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John Pilger Talks About Media and War


Reviewed by: Fakiha Hassan Rizvi 

Image from Peter Waltkins’s War Game- The least horrible one that I found from Google images.

Documentary/clip: John Pilger talking at Media & War conference in Goldsmiths, London UK on 17th of November 2012.

Duration: 16 minutes (approximately)

Source: http://vimeo.com/53914026#at=0

Media and War

Introduction: As soon as images of 9/11 flashed around the world, people perceived the world as an unsafe place. Images and sounds through the media scare us even if it is a mediated experience it has a psychological impact. The technology is getting more and more compatible with the perceptual abilities of human beings. We have 3D effects and various other enhanced versions of perceiving what the world is like. Media and War or the coverage of War is an extensive debate. It’s beyond the ethical dimension, now, the question is that of survival. In such an alarming situation, media organizations that are viewed as the most responsible ones should curb the promotion of war, and violence in general. Pilger in his address to the Media and War Conference in Goldsmiths, London, UK narrates some incidents that prove how large media giants like BBC are working for the proliferation of war. The media ‘is’, to say the ‘least’, a tool being used by those who intend to enslave the world and push it towards perpetual disaster. 

Audience:It’s meant for everyone as media is largely a social institution for so many of us. However, the potential audience for this 15 minutes talk are the media professionals, scholars, practitioners, journalists and experts of international relations.

Summary:We need people speaking within media institution for truth. There are people who feel the negative role played by media for promoting war. There is a strong need for all of us to search for truth and not to rely on what the media is communicating. Pilger argues during his presentation in the conference that the most powerful media is playing an irresponsible role. He substantiates his claim by giving the following examples:

 Peter Watkins (BBC’s brilliant maverick) made a film, titled ‘War Games’ that reconstructed the effect of 1 mega tonne of nuclear attack on London. A top-level meeting was called by government officials that declared it as an outstanding film, but placed an objection over the impacts it’ll have on the viewers.

 IT WAS A THREAT! – manifestations of a nuclear war

 The film was censored, but it was uplifted. Since that day, such censorship by mission runs through BBC for achieving the motives of ‘State Propaganda‘.Pilger suggests that the escape route is to strive for your right to speak! Journalism in the mainstream doesn’t address our needs, it works for some gruesome interests.

David Patreaus the former CIA Director is heavily stigmatized by Pilger for coining the phrase ‘perpetual war‘. The way he has descended is in front of anyone. Pentagon has spent about $4.5 billion dollars for the propaganda model constructed by Patreaus. The media was seduced by this former corrupt military official. No one in the media challenged his role as a deceiver.

The coverage of Obama done by the media had no justification at all.

  1. 6 pages in the Guardian (which is a UK-based newspaper not the US print media outlet)
  2. None of the celebrities in Hollywood could have competed with Obama’s pictures in the Guardian

Media professionals in the West have been programmed to tell lies. The journalists are never taught to look at the society through a mirror, instead they are told to reduce the culpability of their government. Always see the criminals in other countries. 

Conclusion:You need to view this if you are interested in knowing about ‘how the world is shown to you’ and understand it’s not what the world is!

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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in Documentary Review, Reviews

 

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Obama’s Re-election: Paving Way for Female Politicians


The psychological development debate of ‘nature versus nurture’ seeps into the arena of international politics when we pick up the lens of ‘gender’ to assess the foreign policies of countries. The feminist view point maintains that men are more inclined towards war and consider absence of war as a state of harmony. While elucidating the feminine dimension, feminists argue that women are less inclined towards war and the absence of war is considered ‘negative peace’ by them. For the ‘genetically different fragility’, social and economic justice maintain ‘positive peace’ in the society. Most of the polls conducted in the past clearly show the divergence in male and female opinion regarding America’s engagement in wars around the world. Another school of thought believes that genetic variations have little involvement in the international political discourses. Socialization of the individuals and policy matters are more dominant in the international sphere. History gives credit to iron ladies like Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom and Indira Gandhi of India for their firm-fist diplomatic strategies. ‘Women and politics’ has remained under discussion for reasons that have precipitated more conspicuously during 2012.

The billows of Arab Spring had already signalled a greater say of women in the public sphere. We saw a Saudi woman, wearing head scarf, who was the last one to cross the finishing line in Olympics 2012, but received a standing ovation from the crowd.
Sarah Attar at London Olympics

The pace of women on the running-track of world affairs also escalated. The global economic recession has pushed women to transform into bread winners-cum- home makers. With their increased share in the world’s wealth, socio-political mobility of women is justified. Even Afghanistan along with its complex stance on ‘women’s rights’ brought Malalai Joya (Afghan politician and human rights activist) to international headlines. Blogging, journalism and reporting were also swayed by the female pendulum. The US Secretary of the State Hillary Clinton stood to her critics and Hina Rabbani Khar became the first female foreign minister of Pakistan, the youngest one as well.
Malalai Joya

Angela Merkel the first female chancellor of Germany will receive the Heinz Galinski Award in Berlin by the end of 2012. She is ranked as the world’s fourth most powerful person in the world by Forbes magazine followed by Sonia Gandhi who is at the 11th place.

Interpol also got its’ first female president as French police commissioner Mireille Balestrazzi took the top place at world’s greatest association of crime fighters.

2012, reverberated the slogans of ‘women empowerment’ and presented the fruit that they bore. The US presidential chase resulted in the triumph of Obama along with a record number of women entering in the US Senate and House. One fifth of the Senate will now be filled by women and the House will host 76 women – 56 Democrats and 20 Republicans. Patty Murray, a seasoned Democratic senator acknowledged the increase in the female political muscle. For the female voters, Obama-care or the health reforms introduced by Obama were an additional reason to vote for him apart from the economic policy. What is left to be seen is the impact of this ‘female influx’ on US foreign policy. If feminists are correct in their claims about men leaning towards aggression and war- a larger number of female politicians should at least advocate deweaponisation and cuts on defense budget.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in International Affairs

 

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Democratisation of the Arab World and the ‘US Foreign Policy’


President Barack Hussain Obama accepted nominations for second term during the Democratic Convention of 2012, while settling the crown for a “better U.S” on his head. The speech delivered by his ‘democratic comrade’, Bill Clinton, somehow reinforced the notion that; ‘Obama might be bad, but anyone else can be worse’. Clinton gave what Obama earnestly wanted in order to restore his confidence, especially among the ‘white voters’. As expected, the motif of the convention revolved around a rebuttal of allegations against the incumbent president. However, the first black president of the U.S amplified his ‘foreign policy’ as a successful one. The long ‘to do’ list included the most prominent volition of ‘spending less’ on ‘war’ and ‘investing more’ in ‘nation-building’. A dignified end to war in Afghanistan in near future, getting rid of Osama Bin Laden, putting Al Qaeda on the road that is leading to defeat and the promotion of democratic values was used as a persuasive force to endorse his existing policies. The democratic rhetoric of ‘fairness’, ‘equality of opportunity’, ‘promotion of democracy’, ‘gender equity’, missed out the billows of ‘Arab spring’ (which is an insatiable aspirant of ‘democracy’).

Little had been mentioned about the political transitions burbling in the Arab world. The ‘Arab Spring’ and the myriad ‘liberal protesters’ of Middle East are intertwined with the U.S foreign policy. The initial focal point of Obama’s policy with regards to Middle East was the resolution of ‘Arab-Israel’ conflict. Compared with its predecessor, the Obama administration placed negligible emphasis on promoting democracy abroad. The administration’s priority, instead, was strengthening government-to-government relations, something that Obama administration officials felt had suffered unnecessarily under the Bush administration. The common thread throughout the statements and speeches of Obama and his senior advisers, till 2011, was the target to achieve institutional reform, economic development, and poverty alleviation first, and free and fair elections later. In other words, ‘democracy promotion’ was a secondary motive followed by ‘dignity promotion’. The reasons can be various, from the preservation of the U.S interests in the region to the fear of ‘rapid’, ‘untidy democratisation ‘ of the Arab World. Contrary to the administration’s desired policy, Arab uprisings, pushed it to a position where it had no other choice than to purport the struggles of ‘freedom’ and ‘self-determination’.

President Obama had to celebrate the triumph of protesters calling for change in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. On the other hand, Obama’s move to celebrate along with the pioneers of ‘Arab Spring’ was considered an ‘ominous sign’ by the monarchs of Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Obama was seen by the Kings as an instigator, who is backing protests around the Arab world. To ensure support of Washington’s allies in the region, people of Bahrain were deprived of their right to become the creators of their destiny. Leaders in some parts of the Middle East weren’t compelled to give up their dictatorial pursuits like Colonel Muammar Qaddafi and Bashar al-Assad. The United States tried to reassure Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and other allies that it stood behind them. Obama’s apparent success in Libya was neutralized by the volatile situation in Syria. The chorus which demands for a democratic dispensation in which people’s voice synchronises with that of the rulers is swelling up in the Middle East. This is likely to continue regardless of who wins the next presidential elections in the U.S.

The region yearning for democracy (the belt running from Tunisia through Libya to Egypt) has already established an unprecedented example for the Arab world to follow. The new regime of Jibril in Libya will look towards Tunisia and develop links with the recovered Tunisian economy. Secular-minded liberals will have to adjust with the Islamists in Egypt, which is likely to rise as the most organized example of ‘democratic switch over’. With Muslim Brotherhood leading a compromise with the secular way of life, an appeal of extreme Islamists such as Al – Qaeda will also fade away from the Arab world. Morsi’s idea of ‘United States of Islam’ is a difficult, yet attainable target. Furthermore, upheavals will continue in other parts like Algeria, which won’t be impervious to resentful calls for change. Royals of Jordan and Morocco will be pushed by their subjects to expand the operational premises of politics within their respective regions. The iridescent, oil-rich Gulf will also be swayed by the demand for democracy. United Arab Emirates and Qatar can manage to hold back their people. However, an increased number of young educated Arabs will question their rulers that ‘why democracy is being denied by them at home’, while support is being granted to it in regions like Libya. Saudi Arabia, the giant of the Gulf will also find it difficult to satisfy the impatient and well-informed, mobilized middle class. The only solution to sustain the kingdom will be to bequeath power to a younger generation. Religion-driven conflicts, a characteristic feature of Middle East politics, will also join the bandwagon of ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’.

Whether Obama or Romney, both of them will have to attend to the inconsistent developments in the political arena of Middle East. The resonance of discord and dissent cannot be bottled for the sake of Republicans or Democrats. A recent study of Global Attitudes by Pew Research Center concluded that; most Muslims want democracy, personal freedoms, and Islam in political life, while few believe that the U.S backs democracy. Support for an institutionalized democracy and a re-orientation of the U.S foreign policy in order to negotiate with the Islamists is pertinent. Democratisation of the Arab world has turned the tables over, now, what Arabs ‘want’ carries more weight as compared to what governments have to ‘do’.

The verbal content of this post was originally published in the October (2012) issue of Jahangir’s World Times.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in International Affairs

 

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