Media and Socio-Cultural Change
The 2003 Iraq War Did Not Take Place
Did the 2003 Iraq War take place? This question derived from Jean Baudrillard’s essay with the title ‘The Gulf War did not take place’ written in 1991 in response to the Gulf War (August 2, 1990 - February 28, 1991).
Baudrillard began his essay with a provocative statement “Since this war was won in advance, we will never know what it would have been like had it existed. We will never know what an Iraqi taking part with a chance of fighting would have been like. We will never know what an American taking part with a chance of being beaten would have been like” (Baudrillard, 2004). This bold paragraph prompts us ...view middle of the document...
The latest has created terror spectacle for worldwide audiences through the obsessively repetitive images, footages, and montages showing the airplane striking the twin towers on television also on the front page graphics of newspapers (Rodrigue, 2002). Kellner suggested media network in U.S. worked on creating the war hysteria framing while failed to provide a comprehensible report of the reasons that underlying the war. It is undoubtedly that terrorists have succeeded with their agenda in creating fear, terror and war spectacle in media.
As a response toward terrorists’ media spectacle, the Bush administration also worked on the media spectacle. It has been known that the use of war and military spectacle is part of U.S. administrations’ agenda to distract world attention from its domestic or international problems (Kellner, 2003). After the 9/11 tragedy, Bush promoted ‘the war against terrorism’ - the war between freedom and fear. Fear in this context referred to its symbolic other and enemy. At that time, Bush administration faced a difficult economic situation, one of the worst declines in U.S. History (Kellner, 2001, as cited in Kellner, 2003, p. 98), thus the 9/11 tragedy created an opportunity for Bush to reinstate his power in the political field and popularity. This could be understood as the fundamental reason of 2003 Iraq War, which till date seems to be based on groundless claims of Iraqi weapons programs. The war simply happened to secure his position in the re-election in the midst of failing economic situation. Bush began it with the ‘Axis of Evil’ term and he used this term to label Iraq, Iran and North Korea helping terrorism and developing weapons of mass destruction (BBC, 2002).
In 2008, the Center for Public Integrity study showed Bush and his administrations made 935 false statements about national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein within the two years period after the 9/11. These false statements were made to create public opinion and led the nation to the ‘false’ Iraq War. Press and journalists who did nothing critically for the media coverage amplified these false statements (Lewis & Reading-Smith, 2008). The media spectacle has been used as part of propaganda as well. The term propaganda used here could be referred to a well-known statement made by Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany (1933-1945), “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the state can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie” (as cited in Terry, 2008).
Mass media coverage was a tool for propaganda, sending the repeatedly message to the audiences, or we can say setting an inception which directs everyone’s point of view to a similar ‘goal’. In this way, media helps to construct and maintain reality by re-presenting particular meanings and understandings of ‘reality’ as the...