War, Media, and Propaganda: A Global Perspective

By Arant, David | Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Spring 2006 | Go to article overview

War, Media, and Propaganda: A Global Perspective


Arant, David, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly


War, Media, and Propaganda: A Global Perspective. Yahya R. Kamalipour and Nancy Snow, eds. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2004. 280 pp. $75.00 hbk. $27.95 pbk.

After America's hot war in Iraq in spring 2003, a stream of books recounting the reporting of the war hit the presses, some memoirs of journalists embedded with the soldiers and others more critical reviews of the successes and failures of the media in reporting war to its citizens. War, Media, and Propaganda, which falls into the latter category, brings together an eclectic group of scholars and journalists to address the media's failures in reporting the war from a range of perspectives. Twenty-six authors write twenty-four chapters diverse in approach and style.

In the book's forward, Ben Bagdikian writes that the "painful message of the book" is the "unholy trinity of 'war, media and propaganda.'" In the Iraq War, the major media failed citizens because they were so wedded to relationships with high-placed official sources and to the protection of corporate media profits. Caught up in a dubious patriotism in time of war, the news media did not report what they knew about the Bush administration's false claims of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

The first group of chapters offers theoretical analysis of war reporting and related issues, including a critique of Western, free market economies as well as a background piece on Islam. Next a section of chapters provides various regional and national perspectives on the Iraq War and its reporting, among them Canadian, South African, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Latin American. The book concludes with articles recommending solutions to the problems posed in earlier chapters. R. S. Zaharna advances that the United States should stop confusing manipulative propaganda with public diplomacy, and Majid Tehranian concludes the book with ten commandments for peace journalism.

In the first chapter David Miller sets the tone for the book by marshalling evidence from military planning documents that government and military officials in the United States and the United Kingdom had established as their strategy total propaganda control. "It is evident that the United States and its ally, the United Kingdom, are intent on ruling the world and that information control has become central to that effort." Australian Naren Chitty considers attacks by extremist Islamists and terrorists as efforts to counter Western liberalism's forces of globalization. UCLA professor Douglas Kellner describes the Iraq War as the "Oedipus Tex drama ... George W. Bush's desires to conclude his father's unfinished business and simultaneously defeat Evil to constitute himself Good. …

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