The Reality Behind the Disinformation and Propaganda of American Wars

American Wars: Illusions & Realities
Edited by Paul Buchheit
Paperback: 192 pages
(Published by Clarity Press, 2008)
ISBN: 978-0-932863-56-0

In American Wars: Illusions & Realities, editor Paul Buchheit exposes the disinformation and propaganda of US warmongers and replaces it with the reality. The book begins with two photos that vividly illustrate this illusion and reality. The one propagandizing photo shows a occupation soldier, apparently, caring for a child with the caption: “She’s glad he’s there. Are you?”

Republican party propaganda poster

The Daily Kos website criticized graphic artist Linda Eddy for her manipulation of a photo taken by Reuters photographer Damir Sagolj. The “she,” in fact, was a he who was “decidedly un-glad about what had just happened.”

Sagolj made this clear in an interview to the Slovenian magazine Mladina:

This photograph of the child was taken out of context and published on the covers and front pages of American national and local media, as if to say, see how our soldier tenderly holds an Iraqi child in his arms. I got a phone call from People, the largest American magazine, with a circulation of 22 million. They wanted to know whether this American soldier had any children of his own, what he was feeling at the time, and so on. They weren’t interested in what had happened to the child in the picture, whose mother had been killed and whose father had been riddled with bullets by Americansoldiers [sic].

The other photo captures starkly the horror and carnage of war. Unfortunately, Bucheit left the victims nameless.

The Eyeballing the Iraq Kill and Maim website informs its readership:

What the corporate media does not want the public to see.

9-year-old Ibtihal Jassem is rescued by her uncle Jaber Jouda, in Basra, Iraq, in this photo dated Saturday March 22, 2003, after the bombing of the Mshan neighbourhood by coalition warplanes. Born deaf and mute, Jassem not only lost her right leg in the U.S. bombing of Basra two days after the war in Iraq began, but also all seven members of her family…

(AP Photo/Nabil El Jourana)

Iraq is only the latest in a series of United States aggressions, of which Buchheit provides a historical overview. He describes the US role as a merchant of death and identifies the motivation for fighting wars as profit.

The US history of serial aggressions led Buchheit to ponder the notion of the American public’s culpability for the warring: “Other nations can’t understand why we, as determined advocates of democracy, don’t rein in our government, and they suspect that we either support the combative behavior of our leaders or that we simply don’t care.”

Human rights activist Judi Nitsch writes on the skewed media presentation toward pro-war views and on the police state-like crackdowns on dissent. President George W. Bush, obviously, has not heeded the words of former president John F. Kennedy: “Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent revolution inevitable.”

Joshua Holland and Raed Jarrar point out that the Iraqi resistance has made many proposals for a comprehensive peace, all rejected by the US occupiers — something unknown to most people reliant on the corporate press.

Anup Shah contends, however, that the corporate media is not the problem, rather it is the concentration of media ownership that marginalizes socio-political views outside the ownership’s interests. Even though the responsible regulatory agency, the Federal Communications Commission, realizes this, the FCC does not admit it, writes Shah.

Another problem he describes is the commercial-military influence over the media. The result, according to Shah, is spin, propaganda, and disinformation.

Maureen Dolan writes that war is not inevitable (Buchheit concurs, noting that war is not intrinsic to all humans), and it impacts negatively on society in economic, cultural, environmental, social, political and spiritual spheres.

Jesu Estrada charges that militarism widens the wealth gap between the haves and have-nots.

Tod Ensign encapsulates the disregard shown veteran soldiers by US administrations — something expanded upon by Rick Anderson in Home Front: The Government’s War on Soldiers. (see review)

Sherwood Ross examines a toxic legacy where growing evidence implicates depleted uranium as the culprit.

Ghada Talhani, professor of Middle East politics, looks at the US-Israeli oppression of Palestinians and argues for the right to resist. Talhani also makes the argument that distinguishes acts of terrorism from the legitimate struggle of a resistance movement.

Biased as the coverage is, violence in Israel, Palestine, and Iraq do receive media attention. Conversely, the western corporate involvement in the genociding of Congolese is less known. Maurice Carney writes, “Congo is the quintessential example on the African continent of how conflict is used to benefit a coterie of elites within and outside the country.” Plus ca change, plus ce la meme chose. Little has changed since Joseph Conrad penned Heart of Darkness and An Outpost of Progress.

Vietnam Veterans Against War activist member Amy Meyers looks at military recruitment practices and promises. She says only 10 percent of enlistees sought out enlistment themselves. She cautions that there are many pitfalls and a potential enlistee should think hard before entering the military.

In the book’s final essay, historian Howard Zinn urges people to show appropriate skepticism toward authorities.

If the fog of war were lifted, if people really knew what war is about, the warmongers — it could be reasoned — would lose much support to the anti-war movement. War is not in the people’s interest. People need to inform themselves. American Wars features essays from 20 contributors that cut through the disinformation surrounding war.

Kim Petersen is an independent writer. He can be emailed at: kimohp at Read other articles by Kim.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozhidar balkas said on June 4th, 2008 at 1:34pm #

    to me, one of the most basic questions we could ask ourseleves would be, Can an empire like US, UK, China, Russia wage wars,ie, be aggressor based on truth?
    had any war by UK, Fance, germany, russia, US been waged based on truth?
    haven’t all US et al wars been waged based on lies, greeed, delusions, illusions, hatred, supremacism, anger, lust for power/control, halftruths, predictions, demonization/belittlement of chosen enemies, evocation of perils, etc.?
    perhaps not all of these causative factors may be present in every war but most are in each of the imperial wars i know of..
    i do not know whether mns of us who protested in early ’03 or late ’02
    comming US aggression against iraq thought the way i have; some may been politically motivated.
    i realized that the proest would not prevent iraq invasion. but i had to say and i’m still saying, Not in my name!
    thank u.

  2. Brian Koontz said on June 4th, 2008 at 7:06pm #

    The ruling class will always use lies – the ruling class is always unaccountable, and thus there is no downside to lies. When the ruling class is powerful enough to render the other classes forgetful, negligent, or ignorant, the lies increase in frequency and scope.

    The left has said much on the disinformation surrounding the Iraq War, but disinformation, deceit, and abuse are perpetrated every minute of every day by the elite. Take a look at television, where Holier-than-thou Judge shows berate the working class and tell them how to live, “truth” shows humiliate guests, exposing their private lives, “reality TV” shows are ugly banal farces, media moguls like Tyra Banks and Oprah sing praises to wealth and power, insipid soap operas treat every moment with the utmost gravity, talk shows like Maury Povich pay people (which the capitalist system rendered poor in the first place) to degrade themselves, the list goes on and on. That’s just TV. Radio displays the same degrading dynamics, illustrated by monsters such as Rush Limbaugh. The educational system is controlled by the state with the expected warped results – leading to a reality where the only way to get an education is outside the “educational system” itself.

    The left would have one believe that the only problem with the elite is during wartime, but it’s during every second of every day. Their machinations, their insanity, their abuse, knows no end and always serves their insatiable appetite for wealth and power, at any cost, at all costs, no matter the cost, to the world and to the rest of humanity. Monsters like Tyra Banks, Rush Limbaugh, and Dick Cheney are not anomalies, they are the norm for the ruling class.

    It’s time to stop paying.

  3. bozhidar balkas said on June 5th, 2008 at 6:11am #

    brian koontz,
    clerico-politico-econo-military class (the ruling class) had been lying to us (the subjects or subjugated ones) for at least 15td yrs.
    ur peace illustrates this fact.
    the reason i hyphenate priestly, political, economic, and military class or order, is because in reality these four orders of life r mere aspects of one reality.
    it is this class, the ‘elite’ (scoundrels) that controls cia, fbi, city police, education, advertsing, money, economy, religion, media the four houses: WH, senate, house of reps, and the house of horrors (world) thank u
    to make matters worse for us, oppressed ones (mentally/physically), probably 90% of amers may vote for these scoundrels. thank u

  4. sheldub said on June 6th, 2008 at 2:04pm #

    so when do thier heads start to roll?
    im tired of being fed lies
    are you?…

  5. Brian Koontz said on June 6th, 2008 at 10:00pm #

    Other than bringing smiles to our faces, there’s no point in “the rolling of heads”, because the structures will just replace their heads and their bodies with others. We need to dismantle and replace the structures that support the bodies that fill the structures – seizing political power from Washington D.C. and spreading it among the American people is a good structural change. Establishing “no capitalism zones” where different economic, social, cultural, and political rules apply, is a good structural change.

    Before any of that can happen, we need two things – education and organization. Websites like this one are part of education – as far as organization goes however the United States is atrociously lacking. Build it and they will come.

    Here’s a definition of democracy I’ve never heard spoken in America – democracy is equal political *power* for all citizens. How democratic a society is is determined by how distributed the political power is within the citizenry. Using that definition America is a horrible democracy – in America political power is largely based on wealth, and wealth is vastly unequal.

  6. hp said on June 7th, 2008 at 8:27am #

    “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it, good and hard.”

  7. Keter Darker said on June 10th, 2008 at 10:45am #

    the ideal of 18th century republicanism as the foundation to our modern form of american democratic republic governing body is an antiquated and baseless ideology of white/european male entitlement and privilege.
    the reality of this situation is not behind the disinformation propagated, or american imperialist propaganda.
    but indeed it is right in front of every person that participates willing within a corrupt political system. a corrupt political institution since its inception, where the principle terms are not fully understood by voting particpants. But most importantly due to this fact the authority has every ability and in their mind justication to brake the social contract that is the united states constitution.
    What we all have to see is that the myth of america is a lie, first and foremost. by its own language and terms every politicians was then and is now in breach of a social lockean contract. ironically lockean rights theory, which substaniates their very concept and belief of white euorpean males and the masters of the earth also stresses HUMAN RIGHTS.
    Which are not given by anyone or authority but is the state that “man” finds himself in nature with liberty to act independently and dispose of their property as they see fit.
    The question isn’t of whether there is a conspiracy against the people unless you’ve removed yourself from the people and don’t know their predicament. living consciously aware or not of this fact and the inherent privilege and entitlement therein.
    For the indigenous people of this land and Africans that were enslaved our entire existence has been misinformation. what liberals or conservatives know of our situtation is ergo susceptible to false truth values no matter how well their logic is formed.
    and as such this and this alone is the problem, those who are under the social definition of “white” don’t question their “whiteness” as they {white/europeans males} historically never have been held accountable for their actions and crimes against humanity.
    the question when considered by those directly affected by america and marginalized by american social policies is the same question ironically plato and socrates asked.
    What is the value of democracy?
    in plato’s republic we know the answer is that democracy is a cancer upon a society due in part to the possibility of unlimited liberties.
    so what is the answer?
    the questioning of “whiteness” as a western social construct and those who are “white” must face the burden of guilt.
    whether your family owned slaves or not. whether you are an immigrant from europe, asia, latin america, or african. if you participate in this system believing in the fabled “American Dream” of gold roads, apple pie and milk you are a quintessential varible. more so than any misinformation and war propaganda. because in order for those actions to work people must first choose to be uncritical thinkers.
    when you consider the process of american social assimilation you must concede to the concept of what “whiteness” is in america, and the privileges and entitlement guaranteed those whom willingly choose to be ignorant due to ill critical thinking, false beliefs and diminished human rights values. And yet live off of the burden of people who aren’t removed from imperialism but are the very cogs that make this machine move.
    I mean who is really going to war? Young Blacks and Latinos the very counterpart to the children soldiers around the world living and dying for nationalism.
    Proper Education Always Corrects Errors,