Friday, December 02, 2005

Politics Is Propaganda

There's an interesting article up on about the use of "propaganda" in Iraq.

Multimillion-dollar contracts cover paying Iraqi newspapers and journalists to get into print such stories about the war and the rebuilding effort...

The program came to light just as President Bush released his strategy for victory in Iraq. It includes the need to support a "free, independent and responsible Iraqi media."

Interesting stuff. I'm more concerned about the use of these tactics on our on soil, but the use of them in Iraq does raise some important questions, in my humble opinion.

1) Is a free press desirable in Iraq? After all, from what I'm able to understand (and, being a bear of very little brain, that ain't much) they sort of despise us there at the moment. Given the anti-American sentiment, and given the continued presence of our troops over there, a free press is pretty dangerous.

2) As a democracy, should we value a free press even when it will probably work against our own interests?

3) Bush's use of the word "responsible" is interesting. What is "responsible" journalism? Working under the current administration's own definitions, responsible journalism would most likely not include journalism that is critical of Those In Power.

4) By limiting or eliminating criticism, are we helping to create a free, independent and responsible media? Is it a regrettable but necessary interim step to push the positives in our agenda until we're out of there?


At 2:47 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

A couple of things.

And once again, not enough time to get into the ideas fully, but here are some initial thoughts:

For one, I think "propaganda" is generally maligned because we are used to thinking of propaganda as a tool of evil regimes. We often forget that the U.S. Government was heavily in the business of propaganda (both good and bad) during World War II.

Meanwhile, propaganda is defined as:
2 : the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person
3 : ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect

I have no problem with the spreading of ideas or facts that support one's successes. In fact, I think the failure to do so would be a grossly inept mistake. In the end, the struggle in Iraq is one of ideologies. Freedom, democracy, and liberty, vs. tyranny and opression. Even if the administration was supposed to be even-handed with itself (and I do not see why it should), it should certainly be allowed to attempt to advance its own agenda. The other side is.

Meanwhile, I think the suggestion that these sorts of actions undermine a free, independant, and responsible media suggests a false premise - that there is a free, independant and responsible media. The media, like the government, while not monolithic, has an agenda of its own. What they choose to report and what they choose to omit is laden with agenda driven directives.

"The media" did not care for Howard Dean. His "scream" became a melt-down. I saw his scream. It frankly, while not a high moment in his campaign, should hardly have been the nail in his campaign coffin. But that's all we heard for a while.


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