NetWar: Euro Media: The Other Losers in Iraq

Contents Letter From Paris

Contents Letter From Paris

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Euro Media: The Other Losers in Iraq

The people in Iraq were the big winners on their election last Sunday and the European media were among the obvious losers, along with Zarqawi and his suicide bombers.

Despite all the gloom-and-doom reporting about Iraq, and the (self-serving) calls to adjourn the election, it can now be argued that President Bush's strategy to stay the course worked beyond most people’s expectations, including my own. It will be ludicrous for anyone to insist, in the face of what happened on January 30, that they were against the Allied intervention ot of love and concern for the people in Iraq. Thanks to that intervention they were allowed to vote and vote they did.

Media coverage in Europe, with its implacable highlighting on violence and bad news out of Iraq, had suggested that the election was going to be a calamity. The terrorists were on the march, coalition troops couldn't provide security, and Iraqi forces weren’t willing or able to protect voters.

Happily enough, Iraqis who turned out to vote must not have been watching French or Spanish TV. If they had, they would have seen local pundits saying that the Iraqi election was not fully legitimate because some people from terrorist-infested areas might not go to the polls after all. It was another one demoralizing message after the other. They just sounded like they wanted the election in Iraq to fail someway, somehow, they wanted it to be an avengement of their rout, their embarrassment, in the US presidential election three months ago.

Iraqis must also not read Le Monde, which had mused about how the US administration had "foolishly" passed up opportunities to postpone the election. The Spanish press bluntly criticized Bush for "discrediting democracy" in the Middle East.

One day after the election, they all paid (very tight) lip service to the turnout that appeared that "may have exceeded the most optimistic predictions." For one day or so at least, because almost immediately, without the tally being even roughly estimated, they produced a new mantra about the election not being legitimate because of low turn-out in the Sunni areas of the country.

This remarkably stupid coverage won’t pay any tribute to the U.S. and allied troops –including a dozen or so Spaniards- who fought and died to make that triumph of democracy possible. Le Monde’s headline was telling of that repugnance to recognize that a success had taken place: “The relative success of the election etc.” Of course, there weren’t any French reporters in Iraq to describe how impressed they were by the Iraqi turnout. They were all safely covering the election from Amman from where they could remorselessly ignore the reality that was unfolding before their eyes (on the TV screens at the hotels).

The French and Spanish people are being misled by a substantial share of the local media. Before the election, Iraq was depicted as a hopeless case, and doomsday sayers mumbled about how insensible it was not to postpone (at the very least) the election. Now they stop short of saying that the millions of Iraqis who braved the terrorists’ threats were just paid actors who were out there to vote on orders to discredit Le Monde and El Pais.

But despite all their efforts, thanks to the Iraqi voter turnout the European public was given a breathtaking glimpse into the real situation on the ground. Into the truth, if you prefer. They may wonder why had this "other Iraq" been ignored for so long? Why had the news been so tilted in favor of the terrorists?

Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction weren’t found, but the election in Iraq makes it impossible to deny the reality of the US and its allies having freed the Iraqi people from tyranny. As undeniable as the worrying reality of an ideology driven unreliable Euro media. Now Europeans can see for themselves that the media were in fact misleading them about the real state of mind of the Iraqis.

The sixty-four-thousand-dollar questions Europeans should put to their media include:

  • Why didn’t you tell us that Iraqis wanted so badly a democratic government?

  • Why did you always focus on the death and destruction and never on the Iraqi craving for democratic freedom?

  • Why did you always put the emphasis on the terrorist "insurgents" and not the value of the mission to bring freedom to the people of Iraq?

Don't expect any answers from Euro media soon.

It's now obvious that the Iraqis could have put the very same questions to the very same people.

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Norman Geras's blog
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Una Temporada en el Infierno
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Location: Paris, France

I have been a journalist since I was 22. For a (long) while I worked as a reporter for the Swedish, Spanish (I was born in Spain) and American media, covering international affairs... After 1991 I recycled myself to the business press.

 A Must Read!
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the links to all the 6 chapters in PDF for FREE.

Contents (PDF)
Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Conceptual Outlines
Chapter Three: A World in Flux - Ripe for Netwar Chapter Four: Varieties of Netwar
Chapter Five: Challenges for U.S Policy and Organization
Chapter Six: Implications for U.S. Doctrine and Strategy

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