they have lately been speaking about -- providing
humanitarian supplies and food to the Iraqi population."
WEST BANK: “Their
Hassan el-Kashif declared in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida
(3/25): "The U.S. is failing in
Iraq as friend to the Arabs and it is uncovering its reality as an unjust
colonial power that is pushing its army, warplanes and fleets to occupy an Arab
country and kill an Arab nation that refuses to yield or surrender and is
sticking to its sovereignty and rights. The United States will not be able to
erase the image of the American as an occupier and invader. History will keep
the pictures of the civilian victims of the American raids in all the Iraqi
cities and towns.”
ALGERIA: "War Of
Leading French-language independent Le Quotidien d’Oran
contended (3/24): "The first images
of atrociously burned civilian victims totally contradict the surgical
character of the strikes that the U.S. strove to impress upon the popular mind
by giving the first salvos of missiles the code name ‘decapitation.’ This name
was intended to reassure the population and guarantee that they will not be
targeted, although it is known that during air bombardments civilians constitute
the majority of victims. In this war of information also called psychological
warfare, TV channels must submit to a code of ethics. Although these are
unwritten, the channels impose them upon themselves according to their
interpretation, sensitivity or bias. The Americans are conveying the image of a
clean war with no victims nor major collateral damage. Broadcasting unbearable
images can contribute to changing the opinion of those who are supporting this
EGYPT: “Good Morning”
Aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar columnist Said Sonbol said
(3/25): “Now the Bush Administration
remembered the international pacts regulating relations among countries in
times of peace and war.... He warned
against the mistreatment of American prisoners captured by Iraqi
troops.... America, which turned its
back on the U.N. and insisted on striking Iraq unilaterally...is now demanding
respect for international treaties.... The American Administration was shocked
at Iraqi steadfastness and resistance....
America’s calculations were wrong, and failed to take into account, that
no matter what their differences with their rulers, Arab nations would forget
these differences at times of aggression and rise to the defense of their land
and their pride.”
Salwa Habib held in leading pro-government Al Ahram
(3/23): “The U.S. incessantly tried to
link Iraq with terrorism to discover pretexts for her war against Iraq but
failed to convince anyone. There are
expectations that America and Britain would suffer a series of retaliatory
attacks among and against their troops in the Gulf.... The U.S. seeks to reinforce its position
through the media domestically and abroad by implying that it is threatened with
attacks that are no less bloody than September 11.... The more Washington increases its security
measures and warnings against terrorism, the more frantic the American people
become and the further their economy and normal state activities are impacted. Apparently, this panic will continue to
control Americans for long years to come, which is the least the U.S. should
have expected in return for its military policies against Iraq, and other
JORDAN: “The Gap Between
Reality And Expectations”
Urayb Rintawi commented in center-left, influential
Arabic-language Al-Dustour (3/25):
“There is an American-British confusion in managing the war on Iraq, a
confusion that cannot be dampened by the ‘sure tone of voice’ of both
administrations in addressing their stances.
It is a confusion that stems from the fact that the American scheme has
come in collision with a series of surprises in the war operations.... Despite the misery of the Iraqi media
rhetoric and the Iraqi Minister of Information’s resort to the use of swear
words, the confidence in the Iraqi rhetoric so far is much higher than that in
the American and British rhetoric.... If
this continues, it is likely that the confusion is going to escalate and then
Washington would find itself forced to adopt steps that would cover its failure
and the failure of its project."
“The Ferociousness Of The Media War And The Loss Of The Arab
Bater Wardam observed in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour
(3/25): “Since the first day of the war,
the Americans adopted a media system that targets the Iraqi people and tries to
bring the people in line with the American political rhetoric of ‘liberating
Iraq’. Yet, the credibility of the
American media was completely blown away when facts on the ground proved the
falseness of American claims.... The
American anger at publishing the photos of the dead and captured Americans is
justifiable, because, for the first time, it showed the American people and the
world that this war is not picnic as envisaged by Mr. Rumsfeld. Of course, seeing dead people of any race or
religion is not amusing, and the American soldiers are, at the end of the day,
human beings with hopes and dreams who don't want to die so that American oil
companies can get contracts for the Iraqi oil or to protect Israel. However, publishing those photos was a
political necessity that made Mr. George Bush realize that the war is not a
computer game that can be played without real American losses. The problem remains that truth is the first
victim of the war, and the conflict to win the media battle means that
professional and moral standards are going to be thwarted.”
KUWAIT: “Al-Jazeera And The
Abdelrahman Al-Ajmi noted in independent Al-Seyassah
(3/25): “By broadcasting the pictures of
the American POWs on television, Al-Jazeera has proven that they are supporters
of Iraq.... [B]roadcasting pictures for
POWs and dead soldiers will not be in the interest of Al-Jazeera, especially
because Iraq is not treating the POWs according to the Geneva Convention.”
QATAR: "Our Prisoners
And Their Prisoners"
Al-Azab Al-Tayib maintained in semi-independent Arabic-language Al-Raya
(3/25): "The United States see us
as menial and inferior and considers us as people who do not deserve to be
respected or protected. When a Zionist
gets killed, the United States strongly condemns it and calls the Palestinians
murderers and terrorists. But when hundreds of innocent Palestinians get killed
and massacred by the IDF, the USG justifies the Israeli actions and considers
it self-defense and Bush himself impudently calls Sharon a man of peace--a
statement Sharon himself could not believe. In this war, the Americans became
angry after Al-Jazeera showed footage of American POWs. OK, why did the Americans and the British not
remember the Geneva Convention when the Western media, especially the American
TV stations, showed Iraqi POWs being shown off in a humiliating manner? Why do
they think their blood is much more precious than ours? And why should the
Geneva Convention be applied to their soldiers and not ours?"
"Mother Of All Channels!"
Khalid Al-Jaber observed in semi-independent Arabic-language Al-Watan
(3/25): "Again, Al-Jazeera
embarrassed all TV channels and showed the truth which the Americans were to
trying very hard to hide. A Washington Post correspondent told me that
when he sees Al-Jazeera he feels that he is one of its correspondents.
Al-Jazeera is making the news not only reporting it. A New York Times
correspondent said that when he see an incomplete story, he shifts to
Al-Jazeera to complete it. Al-Jazeera's
exclusives help the objective viewer to see the war from a different
perspective than that of the USG. What we need now is to start an English
newscast in order to provide a different perspective of information to the
western world, especially the United States."
SAUDI ARABIA: "Now
POWs Have Rights"
Managing editor Jaser Al-Jaser commented in Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazira
(3/25): "Images of the Iraqi POWs
propagated by the American media and some Arabic papers met with no objection
from President Bush and his cabinet. The
situation became different upon showing the American casualties and their
sufferings. Instantly they started their
threats, which look like the Americans came from a different race and no one is
allowed to hurt their feelings or touch them, even though they are engaging in
an illegal war lacking an international resolution. Accordingly they should be treated as
aggressors and Iraq should disregard applying the POW's Geneva Convention on
"Is It Legal To Portray Iraqi POWs"
London's influential, pan-Arab Al-Sharq Al-Awsat carried a
commentary by editor Abdulrahman Al-Rashid saying (3/25): "Americans are concerned that their POW's
images might embarrass the allied troop's families. Yet the Iraqi soldier is in more dangerous
situation, since it could be a matter of life or death to the families of the
Iraq POWs upon recognizing the images of their sons in the TV networks, because
there are militias standing against Saddam which might terminate the POW's
families. Moreover, the Iraqi regime
might punish those POWs after they are released and shown on TV networks as
being obedient or surrounded. Consequently, the concern of the TV networks
impact on the Iraqi soldier is greater than the justification of protecting the
American soldiers. On the other hand, if
everybody is interested in preventing showing of the POWs images, then
protection should expand to include all involved parties, and not to apply to
The English-language pro-government Riyadh Daily
editorialized (3/25): "The days
ahead may see the number of POWs swelling on both sides. The detained soldiers are not criminals, but
duty-bound to fight for their country. They need to be treated accordingly with
honor. In fact, the Iraqis and the
allied forces have their own honor at stake by respecting, or otherwise, the rights
of the POWs under the provisions of the Geneva Convention."
"Scattered Scenes, Scattered Thoughts"
Abeer Mishkhas noted in pro-government English-language Arab
News (3/25): "Someone said that
we are watching two different wars--one on CNN and one on Al-Jazeera. Each channel is following its own plan in
order to achieve a desired effect. Again, how much of the coverage is
true? Each station has its own agenda
and we, the viewers, have to put the pieces of the puzzle together and decide
for ourselves what is happening.... No
matter who wins this war, it's become obvious that in today's world, there is
no place for censorship. There is always
a way to find what is happening. The
media will be the only winner in this war or in any future war, for that
SYRIA: “Price Of Arrogance
Will Have To Be Paid”
Government-owned Al-Ba’th editorialized
(3/25): “With exposure of the heavy
casualties inflicted on the American-British forces, the U.S. people have
started to realize the dangers of this unfair war and the dangers of not restraining
an administration that cherished the idea of invading another country. Americans will soon have to pay the price for
their arrogance. Suddenly Bush remembers
the UN and the existence of international treaties just when he discovers quick
support in the Geneva Convention."
TUNISIA: "Lie And
Independent French-language Le Quotidien stated
(3/25): Lie: Americans have sworn that the 51st Iraqi
brigade and its chief, General Khaled Al Hachemi have surrendered without
resistance. Truth: The day after, we saw General Khaled Al
Hachemi accompanied by his men, affirming on TV that his brigade was there and
that it had inflicted losses on the Americans.
Lie: Americans have affirmed that
their missiles and bombs are so intelligent that they attack only strategic
targets, avoiding civilians. Truth: A few days later, televisions have shown the
result of these "smart bombings." It was dozens and dozens of Iraqi
civilians killed and in the hospitals.
Editor-in-chief Noureddine Achour observed in independent
Arabic-language As-Sabah (3/25):
"It is evident that the American administration has lost the war on
the media level. Last Sunday was the
Iraqi day. The photos shown on TV and
the acknowledgment of the American and British officials of what is happening
on the battle field--that the Iraqi resistance had surprised everybody and
answered the early claims by American-British information channels that they
had achieved progress in their way towards Baghdad.... The likely developments of war, in particular
when the American administration will enter Baghdad or lay siege to it,
represent a grave danger to the Iraqi people.
Especially because Washington and London are looking for a 'quick
victory' which will allow them to raise morale in America and Great Britain.
This means that nothing will stop them from undertaking anything...against the
MALAYSIA: "Busting The
Myths Of The Iraq War"
The government-influenced English-language Star had a
column by Bunn Nagara noting (3/23):
"Truth is often said to be the first casualty of war, usually
because warmongers feat that their war plans can be a victim of the truth. U.S. and British leaders made truth an early
casualty long before unleashing their latest attacks on Iraq. The idea of war as liberation comes as a late
afterthought from Bush, after his other reasons for war failed to impress the
world. The unjustified and unpopular
nature of this war has thus required a web of deceit, disinformation and lies
that only seem impressive to the naive and interesting to the
Such A Fuss"
Max Soliven, publisher of the independent Philippine Star
(3/25) wrote: "I'm a bit surprised
that the Americans, including President...Bush...are making such a fuss over
the fact that U.S. soldiers...have been taken prisoners by the Iraqis. Or (over) the casualties...their Marines and
other troops have been suffering. Did
they expect that the invasion of Iraq would be a cakewalk?... The Brits, who in relative terms have more
loss (sic)...have been more sanguine about the...fatalities.... This has been Tony Blair's moment of agony,
but he put a courageous and compassionate face on it."
Gonzalo Jurado wrote in the independent Manila Times
(3/23): "When propaganda is
analyzed in terms of its impact on people's minds, that on the war on Iraq
being waged by the United States will perhaps go down in history as the most
effective. Never has anything in recent
memory been presented to the world's people in so one-sided a manner as this
one.... CNN can be forgiven for dinning
into listeners' consciousness, 24 hours a day, the U.S. government's viewpoint.... After all, CNN is American- (rather
Australian-) owned. Less easy to forgive
is that segment of local media, in print and in television, that is also busy
propagating the American party line."
SOUTH KOREA: "Media
Cheers U.S. Soldiers As If Playing A Game"
Pro-government Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (3/25):
"Anti-American sentiments--sparked by the USFK's wrongful handling of the
deaths of two Korean girls by a U.S. armored vehicle--are spilling over into
the current anti-war sentiment. As the mouthpiece of the Korean people, the
National Assembly must reject the troop dispatch bill which will result in
Korean's participation in an illegitimate war."
THAILAND: “Media: Sorting
The Wheat From Chaff”
The independent, English-language Nation opined
(3/25): “It is perhaps too much to
expect American journalists to be strictly objective about a war involving
their fellow countrymen. Still, such is
the global reach and technological superiority of their networks that they
should remember they are also reporting for the world and have an obligation to
try to be as neutral as possible.... In
an age where technology makes escaping images of this war just about impossible
and where the international community gets smaller and more inter-dependent by
the day, it is important for all of the world’s citizens to be well informed of
conflicts such as the one being waged in Iraq.
This means treating what you read and see with skepticism, taking
advantage of the plethora of media sources out there, from CNN to Al Jazeera to
the mountain of data available on the Internet and in the print media, and
being able to distinguish the good reporting from the chaff.”
Urdu-language nationalist Rashtriya Sahara commented
(3/25): "With the intensification
of hostilities in Iraq, the U.S. is intensifying its campaign of forgery and
falsification to increase psychological pressure on Iraq and mislead the world
by deception. With the war entering the
fifth day, at least three lies have been exposed: one about the number of
countries supporting the unjustified military offensive, second regarding the
stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction, used as the key element of the
vicious propaganda against Iraq and third that the people of Iraq are not to be
made suffering due to the war."
Resistance And World Responsibility"
Popular Urdu-language Din thundered (3/25): "No doubt that the U.S. has lost the
first propaganda phase of the war.
Nothing has gone in keeping with the plan.... By not surrendering right in the beginning of
the war, Iraq has provided the world, especially the Muslim countries, with an
opportunity to make a joint effort at the UN to stop American aggression."
TANZANIA: "The World
Should Rebuke America And Its Allies"
Kiswahili-language, widely-read tabloid Majira declared
(3/25): "Since last week there has
been conflict pitting peace lovers who respect international laws and hate
America's bullying, against war mongers and conflict lovers who have no respect
for the United Nations. America and its
allies, most of them leaders of countries whose citizens are against the war,
have decided to attack Iraq. It is
obvious that this war is aimed at satisfying America in the oil business,
protecting Israel, expanding their bullying tactics to the Arab arena and
President George W. Bush's own hatred.
These reasons are now causing human tragedy, whereby Americans are now
being killed, captured, wounded, harassed and held hostages. It is a shame on them. We take this opportunity to beg the world to
have one united stand in opposing this war, and rebuke America together with
its allies for the killings they are causing.
We don't want the world to be as America wants it. We agree that whoever is a threat to peace
must be dealt with, but not by violation of peace."
UGANDA: "So The UN
Does Matter After All?"
Independent Monitor remarked (3/25): "The world must have been jolted to hear
US President George W. Bush and his Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld invoking
the Geneva Conventions when American prisoners of war (POWs) were shown on
Iraqi television. All sides in a war
should respect these Conventions that stipulate how POWs should be
treated. The Iraqis have said they will,
but we would not be surprised if they did not.
When you have an adversary who has attacked you without a UN mandate,
why should he require you to respect a United Nations convention? Most likely the Iraqis will sneer at Mr.
Bush’s sudden discovery of the need to respect the UN, international law and
global public opinion. Saddam Hussein
will sneer because Mr. Bush cheerfully led the US government in rendering the
UN irrelevant when he took the cynical road of unilateral action. So where does
the United States derive the moral authority to invoke international law as
prescribed by the Geneva Conventions?....
It is also quite troubling that Mr. Bush sees nothing wrong with
American television networks happily broadcasting pictures of Iraqi POWs. The Bush administration has also argued that
captives from the Afghan war now being held at the Guantanamo Bay (in Cuba)
cannot be treated according to the Geneva Conventions. Such arrogance suggests that there is one standard
for the United States and another for the rest of the world."
ZIMBABWE: “Bush, Blair Are
Government-controlled Chronicle editorialized (3/25): "We wish to see more gory pictures of
mutilated British and American soldiers on our television screens. This will serve as a lesson to those who
believe that they can control the world and bully everybody. It is disappointing that the world has stood
by and let George Bush and his partner in crime, Tony Blair, kill innocent
civilians under the guise of promoting democracy.... We are relieved that there are reports that
the U.S.-led forces face fiercer-than-expected resistance, quashing hopes of a
swift victory.... We urge the immediate
resignation of Tony Blair and George Bush for crimes of war and crimes against
“Coverage Of Iraq War Raises Questions”
The government-controlled Herald declared (3/25): "The U.S. and the United Kingdom have
allowed an unprecedented number of journalists, equipped with video cameras and
video phones, to accompany their forces in the invasion of Iraq. The Iraqis have allowed many journalists the
same facilities in Baghdad.... So we see
live coverage of the daily bombardment of the Iraqi capital. The Iraqis have also made available footage
of war-related news, such as the capture of American prisoners or pictures of
dead U. S. marines in a morgue. The
Americans were very angry about the showing of the U. S. POWs on the world’s
television screens, although quiet about live footage of Iraqis actually
surrendering and not quite being POWs until that surrender had been officially
accepted. So while technically the
American journalists were just legal while the Iraqi authorities were in breach
of the Geneva conventions, the tiny difference is immaterial to those who were
photographed.... It has already become
obvious that the U. S. and Britain television coverage of the invasion of Iraq
is far more one-sided than most editors of those television networks would
desire. This was inevitable since the
‘coalition’ has far more journalists out there sending far more material. It has also been noticeable that the written
reportage from the great news agencies, both those based in ‘coalition’
countries and those outside, has been far more analytical and made far more
effort to try and see the larger story.
Newspaper reporters are trying to do both, give action coverage and
proper analytical pieces and generally doing better than their television
counterparts. Yet it is the television coverage that provides the images that
so many will remember, and which swamps the international news channels. The problems of how this ‘instant war’ can be
balanced with more complete coverage are going to have to be addressed by
journalists if they are going to continue to show those back home the full
picture of just what is being done in their name”
Ambassador J. O. de Meira Penna opined in independent Jornal da
Tarde (3/25): "At the very
moment I am writing this article, French troops are participating in a civil
war against Liberians and Guineans in Ivory Coast, where 300 civilians were
killed in just one day.... As one can
see, pacifism is highly discriminatory. Why then the wave of enthusiasm
supporting one of the most totalitarian bandits in power in the Middle
East?.... Dozens of wars and armed
conflicts have taken place since the end of WWII and the UN never prevented any
of them. Ignorance, hypocrisy, lies, demagoguery and leftist propaganda are
active elements in the current discussion on Iraq.... Actually, there is only one reason [for the
war]: to prevent the rise of a new kind of Baghdad caliphate armed with chemical
weapons and possibly Pakistani nuclear weapons, capable of dominating all
Middle Eastern oil supplies and strong enough to destroy Israel and absorb each
of the Arab emirates."
"Conquests Of War"
Nelson Hoineff wrote in center-left Jornal do Brasil
(3/25): "Donald Rumsfeld's request
for TV stations not to show images of American soldiers seized in Iraq was just
one fact in the war of information that includes, for instance, a long text by
Robert Fisk (from London's Independent) on the limits of the
correspondents' freedom.... Fisk thinks
the CNN system to approve stories is 'hateful,' a paranoid form of reporting,
to say the least.... The promiscuous
relation between the press and its sources, the conflicts of interests, the
exposition of half-truths that hide the necessary context to understanding the
facts, all of this is not only in the Persian Gulf. It's right there, around the corner, daily
affecting our way to see the world and cooperating to shape the world according
to interests of doubtful nobility."
"War And Truth"
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo held (3/24): "As in the first Gulf War, the U.S. and
Iraqi governments are taking pains to filter news from the front.... The difference is that the media of other
nations are prepared to trust less in official sources of information.... One expects a more comprehensive view of the
conflict, free of propaganda from both sides.
The U.S. wants to reveal evidence that Saddam maintained sizable
quantities of chemical and biological weapons, a fact that, from the U.S.
standpoint, would justify the attack. To what extent this evidence will be
authentic is one of the questions to be examined."
Victor Ferrigno commented in moderate, leading Prensa Libre
(3/22): "Very few times have I seen
and heard so many lies and cynicism to justify a military intervention, in the
midst of the era of communications, falsifying data, omitting information,
confusing and disinforming.... It is
clear that the United States seeks to impose a new world order, submitted to
PARAGUAY: "He Would
Give His Life For Anyone"
Second-largest, conservative Noticias opined (3/25): "The appearance of the POWs on TV...is a
flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention....
The mother of George Hodgson...asked for humane treatment of her
son.... In other circumstances this
would be superfluous to ask this of Hussein.
But she surely knows that Saddam was capable of using chemical and
biological arms against the Kurds.... He
(Hussein) has been capable of scorning peace, he is capable of bringing a
catastrophe down on his own people. But
there are people who are willing to confront Hussein, men like Patrick (another
POW), who--according to his own sister--is a solder that would give his life for