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Sanitizing war?

  1. Feb 26, 2007 #1
    I'm likely a bit long of tooth compared to many here, but I have a few early and jumbled memories of the Viet Nam war. There were two turning points iirc, the reporting of the My Lai massacre: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lai_massacre

    And, of course, the unforgettable Life Magazine image of the screaming naked girl having just been nepalmed.

    Where is this footage today? What brought this to my attention was:

    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20070224/iraq_poll_070224/20070224?hub=World

    Lancet journal looked into this in a stsyematic fashion by polling survivors and found the number in excess of 100K. This appears to be a fair review:

    http://www.thelancet.com/webfiles/images/journals/lancet/s0140673606694919.pdf

    I must admit I don't watch TV much, but sure seems like there's no coverage of the dark side. Old news I know, but no less relevant as GWB wants to crank up the heat.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2007 #2

    turbo

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    There is a disturbing tendency in the reporting. Atrocities tend to be leaked out in the past tense, lending them some distance, and images of casualties are routinely of anonymous male Iraqis blown up by bombs, etc. How many times have you seen any US-approved news feed showing a female US soldier with her legs blown off, or with a severe head wound? How about an Iraqi toddler cut in two by small arms fire? Horrendous injuries and gruesome deaths occur every day in Iraq, but you're not going to see them on US TV.
     
  4. Feb 26, 2007 #3

    russ_watters

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    How long, exactly, did it take for news of Mai Lai to break?
    Now, see, that's just plain not true. Go to the front page of any major news source today and you'll likelly see reporting of the day's civilian deaths. Today's story: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2007-02-26-car-bomb_x.htm

    Yesterday's story was bigger: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2007-02-25-iraq-analysis_x.htm

    Now the fact of the matter is that there has been a number of individual crimes committed by US troops and they have been widely reported, but none of them come anywhere close to the scale of Mai Lai.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2007
  5. Feb 26, 2007 #4

    turbo

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    I took at least a year before enough of the story got to civilian levels of the government to prompt an investigation - all the time the military was covering it up. Similarly, the Abu Ghraib prison story didn't break until the perpetrators of the torture had already rotated out of duty and were replaced in part by members of the 152nd Field Artillery from here in Maine, who had to explain to their families that they were not the creeps who covered prisoners with urine and excrement, sodomized them, beat them, and subjected them to mock executions as well as some very real deaths.

    Yes, you will see estimates of Iraqi deaths and you'll see a quick shot or two of some wounded guy being lugged off on a stretcher, but the sheer enormity of the conflict is downplayed. Can you imagine the outcry if cops in NYC found an alley full of bodies, shot through the back of the head execution-style and bearing wounds from torture, often holes made by electric drills? This is not an uncommon occurrence in Iraq, so where is the coverage and where is our public sense of outrage? Is this humanitarian crisis not more important than where ANS's body will be buried? You wouldn't know it to watch the news.
     
  6. Feb 26, 2007 #5
    Maybe a few minutes of this on the nightly news might make a difference:
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article10907.htm

    Its argued that the press is just respecting our collective sensibilities by not showing the other face of war, just as they wouldn't show a gruesome motor vehicle accident. We might see the mangled cars, but like the photo from USA in Russ's link, we get a blood stain and not body parts. Whats hilarious of course is that people flock to the cinema to see Rambo, or maybe the more tastefully rendered Saving Private Ryan. TV is a wasteland of violence.

    What bothers me about this irony, is if we don't have the stomach to watch it, we sure as hell should not be commisioning others to do it. Or in another related area, if you can't take a tour of your local slaughter house, maybe shouldn't be eating beef. So long as they are just numbers, its abstract. Some estimates put the death toll from the UN sponsored sanctions in the decade prior to the invasion at a half million or more:
    http://www.globalissues.org/Geopolitics/MiddleEast/Iraq/Sanctions.asp
     
  7. Feb 26, 2007 #6

    Astronuc

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    Probably about 1 year. In 1968, the US was engaged in the Presidential campaign of 1968 - Nixon vs Humphrey (since Johnson decided not to run) - and My Lai was not an issue. The US was also reeling from the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 4, 1968) and Robert Kennedy (June 6, 1968). Later in the summer of '68, riots broke out in numerous cities due to racial tensions in those communities. There was the infamous riot in Chicago in conjunction with the Democratic National Convention. Then there was the 1968 Summer Olympics.
     
  8. Feb 26, 2007 #7
    OT, 68 was a bad year indeed. Heard Chris Hillman (bassist from the Byrds) discussing this yesterday on a local radio station as the beginning of the end and using as a metaphor--instead of the Monterey Pop festival, we had the mess at Altamont. I remember people taking up arms in Reno, NV cuz the blacks from LA were on the verge of coming over the mountains.... What a year indeed.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 26, 2007
  9. Feb 26, 2007 #8

    russ_watters

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    Ok, I thought I saw an implied difference. The title of the thread (yeah, I know, you aren't the op) certainly implies it.
    How, exactly, would you cover the "sheer enormity" except by running a daily cumulative tally of the deaths? That's not the way news works and it never has been. As the term "news" implies, news is new stories.
    As I showed, the coverage is there every day. As for the public sense of outrage... well, that's clearly out there as well. News is supposed to be impartial, but there are plenty of editorials and plenty of other things (protests, blogs, etc.) out there as well.

    Honestly, I'm not sure what you are looking for.
    That's what I figured. I thought I saw in the OP an implication that it broke faster than Iraq stories are breaking.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2007
  10. Feb 26, 2007 #9

    russ_watters

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    There is a difference between news and conspiracy theory. Sorry, but conspiracy theory is only ever news once (as a cultural phenomena, not for the content itself), as it was in Time Magazine once last year.

    I mean c'mon - a [Robert] Kennedy Assasination story? That's the conspiracy theory benchmark.
    Again, it has always been that way, and rightfully so. In a movie, everyone watching knows it isn't real. In a real life incident, it is out of a combination of respect and, yes, sensitivity that they don't show gruesome images.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2007
  11. Feb 26, 2007 #10

    turbo

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    This is a bit OT, but if the execs at CBS wanted to put a female face on the evening news, they should have left Couric on her puffy little morning show and staffed the anchor desk with a rotating contingent (depending on who was busy with field assignments) of Lara Logan, Trish Regan and Christiane Amanpour (hire her away from CNN) and give them free rein to send production teams to cover real hard news wherever it is breaking. These women are experienced and tough and can report with the best of them. That would have set CBS apart from the other networks and would have earned them some real market share. There are people like myself who like in-depth coverage of news, not just "he said, she said" sound bites from political hacks and courtroom coverage of dead rich bimbos. I think there are enough of us to make such an anchor line-up exceedingly popular.
     
  12. Feb 26, 2007 #11
    The Military sanitized the use of napalm in Iraq by using a technicality, napalm is jellied gasoline, they used jellied jet fuel.

    The whole Iraqi scene has been sanitized compared with Vietnam where the public saw both photos and film of the results of our actions.

    Fallujah was our greatest disgrace. We had a long running thread on Fallujah some time back. It was locked because some here were afraid to look at or for the truth.

    The thing about Fallujah that had botherd me the most was that people were found dead in their beds with no apparent sign of trauma. I had thought that the use of white phosphorus had in some way depleted the oxygen in buildings. I was wrong.

    The people were suffocated by the use of a weapon called SMAW NE, the NE standing for Novel Explosive. The weapon is essentially a shoulder fired rocket that fires a projectile containing a fuel bomb device that spreads fuel vapor and ignites it after it is inside a building.

    http://www.wired.com/news/conflict/0,2100,58094,00.html

    http://www.defensetech.org/archives/001944.html
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2007
  13. Feb 26, 2007 #12
    The internet provides anyone who's willing to look at such images with the chance anyway, I've seen some of them, and they are not for day time viewing.:bugeye: :eek:

    I think people have seen enough of the Iraq war to know it's a sucky situation, I tend to agree it's not necessary to show the real horror stories, but if you want to see them you can.

    I must admit though seeing the way geurillas take out the Arbrahams is a real eye opener, clever tactics there I suppose. So that's why they don't need AP rockets or ASM tank busters :/
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2007
  14. Feb 26, 2007 #13

    turbo

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    Thanks for the Internet. You can get foreign news feeds and there's always www.democracynow.org that provides in-depth coverage of the wars and the political machinations behind them. Democracy Now does it's best to invite spokespersons from opposite sides of arguments to talk about the issues, and it's not uncommon to see an Israeli official and a Palestinian official (foreign-office or ministerial rank, or noted scholars representing their sides) on the same show. Today, the head of an American-Iranian group was on the show explaining that Iran's president had offered negotiations with essentially everything on the table 4 years ago. The Swiss ambassador handed the offer to Nau, who delivered it to others, including Rove. To this day, Rice says she "never saw" the dispatch. The guest says that Iran was willing to put nuclear enrichment on the table, as well as stabilization tactics for Iraq, moderation of support for anti-Israeli groups, etc, etc. The link is here.

    http://www.democracynow.org/

     
  15. Feb 26, 2007 #14
    Amen to that, it's in large part because of the internet, that I take a more moderate stance, It's amazing just how wrong your media can be, even in my country where it's held to a very high standard, well in theory. Bias can creep in to all media, now with a newspaper you expect this and you can read between the biased lines, but TV news should be impartial IMO.

    My biggest revelation was the Israel should be wiped off the map fiasco from the New York Times, I still see this oft repeated and erroneous phrase even now, even though it's been thoroughly debunked.

    For anyone who isn't aware the translation in Farsi is as Astronuc showed us:

    http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/print.asp?ID=5866

    "The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time".


    Totally different from the popular view. Don't take your media at face value, even if they don't realise it they are subject to bias.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2007
  16. Feb 26, 2007 #15

    russ_watters

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    I actually agree - I think it is ok that that stuff is on the internet. It is, after all, history. And people can go looking for it if they want. But I also think it is right to not put it on tv.
     
  17. Feb 26, 2007 #16

    turbo

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    Wrong. It may be right to self-censor if the material is explicitly made available otherwise and reference is made to it, but to act as if the whole story (or even a balanced portion of a part of the story) is being told while substantial truths are buried is disingenuous at best, and is at least dishonest in the most generous view. The most even-handed assessment of the US administration's war against the Iraqi people cannot fail to note the many tens of thousands of Iraqi casualties, the lack of basic essentials, like accessible food, water, electricity, and sewage systems, etc. The Bush administration failed to provide even the most rudimentary planning for the after-invasion administration of Iraq and the US taxpayers will be paying the toll for decades, not to mention the death and suffering of the Iraqis who cannot afford to escape the hell that Bushco has made of their country.

    Millions of people have fled Iraq. Millions more cannot flee and will suffer and die for the sake of US dominance in an oil-rich region. Iraq had no WMDs, no nuclear enrichment programs, no Al Quaida cells, no connection to the 9-11 attacks, nor any of the other faked-up "reasons" that Bushco sold the invasion with. Now, Buscho are pumping up similar charges against Iran and are driving us toward war with Iran. These creeps are NOT conservatives! They are warmongering radicals, and they are willing to risk the health, wealth, reputation, and well-being of our country to advance their agenda of war, boost the profits of war-based industries, and diminish the rights of our citizens. Real conservatives do not support the agenda of the warmongering neo-cons, and it is time that the country recognized the difference! Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, et al, are not conservatives. They are radicals that foment war for the financial gain of their backers. Please Google on the words "Prescott Bush" "Carlyle" and "Nazi" to see if there are any historical parallels. The Bush family are not people you would break bread with unless you are without scruples.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2007
  18. Feb 26, 2007 #17

    russ_watters

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    Well, maybe we are talking about two different things, then. I'm talking about things like the beheddings and plain old body parts. To actually not show a story because it is objectionable would be wrong. But I don't think that's going on. I think you are looking for the news to actually be a constant political protest and that's just not what "news" is. Just be happy that it has a liberal bend to it. Imagine if every channel were Fox!
    Funny sentence. That's where we diverge.
    The dislike for Bush over the Iraq war I can handle. The conspiracy theory - rediculous, whether it is 9/11, Kennedy assasination, or the Bush-wants-to-take-over-the-world crap (or how 'bout the Clinton-wants-to-take-over-the-world crap?). That stuff is just plain stupid. Yah, Bush is a rich guy who invested in defense funds. That is surprising, why...? Yah, German companies worked for the Nazis. That doesn't keep people from driving "the people's car".
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2007
  19. Feb 27, 2007 #18
    I still disagree. Imagine a jury trial of a murder, there are almosst invariably photos of the victims. If the American public is to have an honest debate about the war, then it needs to have the images associated with war. If Johnnie and Sara need to be sent to their rooms, so be it. We get non-stop coverage for several days durig the "shock and awe" campaign with all our fancy guided weaponry--all very abstract, but then to avoid the "viet Nam factor" we get sanitized war coverage when things get close up and gritty strikes me as most hypocritical.
     
  20. Feb 27, 2007 #19

    russ_watters

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    Swearing and nudity are also not shown on tv. That's just the way it is and it always has been. Perhaps, now with the V-Chip being required on all tvs, that can be changed.
    People make [mostly wrong] comparisons to the Vietnam war quite often as well and direct criticisms are in the news on an almost daily basis. There is certainly no hypicrisy in the coverage - just the typical mild-liberal bend.

    Here's the most recent reference to the Vietnam war in USA Today (yesterday): http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-02-26-democrats-iraq_x.htm
    It doesn't exactly compare the wars, just discusses the war powers issues. Since most references seem to be backhanded (ie, referring to 'past mistakes'), it is tough to find them with a boolean search.

    This article (also yesterday) is about Democratic criticism of the war (yes, that gets almost daily coverage as well): http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-02-26-democrats-iraq_x.htm

    I like the part about failure (by the Democrats to change anything) being success. :uhh:
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2007
  21. Feb 27, 2007 #20
    Russ we really are on different planets--the myth of the liberal press. My friend, I know its a matter of perspective, but the press is anything but "liberal" in the US. :rofl:

    We could likely devote an entire thread to this subject alone, maybe you could give me an example....USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, the wire services, Newsweek, NY times, Wash Post, US News..., Fortune 500, Wall Street Journal, SF Chronicle? None of these come anywhere close to what I would consider a progressive viewpoint, much less liberal, but instead tend to be mealy mouthed, don't offend anyone too much, etc.

    Or maybe you could name some "liberals"--certainly not Clinton, not even Kennedy comes close to embracing what I would consider progressive. Dennis Kucinivich comes as close to an elected torch bearer as any in the congress or senate, and he's considered an outlander.

    I'm not criticizing your perspective whatsoever, only that the debate is so narrowly defined. We hear from crackpot rightests all the time, often on a daily basis on AM radio or like Bill O'Reilly, but rarely do we hear from anyone like Noam Chomsky, Arundati Roy (sp?), Gore Vidal, or any of a couple other dozen gifted speakers advocating an entirely different viewpoint. Its taboo.
    Heck I'd like to get subtitled Al Jazeera news--in some respects its more balanced than most anything we get in the US. (that is when we are not bombing their station). That aside, any of the international press, including the int'l CNN feeds (which is considered unfit for domestic coverage) is far broader than anything that sees the light of day here in the land of liberty and free press.

    Please check out this resource: http://www.fair.org/index.php

    Granted they have a "leftist" bias, but after listening to their critiques a few times, its hard to believe anymore in the liberal press myth. Oh and that reminds me the lather that folks got worked up over seeing Janet Jackson's tit, when 2/3rd's of the stuff on TV shows mayhem and death as the main course, really leaves me to wonder whether this coiuntry has lost its collective mind. I don't buy the defer to sensibilities in the service of respect or good taste; its a self serving argument for censorship.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2007
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