“We are supporting a democratic state”: Propaganda and the new Iraq War

“We are supporting a democratic state”: Propaganda and the new Iraq War
by Ian Sinclair
Morning Star
24 October 2014

We are in the middle of a propaganda war and you are the target.

To gain public support for bombing Iraq the Government has deployed a range of persuasive strategies, stretching from the extremely crude to the dangerously subtle. First the obvious ones. On Thursday 25 September – the day before the parliamentary vote to authorise the bombing campaign – police carried out a number of so-called anti-terrorist raids arresting nine people, including the well-known preacher Anjem Choudary. On the same day, news broke that the Iraqi Government had ‘credible’ intelligence Islamic State militants planned to launch attacks on the subway systems in Paris and New York City. Both scares, of course, have now been forgotten, though one can’t help think they served their purpose.

Like the ‘Heathrow terrorist plot’ in the run up to the 2003 Iraq War, the recent headline-grabbing announcements likely elicited deep scepticism in many people. However, the Government is also employing far more insidious and successful propaganda, much of which has seeped into and framed the media-driven narrative of the war. One such propaganda meme is the argument we are acting at the request of a “sovereign state” (David Cameron) and/or “democratic state” (Ed Miliband). This has been repeated ad nauseam by those backing the bombing with very little push back.

While this sound bite-sized justification may technically be true and therefore provides cover under international law, it’s worth considering what it misses out.

First, it conceals the deeply authoritarian and undemocratic nature of the present Iraqi Government and the West’s role in helping to create it. Writing in The Guardian in June, Professor Toby Dodge, an Iraq specialist at the London School of Economics, noted Iraq’s former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki “first came to power in April 2006 in a deal brokered by the then British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, and the American secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.” This, according to Dodge, “was an Anglo-American attempt to create a facade of democracy in the midst of a vicious post-invasion civil war.” Dodge went onto explain that though Maliki lost the 2010 election the US “backed the continuation of Maliki’s rule… in the name of predictability and order.” Echoing the sub-title of Dodge’s 2013 book on Iraq – ‘From war to a new authoritarianism’ – David Wearing, a researcher on the Middle East at SOAS, notes “Maliki set about concentrating power – particularly power over armed forces, internal security forces and Shia militias – in his hands, and governing on a narrow sectarian basis, eliciting some frustration from Washington but still, ultimately, enjoying its support”. In 2013 Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions index ranked Iraq 171st out of 177 countries. The whole Iraqi system, argues award-winning Iraqi journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, is “rotten to the core. Every single soldier is appointed after paying a bribe. Every military officer is appointed after paying a bribe.”

And before we go further, let’s not forget the double standards of the UK government. “It is hypocritical for Mr Cameron to pretend that US and UK intervention are in support of democratic, accountable and inclusive governments when he is in a coalition with the last theocratic absolute monarchies on earth”, argues the veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn about the UK allying itself with the Gulf states.

Cameron and Miliband’s justification also ignores the recent aggressive and criminal military actions of the Iraqi Government – armed throughout by the United States.

In May 2014 Human Rights Watch reported the Iraqi Government was dropping “barrel bombs on residential neighbourhoods of Fallujah and surrounding areas” and had “repeatedly struck Fallujah General Hospital with mortar shells and other munitions”. According to the report “the recurring strikes on the main hospital, including with direct fire weapons, strongly suggest that Iraqi forces have targeted it, which would constitute a serious violation of the laws of war”. In June 2014 HRW noted the Iraqi Government had carried out indiscriminate air strikes in other cities too – Beiji, Mosul, Tikrit and al-Sherqat – killing at least 75 civilians. Speaking about the Iraqi Government in 2013, Dodge noted “torture is endemic.”

Of course, Maliki was forced out of office in September 2014 but many Iraq observers hold little hope in his successor. Cockburn: “It is doubtful if much has changed since Mr Maliki was replaced by the more personable Haider al-Abadi, whose government is still dominated by Shia religious parties.” David Cameron’s “stated belief that he is supporting the creation of a government that is inclusive of Sunni, Shia, Kurds and Christians” is “a pipe dream”, Cockburn argues.

For example, though Al-Abadi publicly called a halt to the bombing of civilian areas, HRW’s Iraq Researcher Erin Evers told me the bombing has continued. More broadly, the Financial Times recently explained Shia militias have grown “stronger, bolder and more politically influential” since al-Abadi became Prime Minister. Maliki himself is now Iraq’s Vice-President. Evers recently reported that Shia militias under the control of the former Iraqi Prime Minister are currently laying siege to Latifiyya, a town just south of Baghdad. The militias have carried out summary executions and bulldozed Sunni areas causing “a broader humanitarian crisis” with many women and children unable to access food or desalinated water. Wearing is one of the few UK analysts to take seriously the threat from the Shia militias: “If Shia troops wade into Sunni towns and cities with the USAF and the RAF effectively providing cover, or at least having softened up their targets beforehand, the West won’t be preventing another Rwanda, it will be enabling one.”

Unsurprisingly then, though Sunnis living in Mosul and Raqqa do not like Islamic State, Cockburn explains “they are even more frightened of resurgent Iraqi or Syrian armies accompanied by murderous pro-government militias subduing their areas with the assistance of allied air strikes.”

All this leads to another criticism of the simplistic ‘we are acting to support a democratic government’ propaganda meme – that by refusing to engage with the reality of the present Iraqi state, it ignores a key reason for the rise of Islamic State and the responsibility of the West.

Writing in the latest edition of Survival, the journal of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Dodge argues the Islamic State’s advance across northern Iraq “was the direct result of the contemporary flaws with the political system set up after the regime change of 2003.” Or as Lakhdar Brahimi, the former UN special envoy to Syria, recently noted, the Islamic State was “originally and still is mainly an Iraqi phenomenon. And that is a direct result of the invasion of Iraq in 2003”.

Ian Sinclair is the author of The March That Shook Blair: An Oral History of 15 February 2003, published by Peace News Press. He Tweets @IanJSinclair

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One thought on ““We are supporting a democratic state”: Propaganda and the new Iraq War

  1. bgfdserty

    THE WARMONGER david cameron, THE PUPPET OF BRITISH PETROLEUM-ROTHSCHILDS

    ” LEGAL CHALLENGE TO BRITGOVT: “FULLY DISCLOSE YOUR AUTHORIZATION & LEGAL GROUNDS FOR USING MILITARY FORCE IN SYRIA”(21.10.2014)

    The British government albeit illegally rely on continuing UN ‘resolutions’ on Iraq to illegally be in Iraq, (which we already have groundbreaking High Court legal proceedings against the British government in the UK over) while there are no legal grounds etc for their latest proposed military mission in Syria.
    The fact there may be British hostages in Syria does not, as one ‘news’ source claims provide the necessary legal grounds, for the claim there ‘will be authorization’ (which is not in any event the same as fully disclosing an actual written authorization’ for) British military to enter Syria.
    It is clear that ‘hostages’ voluntarily chose to enter what they knew was a war zone in Syria, that they knew the British government and military did not have any legal authority to act in……..

    In a written ministerial statement, Fallon said Reaper drones would be starting operations “very shortly” and would be used alongside Rivet Joint planes.
    “As well as their operations over Iraq, both Reapers and Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft will be authorised to fly surveillance missions over Syria to gather intelligence as part of our efforts to protect our national security from the terrorist threat emanating from there,” he told MPs.
    “Reapers are not authorised to use weapons in Syria; that would require further permission.”
    Asked why parliament had not been consulted about the use of UK drones to conduct surveillance over Syria, Cameron’s deputy official spokesman said it was because it did not amount to military action…..”
    https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/uk-military-mission-in-syria-and-irak-is-illegal-and-does-not-have-any-legal-authority-excerpts-collection/
    https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/another-british-dodgy-dossier-as-despotic-unelected-saudi-puppets-threaten-to-bomb-syrian-people/

    ” Britain and France were both to play a part. On 29 August [2013], the day Parliament voted against Cameron’s bid to join the intervention [AGAINST SYRIA], the Guardian reported that he had already ordered six RAF Typhoon fighter jets to be deployed to Cyprus, and had volunteered a submarine capable of launching Tomahawk missiles. ”
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line

    ” US-NATO intervention [AGAINST LIBYA] leading to the eventual formation of a US puppet regime is also intent upon excluding China from the region and edging out CNPC. The Anglo-American oil giants including British Petroleum which signed an exploration contract in 2007 with the Gaddafi government are among the potential “beneficiaries” of the proposed US-NATO military operation. ” http://www.gasandoil.com/news/2011/03/operation-libya-and-the-battle-for-oil

    BP IS CONNECTED WITH THE ROTHSCHILDS:

    1) ” Former BP (BP.L) boss Tony Hayward and financier Nathaniel Rothschild [SON OF JACOB ROTHSCHILD] aim to raise around 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) with a June listing of an acquisition vehicle that will target oil assets….” http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/09/us-vallares-idUSTRE7581HK20110609
    http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Prince+Charles/Jacob+Rothschild/Reception+Held+Prince+Charles+London/08Isgaq04Qa
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Rothschild,_4th_Baron_Rothschild http://www.waddesdon.org.uk/ http://www.thefullwiki.org/Waddesdon_Manor

    2) BENJAMIN DE ROTHSCHILD “TRAINED AT A NUMBER OF GROUP ENTITIES AND AT THE BP Plc OIL COMPANY IN LONDON.” http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/companyOfficers?symbol=RLD.S
    ” in 1996, Baron Benjamin Rothschild was arrested at an airport in England and fined $600 for heroin possession. ”
    http://nypost.com/2000/05/04/his-wealth-couldnt-buy-him-invincibility-bank-scions-death-an-apparent-od-after-wild-night-of-partying/
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_de_Rothschild http://edition.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/sailing/11/18/rothschild.ppl/
    http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/baron-benjamin-de-rothschild-his-wife-baroness-ariane-de-news-photo/170740077 http://wikimapia.org/6825620/fr/Chateau-de-Pregny http://www.panoramio.com/photo/77169200

    3) Sir Eric Drake ” Chairman of BP 1969-1975….Became a Knight of the British Empire in 1970. One of the sponsors of a fundraiser of the British Library of Political and Economic Science in 1973, together with Pierre Trudeau, Sir EVELYN DE ROTHSCHILD,…” http://inormous.net/ISGP/organisations/1001_Club_members_list.htm
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evelyn_Robert_de_Rothschild
    http://www.gettyimages.nl/detail/nieuwsfoto's/queen-elizabeth-ii-meets-sir-evelyn-de-rothschild-lady-nieuwsfotos/72668835
    http://www.breathingenglishair.blogspot.fr/2012/04/ascott-house-buckinghamshire.html http://www.thefullwiki.org/Ascott_House

    4) FRANCOIS HENROT, DIRECTOR OF BP FRANCE, IS ALSO A DIRECTOR OF ROTHSCHILD & CIE OWNED BY DAVID DE ROTHSCHILD, ERIC DE ROTHSCHILD, EDOUARD DE ROTHSCHILD AND NATHANIEL DE ROTHSCHILD . http://www.carrefour.com/sites/default/files/comptes98-euro.pdf
    http://www.rothschild.com/David_de_Rothschild/ http://wikimapia.org/17601454/Ch%C3%A2teau-de-Reux
    http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/ujN9J6tdHtq/Queen+Elizabeth+II+Visits+Paris+Day+2/opUQPUfXD7N/David+de+Rothschild
    http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/eric-de-rothschild-and-wife-maria-beatrice-caracciolo-di-news-photo/84616462 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edouard_Etienne_de_Rothschild

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