donderdag, april 10, 2003

Why Americans Support Invasion of Iraq

For weeks now, since the Gallup polls showing 70% of Americans supporting the war effort were first released, Desultory Turgescence has been puzzled about why Americans support a war that such a vast majority of the world around them doesn't support. Perhaps even more incomprehensible was the fact that nearly four-fifths of Americans said they believed the Bush administration contention that Iraq has ties to the Al Qaeda terrorist network even though there was never any evidence to support this contention, and three-fifths believed that Saddam Hussein was at least somewhat responsible for the terrorist attacks on New York and DC on September 11th, 2001, a charge even the Bush administration has not made.

Desultory Turgescence, in the time since, has come to understand this strange phenomenon and explains its source by considering the following three factors:

American Illiteracy: The National Institute for Literacy reports there has been a significant growth in illiteracy in America. Over 90 million US adults, nearly one out of two, are functionally illiterate or near illiterate, without the minimum skills required in a modern society. It further reports that out of 191 million adults in the US, as many as 44 million cannot read a newspaper or fill out a job application. Another 50 million more cannot read or comprehend above the eighth grade level.

American Media Bias: The Los Angeles Times reports their poll of Americans showed that nearly seven in 10 Americans are tuning into cable news shows for their coverage of the war, followed by newspapers at a distant second (30%).

Electronic Iraq, launched by veteran antiwar campaigners Voices in the Wilderness and respected Middle East supplementary news publishers, the Electronic Intifada opines that another difference between television in the U.S. and elsewhere has been coverage of Iraqi casualties. Despite constant discussion of "precision bombing," the U.S. invasion has produced so many dead and wounded that Iraqi hospitals stopped trying to count. Red Cross officials have labeled the level of casualties "incredible," describing "dozens of totally dismembered dead bodies of women and children" delivered by truck to hospitals. Cluster bombs, one of the most indiscriminate weapons in the modern arsenal, have been used by U.S. and U.K. forces, with the British defense minister explaining that mothers of Iraqi children killed would one day thank Britain for their use.

U.S. viewers see little of these consequences of war, which are common on television around the world and widely available to anyone with Internet access. Why does U.S. television have a different standard? CNN's Aaron Brown said the decisions are not based on politics. He acknowledged that such images accurately show the violence of war, but defended decisions to not air them; it's a matter of "taste," he said. Again, which choice tells the more complete truth?

Fox News ChannelThe obvious beneficiary of this is biased war viewing is the Fox News Channel which last year surpassed CNN to become the top-rated cable news network in the United States. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that American viewers are more than twice as likely to get their war information from cable than from network television. Fox News Channel was the week's highest rated cable network, 5.58 million viewers per night, an impressive increase over last week's average of 2.16 million.

According a recent New York Times article, "the war has underscored the difference between Fox News and its rivals more starkly than ever. From the start, the network displayed an American flag waving on its screen. Its newscasters speak of American and British troops as "we," "ours," and "liberators." After other networks reported setbacks to American and British forces, the Fox commentator Bill O'Reilly denounced its competitors as "liberal weenies" who were exaggerating the difficulties of the fight and underestimating the American public's tolerance for casualties."

Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, diplomatically notes that Fox's war coverage "lacks scepticism".

"Fox is so blatantly one-sided it is appalling," says Howard Rosenberg, the Pulitzer Prize-winning TV critic of the Los Angeles Times. "Every time I turn it on, someone is saying something evil about the [anti-war] protesters or being pro-Bush."

Desultory Turgescence maintains that Illiteracy, plus heavy reliance on cable television for news plus cable television news bias equals American support for the war.

If it is any consolation, it might make one feel better to see this website that asks the question: "What if Fox News were around during other historical events?" Thanks to Lying Media Bastards for this link.

From the Score Another Victory For the Brave Americans Department, following days of intense media speculation that Saddam Hussein had been killed in a "precision" attack Monday afternoon of carried out by a single B-1B bomber, with four precision-guided, 2,000-pound, bunker-penetrating bombs dropped on a restaurant after U.S. intelligence was tipped that the Iraqi president, sons Odai and Qusai and other top leaders might be meeting there, it does appear that while no one knows if Saddam is dead or alive, the precision strike was effective in killing many innocent civilians:

"A young woman's severed head and torso and a small boy's body were pulled Tuesday from a smoking crater carved into the earth by four U.S. bombs, so powerful they yanked orange trees from their roots. But there was no sign of the man those bombs were aimed at: Saddam Hussein.

For the second time in the war, coalition forces were wondering whether they'd gotten their man. One thing was all too clear, though: Once again, civilians had suffered.

When the broken body of the 20-year-old woman was brought out torso first, then the head her mother started crying uncontrollably, then collapsed. She was helped into a car by two male relatives.

Across the street from the crater, which lay amid the ruins of three houses, relatives squatted on the sidewalk and watched as rescue workers and volunteers, using a bulldozer and their bare hands, searched for their loved ones. Some wept; others just buried their faces in their hands.

By yesterday, for the second time since the onset of the invasion, U.S. officials withdrew from an initial CIA assessment that Saddam was killed in the attack. Ah, if only destroying statues and posters of Saddam Hussein was the same as killing Saddam Hussein, the war would actually be over instead of the continuing exposure of more innocent, "liberated" civilians to the plagues of invasion and war.

Iraqi civilians should recall the reassuring words of Donald Rumsfeld, who, if you go by the history of his recent statements, is the war planner when the war is going well and has nothing to do with the war plans when it is going badly, advised just after the onset of the invasion that

"The targeting capabilities and the care that goes into targeting, to see that the precise targets are struck, other targets are not struck, is as impressive as anything anyone could see -- the care that goes into it, the humanity that goes into it."

Imagine the lunacy and carelessness of an Administration that on one hand, promotes the illusion that "great care" goes into the precision striking of targets, then goes hog wild with the mere innuendo of the presence of Saddam and drops 2,000 bombs on innocent civilians instead.

According to Iraq Body Count civilian casualties have grown to a range of between 1100 and 1350. Iraqi authorities said last week that over 1,250 civilians have been killed in the war and more than 5,000 injured. But a more accurate, up-to-date count may not come for some time. Of course, the biased information of the Iraqi authorities isn't as accurate or truthful as American authorities who have only been wrong about killing Saddam twice in three weeks and have never provided any untruthful or misleading information to the American press or its literate society.

Regardless of whether or not you support the invasion of Iraq, as always, children are the ones who suffer most in acts of aggression and violence, and you should lend your support to them as well. Save The Children has begun spending the $4 million it received from the U.S. Agency for International Development for the relief effort in Iraq, but will need to raise as much as $30 million. The organization has established a new Iraq Children in Crisis Fund to allow contributors to target their donations specifically to help Iraqi victims of war. Save the Children is seeking support from a variety of sources to provide essential articles such as tents, blankets, fuel, medicine, food and water for war victims and to ensure the protection of displaced women and children.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is another organization with the experience and resources to help the victims of the invasion and would also welcome donations.

And please, Stay Away From Your Televisions!. Clearly, for the majority of Americans, it's become an impediment to rational thinking.

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