Sunday, 22 January 2012

How The Media Manipulates Us Into War

Generally, people assume that the media has the responsibility of presenting the truth and nothing but the truth in its journalistic reports about peace and war. It is agreed that an informed public is less likely to go to war.

The Transcend Media Service of the pioneering Johan Galtung nonviolence Transcend group in Norway, has presented a 'video of the week' from Global Research TV revealing some startling facts about mainstream media. The 14-minute video online 'Faking It: How the Media Manipulates the World into War' is worth watching. Summary:

'As the US and Iranian governments escalate tensions in the already volatile Straits of Hormuz, and China and Russia begin openly questioning Washington’s interference in their internal politics, the world remains on a knife-edge of military tension. Far from being a dispassionate observer of these developments, however, the media has in fact been central to increasing those tensions and preparing the public to expect a military confrontation. But as the online media rises to displace the traditional forms by which the public forms its understanding of the world, many are now beginning to see firsthand how the media lies the public into war.'

To help journalists make a correct picture of the world, Transcend offers a Solutions-Oriented Peace Journalism service to the public. Jake Lynch, Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney presents a feature article: What is Peace Journalism?

In his opening remarks, Professor Lynch states: 'Peace journalism is when editors and reporters make choices  — about what to report, and how to report it  — that create opportunities for society at large to consider and to value non-violent responses to conflict.'

While the conventions of war journalism usually assumes a zero-sum game, leaving only further violence as a possible response, peace journalism, as a remedial strategy, chooses to supplement the news conventions by giving peace a chance. Here are five characteristics of peace journalism offered by Professor Lynch:
  1. Explores the backgrounds and contexts of conflict formation, presenting causes and options on every side (not just "both sides");
  2. Gives voice to the views of all rival parties, from all levels;
  3. Offers creative ideas for conflict resolution, development, peacemaking and peacekeeping;
  4. Exposes lies, cover-up attempts and culprits on all sides, and reveals excesses committed by, and suffering inflicted on, peoples of all parties;
  5. Pays attention to peace stories and post-war developments.
Of course, peace journalism is in favour of truth, as any must be. However, as a legitimate strategy in reporting especially on war and peace, it opens up multiple opportunities to inspect propaganda and other self-serving representations. As alternative media journalists, let us try to use as many of the five characteristics as listed above, while also avoiding demonizing language, labeling and so forth. By so doing, we will serve the public better and hopefully we will help give peace a chance.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Why Glorify War?

Mother for Peace Logo
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, a war that many consider Canada's war of independence, not from Great Britain, but from the USA.

Canada's Conservative government has embraced the bicentennial as a chance to inspire and inform, calling it 'the Battle for Canada', and devoting $28 million (3 years of funding, ending March 31, 2014) to commemorations, re-enactments and education. See the official website : 

Why do we have to keep glorifying war, disguised as education to promote tourism? What about celebrating our pioneer farming history and the history of people who used their hands and efforts here in Canada to make our country what it is? We could learn some real lessons from that kind of history. We don't learn too much that is useful from glorifying war.

Here are 2 recent aticles which annoy me:
Fanning the primordial emotions of people to become patriotic soldiers trained to kill another human being considered to be an 'enemy' is an outdated notion waiting to be dropped such as happened with slavery more than a century ago.

More and more concerned people of the world are speaking out for the creation of a new way of thinking. The January 19th, 2012 the United Nations DPI/ NGO Briefing: Culture of Peace: Amplifying the Unseen and Unheard Voices of Peace (2 hour video) examined the role of the culture of peace in today's interconnected world as a vehicle for human development and for ultimately realising the 8 Millennium Development Goals.

As defined by the UN, the culture of peace is 'a set of values, attitudes, modes of behavior and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiations among individuals, groups, and nations.' That concept encompasses tolerance, disarmament, sustainable economic and social development, democratic participation, gender equality, freedom of expression, and respect for human rights.

The transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace requires the transformation of individual modes of behavior and institutional practises. Learning to live with peace and harmony is a long-term process which begins with inner peace and nurturing of attitudes and practises that promote the expansion of peaceful principles. Education plays a key role in this process.

In looking at Canada's role in this transformation, here are some things that our leaders and ourselves could do to create a safer peaceful world:
  • Cease the warrior mentality such as the development of $15 billion F-35 stealth fighter-bombers, and instead concentrate on building capabilities for rescue work, fighting fires and crime.
  • Urge world leaders to stop the development of intercontinental missiles, atomic and other weapons of mass destruction including land mines and soldier-robots.
  • Create a cabinet-level Department of Peace for Canada, with full support for training peace professionals.
  • Develop a generously-funded program in schools, universities and libraries honouring the real heroes of the country esp. in agriculture, settlement history, education, medicine, science, industry, literature, culture, humanities, sports, and politics.
  • Stop buying violent toys for children. Consider purchasing co-operative games where everyone works together to win.
  • Ultimately, declare that war is a crime against humanity. The new mantra ought to be the creation of a nonkilling society. Peace is the way of the future — for our children and our children's children.

Do U.S. Bases Threaten World Peace?

Who really threatens world peace today? Spokesmen for the most powerful military nation in the world, the U.S.A., state that rogue states and terrorists threaten the stability of our world; and that it intends 'to control space in order to protect U.S. interests and investments.'

With over 1,000 U.S. military bases around the world, at a cost of a trillion dollars a year, I am surprised that very few people (including the mainstream media) seriously raise the question of who really threatens the world order.

Stars show U.S. military bases in the middle-east.
From map posted by Lew Rockwell (12/6/2011).

In his December 12, 2011 article: Remembering His-Story - Iran Attack Next?, author Bruce K Gagnon addresses this serious question. Mr. Gagnon is Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. The map in his article summarises the situation. Each star represents a U.S. military base. In the middle, in blue, is Iran. Iran has no military bases outside its borders. Just north of Iran is Georgia that has essentially become a U.S. / NATO base. Turkey belongs to NATO. Iran has been checkmated. North of Georgia is Russia. Can there be any wonder why Russia is so alarmed about an attack on Iran?

Let's suppose that a foreign power set up a base just outside of the U.S.A  the government would probably go ballistic. So why can't the citizens see that their own nation is threatening other countries around the world with its colonial-type 'manifest destiny' approach? In our one-world community, we should follow the wisdom of classical cross-cultural anthropologists in respecting strangers.

From my anthropological training, I have learnt that 'stepping into the shoes of the other' is a good way to learn about the stranger. This wisdom encompasses the same attitude that is found in the Russian proverb 'When entering a church, do not bring with you your own charter.' Another proverb says the same in another way: 'Do not measure others by your own arshin (Russian: yardstick, measure).'  Effective cross-cultural workers and international negotiators certainly know these skills and use them in achieving their various ends.

Americans and other powerful nations, wake up! Let's remember that each country has its own interest. Collectively, the best interest of the world is global peace.  Let us therefore, follow the Golden Rule: 'Do unto others what others wish us to do unto you!