David Petraeus “reflected an acknowledgment that more has to be done beyond the city’s bounds to halt a relentless wave of insurgent attacks that have undercut attempts at political reconciliation.”
Of course, occupiers always seek “political reconciliation.” As the Prussian general Karl von Clausewitz observed long ago, “A conqueror is always a lover of peace.”
At the same time, the more that an occupying force tries to impose the prerogatives of a conqueror, the more its commander must deny that its goals are anything other than democracy, freedom and autonomy for the
people whose country is being occupied. In medialand, the lethal violence of the occupier must be invisible or righteous, while the lethal violence of the occupied must be tragic, nonsensical and/or insane. But most of
all, the human consequences of a war fueled by U.S. military action are shrouded in euphemism and media cliche.
Which brings us back to violence at the remote. While a TV network may be no more guilty of obscuring the human realities of war than a newsprint broadsheet or a slick newsmagazine, we may have higher expectations that
the television is bringing us real life. Vivid footage is in sharp contrast to static words and images on a page. At least implicitly, television promises more — and massively reneges on what it promises.
We may intellectually know that television is not conveying realities of life. But what moves on the screen is apt to draw us in, nonetheless. We see images of violence that look and loom real. But our media experience of that violence is unreal. We don’t experience the actual violence at all. Media outlets lie about it by pretending to convey
it. And we abet the lying to the extent that we fail to renounce it.
Artifice comes in many forms, of course. In the case of television news, it’s a form very big on pretense. We’re left to click through the world beyond our immediate experience — at a distance that cannot be measured in
miles. But away from our mediated cocoon, spun by civic passivity, the death machinery keeps roaring along.
The documentary film "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep
Spinning Us to Death" — based on Norman Solomon's book of the same name —
is being released directly to DVD this week. For more information, go to:
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