“The Atrocities in Aleppo are taking place”:
“The Gulf War will not take place”, “the Gulf War is not taking place” and “the Gulf war did not take place” was a series of essays in Liberation and The Guardian by Jean Baudrillard in 1991. In them, he argued that the difference between the propagandised images of the first war in the era of rolling news, and the actual atrocities taking place in Iraq – with no real scrutiny of death rates, and heavy Pentagon influence over coverage – was so great that they could not be given the same name. If “The Gulf War” was the title given to the fictionalised simulation unfolding on TV; the simulacrum of a war; then we couldn’t also call the actual bombing, blood, death and horror in Iraq by the same name. The Gulf War is merely the title of a show whose screenplay was written in the bowels of the Pentagon building and read by ‘embedded’ CNN journalists to enthralled viewers. What really happened in the Gulf that year was fire, agony and anguish.
It seems to me that the terrifyingly cynical reaction from many to the ongoing atrocities in Aleppo is in part the result of two and a half decades of this media manipulation. People have become so cynical of anything which they believe approximates to the Pentagon line that they end up believing what is essentially the Kremlin line. They are so aware of the power of propaganda that they sneer at genuine footage of humans broadcasting their last, terrified words. As civilians are asphyxiated with poisoned gas, cynicised Westerners sniff the air and say “I smell bullshit”.
The age of cable news has given way to the age of social media; the age of rolling news to the age of scrolling news. There is propaganda, more than ever; from states and those who fight them, from corporations and their billionaire beneficiaries, from Washington and from Moscow. It comes in a different form from 1991, and it’s there more than ever.
We cannot, however, allow the knowledge of that to stop us from believing that atrocities are taking place. We cannot let critical questioning to lead to cynicism and cynicism to mean spirited smearing of those who suffer.
The atrocities in Aleppo are not a simulacrum. They are not a representation of a representation of brutality. They are real. And we can’t let the history of Pentagon propaganda poison us so much that we fail to see the truth when it unfolds, with all it’s powerful horror, in front of us.
Author: Adam Ramsay. Source on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adamramsay/posts/10101967125038061 Shared with permission.
Image credit: In Aleppo, Karm al Jabal. This neighborhood is next to Al Bab and has been under siege for 6 months, 4 March 2013. Credit: Basma via Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Syria-_two_years_of_tragedy_(8642756918).jpg