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Baltimore Sun's editorial imagery
serves as propaganda

From the Sun recently (11/11/00) came a crude editorial about Iraq and Saddam Hussein that looked like what one would expect from an official Iraqi newspaper, not one in the "land of the free." Entitled "A winner in the Middle East," the first thing you see is that the Editorial Editor thoughtfully included a menacing, scowling cartoon of our Official Enemy inside it. And how does Hussein offend us now? We're told he's a big winner in the recent, extremely one-sided clashes that have occurred between Palestinian boy rock-throwers and Israel's shoot-first military.

The article goes on to say that Hussein, with his background of unusual and indefensible aggression against his neighbors, is posing as the champion of the Palestinians in this dark hour for them. What the editorial doesn't hint at is that former President George Bush, who played the cop to Hussein's villain, also invaded Panama and committed a level of state-sponsored terrorism against Iraq that Hussein will likely never equal anywhere. Also, in private cables on the eve of the August, 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Bush's ambassador, April Glaspie, told Hussein that the U.S. had little interest in whether Iraq invaded. And, Kuwait was slant-drilling for oil into Iraqi territory. Ironic, indeed, that Bush the oilman would start a war against a country that was being slant-drilled.

The editorial proceeds to discuss Hussein's recent good fortune in dark tones. Planes from many countries have been landing in Baghdad despite the "No-fly rules" the U.N. has mandated largely from U.S. influence alone. And, we're informed that Hussein has continued to refuse to allow U.N. inspectors to come in and sniff for weapons. A grave omission is again encountered. The sad history of how the U.N. inspectors really were spyingăas Hussein was saying in 1998 before Clinton bombed Iraq anyway, with the Washington Post knowing all and saying nothing until afterwards, has been mentioned in MediaWise before. (Visit http://www.fair.org/extra/9903/unscom.html for a recap.)

The last paragraph of the Sun's editorial adheres tightly to the Official Plan for Iraq. We're told that while the economic sanctions are only hurting "the ordinary people" (i.e., we've starved to death about a million children by now), we should all be cautious about letting Hussein get his hands on U.N. escrow accounts because he's really, really a dangerous man. (Perhaps someday Hussein will even have killed as many innocent people as Bill Clinton.)

By itself, the editorial is ridiculous, primitive and extremely servile to power. However, this being the editorial page, where opinions are often published in contrast to each other, what should we all think about the Sun's stamping the editorial with a menacing cartoon of Hussein from within it? We'll discuss that shortly.

In the Washington Post recently (10/29/00) was an Op-Ed written by "former" CIA agent Reuel Marc Gerecht. I believe it works on two levels. On the surface, we're again reminded Hussein is the most fearful individual on the planet. However, this time the focus of the commentary is on Iran, which the author is comparing unfavorably with Iraq. The solution to our dilemma caused by Iran, says Gerecht, is for our country to rush out and implement a national missile defense shield (NMD) on our navy's warships as they patrol the Persian Gulf. As countless of right-wingers have argued before, failure to enact NMD ASAP could bring on disastrous consequences.

But Gerecht is also saying something else. The first clue is in the first paragraph: "If Saddam Hussein had the bomb, the [Iranian] mullahs wondered, would the United States have challenged his conquest of Kuwait?" Notice that like much of the commentary in the mainstream corporate newspapers since it took place, Gerecht is not stating which side started the Gulf War.

Gerecht now lays out the case against Iran. They've recently fired a Shahab 3 intermediate-range missile. He tells us it is "unquestionably [a] delivery vehicle for a nuclear warhead." He then tells us that Iran's firing a missile is also their "answer" to the question the first paragraph posed about Hussein and the bomb. His closing remarks are significant:

"...a ship-borne anti-missile system [is needed] by the time Iraq and Iran go nuclearăthe only credible way we can both spook our enemies and gird our own loinsăthen the Middle East will certainly give us a new, provocative 'dialogue of civilizations.' We won't care for the conversation." (Gerecht, Washington Post, 10/29/00)

Gerecht's "dialogue of civilizations" reads to these eyes as concern that Iran will be able to defend itself from a U.S.-led attack comparable to Bush's Gulf War. Meanwhile, the rest of the article looks like just another one arguing that it is critical for the security of this country to immediately deploy a missile defense system.

Above the editorial, the Washington Post inserted a photograph. Pictured, without any caption, is Khatami speaking, apparently at an official press conference. Above him and to the side is a sinister portrait of the late Ayatollah Khomeni, very familiar to the west. This photograph is probably the most frightening one of Khatemi that the Post has in their archives.

The Sun and the Washington Post appear to be leading their editorial sections towards official state propaganda with such illustrations. When newspapers take commentary which by itself is authoritarian and imperialistic and illustrate it with inflammatory pictures of foreign leaders, the effect can only contribute to group hysteria.

Scott Loughrey

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