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The War Of Words Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Nandita Saikia, India Apr 5, 2003
Citizen Journalism   Opinions


The language of propaganda is referred to as the "fog of war", like everything else that's hazy, and deciphering it is no easy job - finds Nandita Saikia

No one has ever denied that the war in Iraq is being fought both through the media and on the battlefields. A wonderfully woolly expression we've heard a little too much of to describe the conflicting reports that are often aired is the "fog of war". One can't help but wonder if it's an adequate explanation to describe the progress of US and it's allies when the Iraqis have rubbished some of their claims as being 'silly'.

Take the case of Baghdad's Airport, for example. We first heard the US elatedly report that they were "in the vicinity of it". Never mind that the phrase conveys nothing, and journalists whom the Iraqis took there saw no sign of troops. The US has now apparently secured (or captured?) the airport and as far as the US and its allies are concerned, the airport is now Baghdad International Airport. The Iraqi officials obviously still call it Saddam International Airport.

And that's just one of the differences between not only the conflicting reports we've been getting but also the conflicting language being used by the opposing parties themselves but also the Pro and Anti-war factions (read media). The US and its partners refer to the War itself, as "Operation Iraqi Freedom" but to Iraqi officials, among others, it's an Invasion perpetrated by aggressors etc. otherwise known as the Coalition Forces.

President George W. Bush, who is apparently astoundingly popular within his own country, is a War criminal to the Iraqi Government. President Saddam Hussein, on the other hand, has had many rather colourful descriptions used to describe him beginning with "Brutal Dictator".

We suddenly heard a great deal about the Geneva Convention (that Iraq says it will follow) after pictures of US Prisoners of War were broadcast on TV but we still haven't heard anything about those being held at Guantanamo Bay as a result of the Afghan War, as far as I know. Does anyone know exactly what they are? Prisoners of War? Just plain prisoners?

And as for the Territory Gained in this war: Liberated or Captured, depending on how you'd like to think of it, Post war plans are still every bit as murky as ever. The US and its allies tell us that they plan to establish Democracy. Considering that they also seem to have an American figurehead waiting for the job, the words Colonisation / Occupation / Imperialism are also often heard.

The problem with such conflicting reports is that no one is entirely certain of what the truth is. All most of us have are telltale signs betraying the existence of an incomprehensible cocktail of fact, fiction, and rumour, with some of it probably being deliberately misleading. Despite claims to the contrary, it's obvious that no one thinks propaganda is a dirty word.

Copyright 2003 By Nandita Saikia

nandita_saikia@rediffmail.com or nanditasaikia@indiatimes.com



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Nandita Saikia

Nandita Saikia has had two books published: one on Business Communication and the other on Human Rights. She has has contributed to a number of publications on a wide range of subjects although her primary interests are domestic violence and choice inhibition.
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