Mission W. Accomplished – The Media-Dictated Images of War

Posted: May 5, 2010 by undergroundfisherman in Media
Tags: , , , ,
George W. Bush: Mission Accomplished by nailbombs & faeriewings.

Back in 2003, this was supposed to be the defining image of a war that continues to this day

The enduring memory of the Second Iraq War is that of a crowd of Iraqi civilians toppling the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad’s Firdos Square. It was April 9th, 2003 – a moment which would go down in history as a spontaneous act of passion and elation by the oppressed natives, finally liberated from the clutches of a tyrannical government by the American forces. While everyone was glad to see the back of Saddam, that iconic image of the statue being toppled is by no means the act of wild celebration it seemed on television.

It was in fact, a carefully planned event staged by the US military for the benefit of the Western media. The idea was to secure “an image of victory”; an image that would live long in the memory and give visual proof that the days of Saddam were now a thing of the past. Three weeks later, on the 1st of May, George W. Bush gave his famous “Mission Accomplished” speech from the USS Abraham Lincoln – things were apparently winding down in Iraq – the job was done. It’s seven years now since that day, and the sense of irony is grating when we look at the US death toll since then. The current US Military death toll now stands at 4,287and a staggering 4,137 of these have come after Bush had declared victory. (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/iraq_casualties.htm),

The two images, the toppling of Saddam and the Mission Accomplished speech, were supposed to be the Hiroshima and Nagasaki of this particular war, two compelling examples of a job well done. The toppling of the statue was just as choreographed an event as Bush’s complacent but calculated speech in front of thousands of smiling troops. Firdos Square was cordoned off before the event, and non-western journalists were held under siege with mortar atacks the day beforehand. According to Michael I Niman, in his publication Toppling Reality – Image Warfare in Iraq, he documents how  “The US Army deliberately and without warning targeted journalists”, killing a Reuters correspondent, along with one each from Al-Jazeera and Spain’s Telecino. While the US claims it was returning fire from guerrilla forces,  Robert Fisk, reporting for the London Independent, has a very different account of proceedings. He reported hearing no fire before the mortar blasts, and said that the whole event Looked “very much like murder”. http://www.coldtype.net/Assets/pdfs/12.Nim.April14.pdf

With non-embedded journalists now out of the way, the Army were ready to stage the event. They invited Iraqis who had in some way supported the War to come and take down the statue.

We can see here how US tanks surrounded the perimeter of Firdos Square in order to direct the event as planned

It was eventually pulled down by an M88 tank, not in a Berlin Wall-esque effort by the people. At one stage, a marine attempted to drape an American flag around the statue, the fact that he even had a flag with him at the time suggests that this was indeed a pre-meditated event.

Normally, I tend to stay away from sensationalist and overly-populist issues such as this, because they tend to be inchoate arguments that centre on the “Bush is an Idiot” theme. The fact is, Bush had very little to do with this war once it got started – it soon became about the Military’s relationship with the media, and the careful control of the images that were allowed back to the Western world.

It is amazing how often we are lied to and misled by the mainstream media, the Firdos Square event was a prime example. Especially now,  in a time when people are starting to forget about the real details of the conflict, this could go down as the defining image. Even before this, we were fed idealised images of surgical strikes on terrorist cells, and cheering locals in the streets of Baghdad, quietly glossing over the real facts, such as the civilian body count, which now stands at a conservative estimate of between 96,037 and 104,754 since the start of the War. http://www.iraqbodycount.org/

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