I have a tendency to think that the way the American media has been framing the Iraq war is quite different from the way the White House has been framing it even though the White House has been doing it right out in the open for all of us to see. But the thing is, the White House hasn't gone out of its way to point out the difference, or if they have, they haven't bothered to mention that the media is framing it wrong. Perhaps it has been convenient for the media to portray the war as something that will end soon. Perhaps that helps win public support.
This PBS interview was a good example of what I'm talking about...
The interviewer, PBS News Hour's Jim Lehrer, kept framing the questions in such a way as to let the president explain how his new approach will hasten victory and thus how it will bring about the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
President Bush kept replying about how important it is for the US to succeed in Iraq. But he defined success in terms that don't lend themselves to the withdrawal of troops from Iraq or from the Middle East. He defined success in terms of establishing governments friendly to US interests. He defined success in terms of preventing the money that purchases Middle East oil from getting into the hands of radical Islam. He defined success in terms of preventing governments friendly to radical Islam from controlling the supply of oil. And he defined success in terms of implementing the new Iraq oil law which assures access to Iraq's oil by multinational corporations.
Jim Lehrer framed the interview in terms of bringing home the troops. President Bush framed the interview in terms of keeping the US troops busy in the Middle East. He did not frame it in terms of bringing them home.
But that's the thing. The White House has framed this war as a generational conflict right from the beginning. They haven't done a particularly good job of explaining it to the American people, but they haven't exactly kept it hidden either. On the other hand, the American media has refused to cover this whole concept of a generational war. The war will go on for as long as there is a significant quantity of oil beneath the feet of Muslims. The White House not only knows this but has been telling us this ever since Bush became President of the United States. And if you do a little research you will find that the neo-conservatives have been telling us this for decades. All that was needed was for something to jump-start American public opinion to get the war going.
But the strange thing is that this isn't a "liberal media" vs. "conservative media" thing. The American public is being exposed to this false "bring the troops home soon" frame by all media outlets in the United States. There isn't a single American media outlet that I know of that is presenting this war from the perspective of the White House. What's really going on in the Middle East is out of sight to the American public, both liberal and conservative.
For instance, I was talking with my brother-in-law the other day. He's been pro-war for far longer than the war's been going on so he supports Bush all the way. He also listens to a lot of conservative talk radio. He expressed to me how angry he is with Maine's Senator Olympia Snowe who is expressing opposition to this new "surge" idea. He framed it with an analogy to a carpenter who had a new house three-quarters built and there was a debate about quitting before the job is done. As I recall, Olympia Snowe correctly framed it as the threat of a new form of aggression against Iran. My brother-in-law, well informed by conservative talk radio, hadn't even taken that into consideration. How can the job of rebuilding be three-quarters complete if we launch into Iran for a decades-long war against Islam? The idea seemed new to my brother-in-law and he wasn't prepared to say whether we should go to war with Iran. He certainly wasn't prepared to explain how this "surge" and Bush's rhetoric will prevent such a war.
The fact that the entire American media, liberal, conservative, and otherwise including nearly all the blogs, is framing this war debate in terms of victory and the returning troops leads me to believe that this debate is being framed by someone who has a great deal of control over American propaganda. You see, this whole notion that there will soon be a victory and the troops will soon be coming home is just that, just propaganda, just a carrot on a stick to get the American public to continue supporting this war. The whole notion that the war is against "radical Islam" which all westerners need to fear is propaganda. The war is for western interests, multinational corporate interests, to dominate Middle Eastern governments, people, and resources. There will be no recognizable "victory" in this war. We should take Bush for his word when he explains that to us.
We should begin to listen using the framework laid out by the White House, not by the media propaganda machine.