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Title: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War
Source: Independent Institute
URL Source: http://www.independent.org/events/transcript.asp?id=70
Published: Sep 21, 2018
Author: John MacArthur
Post Date: 2018-09-21 07:23:16 by CZ82
Keywords: None
Views: 102

Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War October 7, 1993 John R. MacArthur

Contents •Introductory Remarks by David Theroux •John R. MacArthur •Questions and Answers

Introduction David Theroux President, The Independent Institute:

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is David Theroux, I am the president of The Independent Institute, and I am delighted to welcome you to our Independent Policy Forum program today.

As many of you know, the Institute regularly sponsors programs featuring outstanding experts to address major social, economic, and foreign policy issues, especially as they may relate to important new books. And, today is certainly no exception.

For those of you new to the Institute, you will find background information on our program in the packet at your seat. The Independent Institute is a non-profit, non-politicized, scholarly research and educational organization which sponsors comprehensive studies of critical public issues. The Institute’s program adheres to the highest standards of independent inquiry, and the resulting studies are widely distributed as books and other publications, and are publicly debated through numerous conferences and media programs, such as in our forum today. Our purpose is a Jeffersonian one of seeking the truth regarding the impact of government policies, and not necessarily to just tell people what they might want to hear. In so doing, we will not take the public pronouncements of government officials at face value, nor the conventional wisdom over serious public problems. Hence, we invite your involvement, but be prepared for new and challenging perspectives.

Neither seeking nor accepting government funding, the Institute draws its support from a diverse range of foundations, businesses, and individuals, and we invite you to join with us as a tax-deductible Independent Institute Associate Member. Also in your packet, you will find information on the benefits in becoming a Member including receipt of a free copy of our new, widely acclaimed, iconoclastic book on unemployment and the economy, Out of Work, by Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway. In addition, many of you may be interested in our book, Arms, Politics and the Economy, an in-depth critique of the defense establishment, especially in our post-Cold War era. Your packet should have an Independent Briefing on the book.

Our program today could not be more timely. Despite this week’s congressional clamor for withdrawal, an increasingly bloody, escalating intervention in Somalia is showing that the use of military intervention by the Clinton administration, like the Bush administration before it, is likely to continue to be a common feature of American foreign policy. Today, we have learned that an additional 5,000 plus troops with heavy weapons will now be sent to Somalia for “non-military purposes.” But will the Clinton administration like the Bush administration allow the military to keep American journalists from doing their jobs if the shooting starts and American forces take increased casualties? Will the Clinton administration seek to limit the role of the press as was done in the Gulf War to that of glorified government stenographers should its interventions turn bloody, as has already happened with the Somalia expedition?

Furthermore, what happens when government goes unchallenged, and when questions regarding present and proposed domestic and international policies go unasked? To understand how government officials may seek to shift and control public opinion, our speaker today has found understanding the precedents set during the war against Saddam Hussein to be most insightful.

In his presentation, our speaker will draw upon his widely-acclaimed book, Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War, to scrutinize the government’s campaign to tightly control the American media during Operation Desert Storm, policies that can be traced through decades of press-government relations, including that developed in the military operations in Grenada and Panama.

In his talk, our speaker will detail behind-the-scenes activities during Operation Desert Storm by the U.S. and Kuwaiti governments as well as the media’s being co-opted while its rights to observe, question, and report were heavily restricted far beyond any needs to protect American lives. As a result, from Left to Right, there resulted a virtual and complete cave-in by the media over the events, politics, and simple facts during the Gulf Crisis. For example, as reported in September’s issue of Washington Monthly, within minutes after a Norman Schwarzkopf Gulf War briefing in which the General showed the press an Air Force film that he said depicted the destruction of seven Iraqi Scud missiles, he was told that the CIA believed that they were oil tanker trucks, not Scuds. The General never corrected the record, and in a House Armed Services committee report recently released, it states “a postwar review of photographs cannot produce even a single confirmed kill of a Scud missile.”

In a similar vein, where the General claimed that Iraq had 623,000 soldiers in the Kuwaiti theater, postwar Army estimates put Iraqi strength at roughly 300,000, and the House committee report puts the figure at 183,000. The Allies, meanwhile, had a total of 700,000 troops.

It has been said that truth is the first casualty of war, and the history of war-making certainly bears this out. History has indeed been largely written by the victors, and anyone familiar with the Bayeux Tapestry of William the Conqueror knows the lengths to which a State will go to justify war atrocities. And in the American experience, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, and the wars in Korea and Vietnam all depended upon extensive government propaganda campaigns. The World War I journalist Randolph Bourne correctly stated that “War is the Health of the State,” and it is to counter this total power that a free, independent, non-governmental press is so crucial.

Our speaker today could not be better qualified or more incisive in addressing the pressing civil liberties questions we face. In addition, he was strongly influenced by the late Walter Karp, whose work on journalism and war has scarcely been equaled. Rick MacArthur is in the investigative and muck-racking journalistic tradition of both H. L. Mencken and I. F. Stone.

He is the publisher of Harper’s Magazine. His book, Second Front, was selected by The New York Times Book Review Committee as “One of the Notable Books of the Year.”

Before joining Harper’s, Mr. MacArthur was assistant foreign editor for United Press International, and he has been a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, Bergen Record, Washington Star, and The Wall Street Journal. In 1986, Mr. MacArthur co-founded Article 19, the International Centre on Censorship, which is based in London.

Mr. MacArthur holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Columbia University, and he is a fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities and a director of the Author’s Guild and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

I am very pleased to introduce him now to speak on “Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War: How Government Can Mold Public Opinion,” after which he will be happy to answer your questions. May I present John MacArthur.

Rest of the article is at the link: http://www.independent.org/events/transcript.asp?id=70


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