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From: "Elson Boles"
Subject: Propaganda or Fantasy Island?
Date sent: Fri, 21 Feb 2003 17:03:40 -0500

Decide for yourself. Propaganda is defined as "deceptive or distorted information that is systematically spread." Fantasy Island is an isolated retreat where dreams come true.

A Feb. 19, 2003 New York Times article on the split over policy toward Iraq between the US and nearly the entirety of the rest of the world is curiously titled, "Neither Side Yielding in Debate Over War With Iraq." But it is not the title that I have in mind, though it too qualifies with its impression that there are two sides in the debate that are roughly equal in size. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is rather a statement by Powell reported by the NYT that I have in mind: "'It cannot be a satisfactory solution for inspections just to continue forever because some nations are afraid of stepping up to the responsibility of imposing the will of the international community,' Mr. Powell said."

This statement is a textbook example of propaganda. Powell contends that "some" nations are opposed to the will of "the international community" for a war on Iraq. But this incredible view is the very opposite of reality as details of the article confirm. The international community, with very few exceptions (and even those are shifting), is opposed to the Bush Administration's plans for war. But the Bush hawks are deaf and blind, and they don't care.

For example, we learn in the same article that, "At United Nations headquarters in New York, diplomats from 32 countries that are not Security Council members offered their views today on dealing with Iraq. It was the second day of debate, and as with the first, virtually all speakers argued against war. Among the countries represented were Egypt, South Korea, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Canada."

Even Italy, the only Bush ally of political importance in Europe beside Britain, warned Bush that he is isolating the US: "Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who has been one of President Bush's strongest supporters, said today that he had recently spoken to Mr. Bush 'with candor and loyalty, as real friends do' and had 'invited him not to cultivate isolationism.' As many as three million antiwar protesters marched in Rome on Saturday. Afterward, Mr. Berlusconi insisted that military action against Iraq must be carried out under the auspices of the United Nations [that is, not at Bush's will]."

China and Russia are now even closer: "The official Chinese news agency Xinhua said that President Jiang Zemin of China and President Vladimir Putin of Russia spoke by phone today and agreed that conditions for the weapons inspectors in Iraq had improved, and that the Iraq situation should be resolved by peaceful means."

And "Switzerland announced that it had turned down an American request for military overflights in coming months, saying the request could not be approved unless military action was authorized by the United Nations."

The article goes on to note the impact of the global protests: "Marches by millions of antiwar protesters around the world last weekend greatly strengthened the opponents' positions. Overnight, some diplomats at the United Nations said that the United States and Britain would have to postpone introduction of a new Security Council resolution authorizing war because of Germany and France's implacable opposition, as well as the less determined but still consistent arguments against war by China and Russia."

And it wasn't France that held up Turkey's involvement. Rather, the US can't afford to buy off its Turkish ally as reported the same day in a New York Times article titled, "US is Pessimistic That Turks Will Accept Aid Deal On Iraq." Specifically, "The leader of Turkey's governing party said that the offer the White House described as "final" was not yet good enough."

Thus, when Powell suggests that the Bush Administration has the support of the "international community" he his is either knowingly propagandizing or referring to the Bush's administration's isolated Fantasy Island.

Elson Boles
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Sociology
Saginaw Valley State University
University Center
Saginaw MI, 48710