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Hacktreks Travel

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters


James Skinner
Apart from wielding a great deal of power, make no mistake they’re also there for business and to make money

‘Shit; sniper fire 36 degrees east,’ shouted Charlie, member of one of the US armoured brigade peering out of the turret of his tank during a daily stroll through Baghdad. ‘Fedayeen, bastards. You’ll see!’ he added. Within seconds the mighty multi millimetre gun of this rambling mechanical Rambo had aimed and fired a lump of deadly fodder at a multi-storey building in the downtown area. Charlie went on, ‘let’s get out of here. Now!’ Whether or not a Saddam henchman had taken a pop shot at one of the elite US army’s moving blockbusters is not the issue. What Charlie and his crew did not realise is that they had blown a hole in the Hotel Palestine. They had claimed the lives of two journalists and injured several others. It was like kicking the top of a desert anthill, walking away and not looking back. They had accidentally inflicted a blow to another army, several to be precise involved in Gulf War II. The international media covering the war were all boxed up on one of the hotel floors. As they snapped away at Charlie’s tank two of them took the brunt of the blast and were given a one-way ticket out of Baghdad. Forever!

Whilst the British and American forces backed by a few Aussies were slicing their way through the deserts of Iraq, hundreds of media troops equipped with non-lethal weapons followed them around like hawks. They fired at random and in all directions. They slithered in and out of the columns of soldiers and mingled with civilians. They came face to face with the enemy, on either side and were welcomed like heroes. Yet they obeyed no commands nor did they fight against uneven odds. Did Charlie’s two angels die as soldiers, or as bystanders or as yet another group of civilian casualties of a brutal war? In fact they were front liners in a battlefield, part of a much larger armed force than the whole of the US military put together. Difference is that these combatants are universal and have no allegiance to any particular cause or country. Apart from wielding a great deal of power, make no mistake they’re also there for business and to make money! They do belong, however to a deadly and sinister force behind the scenes and remote from the action.

How can one compare the press with regular professional killers, you may ask. Let’s take a closer look at the structure, components, chains of command plus support services, and above all, the effects. Believe me, you’ve got a lethal machine that can inflict more blows than any group of Ghurkha throat slitters or phantom stealth bombers all put together. First you’ve got the top editor of any newspaper and his editorial staff pulling all the strings similar to the guys in the Pentagon. This lot are you’re regular army ready to fight it out with photographs, pen and paper, and plenty of backroom journalists analysing and presenting front page editorials ready to kill the eager and hungry public. Then you’ve got the television forces with a similar chain of command splashing out, at the touch of a button and in a split second live and moving images of the gore of war. With satellite coverage and mobile telecommunication connection I’d name them the media’s ‘Air force Supreme’. You guessed! The front line troops are all those that are feeding back the human suffering and carnage in picture and script form to an awaiting public who in essence are the casualties of this war of the media. These peculiar armed forces are made up of hundreds of regiments, divisions, platoons and soldiers, yet most are fighting for different leaders, or should we say paycheck?

Depending on what part of the world we’re talking about, all the murky information relayed from the battlefield is cleverly manipulated by the media’s operations centre and fired broadside at the public. If a US warplane drops its crap somewhere in Iraq, you can bet the photos in the Washington Post wont show the body of a headless child being rescued from the aftermath. This however would be splashed on the front page of the Egyptian dailies. If a television camera crew captured a Basra taxi driver hugging a British marine for the BBC, a similar ‘snapshot soldier’ would be transmitting pictures of screaming women asking for water on Cairo television. And then we have the politicians. How do they fit in this media war?

There was a sick joke doing the rounds prior to the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Asked at a press conference on how many people would die during the war, Bush replied, ‘two million Muslims and a dentist.’ ‘A dentist, why a dentist?’ asked an eager beaver reporter. Bush looked at Rumsfeld and said, ‘there you are. Typical of the press, they don’t care about the Muslims.’ Apart from the stupidity of the joke itself, it shows the special relationship between press and politicians, in this case the USA. Both are playing a sort of public poker game to see who outdoes the other. On the other side, you’ve had the disinformation minister of Iraq, lying through his teeth about the Anglo-American invasion. Suddenly he is off the air and disappears into thin air. Or was the Arab reporter just running for safety, away from American fire? All this raises the question about who really is in charge of what and, in particular whenever some large shooting match takes place. The influence carried by daily headlines and opinion articles, coupled with chat shows and super intelligent analysts can swing public opinion up and down like a yoyo. If all those in government power, be they Arabs, Americans, Europeans or Japanese, did not take note of the attacks or the ‘kiss-me-quickies’ from the effects of the media, how could they continue to fool the public about what the hell this bloody war was all about?

Yet one cannot run away from the tremendous effect that the media have had on public opinion throughout the world on the issue of the invasion of Iraq. Whether one is for or against the ousting of Saddam Hussein or agrees or disagrees on the future global impact that this war will have, the fact remains, had it not been for the media we would never really know or be able to judge. Not everyone, including many in power appreciates the geopolitical changes taking place nor do most of the demonstrators that have vehemently defended the cause for peace really understand the reason for this war. The massive army of reporters have tried their best to present their visions and points of view through their constant bombardment of news. Although it is up to us, the general populous of the world to draw our own conclusions and thank the media for their fireworks, the question will still linger on for generations to come. Why does humanity continue to slaughter itself, over and over again? There isn’t a living, wounded or dead journalists that can answer the question.’

© James Skinner. April 18th 2003

Divide and Conquer
James Skinner on the disintegration of Euro politics

Islam v Consumerism
James Skinner on the origins of the current conflict

The Sinking of The Prestige
James Skinner on the poisoned beaches of Spain
'Much too little too late'


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