"Why, of course, the people don't want war," Goering shrugged. "Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? ... That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship ... That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."
From the start, the invasion of Iraq was seen in the US as a marketing project. Selling 'Brand America' abroad was an abject failure; but at home, it worked. Manufacturers of 4x4s, oil prospectors, the nuclear power industry, politicians keen to roll back civil liberties - all seized the moment to capitalise on the war.
In response to complaints about restrictions on civil liberties, the attorney general, John Ashcroft, testified before Congress, characterising "our critics" as "those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty; my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists - for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies, and pause to America's friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil." Dennis Pluchinsky, a senior intelligence analyst with the US state department, went further still in his critique of the media. "I accuse the media in the United States of treason," he stated in an opinion article in the Washington Post that suggested giving the media "an Osama bin Laden award" and advised, "the president and Congress should pass laws temporarily restricting the media from publishing any security information that can be used by our enemies".
Peace groups attempted to purchase commercial time to broadcast ads for peace, but were refused air time by all the major networks and even MTV. CBS network president Martin Franks explained the refusal by saying, "We think that informed discussion comes from our news programming."
Like all good TV, the war in Iraq had a dramatic final act, broadcast during prime time - the sunlight gleaming over the waves as the president's fighter jet descended from the sky on to the USS Abraham Lincoln. The plane zoomed in, snagged a cable stretched across the flight deck and screeched to a stop, and Bush bounded out, dressed in a snug-fitting olive-green flight suit with his helmet tucked under his arm. He strode across the flight deck, posing for pictures and shaking hands with the crew of the carrier. He had even helped fly the jet, he told reporters. "Yes, I flew it," he said. "Yeah, of course, I liked it." Surrounded by gleaming military hardware and hundreds of cheering sailors in uniform, and with the words "Mission Accomplished" emblazoned on a huge banner at his back, he delivered a stirring speech in the glow of sunset that declared a "turning of the tide" in the war against terrorism. "We have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world," Bush said. "Because of you, the tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free." After the day's festivities, the Democrats got their chance to complain, calling Bush's Top Gun act a "tax-subsidised commercial" for his re-election campaign. They estimated it had cost $1m to orchestrate all of the details that made the picture look so perfect.Posted by tstubbs at July 12, 2003 12:02 PM