Sunday, 16 December 2012

Summary - The War You Don't See

Summary - The War You Don't See:

Title: The War You Don't See.
First Release: December 13 2010.
Material Designation: DVD/Film.
Director: Alan LOWERY + John PILGER
Production Details: United Kingdom, Dartmouth Films.

Themes: Journalism, war, government control.

Summary of plot:

"The film begins with footage of an unreported July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike and black and white stills of the victims of the U.S. Occupation of Iraq. In his opening narration Pilger quotes World War I British Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s comment to Guardian editor C. P. Scott that, “If the people really knew the truth, the war would be stopped tomorrow.” He goes on to state that this film will draw on his own experience as a war correspondent to question the role of the media in conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Media historian Professor Stuart Ewen demonstrates how Edward Bernays’s use of fear to win US public support for the First World War set a precedent used in the build up to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. Former CIA analyst Professor Melvin Goodman states that part of the Pentagon’s almost 1 billion annual propaganda budget is used to manipulate the news. US Assist. Secretary of Defence Bryan Whitman states that most western media reports came from the 700 embedded reporters. Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather, former BBC world affairs reporter Rageh Omaar and former Observer journalist David Rose admit to not having done their jobs properly within this regard.

Independent journalist Dahr Jamail, supported by un-broadcast footage from independent filmmaker Mark Manning, reveals the massive unreported suffering of civilians. FAIR’s Steve Rendall relates the story of AP journalist Charles Hanley, whose January 2003 report debunking WMD sites in Iraq went unpublished, as an example of how independent journalism could have averted the war. Pilger confronts BBC Head of Newsgathering Fran Unsworth and ITV News Editor in Chief David Manion for their uncritical echoing of officials.

Public Interest Lawyers’ Phil Shiner details the unreported use of torture on Iraqi civilians such as the murdered Baha Mousa. Photographer Guy Smallman narrates the Granai airstrike which was played-down by the mainstream media in accordance with Edward S. Herman’s theory on unworthy victims. Pilger reports from the Armed Forces Memorial to show the extent of Britain’s unreported enduring imperial role in post-WWII peacetime, confirmed by historian Mark Curtis who believes that journalists could have prevented the war.

Former British Foreign Office diplomat Carne Ross testifies to the unreported suffering inflicted on Iraqi civilians by the post-Gulf War economic sanctions and bombing, which went unquestioned by journalists reliant on official information channels. Glasgow University Media Group’s Professor Greg Philo analyses the intimidation of journalists reporting of the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. Pilger confronts Unsworth and Manion over the Israeli propaganda which dominated BBC and ITV coverage of the Gaza flotilla raid.

Former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney dismisses US President Barack Obama, who has failed to withdraw from Iraq, authorised US military action in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, and approved the biggest military budget in history, as a war monger. WikiLeaks Editor in Chief Julian Assange puts money and money making by the military-industrial complex at the heart of the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Colombia and asserts that investigative journalists are viewed as the number one threat to these activities by the west.

Archive footage shows former U.S. soldier Ethan McCord narrating his discovery of two seriously wounded children in the aftermath of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike, which Whitman denies is one of a daily occurrences of such events in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pilger concludes in St Bride's Church, London, dedicating the film to the more than 300 journalists, including Sunday Mirror reporter Rupert Hamer, killed reporting the Iraq War in 2010 and quoting Claud Cockburn’s maxim “never believe anything until it’s officially denied” calls on his fellow journalists to be the voice of people not power."  [1]

Key points:

  • The toppling of the statue of Sudam Husane - of which was highly reported on by the media - was in fact orchestrated by and American Psyops officer. It was labelled a "media frenzy" to such an extent were there "almost as many reporters as Iraqis" It was a "made for TV moment"

  • America had taken ownership of Iraq with its media stunts, even in the form of Hollywood movies such as the Hurt Locker, which perpetuated the "...lone lunatic..." (An individual "...high on a country where the suffering of other people doesn't exist...") that was the quintessential American hero. This justified America's meddling for "...profit...oil...and for ownership of other people's resources..."

  • Viewers did not get sufficient accounts if the suffering of ordinary people; only the most daring of cameramen/reporters can provide the public with a voice.

  • Journalists who do not 'get along' with the military are often those who report the 'real news', such as the bombing of the Al Jazeero Arabic offices in Kabul, a direct targeting of such type of journalists.

  • The government would develop favouritism towards certain journalists who used their 'voice', they are awarded for this whilst those who do not are "...punished..."
  • Obama was a brand that offered success; he was voted in 2008 'Marketer of the year' above the likes of Nike.

Key quotes:

  • "...when you start using symbols that have been separated from their meaning...the facts don't matter anymore..."

  • "It's not up to me [the BBC] to make a judgement, we're there to report what they claim and hold them up for scrutiny..."

  • "...[concerning Britain invading Iraq] if journalists even had a slight interest in looking at the history.... they would have reported it in such a manner that the government would not have been able to get away with it."

  • "[Regarding journalists] They had very little chance to do anything other than accept our version of events and more or less relay it unedited to the public." - Carne Ross, British Foreign Office, 1989-2004.

Key words:

  • Public relations: Coined by Edwards BurnĂ©s, he wrote that it is "The intelligent manipulation of the masses is an invisible government that is the true ruling power in our (UK) country."
  • Embedded journalism: When journalism that has been instructed to attend (so not independently). In this case, it has been altered so all is seen is the point of view of the troops, not the views of the civilians who are on the wrong end of the attacks.
  • Stealth torture: Designed for the perfect democracy, people are blinded, deprived of food & water and receive verbal threats - none of which are in public knowledge.
My response:

The documentary has brought to my attention many... disturbing concepts. Chiefly, the government 'targeting' non-conforming journalistic companies who do not report what it deems view-able to the public is the most ominous. Following the FOX documentary, that purported that journalists control what we the public can see, it seems that these journalists' themselves are bring controlled by a higher power. But then are all of these controlled by 'big companies'? It is up for debate, but overall, the fifth movie reccomended by Mr. Williamson has revealed yet another facet of the media empire.

On another note, Obama as a brand? The constructivist poster do parallel adverts more than political campaigns. The palpable optimism of the catch-line "Hope" or "Change" are similar to company tag-lines such as Mc'Donalds' "I'm lovin it" or Nike's "Just do it"; they all elicit happiness or independence when in reality they offer only the opposite (obidience under one). 


[1] -'t_See#Synopsis (Accessed 17:36 16/12/12)

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