Wednesday, December 28, 2005

PROPAGANDA: LESSON 1


"The most dangerous untruths are truths slightly distorted." ~ Georg C. Lichtenberg, German physicist.


I have noticed something today that annoys me. Really annoys me. Check out the titles on these articles:


A. Kurds in Iraqi army proclaim loyalty to militia

B. Kurds plotting to break away

C. Kurds plan to invade South


These are all the same articles, except Article B is missing the last few paragraphs. Otherwise, they are the same. Same author, same news service, same story. What's the problem?

First of all the titles. Title A is somewhat neutral. Title B and C, on the other hand, are virtual spin machines, set into motion by the keywords, "plotting" and "invade," which are not neutral by any stretch of the imagination.

Let's look at the first couple of paragraphs:


Kurdish leaders have inserted more than 10,000 of their militia members into Iraqi army divisions in northern Iraq.

They are laying the groundwork to swarm south, seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and possibly half of Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city, and secure the borders of an independent Kurdistan.



Let's consider some keywords here. In the first line, we have "inserted." What does that mean? What does it sound like it means? It sounds like the treacherous Kurdish leadership is up to no good, slipping all those well-trained and experienced Kurdish fighters into the Iraqi army. Let's forget about the fact that the US has depended on Kurdish military help since before Day 1 of their excellent adventures in Iraq, to include the build-up of a reliable Iraqi army.

Let's also forget about the fact that one of the first US commanders in Mûsil, General Petraeus, arrogantly disregarded the advice of Babekir Zebarî and other leading veteran pêşmerge about the need to completely cleanse the area of the Ba'ath. Let's forget about the fact that this arrogant disregard led to the establishment of the Ba'athi/foreign fighter network that began relentlessly to murder Kurds, Christians and anyone else who got in their way. Of course, this eventually led to bigger problems after Fallujah was cleansed last November, and the Ba'athi/foreign fighters ran to Mûsil.

I certainly don't believe that Petraeus was acting on his own. He had to engage in arrogant disregard for experienced Kurdish advice on the orders of whomever it is that creates foreign policy based on US interests. The only question is one of whether the creator of this policy was the Pentagon or the State Department. My money is on the State Department because there isn't a bigger pack of Kurd-hating paranoiacs outside of Ankara. Okay, what does my use of the word "pack" mean? Trust me, it isn't neutral.

My point is that the use of the word "insert," is not correct and it leads one to believe that Kurds "infiltrated" the Iraqi army for nefarious purposes. This simply isn't true. The Kurds have cooperated with US forces from before the beginning and my use of Mûsil is just one example of this cooperation.

Second keyword is "swarm!" What swarms? Killer bees, locusts, day-after-Christmas shoppers. . . none of which are positive things. I doubt that pêşmerge are going to "swarm" into Kerkuk. Most likely, they will move in some sort of military manner, especially if they have to go in shooting.

Propaganda is very simple. All that you have to do is set the spin in the title and in the first couple of paragraphs. Then it will continue through the entire article because the spin, the feel, the tone of the article is set. In our present case, we now have something sounding like this in our reader's mind:


After treacherously inserting themselves as a fifth column within the Iraqi army, Kurds are continuing with their nefarious plans to swarm like locusts to the south and invade Kerkuk!



Are you kidding me?! Whose payroll is the author on? Ankara's? The Arab League's? Al-Qaedas? The US State Department's? Or what about the editors who wrote the creative and inflammatory titles?

Something else that gets a spin is the term "militia." Not all militias are created equal and, according to the new Iraqi constitution, not all militias are illegal or in any way negative, but are sanctioned by Iraqi law.

This article, under various titles, is being carried by hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs today. Not everyone is commenting on it, but they are carrying it, so it is somehow meaningful to them. The negative spin, from a Kurdish viewpoint, makes me wonder what kind of meaning it holds for so many people.

Do people realize that Kurds of South Kurdistan have been fighting against various Baghdad regimes since 1961? What do all these people think Kurds were fighting for? US interests? A unified Iraq? Does the US seriously expect that Kurds should simply lay down and become victims again, this time when Iraq finally, fatally cracks, and "swarms" of Arabs move north once again? Is this is the same type of mindset that opposes Kurdish use of armed resistance for any reason, usually with an argument designed to appeal to reason and level-headedness? Tell it to Helebce.

Independence is the dream. We all know there are still problems to be worked out in South Kurdistan--corruption in government, lack of infrastructure, violations of the right to free expression, as examples--but Kurds are already voicing their opinions on these topics and these things will change. Problems don't mean the dream is dead. On the contrary, the recognition of these things as problems proves that the dream is very much alive. Democracy isn't going to be easy but at least this democracy will be Kurdish.

To paraphrase a friend of mine: "Let the shit be our shit for a change, and not someone else's."

9 comments:

bhfrik said...

Hey Mizgin... I responded to your post on my blog and am interested in a dialogue with you on the matter. We can continue it there or here, or you can tell me to bugger off and I'll leave you alone. But I am very interested in your perspective and really do appreciate the post you left there. Please check the response and let me know if you want to continue the conversation, and if so where. Thanks.

Vladimir said...

Actually I edited the article myself. And made it into a propaganda version for Kurds:D.

Nice writing Rasti.

Juanita said...

Propaganda is very simple. All that you have to do is set the spin in the title and in the first couple of paragraphs. Then it will continue through the entire article because the spin, the feel, the tone of the article is set.

Exactly. For example:

"I beat my wife" said Rumsfeld, "at tennis last week" =

RUMSFELD ADMITS TO BEATING WIFE.

In a newsconference in Washington DC, Wednesday, Rumsfeld was asked if he ever beat his wife.
"Sure," he said, laughing. He acknowledged beating his wife just last week. Rumsfeld has been hounded by questions about just this sort of thing for weeks, ever since it came out that he beat his son .....

whatever

Mizgîn said...

bhfrik, I left comments on your page.

Vladimir, you little Kurd propagandist. . . where did you post your edition of the article? I see that KM.com has a number of articles on this, and the related subject of Kerkuk. I also noticed that even more bloggers were carrying this article today. Honestly, I don't know what these people think, but they certainly appear ready to sacrifice more Kurds for their Iraq.

Mizgîn said...

Juanita, good point! The whole thing is context, and I think the context of this particular article was missing. . . in fact, a lot of context was missing. However, if the article is read closely and the spin discarded, one can see that the Kurdish leadership is planning their strategy for what to do if Iraq doesn't work.

If you were a Kurd in an Arab military unit, would you be willing to fight your Arab comrades-at-arms in order to get to a place where you could defend your homeland?

Some of my friends and I have discussed this possibility and what should be done. It only made sense to us to play the game for the benefit of Kurdistan, but to be prepared, with plans in place, in case the worst happens. I am happy to see that the Kurdish leadership is at least as smart as we are. In that case, they are sure to go far. . . :P

Vladimir said...

It's in Dutch. http://azady.nl/readarticle.php?article_id=138

I think it's kinda logical if civil war breaks out, the peshmerga's will fight for Kurdistan and not for Iraq.

But at the moment the Kurdish leadership is working FOR Iraq. But the peshmerga's will always stay loyal to Kurdistan. Americans think Kurds are proud Iraqi's. While they have never felt themselves Iraqi's, but Kurds.

There was no assimilation programme in South-Kurdistan. Kurds have never become Arabs!

Vladimir said...

Anyway something interesting for you: http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Dec05/Leupp1229.htm

Vladimir said...

And btw.. the report about Kirkuk is used again by Turkish Daily news: http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr

Turks liked this news.

Mizgîn said...

You know, Vladimir, one of the first thoughts I had about this article and its various, creative titles, was: "How much did the Turks pay to get this published?"

I can assure you, that if civil war breaks out and Başûr is threatened, there will be more than pêşmerge fighting. I was told repeatedly that if anyone invaded Başûr, everyone would fight, and I have no doubts about that at all.

Thanks for the DissidentVoice article. Turkey and Iran have been cooperating with each other, especially in regard to Kurds, so I think that Turkey is going to use the US as regards a possible Iran attack only to try to get rid of PKK. If they can come out of this scenario with a slight regional advantage over Iran, it will be the icing on the cake.

Most of the information there is well known, but the guy loses me at the mention of Seymour Hersh.