What The Media Misses: "The Barbarians Are At The Gates"
By Danny Schechter
New York, New York: So writes Patrick Cockburn, the veteran Middle East correspondent for the Independent in London. A fierce critic of the US-British War on Iraq he is now urging the US and Iran to collaborate in stopping the ISIS or ISIL forces that are sweeping through Iraq, a country he loves more than any of the despotic politicians who have run it now or then.
The American media has taken up the cry--not for cooperation with Iran that has heartily denounced the latest round of US intervention in the country it warred with for seven years---but with lurid coverage of the force at first labeled "terrorists," and now "insurgents or just "militants." The difference is that ISIS/ISIL seizes and holds territory operating like an army, not hit and run faction.
It is said to be connected to Al Qaeda but we don't know how or if Qaeda still exists. Separating truth from propaganda has never been more difficult.
Even as ISIS portrays itself more as a corporation than a gang of brigands, all we see or hear about in our media are bloody killings and beheadings as if savagery is uniquely to be found in the Islamic world.
Never mind the reporting of the McClatchey newspapers explaining that "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria sprang from a largely self-funded, corporation-style prototype"The militant group Baghdadi inherited had in place a sophisticated bureaucracy that was almost obsessive about record-keeping. Its middle-managers detailed, for example, the number of wives and children each fighter had, to gauge compensation rates upon death or capture, and listed expenditures in neat Excel spreadsheets that noted payments to an "assassination platoon" and "Al Mustafa Explosives Company."
Too bad, our corporations don't disclose, much less quantify, the metrics of the negative social impacts they cause, and what that costs society or the world.
The more lurid the reporting on the butchery now underway, the more we forget the one million plus dead as a result of the 2003 US invasion and occupation or how state violence inevitably inspires a violence of resistance. It is a violence that anti-colonial theorists like Franz Fanon approved of in his "The Wretched of the Earth," because of he believed it has a positive psychological impact on the oppressed.
Selective reporting on the atrocities of the other side always emboldens a sense of righteousness, even as our counter-violence assumes the form of less visible and far more deadly 'shock and aweful' airpower, or the use of weapons with nuclear materials like depleted uranium.