Journalists and War – Thierry Meyssan/Voltairenet.org
The Security Council debate on the 27th May 2015 concerning the protection of journalists in combat zones improved almost nothing . Diplomats have accused various states of having killed journalists, or allowing them to be killed, without pointing out that the title of « journalist » may cover many different activities, including espionage, sabotage and terrorism.
Until now, it was thought that in order to benefit from the protection accorded to journalists, it was necessary to :
hold a Press card delivered by the competent authority of the journalist’s native country, or the country in which he or she was working ;
not to take part in combat ;
not to violate military censorship .
Note the strange quality of this last condition, which was initially intended for the protection of military secrets, but can also be used to mask propaganda and war crimes.
Besides this, it was considered that soldiers who worked as journalists for the military media, or civil journalists embarked by armies (embedded journalists) should not benefit from the status of journalist, but that of soldier.
Referring to the precedent of the assassination of Commander Ahmad Shah Massoud by two journalists, the United States claimed that the profession may serve as a cover for terrorist activities. More recently, British citizen Omar Hussein joined the Islamic Emirate and, under the pseudonym of Abu Awlaki, published laudatory articles about life under Daesh. However, these examples of journalists engaged in combat are entirely marginal. The real problem resides elsewhere, with the global media and 4th generation warfare (4GW).
The global media
Until 1989, the media were national. Propaganda could therefore only be addressed to its own camp. One could always distribute tracts by plane, or use short-wave radio broadcasting, but this would always be perceived as enemy activity.
In 1989, a US television channel, CNN, suddenly ’went global’ thanks to satellite technology. Its change of status – it was no longer an « American » station – guaranteed its neutrality in conflict situtations. It claimed to be a « continuous information » channel when it relayed the fall of Ceaușescu. Direct coverage guaranteed the prevention of manipulation and the restitution of truth.
In fact, exactly the opposite was true. The editorial office of CNN was – and has been definitively since 1998 – under the control of a military unit installed in its head office, the United States Army Psychological Operations Unit. Instead of presenting the events as they were, they presented a show directed by the CIA and the Pentagon. We remember, for example, the discovery of the mass grave at Timișoara. The images of the corpses of more than 4,500 young people , emptied of their blood to feed the dictator of the Carpathians who was suffering from leukaemia, or slaughtered during the demonstrations, were seen all round the world. Their faces had been mutilated with acid to prevent their being recognised. Here was the proof of the horrors inflicted on his own people by Nicolae Ceaușescu, the « Roumanian Dracula » . But alas ! We were to learn later that the bodies had been dug up in the town cemetry.
By instantaneously broadcasting false news to the whole world, the global media gave it the appearance of a shared truth. What consolidated this intoxication was the fact that it managed to convince the media of the Soviet bloc, Hungary and Eastern Germany, who picked it up. The facts were therefore authenticated by allies of Roumania. This explains the present competition between the major powers to obtain global channels of continuous information.
Furthermore, the ideas according to which « journalists are there to tell you what they see on site » and that « direct coverage prevents manipulation » are grotesque. On the contrary, journalists should not just be simple witnesses, but analysts capable of discovering the truth behind the appearances. That’s what they’re there for. So the concept of « continuous information » (in the sense of ’facts filmed without a break’ ) is the negation of journalism. Either journalists are there to compare, verify, contextualise, analyse and interpret, or else they serve no purpose.
NATO has never stopped fabricating manipulations like those in Timișoara – they did so during the wars in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq a second time, Libya and Syria .
The incorporation of war correspondents
Another bridge was crossed in 1992. You may have noticed that since that date, the United States and NATO have been constantly at war somewhere in the world. A new category of journalists has been created to cover these events. Just over a hundred of them were rushed to Bosnia, then to Baghdad, Kaboul or Tripoli, thereby giving a voice to adversaries of the West. However, not just a few, but almost all of them have become permanent collaborators with NATO secret services. And if they describe the results of bombing raids by the Alliance on civilian populations, it’s only to furnish military intelligence which will enable NATO to adjust their fire. From this point on, these journalists should be qualified as agents.
This is what I explained during the war in Libya, raising shouts of indignation from the profession. And yet this is exactly what Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard finally admitted once the operation was over. Speaking on Radio-Canada, he declared that NATO headquarters in Naples had been analysing the situation thanks to « intelligence which came from many sources, including the media on the ground, who gave us much information concerning the position and intentions of the ground forces ».
In order to accredit the myth of a « democratic revolution », in 2012, NATO produced footage of a ’show village’ in Syria. The cabinet of the Turkish Prime Minister organised on-site transport for any journalists who requested it. They were then able to film the demonstrations in the village and persuade themselves that the whole of Syria was like this. But the Syrian Arab Army also sent journalists – not Syrians, of course – to film the « rebels » in order to gather information on the support they were receiving from the Alliance.
So this week’s publication by the US Department of Defence of its Law of War Manual is welcome. It explains the evolution of war by affirming that certain journalists are in reality combatants .
By doing this, the Department of Defence is taking the risk that most Western war correspondents may now be declared « non-privileged belligerents », a category that it has itself created, and which deprives them of the benefits of the Geneva Conventions. In the next conflict, this could be the fate of collaborators of Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, BBC, CNN, Corriere della Sera, Fox News, France2, France24, Le Monde, Liberation, New York Times, Sky News, Washington Post etc… to mention only those I have been able to identify.
The false news videos
The situation was taken a stage further when, in 2011, the media used fictional videos which were shot in open air studios in Qatar, and showed in televised news broadcasts. This reached its apotheosis when Fox News, followed by all of the Atlantist and Gulf TV channels, showed fictional images representing the fall of Tripoli and the entry of the « rebels » into Green Square, three days before these events actually took place.
This point was violently denied by NATO before being admitted by the President of the National Transitional Council, Moustapha Abdel Jalil, at the microphone of France24, (in Arabic).
While the United States were negotiating a possible sharing of the « Wider Middle East » with Russia, in June 2012, NATO contemplated using the false news video technique to break the back of the Syrian resistance and seize power. Washington disconnected the Syrian television satellites of ArabSat, and were also ready to have them excluded from NileSat. An Atlantist channel pool (Al-Arabiya, Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN, Fox, France 24, Future TV, MTV) prepared to use images produced in the Qatari studios purporting to show the fall of the Syrian Arab Republic, and synthetic images imitating the flight of President el-Assad . The signal for the false Syrian channels was linked to ArabSat from the NSA base in Australia. However, the operation was cancelled just before the Geneve 1 conference due to international protest.
The laws of propaganda are always the same
However, technical developments do not modify the techniques of propaganda. The mechanism is still based on two principles :
by virtue of incessant repetition, a clumsy lie becomes indisputable evidence ;
it’s not enough to convince the people targeted by the lie, they must also defend it. They must be forced, by one means or another, to profess – even once – what they still consider to be a lie. Their own pride will then prevent them from going back to denounce the manipulation.
For example, when the British secret services launched the idea that the Syrian Arab Republic was dropping barrels of explosive from helicopters onto the civilian population, no-one believed it. In Syria, where President el-Assad was criticised for restraining the actions of the army against the jihadists in order to protect civilians, no-one believed it either. The accusation is all the more absurd since the army has bombs, supplied by Russia, which are far more efficient. However, after a year of daily repetition, this lie has become an uncontested truth, in the West as well as in Syria. It makes no difference that the army does not use helicopters over Aleppo because the jihadists can easily destroy them with surface-to-air missiles, the Press nonetheless published « testimony » on the dropping of barrels of explosives from helicopters over Aleppo.
The system is such that the journalists refuse to recognise that they have been fooled, and thus become propagandists who, in their turn, will repeat what everyone knew from the start to be a lie. De facto, these professionals who think they are honest, even though they are using fashionable rhetoric, are working to spread the lie.
The incorporation of the media into the art of war
Even though the false images of the flight of President el-Assad were finally not used in Syria, NATO has adopted a new combat technique – 4th generation warfare (4GW).
1st generation warfare was based on lines and columns, as in the 17th century. The armies were strongly hierarchic and moved slowly. But this organisation did not survive the generalisation of fire-arms.
2nd generation warfare was based on lines and fire-power, as during the First World War. But this organisation became bogged down in trench warfare.
3rd generation warfare concerned the infiltration of enemy lines and deep defence. It implied the participation of civilians, as during the Second World War. But this organisation did not resist the development of world arsenals, particularly the atomic bomb.
4th generation warfare is the war that we do not wage ourselves, but that we cause to be waged in far-off countries by non-state groups, as during the Cold War, with real and false insurrections.
In this type of warfare, which promotes general disorder, the Pentagon integrates the media into its general staff as part of their fighting units. We must remember that the media have evolved. They are no longer cooperatives, but capitalist businesses with paid personnel who can be fired on the spot. So we are no longer dealing with a hundred war correspondants who work undercover as spies, but media who participate in combat as they are, placing the whole of their personnel at the disposition of the armies.
It doesn’t matter here if the journalists themselves participate in military briefing or intoxication. Their work, even when it’s beyond reproach, is part of an ensemble which makes war. Worse – those who are sincere serve as a screen for those who cheat by lending them credibility.
Finally, resolution 2222 was only adopted unanimously by the Security Council because it does not correspond to the evolution of the journalists’ profession.
Translation: Pete Kimberley
*Plato’s Note: The article was accompanied by videos in French and Spanish without English subtitles, so I replaced them with What I could find on youtube. But, here below are the original video links from the article anyway: