International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

March 25, 2003

March 25, 2003




**  Some observers alleged that the "Allied media strategy has failed."

**  Others claimed the U.S.' "well-prepared psychological war" has manipulated global opinion.

**  Writers expressed revulsion at Iraq's media exploitation of POW's and casualties.

**  Many cited U.S. treatment of Iraqi and Guantanamo POW's to discredit the U.S. invocation of the Geneva Convention.  



Many claim 'the American administration has lost the war on the media level'--  German, Israeli, Tunisian and Pakistani papers agreed the U.S. "has lost the first propaganda phase of the war."  Several judged that in this "war of information," Qatar's Al-Jazeera has "showed the truth which the Americans were trying very hard to hide."  A West Bank daily added that now the U.S. cannot easily "erase the image of the American as an occupier and invader."  European observers said the "devastating" war images were "quite dangerous ammunition" that may prove "a bigger threat to the U.S. crusade" than Iraqi troops.  French and Austrian dailies carped that viewers worldwide are still "waiting in vain for footage of rejoicing liberated Iraqis."


Some applaud, others criticize U.S. efforts to win the 'war of information'--  Many observers backhandedly praised the U.S.' "well-prepared psychological war campaign," but several asserted the U.S. sought to "mislead the world through deception."  Portuguese and Danish dailies found it "embarrassing" that "the American propaganda machine" and the "Pentagon's ventriloquists" had so impressed local officials.  In Guatemala, India and Malaysia, dailies blasted the "forgery and falsification" in the U.S. "web of deceit, disinformation and lies."  Many doubted whether the global audience could distinguish the good reporting from the chaff."  As France's Catholic La Croix rhapsodized, "in the jungle of lies, public opinion is a misguided referee."  But some declared there is "no room for censorship" in today's world, with Brazil's liberal Folha de Sao Paulo supporting those "taking pains" to question all reports from the front.


Are the Geneva Conventions 'binding for Iraq and not for the U.S.?'--  Several writers said the "international outcry" over the display of U.S. casualties and POW's by Baghdad's "propaganda machine" was "justified."  Paraguay's conservative Noticias termed it a "flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention."  Vienna's centrist Die Presse was confident that "America won't be daunted" by the "distressing" footage.  More, however, cited "the handling of those interned at Guantanamo" to criticize U.S. "double standards."  Qatar's semi-independent Al-Raya vituperated that the U.S. did "not remember the Geneva Convention" when U.S. broadcasters "showed Iraqi POWs" in a "humiliating" manner.  Others such as Uganda's independent Monitor indicated that if an adversary has attacked Iraq "without a UN mandate, why should he require [Iraq] to respect a UN convention?"


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This survey is based on 57 reports from 35 countries over 22 - 25 March 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Bush Right To Condemn Iraq [On POWs]--But His Outrage Rings Hollow"


The center-left Independent observed (3/25):  "The international outcry over the display of American casualties and prisoners on Iraqi state television is thoroughly justified.  This was not only a flagrant violation of the Geneva was also an offense against the very fundamentals of human decency....  For all his pledges that the U.S. would treat Iraqi prisoners of war humanely, however, Mr. Bush's words rang just a little hollow.  The fact is that Iraqis are not the only foreign combatants in U.S. custody.  When the military operation against Iraq began, the U.S. was already holding more than 600 foreign prisoners in camps in Guantanamo Bay, its base in Cuba....  Mr. Bush's call for U.S. prisoners to be treated humanely would command more credibility and wider sympathy if his administration had appeared more amenable to accepting rules that most other civilised countries accept.  This does not excuse the behaviour of the Iraqi regime, even one that is fighting for its survival."


"Can the Geneva Convention Still Protect PoWs?"


Adam Roberts, Professor of International Relations at Oxford University, wrote in the center-left Independent (3/25):  "There were good reasons for the U.S. government to express concern over the fate of prisoners held in Iraqi hands....  Iraq's record of treating prisoners is dire....  The fears that there has been ill-treatment or torture are well-founded.  A particular hazard for prisoners in this war is that the Americans' treatment of prisoners in the 'war on terror' has exposed the U.S. to the criticism that it has itself avoided full application of the 1949 Geneva POW Convention in its treatment of al-Qa'ida and Taliban detainees.  Iraqi violations of the Geneva rules regarding POWs began long before Guantanamo and cannot be justified or explained by reference to U.S. actions.  On the other hand, the US has much work to do to convince a sceptical world that it is fully committed to consistent application of all aspects of the law of war.  It has a good case--few if any armed forces have such serious manuals on the application of the law of war--but in recent years that case has not been well presented."


FRANCE:  “The Error”


Serge July opined in left-of-center Liberation (3/25):  “The U.S. is waging a war without a mandate and in hostile isolation. Pillars of its alliance, such as Turkey, have defected....  The war was supposed to be a policing operation based on a political hypothesis, not a war of destruction....  The ideal scenario did not include house-to-house street combat. This strategic plan has been upset in the first five days of combat. There is undoubtedly manipulation by the media, but certain scenes which General Franks would love to show are just not there. Like refugees fleeing....  On the contrary, thousands of Iraqis living in Jordan are returning to fight… Negotiations with Iraqi officials are not going as planned....  There are no open Iraqi cities....  For the time being, America’s war on Iraq has not caused the regime to fall and the years of embargo have triggered a surge of patriotism… The war of liberation planned by Washington’s hawks will probably not happen. If the war turns murderous and destructive, America’s military victory will resound as a new political defeat. The specter haunting Washington is that of military combat in Baghdad: a terrible error in strategy.”




Claude Cabanes remarked in communist l’Humanite (3/25):  “The war in Iraq is unfolding in the dark tunnel of the unknown....  President Bush’s prissy request that prisoners be treated according to the Geneva conventions is astounding....  How can one wage a war in full contempt of international laws and ask that these laws be respected when things turn ugly? The syndrome of Vietnam is haunting the White House....  The scenario is not going according to plan...and instead of refugees fleeing Iraq, Iraqis are returning from Jordan to fight....  Can President Bush not see that in spite of Saddam’s tyranny, the people of Iraq are attached to their country and their flag?”




Bruno Frappat wrote in Catholic La Croix (3/25):  “War is not the best of times to speak of international laws. And when a war like this one is waged without an international mandate, how can one expect legality to be respected? The Americans and their British allies are rightly shocked to see the Geneva conventions ignored by the Iraqis....  Just like the Iraqis who were shocked to see similar images of Iraqi detainees....  In addition to the human lives lost, this war has in five days brought down international legality and truth. In the jungle of lies, public opinion is a misguided referee.”


GERMANY:  “The Price Of War”


Joachim Kaeppner stated in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (3/25):  “The power of images might turn out to be a bigger threat to the U.S. crusade against Baghdad than the Iraqi Republican Guard.  Those who planned this war have created a dangerous illusion among Americans--the illusion that, as in the three previous wars since 1990, another victory can be had without significant losses among U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians.”


“Picture Strategy”


Malte Lehming declared in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (3/25):  “The more media coverage there is, the more restless the U.S. population becomes....  Paradoxically, this means a grave danger for Iraq’s civilians.  If the war goes on for a long time and domestic support for the campaign crumbles...U.S. military leaders will be under increasing pressure to speed things up and act less carefully.  That would be a disaster, but what is the alternative?  U.S. withdrawal? Anyone who considers this an option is naïve.  The U.S. administration is convinced that showing weakness feeds terrorism.  The Americans are decadent; they can be defeated--if this were the message picked up throughout the Arab world, Al Qaida would triumph.”


“Lost Battle In Media War”


Julius Endert stated in business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (3/25):  “The Allied media strategy has failed.  The military’s attempt to place reporters and cameramen in fighting units and thus win their favor and make them controllable is producing a flood of images whose production the military can control, but whose impact is devastating for the United States and its allies....  The problem with ‘embedded media’ is this: While the journalist attached to the unit can provide highly current information, it remains virtually impossible for the viewer to interpret what he is seeing.  The images do not add up to a realistic representation of the military situation, their confusing barrage underlining the absurdity of war....  Contrary to Pentagon expectations, people in the United States and Europe discover new connections.  They use the different pieces of the media puzzle to arrive at an unexpected image, recognizing war for what it is: horrific, demeaning, and brutal. What does not come through are the U.S. goals behind the military campaign or its justification.”


ITALY:  “Now The War Risks A Vietnam Drift”


Umberto Cecchi commented in conservative, top-circulation syndicate La Nazione/Il Resto del Carlino/Il Giorno (3/25):  “It’s peculiar.  American people...tend not to learn from history. And therefore they often repeat old mistakes. As in the case of a war...and as in the case of war information....  Indeed, the coalition troops in Iraq risk a Vietnam drift in the conflict due to the media and public opinion....  In the era of media wars, it is much better to ignore the fear of information and to fight as it has always been fought--without fearing to appear too militarized and without fearing TV images of dead soldiers....  To have these fears means hindering operations and multiplying the death toll.”


AUSTRIA:  “Victims Of Their Own Propaganda”


Livia Klingl commented in mass-circulation Kurier (3/25):  “One of the decisive questions in the Iraq war is which images exactly TV stations will air until the collapse of the Iraqi regime. After all, ‘selling the war’ is just as important as winning the war....  However, so far viewers around the world have been waiting in vain for footage of rejoicing liberated Iraqis. Looks like they don’t exist.  And instead of masses of defecting soldiers, there’s the Iraqi army, putting up an amazing amount of resistance.  No discoveries and no Iraqi deployment of biological or chemical weapons, either....  Apparently, the Washington strategists have become the victims of their own propaganda.”


“Problems On The Home Front”


Christoph Winder commented in liberal Der Standard (3/25):  "The first reactions from Washington show just how serious the Bush Administration is taking (the footage of captured U.S. soldiers).  President Bush delivered a somewhat awkward speech, and even Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appeared to be rather nervous....  All of this shows how powerful images become in times of war, and what a tremendous impact they can have....  No wonder the media have been called the ‘fourth front,’ as TV images can turn into quite dangerous ammunition."


“POWs--The Super Weapon?”


Andreas Unterberger stated in centrist Die Presse (3/25):  “It is doubtful whether--from an Iraqi point of view--the images of captured US soldiers will have the desired impact on the American general public. Not because these images are not distressing. Not because U.S. TV networks have decided to delay airing them, but simply because this time the people in the U.S. are apparently quite determined. For them, the Iraq war is not the overly ambitious global policeman in action; it is the direct consequence of 9/11.  America won’t be daunted by the footage of U.S. soldiers in Iraqi hands. But neither will Baghdad be impressed by references to international law or the Geneva Convention.”


CROATIA:  "Shocked America"


Split-based Slobodna Dalmacija carried a piece by Tomislav Klauski stating (3/25):  "George W. Bush should not bring himself into a situation in which Americans will start wondering why their children, brothers and husbands are losing their lives.  He must fill the television space with direct broadcasts of bombardments of Baghdad, and reduce the number of pictures of dead Americans to the smallest number possible.  At the moment when war has burst on the doorsteps, Bush will push the truth outside of the window with all of his strength.”


DENMARK:  "Embed Program Faces Acid Test"


Center-left Politiken judged (3/25):  "The decision to Embed British and American journalists was viewed with some suspicion before the war as it was believed that this may compromise the freedom of the press.  The fact that journalists are not being allowed to report freely is obvious, but the Embed program has brought us closer to the war.  If something goes wrong, we will surely hear about it.  If we do not, something will have gone very seriously wrong [regarding the press freedom]." 


"Awed Fogh Cannot See Guantanamo Connection"


Sensationalist tabloid Ekstra Bladet asserted (3/25):  "The Iraqis have been warned against mistreating their  American POWs.  Meanwhile...3000 detainees in Guantanamo are [already] being treated badly....  It is embarrassing that PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen is so impressed by the American propaganda machine and his own role as a fellow warrior, that he cannot see the connection."


HUNGARY:  "Violation"


Laszlo Valki said in liberal Hungarian-language Magyar Hirlap (3/25):  "Not the TV channels and the newspapers, but the Iraqi, the American and the British authorities are to blame that the media show images of POWs, which is a violation of the Geneva Convention.”


“Saddam Talking”


Endre Aczel pointed out in leading Hungarian-language Nepszabadsag (3/25):  “The Iraqi people learnt that Secretary Rumsfeld spoke days ago about the collapse of the Iraqi military command and the broken communication between Saddam and his units.  Then, what do the Iraqi people see? That their leader, Saddam has the precise information and knowledge of the status of his troops down in the South.  He talks about their achievements and put them forward as a model  for the Iraqi people.  The Iraqi people have the impression that somebody here is not telling the truth, and that it is not Saddam Hussein.  What is the concept here? One can only guess.  The American-British forces are most probably going to encircle Baghdad within days. Taking advantage of their absolute advantage in the air, they are going to destroy everything existing or left in Baghdad, the propaganda machine included."


NORWAY:  “Prisoners Of War And Conventions”


Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten opined (3/25):  "There is little doubt that the Iraqi authorities moved outside of the Geneva Convention’s border when this weekend they allowed filming of interrogation of American soldiers who have been taken prisoner....  But Americans would have made it easier for themselves if they had shown a little greater understanding of the criticism that is directed at the handling of those who are interned at Guantanamo....  It is understandable that Americans, after the shock that the terrorist attacks created, are less preoccupied with Al-Qaida terrorists’ rights under American law and international law.  But few of the cornerstones of democratic society are more important than the principle that innocent people shall not be punished, and that suspects shall have their case investigated.  It is itself the foundation for the just and necessary fight against democracy’s enemies that is undermined when these principles are deviated from.  For Saddam Hussein it is a non-existent problem.  For the U.S. that is not the case.”


PORTUGAL:  "Right And Rights"


José Vitor Malheiros offered this commentary in influential center-left Público (3/25):  "It is obvious that images of prisoners should not, strictly speaking, be shown...but what is strange is that this issue is not being raised when the prisoners are on the other side....  It is evident that there is an enormous dose of partiality, ethnocentrism and even racism in the West's reaction.  Don't Iraqi prisoners have the same right?  And how many have already been shown on our television screens at dinnertime without it seeming even minimally abusive of their rights?....  Differential standards are almost inevitable--we feel closer to our neighbors, to the people whose language we speak, to the people who like the same movies we do.  But we have to at least be conscious of this and try to fight its (and our) hypocrisy.  And not let an appeal to international law be made only when it serves the empire."


"The Pentagon's Ventriloquists"


Vital Moreira vituperated in influential center-left Público (3/25):  "One of the most intriguing aspects visible in Portugal in relation to the United States' attack on Iraq is...the alignment by the generality of the press and other media with the American position, seconded by the Portuguese government....  With the onset of this illegal and unjustified war, our televisions have been assaulted by a host of well-known ventriloquists of the Pentagon, celebrating the massacre of Iraq in unison, as if all of Portugal were unanimously rejoicing over the prowess of a superpower rapidly flattening a practically defenseless country."


ROMANIA:  "Saddam's Message"


Elena Chirita wrote in leading pro-opposition Romania Libera (3/25):  "Saddam’s message did not only intend to encourage his people and especially his army, but it also touched a sensitive issue for the Muslim and Arab world, namely the religious message calling for sacrifices in the name of Allah, reminding the martyrs that they will go to Paradise....  Saddam does not have military equipment comparable to the Americans, but he does have the national TV station.  Why is the Pentagon allowing Saddam to control this propaganda channel?  Why didn’t they neutralize his means of communication?”


SPAIN:  "In Real Time"


Centrist La Vanguardia editorialized (3/25):  "The strategy seems clear: to lure U.S. and British troops towards urban areas with the aim of reducing the technological distance and laying ambushes and surprise attacks with more possibilities of success....  Everything seems to indicate that days are coming in which the U.S. command will try to eradicate any sign of euphoria, while the regime of Baghdad will try to turn any evidence of resistance, even if it is very small, into a propaganda success.  On the other side, there are not no precedents for such an analyzed and 'X-rayed' war, with such a direct impact on financial and commodity markets."


TURKEY:  "Shock And horror"


Erhan Basyurt wrote in Islamic-intellectual Zaman (3/25):  "The U.S. operation in Iraq has been named 'shock and horror.'  However, the course of the action shows that the 'shock' part went to the coalition forces due to an unexpectedly stiff resistance....  There are two major reasons why the Iraqis resist despite the US intention of freeing the Iraqi people and bring democracy.  The U.S. conducted a well-prepared psychological war campaign in the media prior to the operation, but none of the messages got through to the people of Iraq.  A people living without satellite dishes or Internet access does not know anything about the real world.  The Iraqis still believe that they are fighting against  British colonial forces, which they fought for independence, or against the new superpower, which is after oil.  It seems that Saddam's regime has successfully managed to inject this psychology into the minds of the Iraqi people."


“Law Is Patience”


Oktay Eksi remarked in mass appeal Hurriyet (3/25):  “President Bush calls on the Iraqi regime to comply with the Geneva Conventions on treatment of POWs.  He is very right by referring to the Geneva Conventions on this issue.  Yet something is just not right.  President Bush remains at the top of the list of ‘leaders who blatantly violate international law.’  However, he now calls on others to comply with international law and regulations....  One wonders if the Geneva Conventions are binding for Iraq and not for the U.S.”




ISRAEL:  "Coalition Winning On Ground, Iraqis On Television"


Zeev Schiff commented in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (3/25):  "It may well be that [Saddam Hussein] has concluded that if what he saw was the promised awe-inspiring blow that the experts predicted, then as far as he is concerned, it is still tolerable.  In contrast to Iraq's advantage in the propaganda war, the Americans have registered several successes on the ground....  The coalition certainly has enough force to move rapidly toward the grand goal, Baghdad, but they still need more soldiers to hold on to what was left behind.  Under these circumstances, they won't have the patience for what they have lately been speaking about -- providing humanitarian supplies and food to the Iraqi population."


WEST BANK:  “Their Non-Regrettable Fall”


Hassan el-Kashif declared in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (3/25):  "The U.S. is failing in Iraq as friend to the Arabs and it is uncovering its reality as an unjust colonial power that is pushing its army, warplanes and fleets to occupy an Arab country and kill an Arab nation that refuses to yield or surrender and is sticking to its sovereignty and rights. The United States will not be able to erase the image of the American as an occupier and invader. History will keep the pictures of the civilian victims of the American raids in all the Iraqi cities and towns.”


ALGERIA:  "War Of Information"


Leading French-language independent Le Quotidien d’Oran contended (3/24):  "The first images of atrociously burned civilian victims totally contradict the surgical character of the strikes that the U.S. strove to impress upon the popular mind by giving the first salvos of missiles the code name ‘decapitation.’ This name was intended to reassure the population and guarantee that they will not be targeted, although it is known that during air bombardments civilians constitute the majority of victims. In this war of information also called psychological warfare, TV channels must submit to a code of ethics. Although these are unwritten, the channels impose them upon themselves according to their interpretation, sensitivity or bias. The Americans are conveying the image of a clean war with no victims nor major collateral damage. Broadcasting unbearable images can contribute to changing the opinion of those who are supporting this war.”


EGYPT:  “Good Morning”


Aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar columnist Said Sonbol said (3/25):  “Now the Bush Administration remembered the international pacts regulating relations among countries in times of peace and war....  He warned against the mistreatment of American prisoners captured by Iraqi troops....  America, which turned its back on the U.N. and insisted on striking Iraq now demanding respect for international treaties.... The American Administration was shocked at Iraqi steadfastness and resistance....  America’s calculations were wrong, and failed to take into account, that no matter what their differences with their rulers, Arab nations would forget these differences at times of aggression and rise to the defense of their land and their pride.”


“Nocturnal Bats”


Salwa Habib held in leading pro-government Al Ahram (3/23):  “The U.S. incessantly tried to link Iraq with terrorism to discover pretexts for her war against Iraq but failed to convince anyone.  There are expectations that America and Britain would suffer a series of retaliatory attacks among and against their troops in the Gulf....  The U.S. seeks to reinforce its position through the media domestically and abroad by implying that it is threatened with attacks that are no less bloody than September 11....  The more Washington increases its security measures and warnings against terrorism, the more frantic the American people become and the further their economy and normal state activities are impacted.   Apparently, this panic will continue to control Americans for long years to come, which is the least the U.S. should have expected in return for its military policies against Iraq, and other countries.”


JORDAN:  “The Gap Between Reality And Expectations”


Urayb Rintawi commented in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour (3/25):  “There is an American-British confusion in managing the war on Iraq, a confusion that cannot be dampened by the ‘sure tone of voice’ of both administrations in addressing their stances.  It is a confusion that stems from the fact that the American scheme has come in collision with a series of surprises in the war operations....  Despite the misery of the Iraqi media rhetoric and the Iraqi Minister of Information’s resort to the use of swear words, the confidence in the Iraqi rhetoric so far is much higher than that in the American and British rhetoric....  If this continues, it is likely that the confusion is going to escalate and then Washington would find itself forced to adopt steps that would cover its failure and the failure of its project."


“The Ferociousness Of The Media War And The Loss Of The Arab Media”


Bater Wardam observed in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour (3/25):  “Since the first day of the war, the Americans adopted a media system that targets the Iraqi people and tries to bring the people in line with the American political rhetoric of ‘liberating Iraq’.  Yet, the credibility of the American media was completely blown away when facts on the ground proved the falseness of American claims....  The American anger at publishing the photos of the dead and captured Americans is justifiable, because, for the first time, it showed the American people and the world that this war is not picnic as envisaged by Mr. Rumsfeld.  Of course, seeing dead people of any race or religion is not amusing, and the American soldiers are, at the end of the day, human beings with hopes and dreams who don't want to die so that American oil companies can get contracts for the Iraqi oil or to protect Israel.  However, publishing those photos was a political necessity that made Mr. George Bush realize that the war is not a computer game that can be played without real American losses.  The problem remains that truth is the first victim of the war, and the conflict to win the media battle means that professional and moral standards are going to be thwarted.”


KUWAIT:  “Al-Jazeera And The Unethical Broadcast”


Abdelrahman Al-Ajmi noted in independent Al-Seyassah (3/25):  “By broadcasting the pictures of the American POWs on television, Al-Jazeera has proven that they are supporters of Iraq....  [B]roadcasting pictures for POWs and dead soldiers will not be in the interest of Al-Jazeera, especially because Iraq is not treating the POWs according to the Geneva Convention.”


QATAR:  "Our Prisoners And Their Prisoners"


Al-Azab Al-Tayib maintained in semi-independent Arabic-language Al-Raya (3/25):  "The United States see us as menial and inferior and considers us as people who do not deserve to be respected or protected.  When a Zionist gets killed, the United States strongly condemns it and calls the Palestinians murderers and terrorists. But when hundreds of innocent Palestinians get killed and massacred by the IDF, the USG justifies the Israeli actions and considers it self-defense and Bush himself impudently calls Sharon a man of peace--a statement Sharon himself could not believe. In this war, the Americans became angry after Al-Jazeera showed footage of American POWs.  OK, why did the Americans and the British not remember the Geneva Convention when the Western media, especially the American TV stations, showed Iraqi POWs being shown off in a humiliating manner? Why do they think their blood is much more precious than ours? And why should the Geneva Convention be applied to their soldiers and not ours?"


"Mother Of All Channels!"


Khalid Al-Jaber observed in semi-independent Arabic-language Al-Watan (3/25):  "Again, Al-Jazeera embarrassed all TV channels and showed the truth which the Americans were to trying very hard to hide. A Washington Post correspondent told me that when he sees Al-Jazeera he feels that he is one of its correspondents. Al-Jazeera is making the news not only reporting it. A New York Times correspondent said that when he see an incomplete story, he shifts to Al-Jazeera to complete it.  Al-Jazeera's exclusives help the objective viewer to see the war from a different perspective than that of the USG. What we need now is to start an English newscast in order to provide a different perspective of information to the western world, especially the United States."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Now POWs Have Rights"


Managing editor Jaser Al-Jaser commented in Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazira (3/25):  "Images of the Iraqi POWs propagated by the American media and some Arabic papers met with no objection from President Bush and his cabinet.  The situation became different upon showing the American casualties and their sufferings.  Instantly they started their threats, which look like the Americans came from a different race and no one is allowed to hurt their feelings or touch them, even though they are engaging in an illegal war lacking an international resolution.  Accordingly they should be treated as aggressors and Iraq should disregard applying the POW's Geneva Convention on their POWs."


"Is It Legal To Portray Iraqi POWs"


London's influential, pan-Arab Al-Sharq Al-Awsat carried a commentary by editor Abdulrahman Al-Rashid saying  (3/25):  "Americans are concerned that their POW's images might embarrass the allied troop's families.  Yet the Iraqi soldier is in more dangerous situation, since it could be a matter of life or death to the families of the Iraq POWs upon recognizing the images of their sons in the TV networks, because there are militias standing against Saddam which might terminate the POW's families.  Moreover, the Iraqi regime might punish those POWs after they are released and shown on TV networks as being obedient or surrounded. Consequently, the concern of the TV networks impact on the Iraqi soldier is greater than the justification of protecting the American soldiers.  On the other hand, if everybody is interested in preventing showing of the POWs images, then protection should expand to include all involved parties, and not to apply to one party."


"POW Rights"


The English-language pro-government Riyadh Daily editorialized (3/25):  "The days ahead may see the number of POWs swelling on both sides.  The detained soldiers are not criminals, but duty-bound to fight for their country. They need to be treated accordingly with honor.  In fact, the Iraqis and the allied forces have their own honor at stake by respecting, or otherwise, the rights of the POWs under the provisions of the Geneva Convention."


"Scattered Scenes, Scattered Thoughts"


Abeer Mishkhas noted in pro-government English-language Arab News (3/25):  "Someone said that we are watching two different wars--one on CNN and one on Al-Jazeera.  Each channel is following its own plan in order to achieve a desired effect. Again, how much of the coverage is true?  Each station has its own agenda and we, the viewers, have to put the pieces of the puzzle together and decide for ourselves what is happening....  No matter who wins this war, it's become obvious that in today's world, there is no place for censorship.  There is always a way to find what is happening.  The media will be the only winner in this war or in any future war, for that matter."


SYRIA:  “Price Of Arrogance Will Have To Be Paid”


Government-owned Al-Ba’th editorialized (3/25):  “With exposure of the heavy casualties inflicted on the American-British forces, the U.S. people have started to realize the dangers of this unfair war and the dangers of not restraining an administration that cherished the idea of invading another country.  Americans will soon have to pay the price for their arrogance.  Suddenly Bush remembers the UN and the existence of international treaties just when he discovers quick support in the Geneva Convention."


TUNISIA:  "Lie And Truth"


Independent French-language Le Quotidien stated (3/25):  Lie:  Americans have sworn that the 51st Iraqi brigade and its chief, General Khaled Al Hachemi have surrendered without resistance.  Truth:  The day after, we saw General Khaled Al Hachemi accompanied by his men, affirming on TV that his brigade was there and that it had inflicted losses on the Americans.  Lie:  Americans have affirmed that their missiles and bombs are so intelligent that they attack only strategic targets, avoiding civilians.  Truth:  A few days later, televisions have shown the result of these "smart bombings." It was dozens and dozens of Iraqi civilians killed and in the hospitals.


"Iraqi Resistance?"


Editor-in-chief Noureddine Achour observed in independent Arabic-language As-Sabah (3/25):  "It is evident that the American administration has lost the war on the media level.  Last Sunday was the Iraqi day.  The photos shown on TV and the acknowledgment of the American and British officials of what is happening on the battle field--that the Iraqi resistance had surprised everybody and answered the early claims by American-British information channels that they had achieved progress in their way towards Baghdad....  The likely developments of war, in particular when the American administration will enter Baghdad or lay siege to it, represent a grave danger to the Iraqi people.  Especially because Washington and London are looking for a 'quick victory' which will allow them to raise morale in America and Great Britain. This means that nothing will stop them from undertaking anything...against the Iraqi civilians."




MALAYSIA:  "Busting The Myths Of The Iraq War"


The government-influenced English-language Star had a column by Bunn Nagara noting (3/23):  "Truth is often said to be the first casualty of war, usually because warmongers feat that their war plans can be a victim of the truth.  U.S. and British leaders made truth an early casualty long before unleashing their latest attacks on Iraq.  The idea of war as liberation comes as a late afterthought from Bush, after his other reasons for war failed to impress the world.  The unjustified and unpopular nature of this war has thus required a web of deceit, disinformation and lies that only seem impressive to the naive and interesting to the opportunistic."


PHILIPPINES:  "Making Such A Fuss"


Max Soliven, publisher of the independent Philippine Star (3/25) wrote:  "I'm a bit surprised that the Americans, including President...Bush...are making such a fuss over the fact that U.S. soldiers...have been taken prisoners by the Iraqis.  Or (over) the casualties...their Marines and other troops have been suffering.  Did they expect that the invasion of Iraq would be a cakewalk?...  The Brits, who in relative terms have more loss (sic)...have been more sanguine about the...fatalities....  This has been Tony Blair's moment of agony, but he put a courageous and compassionate face on it."




Gonzalo Jurado wrote in the independent Manila Times (3/23):  "When propaganda is analyzed in terms of its impact on people's minds, that on the war on Iraq being waged by the United States will perhaps go down in history as the most effective.  Never has anything in recent memory been presented to the world's people in so one-sided a manner as this one....  CNN can be forgiven for dinning into listeners' consciousness, 24 hours a day, the U.S. government's viewpoint....  After all, CNN is American- (rather Australian-) owned.  Less easy to forgive is that segment of local media, in print and in television, that is also busy propagating the American party line."


SOUTH KOREA:  "Media Cheers U.S. Soldiers As If Playing A Game"


Pro-government Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (3/25): "Anti-American sentiments--sparked by the USFK's wrongful handling of the deaths of two Korean girls by a U.S. armored vehicle--are spilling over into the current anti-war sentiment. As the mouthpiece of the Korean people, the National Assembly must reject the troop dispatch bill which will result in Korean's participation in an illegitimate war."      


THAILAND:  “Media: Sorting The Wheat From Chaff”


The independent, English-language Nation opined (3/25):  “It is perhaps too much to expect American journalists to be strictly objective about a war involving their fellow countrymen.  Still, such is the global reach and technological superiority of their networks that they should remember they are also reporting for the world and have an obligation to try to be as neutral as possible....  In an age where technology makes escaping images of this war just about impossible and where the international community gets smaller and more inter-dependent by the day, it is important for all of the world’s citizens to be well informed of conflicts such as the one being waged in Iraq.  This means treating what you read and see with skepticism, taking advantage of the plethora of media sources out there, from CNN to Al Jazeera to the mountain of data available on the Internet and in the print media, and being able to distinguish the good reporting from the chaff.”


INDIA:  "U.S. Falsification"


Urdu-language nationalist Rashtriya Sahara commented (3/25):  "With the intensification of hostilities in Iraq, the U.S. is intensifying its campaign of forgery and falsification to increase psychological pressure on Iraq and mislead the world by deception.  With the war entering the fifth day, at least three lies have been exposed: one about the number of countries supporting the unjustified military offensive, second regarding the stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction, used as the key element of the vicious propaganda against Iraq and third that the people of Iraq are not to be made suffering due to the war."


PAKISTAN:   "Iraqi Resistance And World Responsibility"


Popular Urdu-language Din thundered (3/25):  "No doubt that the U.S. has lost the first propaganda phase of the war.  Nothing has gone in keeping with the plan....  By not surrendering right in the beginning of the war, Iraq has provided the world, especially the Muslim countries, with an opportunity to make a joint effort at the UN to stop American aggression."




TANZANIA:  "The World Should Rebuke America And Its Allies"


Kiswahili-language, widely-read tabloid Majira declared (3/25):  "Since last week there has been conflict pitting peace lovers who respect international laws and hate America's bullying, against war mongers and conflict lovers who have no respect for the United Nations.  America and its allies, most of them leaders of countries whose citizens are against the war, have decided to attack Iraq.  It is obvious that this war is aimed at satisfying America in the oil business, protecting Israel, expanding their bullying tactics to the Arab arena and President George W. Bush's own hatred.  These reasons are now causing human tragedy, whereby Americans are now being killed, captured, wounded, harassed and held hostages.  It is a shame on them.  We take this opportunity to beg the world to have one united stand in opposing this war, and rebuke America together with its allies for the killings they are causing.  We don't want the world to be as America wants it.  We agree that whoever is a threat to peace must be dealt with, but not by violation of peace."


UGANDA:  "So The UN Does Matter After All?"


Independent Monitor remarked (3/25):  "The world must have been jolted to hear US President George W. Bush and his Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld invoking the Geneva Conventions when American prisoners of war (POWs) were shown on Iraqi television.  All sides in a war should respect these Conventions that stipulate how POWs should be treated.  The Iraqis have said they will, but we would not be surprised if they did not.  When you have an adversary who has attacked you without a UN mandate, why should he require you to respect a United Nations convention?  Most likely the Iraqis will sneer at Mr. Bush’s sudden discovery of the need to respect the UN, international law and global public opinion.  Saddam Hussein will sneer because Mr. Bush cheerfully led the US government in rendering the UN irrelevant when he took the cynical road of unilateral action. So where does the United States derive the moral authority to invoke international law as prescribed by the Geneva Conventions?....  It is also quite troubling that Mr. Bush sees nothing wrong with American television networks happily broadcasting pictures of Iraqi POWs.  The Bush administration has also argued that captives from the Afghan war now being held at the Guantanamo Bay (in Cuba) cannot be treated according to the Geneva Conventions.  Such arrogance suggests that there is one standard for the United States and another for the rest of the world."


ZIMBABWE:  “Bush, Blair Are Villains”


Government-controlled Chronicle editorialized (3/25):  "We wish to see more gory pictures of mutilated British and American soldiers on our television screens.  This will serve as a lesson to those who believe that they can control the world and bully everybody.  It is disappointing that the world has stood by and let George Bush and his partner in crime, Tony Blair, kill innocent civilians under the guise of promoting democracy....  We are relieved that there are reports that the U.S.-led forces face fiercer-than-expected resistance, quashing hopes of a swift victory....  We urge the immediate resignation of Tony Blair and George Bush for crimes of war and crimes against humanity.”


“Coverage Of Iraq War Raises Questions”


The government-controlled Herald declared (3/25):  "The U.S. and the United Kingdom have allowed an unprecedented number of journalists, equipped with video cameras and video phones, to accompany their forces in the invasion of Iraq.  The Iraqis have allowed many journalists the same facilities in Baghdad....  So we see live coverage of the daily bombardment of the Iraqi capital.  The Iraqis have also made available footage of war-related news, such as the capture of American prisoners or pictures of dead U. S. marines in a morgue.  The Americans were very angry about the showing of the U. S. POWs on the world’s television screens, although quiet about live footage of Iraqis actually surrendering and not quite being POWs until that surrender had been officially accepted.  So while technically the American journalists were just legal while the Iraqi authorities were in breach of the Geneva conventions, the tiny difference is immaterial to those who were photographed....  It has already become obvious that the U. S. and Britain television coverage of the invasion of Iraq is far more one-sided than most editors of those television networks would desire.  This was inevitable since the ‘coalition’ has far more journalists out there sending far more material.  It has also been noticeable that the written reportage from the great news agencies, both those based in ‘coalition’ countries and those outside, has been far more analytical and made far more effort to try and see the larger story.  Newspaper reporters are trying to do both, give action coverage and proper analytical pieces and generally doing better than their television counterparts. Yet it is the television coverage that provides the images that so many will remember, and which swamps the international news channels.  The problems of how this ‘instant war’ can be balanced with more complete coverage are going to have to be addressed by journalists if they are going to continue to show those back home the full picture of just what is being done in their name”




BRAZIL:   "Iraqi Charade"


Ambassador J. O. de Meira Penna opined in independent Jornal da Tarde (3/25):  "At the very moment I am writing this article, French troops are participating in a civil war against Liberians and Guineans in Ivory Coast, where 300 civilians were killed in just one day....  As one can see, pacifism is highly discriminatory. Why then the wave of enthusiasm supporting one of the most totalitarian bandits in power in the Middle East?....  Dozens of wars and armed conflicts have taken place since the end of WWII and the UN never prevented any of them. Ignorance, hypocrisy, lies, demagoguery and leftist propaganda are active elements in the current discussion on Iraq....  Actually, there is only one reason [for the war]: to prevent the rise of a new kind of Baghdad caliphate armed with chemical weapons and possibly Pakistani nuclear weapons, capable of dominating all Middle Eastern oil supplies and strong enough to destroy Israel and absorb each of the Arab emirates."


"Conquests Of War"


Nelson Hoineff wrote in center-left Jornal do Brasil (3/25):  "Donald Rumsfeld's request for TV stations not to show images of American soldiers seized in Iraq was just one fact in the war of information that includes, for instance, a long text by Robert Fisk (from London's Independent) on the limits of the correspondents' freedom....  Fisk thinks the CNN system to approve stories is 'hateful,' a paranoid form of reporting, to say the least....  The promiscuous relation between the press and its sources, the conflicts of interests, the exposition of half-truths that hide the necessary context to understanding the facts, all of this is not only in the Persian Gulf.  It's right there, around the corner, daily affecting our way to see the world and cooperating to shape the world according to interests of doubtful nobility."


"War And Truth"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo held (3/24):  "As in the first Gulf War, the U.S. and Iraqi governments are taking pains to filter news from the front....  The difference is that the media of other nations are prepared to trust less in official sources of information....  One expects a more comprehensive view of the conflict, free of propaganda from both sides.  The U.S. wants to reveal evidence that Saddam maintained sizable quantities of chemical and biological weapons, a fact that, from the U.S. standpoint, would justify the attack. To what extent this evidence will be authentic is one of the questions to be examined."


GUATEMALA:   "Falsifying Data"


Victor Ferrigno commented in moderate, leading Prensa Libre (3/22):  "Very few times have I seen and heard so many lies and cynicism to justify a military intervention, in the midst of the era of communications, falsifying data, omitting information, confusing and disinforming....  It is clear that the United States seeks to impose a new world order, submitted to its interests.”


PARAGUAY:  "He Would Give His Life For Anyone"


Second-largest, conservative Noticias opined (3/25):  "The appearance of the POWs on a flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention....  The mother of George Hodgson...asked for humane treatment of her son....  In other circumstances this would be superfluous to ask this of Hussein.  But she surely knows that Saddam was capable of using chemical and biological arms against the Kurds....  He (Hussein) has been capable of scorning peace, he is capable of bringing a catastrophe down on his own people.  But there are people who are willing to confront Hussein, men like Patrick (another POW), who--according to his own sister--is a solder that would give his life for anyone."



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