Written 618 pm Jan 22, 1991 by pegtribune in cdpmideast.forum THE MEDIA WAR By Jan McKemmi

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Written 6:18 pm Jan 22, 1991 by peg:tribune in cdp:mideast.forum THE MEDIA WAR By Jan McKemmish The old cliche that the first casualty of war is truth has been done the rounds in the current Gulf crisis. Australian journalists have been refused positions on the naval ships in the Gulf, on the grounds that there is no room for them and they have not been trained in chemical warfare protection. After pressure from the media Senator Robert Ray, Minister for Defence, said Australian journalists could reboard ships if the Navy approved. Senator Ray denied that he was using censorship but admitted in the Sydney Morning Herald that "we have the ability to censor anything that comes [off the ships]." Meanwhile on Australian TV screens each night a ratings war is taking place. Brian Henderson has been recalled from holidays to front Channel 9 news in this crucial hour. Channels 7 and 10 are advertising their Gulf coverage. Channel 2 has given over the Seven Thirty Report to The Gulf Report. The first of these publicly funded programs went to air on January 15, the same day large anti-war rallies took place around the country. So what `news' did Channel 2 give us? First a specialist in Arab affairs told us negotiations would not work. Then a somewhat bemused Chris Masters, prize winning journalist with a reputation for getting to the heart of things, moved a pointer over a map of the Middle East, telling us how the war will happen. Then there was a military type who had one of those dinky models of the Middle East, also expounding on how the war will happen. Apart from Chris Masters' one sentence conclusion that we must not forget that war is about people dying, the whole program looked and sounded like propaganda for the American war machine. The anti-war rallies did not get a mention. There was no argument against the war and no analysis of the relationship between war, diplomacy, propaganda and news. There seemed to be a studied effort not to discuss Australia's military and diplomatic commitment. Nowhere was it being said that Australian warships will attack Kuwait/Iraq or that the first strike would be a US/British operation. For this sort of information you had to go to SBS and the radio. There was something obscene about the TV media's gung-ho fixation on weapons and scenarios. The `news' consisted more and more of speculation, will it be a long or short war; how many casualties will there be; who has the superior air power, the most tanks, soldiers, rounds of ammunition, and the best technology. With radar and satellites and lasers the US forces know when an Iraqi soldier moves. Stealth bombers. The tone and style of these `discussions' is reminiscent of the newsreels of the 1940s. And there is a mechanical repetition of the argument that appeasement does not work (look at what happened with Hitler). The result is a closed case to the whole media presentation of the crisis and war. By the end of the week the Australian media had started to change its focus. A Channel 7 phone-in poll on Thursday evening elicited over 60,000 responses with 63% voting against the war. And public and political calls for the recall of parliament escalated. The Network for Peace and the Conflict Resolution Network presented a 10,000 signature petition to acting Foreign Affairs Minister Neil Blewett. asking for the recall of parliament. Opposition Leader John Hewson and National Party member Ian Sinclair took up the call and on Thursday morning Senator Ray, Minister for Defence, supported the recall of parliament. Perhaps he knew what was going to happen as he spoke. Within an hour the Pentagon had officially acknowledged that air attacks on Kuwait and Baghdad had begun. Bob Hawke announced the recall of Parliament for two days, it is in session as Tribune goes to press. The media has got its war, let us hope that the debate on Australia's role and the campaigns for peace in the Gulf, only just begun, do not go unreported or become silenced by the live-to-air excitement of people dying. Spokesperson Bob Boughton said last week that the people of Alice Springs are particularly concerned, "not only do we have a military personnel in the Gulf, but perhaps more importantly, the US controlled spy bases at Pine Gap, Nurrungar and North West Cape are playing a vital role in the US war plans. Pine Gap is just out of our town, it will be assisting commanders in the Gulf to kill many people through the provision of battlefield intelligence. This makes a mockery of previous statements by the Australian government that the functions of these bases are to preserve peace." Women Against War In Sydney last Friday women and children dumped two containers of bones on the second floor on the UN offices as a protest against the UN decisison to use force to resolve the Gulf crisis. In support of their action Women against War said: "The UN opposed the invasion of East Time by Indonesia and did nothing. The UN opposed the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the West Bank and did nothing. The UN opposed the US invasions of Granada and Panama and did nothing. The UN found the US guilty of breaking Nicaragiuan sovreignty and did nothing." Greens (WA) Senator Jo Vallentine has called for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East and demanded that negotiations begin. End of text from cdp:mideast.forum Source: PeaceNet via The NY Transfer 718-448-2358 & 718-448-2683 --- [ This file has travelled through the Socialism OnLine! BBS at +1-719-392-7781, 24 hours, 300-9600 bps HST/MNP/V42bis, on its way to you, the reader of this file. 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