Saturday, April 14, 2012

Iraq Wars & Western Media ; Propaganda Arms of Governments and Corporate Interests

Iraq Wars & Western Media ; Propaganda Arms of Governments and Corporate Interests 

by K. Gajendra Singh  12 March, 2004 
 "Demand a broader view." BBC   
BBC's Director General Greg Dyke, who resigned after Lord Hutton "white wash" of the British government role in the spat over correspondent Andrew Gilligan (in a Channel 4 News poll last week 90% thought Hutton was unfair), said that Prime Minister Tony Blair's top spin doctor Alastair Campbell had written letter after letter throughout the conflict. "What Alastair Campbell was clearly trying to do was intimidate the BBC so that we reported what he wanted us to report as opposed to what we wanted to report," he said. Dyke had attacked American television reporting of Iraq war  "For any news organisation to act as a cheerleader for government is to undermine your credibility," he said. "They should be... balancing their coverage, not banging the drum for one side or the other." He added that research showed that of 840 experts interviewed on American news programmes during the invasion of Iraq, only four opposed the war. "If that were true in Britain, the BBC would have failed in its duty."

How ever, BBC itself gave in its over all coverage a mere 2% time to opposition's anti-war voices, which was really the majority view of the British people. It was the worst of the leading broadcasters, including US networks, according to Media Tenor; a Bonn-based non-partisan media research organization. So much for the most hyped pristine western media outlet. ABC of USA with 7% was the second-worst case of denying access to anti-war voices.
In a 4 July, 2003 comment in " the Guardian" titled "Biased Broadcasting Corporation", Justin Lewis, Professor of Journalism at Cardiff University confirmed the above result while refuting the anecdotal view that BBC was anti-war in its coverage.  " Just the opposite was the truth". A careful analysis by the university of all the main evening news bulletins during the war, concluded that of the four main UK broadcasters - the BBC, ITN, Channel 4 and Sky, BBC's coverage was the worst in granting anti-war viewpoint. The BBC had "displayed the most pro-war agenda of any [British] broadcaster."  Matthew d'Ancona in the Sunday Telegraph described how "in the eyes of exasperated Blairites - the BBC whinged and whined, and did its best to sabotage the war effort". But the pattern that emerges from their study was very different.  

The supposed "impartiality" of the BBC did not fool many opponents of the war, who correctly saw it as a voice of the government. On March 29, 2003 for example, a demonstration by 400 anti-war protesters was held outside the BBC's office in Manchester and criticised the BBC for its pro-government and anti-Iraq coverage.
Changes in Media and Communication Systems.
Starting his diplomatic career as Press Attache way back in early 1960s in Cairo, which had 4 Indian resident correspondents, the writer also saw the transformation of print media offices from comfortable lived in pigsties with coffee cups, overflowing ashtrays and scissors and paste cuttings strewn all around to the present day surgical operation theatre cleanliness of media offices, but generally as a part of a business conglomerate. Regretfully it is natural that the media is increasingly manipulated and used by corporate interests in the West for propaganda against "those who are not with us ". From its responsibilities as the fourth estate, media has become a handmaiden of governments and means to communicate corporate policies. The commercialization of the global system is a very recent development. Until the 1980s, media systems were generally national, although much maligned by the west. While books, films, music and TV shows were imported, the basic broadcasting systems and newspaper industries were domestically owned and regulated. From 1980s, pressure from west dominated institutions IMF, World Bank and U.S. government itself to deregulate and privatize media and communication systems coincided with new satellite and digital technologies, resulting in the rise of transnational media giants in the West. 
The global media system and its control is expanding very fast with two largest media firms in the world, Time Warner and Disney, which generated around 15 percent of their income outside United States in 1990 reaching 30% by 1997 and hoping to do a majority of their business abroad in the next decade. The two have almost tripled in size in a decade. The major global players are Time Warner (1997sales: $ 24billion), Disney ($ 22billion), Bertelsmann ($ 15billion), Viacom ($ 13billion), and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation ($ 11billion). Many global media firms are also part of much larger industrial corporate powerhouses: General Electric (1997 sales: $ 80 billion), owner of NBC; Sony (1997 sales: $ 48 billion), and Seagram (1997 sales: $14billion), Of the firms that control world's film production, TV show production, cable channel ownership, cable and satellite system ownership, book publishing, magazine publishing and music production, half come from USA, others from Europe and handful from east Asia and Latin America. In 1983, the principal media outlets in America was owned by fifty corporations. In 2002, this had fallen to just nine companies. Today, Murdoch's Fox Television and four other conglomerates are on the verge of controlling 90 per cent of the terrestrial and cable audience. Even on the Internet, the leading twenty websites are now owned by Fox, Disney, AOL, Time Warner, Viacom and other giants. Just fourteen companies attract 60 per cent of all the time Americans spend online. And these companies control, or influence most of the world's visual media, the principal source of information for most people. The profits for a media giant income from media industries, film production, book publishing, music, TV channels and networks, retail stores, amusement parks is much more than magazines, newspapers and the like. Firms that do not have conglomerated media holdings simply cannot compete in this market. United States constitutionally has the freest press in the world. But by any standard of democracy, such a concentration of media power is troubling, if not unacceptable. 

In totalitarian societies, people take for granted that their governments lie to them, so people adjust accordingly. They learn to read between the lines. They rely on a flourishing underground "telegraph". In a poll held a few months ago. 70% Americans believed that Iraqis were connected with 11 September attacks in USA when no one was involved. Such a perception was possible only with distorted and half truths by top US leadership being dutifully disseminated by US media. "Of course it is self discipline ", Journalists and others protest: "No one has ever told me what to say." George Orwell wrote: "Circus dogs jump when the trainer cracks the whip. But the really well-trained dog is the one that turns somersaults when there is no whip."   

Public relations is the twin of advertising. In the last twenty years, the whole concept of PR has changed dramatically which has now become an enormous propaganda industry. In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that pre-packaged PR now accounts for half of the content of some major newspapers. The idea of "embedding" journalists with the US military during the invasion of Iraq came from public relations experts in the Pentagon, whose current strategic-planning literature describes journalism as part of psychological operations, or "psyops".

 Journalism as psyops 
The aim, says the Pentagon, is to achieve "information dominance" - which, in turn, is part of "full spectrum dominance" - the stated policy of the United States to control land, sea, space and information. They make no secret of it. A distinguished British author and broadcaster Sir Ludovic Kennedy recently complained that too many Asians and blacks were appearing on television channels in the United Kingdom." The statistical office tells me that the proportion of all ethnic groups [blacks, Indian, Pakistani, Asian] to whites in this country is no more than 7.5 per cent. "Political correctness has now got completely out of hand and requires that the imbalance be readjusted." Sir Ludovic should know that this is to establish identity and confidence in the international TV audience specially in the subcontinent to sell their programs including news, which means higher advertising revenue. The same marketing technique is abundantly employed by CNN too. The browns and blacks think like Anglo-Americans and just read out their scripts. At the peak of the cold war some Soviet journalists were taken around USA to watch TV programs, look at newspapers and listen to debates in the Congress. They were surprised that all were saying the same thing. "How do you do it?" the startled Russians asked their US hosts. "In our country, to achieve this, we throw people in prison; we tear out their fingernails. Here, there's none of that? What's your secret?"  Since the fall of the Berlin wall over $ 200 billion have been transferred from Russia to western banks and institutions under the charade of globalization. No wonder there is US media blast if Russian President Vladimir Putin tries to discipline the new billionaire oligarchs, who control most of the country's "Free media. 

 Mind Control –a Tool of Imperialism
"To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; and where they make a wilderness, they call it peace." - Tacitus throughout 20th century imperialism, the authorities of Britain, Belgium and France gassed, bombed and massacred indigenous populations from Sudan to Iraq, Nigeria to Palestine, India to Malaya, Algeria to the Congo. And yet imperialism only got its bad name when Hitler decided to be an imperialist. Of course behind the ideology of imperialism were euphemisms like white man's burden, civilizing mission, saving of souls. But now emboldened, even respected US academics freely use empire for US dominance, which it took over from the British. The way Tony Blair adapted UK policy for Bill Clinton or George W. Bush is like a doting mother Britannia in dotage succumbing to a willful and wayward son, America –a la Nero and his mother. Reportedly Blair even agreed for US benefit to just revealed phone tapping by operatives of UN offices in New York during the UN debates early last year on a Anglo-American resolution for a war on Iraq. Skewed media coverage remains the rule in Anglo-American media. Detlef Thelen, communications manager at the British Council in Berlin said "In Germany we always see TV shots of Beckham and lots about the UK music scene,". "In Britain, tellies focus on World War II ". And Nazis, as does Discovery Channel. How ever with US special forces coming cropper against Talebans and Al Qaeda troops, there have been few takers for Rambo and James Bond films since 11 September, 2001.

Propaganda against India
The writer knows only too well the propaganda wars waged against India during the Cold war period.  Even now CNN and BBC, when terrorists from Pakistan carry out attacks in India, parrot  " India claims this and Pakistan denies that ", even when the origins of terrorists are well documented.  CNN and BBC cannot find out the facts, but they immediately supported Tony Blair's discredited dossiers? When ever the Kashmir problem is mentioned, wars between India and Pakistan are repeated ad nauseum. Indian media never mentions millions of Christians and Jews killed by the Germans and British in two world wars when ever differences crop up between them. Or Hiroshima and Nagasaki when nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan are repeated on CNN, BBC and others. Was nuking of Nagasaki necessary? Western media or leaders do not even chide Pakistan when it resorts to nuclear blackmail against India. Of course now with Pakistan's nuclear bomb technology bazaar in the open, fears of fissionable nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorists loom large. This fact could be used against George Bush in the elections, although all US administrations since end 1970s are equally guilty. So another farce is being played out in western media i.e. soft-pedaling of proliferation of nuclear technology and missiles by Pakistan. That proliferation began first to Pakistan from China and western companies and then from Pakistan to other countries and was certainly within the US knowledge, which did little because of its short-term objective to revenge on USSR for its Vietnam humiliation. Pakistan was a critical ally in that mission. Soon after the with drawl of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, USA refused to certify that Pakistan did not have a nuclear program. US led western nuclear powers and China have tried to use Pakistan nuclear capability to roll back India's indigenous nuclear and missile programs. 
In India's 1965 war with Pakistan, BBC broadcast the usual lies about Indian soldiers running away from battle.  But when the better trained Indian soldiers used British made Centurion tanks to knock out a few superior US made Patton tanks, BBC were all praise for the jolly good Indian soldier.  US would grant Jets or Tanks to its ally Pakistan but when India bought arms from USSR to balance it, there would be an outcry from the western media. 

Decline of Western media
The writer had a ringside seat at Amman during 1990-91 Gulf war, which saw the beginning of steep decline of western media, while at the same time the Soviet Union disintegrated and collapsed.  While Izvestia and Pravada did not always purvey the truth but it exercised some restraint on distortions, half truths and lies spewed by western media. The BBC made uncharitable and snide remarks about the height of late King Hussein, (whose son King Abdullah from the British wife now rules the Hashemite kingdom), because he refused to join the coalition against Iraq to protect Jordan with 60% citizens of Palestine origin from a possible civil war.  He also genuinely worked for a peaceful solution. When Iraq closed foreign embassies in the city of Kuwait and cut their electric power, BBC gloatingly broadcast how the British diplomats opened champagne bottles for candle light dinner, still re-living the past glories of Khartoum, Calcutta or Shanghai.  

Management of Western media -Lies and Half Truths
Western media became the handmaiden of US led coalition in spreading false stories, "Yes, we have been asked to be on the standby.  We could be asked to accompany the coalition forces any time.  Everything is ready for an attack". So I was told in August when it was quite clear that till end November, 1990, US led allied forces were in no position to attack Iraq.  A reliable journalist told me that a few times western journalists would toss up some food packets and water bottles to thirsty and hungry refugees, who had trudged all the way from Kuwait, 1500 kms away and were camped in no man's land between Iraq and Jordan. Naturally the refugees scrambled for the food, which they then filmed and photographed for their readers back home.  

The Pentagon manufactured the story of bravery of US private Jessica Ryan, who was in fact saved and sent back by Iraqis at considerable risk.  And of course there remains the mystery of the full details of the last meeting between the US ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie and Saddam Hussein in Baghdad on July 25, 1990 when she told the Iraqi President that his dispute with Kuwait was a bilateral Arab matter. This was never refuted by USA. Glaspie then disappeared from public view, and was barred from giving interviews or writing a book. (She was last heard as Consul General to South Africa –a certain demotion!) The Western media did not pursue her as they do others for exclusive interviews or books. It was also most disconcerting to see how western media allowed itself to be censored and manipulated. For the first time perhaps in history, media access to rank-and-file soldiers in the field was prevented by US military brass in order to kill any criticism of the purpose or the conduct of the war.  It is estimated that between hundred to 150,000 Iraqi soldiers died in the war, many were killed while retreating or wanting to surrender. There were reports of taped conversations when US pilots shooting at retreating soldiers were exultant at "target full areas " as if doing target practice. There has been no impartial investigation of these reports, which if confirmed could bring charges of violation of international law, human rights and genocide. Non-American dead soldiers and civilians do not count. Marshall Mcluhan (1911-1980), "guru" of media culture and famous for his best-selling book The Medium is the Message probably meant that the message is greatly impacted by the delivery system. Some would understand this position to be the ultimate in media determinism. Even he found the 1991 Gulf war an exceptionally difficult story to cover, due to its highly technological nature and to the logistical barriers erected by both sides: neither the allies nor Iraq respected the concept of journalistic neutrality; both sides saw reporters as intruders. Perhaps the Iraqis gave CNN more freedom than did the USA. 
Hounding of Honest Mediamen 
Peter Arnett, a 1966 Pulitzer prize winning journalist and CNN became household words for his daily TV broadcasts from Baghdad during the 1991 war. But his hounding and final dismissal in 1999 illustrates the lengths to which US military and intelligence establishment would go. He was criticized by the US government and military circles for his objective reportage of civilian casualties resulting from the US bombings in Iraq. When Arnett reported the truth about US bombing of baby milk powder factories, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater claimed was "a production facility for biological weapons". When Arnett reported death of 400 Iraqis by two precision-guided missiles on a civilian air-raid shelter in the Amariya district of Baghdad with women, children and old men packed inside, Fitzwater called him a lair.  He was denounced in US congress as "the Joseph Goebbels of Saddam Hussein's Hitler-like regime.  "  

The CNN president received furious complaints from Congressmen but the Pentagon "resisted a more direct way of controlling the media in Baghdad by not bombing the al-Rashid Hotel or the Information Ministry." General Colin Powell, then joint chief of staff chairman, was indignant at the very thought. "But since then, the tolerance of unpleasant war images seemed to have taxed the patience of American policymakers.  The Clinton administration approved the bombing of the television centre in Belgrade during the Kosovo war just hours after several western TV reporters had completed their evening newscasts.  The Kabul bureau of the controversial al-Jazeera, the "Arab CNN", was blown apart during the assault on Kabul in 2001" During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, at least 16 journalists were killed and nearly 50 injured mostly by US forces. No satisfactory explanations have come up.  

BBC is more sophisticated than gung-ho Fox channel and others in USA Tim Sebastian in his "Hard talk" could be less biased. John Simpson is honest but admitted he has problems with BBC. He accused the Fox News channel overtaking CNN and with other US journalists of cheerleading the world to war against Iraq. Fox News was "dysfunctional, grotesquely patriotic and embarrassing" and had misled the American public after September 11 with "hysterical, excitable reporting", he told an audience at the Cheltenham Literary Festival in end 2002.  As a result the US public was horribly misinformed.  He added  "I went to Ground Zero and I found that many people believed US immigration policy was the reason why America was so disliked. Thank God I don't have to broadcast to them.  There is no recognition of linkage with America's support for Israel. " But the whole of western media including BBC and their anchors at the studios were embarrassingly breathless and uncritical in covering the organized toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square in April led by members of the Iraqi opposition just flown in by the US.  While US-UK protested when their captured soldiers were shown on Arab TVs, their callous display of an apparently drugged Saddam Hussein was objected to even by the Vatican The American attack on Afghanistan in 2001 was reported as a liberation. But it is quite clear that, for 95 per cent of the people, there is no liberation.". 

US Goals and manipulation
But for the French, German media and others like the Independent, the Guardian, the Observer etc in UK print media, it would be a hopeless position. The film director Oliver Stone warned last year that the independence of British news media would be destroyed if US conglomerates were allowed to buy into them. "I was shocked at how superficial and sentimental the American coverage of the Iraq war was - all Private Jessica Ryan, and no coverage of civilian casualties. In Britain, you have a wider view, and people are more independent. 
"Goebbels said the bigger the lie, the more people will believe it, and I am afraid that is the American case. In America the media is amazingly conformist. We are living in an age of spin. Now there is a law before parliament which would allow the US media to buy into your media. That'll be the end of the independent British media." 
In their book, "Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq ", Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, from the Centre for Media and Democracy, a watchdog organization that monitors the public relations industry, expose the process of deliberately and aggressively using propaganda, distortion, misinformation and outright lies, as a substitute for honest policy formulation and presentation, in relation to the American case for war on Iraq, It exposes the interconnections between the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department and a number of America's largest public relations and advertising firms. One such firm was Benador Associates, "a high-powered media relations company that acted as a sort of booking agent" for Middle East "experts" affiliated with neoconservative think tanks. 

According to Rampton and Stauber, Benador's success in filling the media with the views of their clients "was all the more striking in comparison with the slight attention that media and policymakers paid to the 1,400 full-time faculty members who specialise in Middle East studies at American universities". Thus "weapons of mass deception" consisted of the continuous manufacture of post-September 11 fear by terror alerts, raids and deportations, the flooding of an uncritical media with endlessly repeated government statements and supporting commentary, the use of emotive language (such as "regime change", "liberation" and "coalition of the willing") that concealed reality, and the displacement of independent assessment by self-chosen 'experts' from lavishly funded support groups and think tanks. One proclaimed goal of the war was to disarm a despotic dictator of its Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). On present evidence Iraq did not in fact have WMDs shattering Anglo-American credibility. The US-UK claim was doubted by the rest of the world and the millions of pre-war protestors, and UN arms inspectors like Hans Blix, Scott Ritter and the others who predicted no WMDs would be found.
Nuanced Campaign by US leadership?  
Only in September President Bush admitted that "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th," Bush said. But critics said that the damage was already done and that the administration deliberately kept the theory alive. An earlier Washington Post poll found that 69 percent of Americans thought it was likely the former Iraqi dictator had a role in the attacks. While no one directly accused Saddam of complicity in the 9/11 attacks, administration statements over the past two years, contributed to the 9/11 misconception by juxtaposing al-Qaida's deeds with the potential threat posed by Iraq.  

In his State of Union Speech on Jan. 28, 2003, President Bush said, "With nuclear arms or a full arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam Hussein could resume his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East and create deadly havoc in that region. And this Congress and the American people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaida. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own." 

 On April 24, 2003, Bush repeated. -" --After the attacks of September the 11th, 2001, we will not allow grave threats to go unopposed. We are now working to locate and destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. This is a historic moment. Just over a month ago, not all that long ago, a cruel dictator ruled a country, ruled Iraq by torture and fear. His regime was allied with terrorists, and the regime was armed with weapons of mass destruction. Today, that regime is no more." On May 3, 2003 George Bush continued,  "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that still goes on. al-Qaida is wounded, not destroyed. The scattered cells of the terrorist networks still operate in many nations. And we know from daily intelligence that they continue to plot against free people. The proliferation of deadly weapons remains a serious danger. —"  
George Bush was supported by his Secretary of State Colin Powell  (who has been far from happy among hawks) .In a statement to UN SC on 5 February he said;"But what I want to bring to your attention today is the potentially much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder. Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida lieutenants. … But Baghdad has an agent in the most senior levels of the radical organization Ansar al-Islam that controls this corner of Iraq. In 2000, this agent offered al-Qaida safe haven in the region.  

"We know members of both organizations met repeatedly and have met at least eight times at very senior levels since the early 1990s. In 1996, a foreign security service tells us that bin Laden met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official in Khartoum and later met the director of the Iraqi intelligence service. Saddam became more interested as he saw al-Qaida's appalling attacks. A detained al-Qaida member tells us that Saddam was more willing to assist al-Qaida after the 1998 bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Saddam was also impressed by al-Qaida's attacks on the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000."
In an interview with NBC's Tim Russet on September, 14, 2003 Vice President Dick Cheney said. "---We learned more and more that there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida that stretched back through most of the decade of the '90s, that it involved training, for example, on BW and CW, that al-Qaida sent personnel to Baghdad to get trained on the systems that are involved. The Iraqis providing bomb-making expertise and advice to the al-Qaida organization. 

UK Policy-Blind support by Blair," History will forgive" 
Tony Blair has remained insistently messianic .On September, 24, 2004 he said " Not only do we know that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, we also know he is capable of using them. Saddam must disarm or face the consequences " .He said on 30 November, 2002," The biological agents we believe Iraq can produce include anthrax, botulinum, toxin, aflatoxin and ricin. All eventually result in excruciatingly painful death. His other claims are:" We are asked now to accept that in the last few years - contrary to all intelligence -Saddam decided unilaterally to destroy those weapons. I say that such a claim is palpably absurd" (February, 25 2003) " The UN weapons inspectors say vast amounts of chemical and biological poisons, such as anthrax mustard gas and VX nerve agent remain unaccounted for in Iraq  (March18, 2003)" Before people crow about the absence of weapons of mass destruction, I suggest they wait a little bit. I remain confident that they will be found (March 20, 2003). There is no doubt about the chemical programme, the biological programme, indeed the nuclear weapons programme. All that is well documented by the United Nations (April 28, 2003). If we are wrong, we will have destroyed a threat that at its least is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering. That is something I am confident history will forgive (May30, 2003) Blair has now announced an inquiry into the "failure of intelligence" that denied him evidence of weapons of mass destruction, which he repeatedly said were his "aim" in attacking Iraq. Just as the brawl with the BBC and the Hutton inquiry were quite deliberate
distractions, so this latest inquiry is another stalling measure. By announcing an inquiry into an "intelligence failure", Bush hopes to cast himself as an innocent, aggrieved member of the public wanting to know why America's numerous spy agencies did not alert the nation .A fact confirmed by Bush's own weapons inspector, David Kay, that there were no weapons of mass destruction and probably weren't any since before the 1991 Gulf War.

Indian media
Before the arrival of the British East India Company in the late 18th century, the sub-continent's share in world manufacturing was 24.5 percent in 1750. But by the time the British had finished with India, the sub-continent's share had fallen to 1.7 percent (in 1900) and that of Britain increased from 1.9 percent (in 1750) to 22.9 percent (in 1880) (Rise and fall of Big Powers by Professor Paul Kennedy). Still anything British remains an ideal for many Indians. Made powerless the ruling Rajas and Nawabs lost themselves in wine and women and became literally impotent and could not even reproduce themselves .Now their heirs, mostly adopted, strut New Delhi's cocktail circuits. The misery, deprivation and famines of colonialism and the struggle for freedom is imprinted in Indian mind as a jolly good picnic by a slick Attenborough's film on Gandhi. He was even rewarded by the Indian government.  
 It showed the state's panic that it might spawn copy cats.  Unfortunately, Indian media still relies on Western media handouts for coverage of international events. Yes, there are some media men posted in Pakistan, USA and UK but many just report on the basis of the local media. 

The US administration was led into an ill advised war by neo-conservatives.  Half a millennia ago in 1509 the famous Dutch Renaissance humanist, Erasmus, wrote scathingly in his Praise of Folly "War is something so monstrous that it befits wild beasts rather than men, so crazy that the poets even imagine that it is let loose by Furies, so deadly that it sweeps like a plague through the world, so unjust that it is best generally carried on by the worst type of bandits, so impious that it is quite alien to Christ; and yet they leave everything to devote themselves to war alone. Here even decrepit old men can be seen showing the vigour of youths in their prime, undaunted by the cost, unwearied by hardship, not a whit deterred though they turn law, religion, peace and all humanity upside down. And there's no lack of learned sycophants to put the name of zeal, piety and valour to this manifest insanity," To those who oppose unjust and illegal wars and media manipulation, John Pilger offered these words of Mahatma Gandhi: "First, they ignore," he said. "Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win." 
Let us hope so.

Note ;It was first hosted by South Asia Analyses Group, among others in March , 2004.

(K Gajendra Singh, Indian ambassador (retired), served as ambassador to Turkey from August 1992 to April 1996 with concurrent accreditation to Azerbaijan.  He was earlier posted as ambassador to Jordan; Romania and Senegal. He is currently chairman of the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies. The views expressed are his own