[News] The Crushing of Fallujah By James Petras

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Mon Nov 22 11:33:55 EST 2004



November 19, 2004


A New York Diary


The Crushing of Fallujah

By JAMES PETRAS

I am reading William Shirer's Berlin Diary, a journalist's account of Nazi 
political propaganda during the 1930's, as I watch the US 'news' reports of 
the violent assault on Fallujah. The US mass media 'reports', the style, 
content and especially the language echo their Nazi predecessor of 70 years 
ago to an uncanny degree. Coincidence? Of course! In both instances we have 
imperialist armies conquering countries, leveling cities and slaughtering 
civilians--and the mass media, private in form, state appendages in 
practice, disseminate the most outrageous lies, in defense and praise of 
the conquering 'storm troopers'--call them SS or Marines. Both in Nazi 
Germany and contemporary US, we are told by the mass media that the 
invading armies are "freeing the country" of "foreign fighters", "armed 
terrorists", who are preventing "the people" from going about their 
everyday lives. Yet we know that of the 1,000 prisoners there are only 4 
foreigners (3 Iranians and 1 Arab); Iraqi hospitals report less than 10% of 
foreign fighters. In other words over 90% of the fighters are Iraqis--most 
of who were born, educated, and raised families in the cities in which they 
are fighting.

Like the Nazi media, the major US radio and TV networks only report what 
they call "military casualties"--failing to report the civilians killed 
since the war started and the thousands of women and children killed and 
wounded since the assault of Fallujah began. Like in Nazi Germany, the US 
mass media feature unconfirmed reports by the US military of the bloody 
murders, beheadings and kidnapping "by the foreign terrorists". The 
unconditional support of Nazi/US mass media of the killing fields is best 
captured in their reports of the massive bombing of densely populated city 
districts. For the US network NBC, the dropping of 500-pound bombs in the 
city of Fallujah is described as targeting an "insurgent tunnel network in 
the city". And the houses, markets, stores--the mothers and children above 
those tunnels--vaporized into "pink mist". Their existence never 
acknowledged by the leading reporters and broadcasters.

Almost the entire population of non-Kurdish Iraq is opposed to the US 
military and its puppet regime--yet the media refer to the patriots 
defending their country from the imperial invaders as--'insurgents' 
minimizing the significance of a nation-wide patriotic liberation movement. 
One of the most surreal euphemisms is the constant reference to the 
'coalition forces'--meaning the US colonial conquerors and the mercenaries 
and satraps that they direct and control.

The terror bombing of homes, hospitals and religious buildings by hundreds 
of airplanes and helicopter gunships are described by the media as 
'securing the city for free elections'.

'Freeing the city of insurgents' includes the systematic murder of friends, 
neighbors and relatives of every Iraqi living in the city of Fallujah.

'Surrounding the insurgents' means cutting off water, electricity, medical 
aid for 200,000 civilians in the city and putting tens of thousands who 
fled under threat of a typhoid epidemic. 'Pacifying the city' involves 
turning it to absolute desolate poisoned rubble.

Why do Washington and the mass media resort to gross, systematic lying and 
euphemisms? Basically to reinforce mass support at home for mass murder in 
Iraq. The mass media fabricates a web of lies to secure a gloss of 
legitimacy for totalitarian methods in order that the US armed forces 
continue to destroy cities with impunity. The technique perfected by 
Goebbels in Germany and practiced in the US is to repeat lies and euphemism 
until they become accepted 'truths', and embedded in everyday language. The 
mass media by effectively routinizing a common language implicates the 
listeners. The tactical concerns of the Generals, the commanders directing 
the slaughter (pacification), and the soldiers murdering civilians are 
explained (and consumed by the millions listening and watching) by the 
unchallenged authorities to the compliant journalists and famous news 
anchors. The unity of purpose between the agents of mass murder and 
everyday US public is established via 'news reports': The soldiers 'paint 
the names' of their wives and sweethearts on the tanks and armored vehicles 
which destroy Iraqi families and turn Fallujah into ruins. Returning 
soldiers from Iraq are 'interviewed' who want to return to 'be with their 
platoon' and 'wipe out the terrorists'. Not all of US combat forces 
experienced the joys of shooting civilians. Medical studies report that one 
out of five returning soldiers are suffering from severe psychological 
trauma, no doubt from witnessing or participation in the mass killing of 
civilians. The family of one returned soldier, who recently committed 
suicide, reported that he constantly referred to his killing an unarmed 
child in the streets of Iraq--calling himself a 'murderer'. Aside from 
these notable exceptions, the mass propaganda media practice several 
techniques, which assuage the 'conscience' of US soldiers and civilians. 
One technique is 'role reversal' to attribute the crimes of the invading 
force to the victims: It is not the soldiers who cause destruction of 
cities and murder, but the Iraqi families who 'protect the terrorists' and 
"bring upon themselves the savage bombardment". The second technique is to 
only report US casualties from 'terrorist bombs'--to omit any mention of 
thousands of Iraqi civilian killed by US bombs and artillery. Both Nazi and 
US propaganda glorify the 'heroism', 'success' of their elite forces (the 
SS and the Marines)--in killing 'terrorists' or 'insurgents'--every dead 
civilian is counted as a 'suspected terrorist sympathizer'.

The US and German military have declared every civilian building a 
'storehouse' or 'hiding place' for 'terrorists'--hence the absolutely total 
disregard of all the Geneva laws of warfare. The US and Nazi practice of 
'total war' in which whole communities, neighborhoods and entire cities are 
collectively guilty of shielding 'wanted terrorists'--is of course the 
standard operating military procedure of the Israeli government.

The US publicizes the cruel and unusual punishment of Iraqi 'suspects' (any 
male between 14-60 years) taken prisoner: photos appear in Time and 
Newsweek of barefoot, blindfolded and bound young men led from their homes 
and pushed into trucks to be taken to 'exploitation centers' for 
interrogation. For many in the US public these pictures are part of the 
success story--they are told these are the 'terrorists' who would blow up 
American homes. For the majority who voted for Bush, the mass propaganda 
media has taught them to believe that the extermination of scores of 
thousands of Iraqi citizens is in their best interests: they can sleep 
sound, as long as 'our boys' kill them 'over there'.

Above all the mass propaganda media has done everything possible to deny 
Iraqi national consciousness. Everyday in every way the reference is to 
religious loyalties, ethnic identities, past political labels, 'tribal' and 
family clans. The purpose is to divide and conquer, and to present the 
world with a 'chaotic' Iraq in which the only coherent, stable force is the 
US colonial regime. The purpose of the savage colonial assaults and the 
political labeling is to destroy the idea of the Iraqi nation--and in its 
place to substitute a series of mini-entities run by imperial satraps 
obedient to Washington.

Sunday morning: November 14 .Today Fallujah is being raped and razed,captured
Wounded prisoners are shot in the mosques .In New York the mega malls are 
crowded with shoppers .

Sunday afternoon: the Marines have blocked food ,water,and medicine from 
entering Fallujah..Throughout the US millions of men sit in front of the 
television watching football.

Shirer reported that while the Nazis invaded and ravaged Belgium and bombed 
Rotterdam.,in Berlin the cafes were full,the symphony played and people 
walked their dogs in the park on sunny Sunday afternoons

Sunday night November 14, 2004, I turn on the television to 60 Minutes and 
watch a replay of Mike Wallace's 'interviews' with Yasser Arafat. Like all 
US mass media 'stars', he ignores the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and 
Sharon's murder of thousands of Palestinians, the military occupation of 
Palestine and the wanton destruction of Jenin and Gaza City. Wallace 
accuses Arafat of being a liar, a terrorist, of being corrupt and devious. 
Thirty million US households watch this ugly spectacle of a self-righteous 
Zionist apologist flaunting the 'Western ideals', which are so useful in 
razing cities, bombing hospitals and exterminating a nation.

Yes, there are differences between Shirer's account of Nazi propaganda in 
defense of the conquest of Europe and the US media's apology for the 
invasion of Iraq and Israel's slaughter of the Palestinians: One is 
committed in the name of the Fuehrer and the Fatherland, the other in the 
name of God and Democracy. Go tell that to the bloated corpses gnawed by 
dogs in the ruins of Fallujah.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New 
York, owns a 50 year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the 
landless and jobless in brazil and argentina and is co-author of 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1856499383/counterpunch>Globalization 
Unmasked (Zed). He can be reached at: 
<mailto:jpetras at binghamton.edu>jpetras at binghamton.edu




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