propoganda n.1. the organized promotion of certain information or allegations, to assist or damage the cause of a government or movement. 2. such informtion or allegations. [Italian] - propagandist n., adj.
No situation provides a better opportunity than war for the propoganda ministers and spindoctors to have a field day. The world is currently in a state of war. Propoganda is rife.
In times like these it is difficult to distinguish the reality of the situation from the newspaper reports and government speeches. Our supposedly democratic leaders 'manipulate' the truth and suppress unpleasant realities.
In World War Two, Lord Hawhaw broadcast Nazi propoganda, and Winston Churchill broadcast propoganda for the Allies. In the Gulf War we heard nothing of soldiers suffering and everything of their success. In this war, this 'War on Terror', we who are sitting at home behind our computer screens, can feel nothing of the real situation.
The attack on the World Trade Center, of course, is my topic. While America is just picking itself up and dusting itself off, and Afghanistan is being pressed into the dirt, and the UK is preparing itself for another press-conference, it is time to regain what little sanity this world has left and try and get things into perspective.
This, I will admit, is a biased account - I am a pacifist, and cannot stand this idea of killing strangers, but there is truth behind my spin.
The 'Western World' has declared a 'War on Terror'. This is its name for the mass-murders, having discarded the titles of 'War for Justice' and 'War for Democracy'. Yet what is war if it is not the infliction of terror, and what is terrorism if it is not freedom-fighting for what is considered as the wrong side? If this is a war protecting democratic principles, why was one British MP shouted down for suggesting parliamentary discussion and a vote before leaping into battle? This particular MP was then told:
'This isn't an issue of conscience. Issues of conscience are issues like abortion and fox-hunting. War isn't an issue of conference, it is government policy.'
With attitudes like this what hope does this world have?
One of the best forms of information for propoganda to twist and mangle are statistics. Statistics, as they say, can be made to say anything - but not only that, governments do not have a duty to reveal statistics; they can release some and supress others. That is why the Taleban claim huge civilian death tolls, and the West deny them. Neither side can be trusted. The story of 6000 dead in the World Trade Center is still circulating, but the figure is, in fact, now 2000, and is still falling. The figure for British Dead, which Tony Blair so eagerly released, was 500. What he has not told us is that this figure is now 150. However, 2000 lost is still tragedy, and we should not forget them as troops head in to murder more.
To end with one last statistic - 15 of the 18 hijackers on those ill-fated planes were Saudis. Yet the West is determined to cut terrorism off at its roots... in Afghanistan? Bin Laden's network does not have its base in Afghanistan, our governments know that. He operates in camps worldwide, from Kabul to Milton Keynes, from Barcelona to Edinburgh, from Johannesburg to Washington D.C. The West will not attack red-cross hospitals and warehouses in Saudi Arabia for fear of hitting oil-fields that are the source of their wealth. Instead they attack, in the manner of the playground bully, the smallest and weakest opponent. What we have to fear is that even the smallest and weakest opponent can be prone to seeing red, and acting with unexpected ferocity and force.
But instead of this, this debate and argument, what we must do is stand up and shout to prevent more death. Then again, what can we do? War is, after all, government policy.