Surrealpolitik

Surrealpolitik: Media & Terrorism: Global Perspectives

Authors: Des Freedman, Daya Kishan Thussu

London: SAGE Publications Ltd (2012)

Quick Summary

Comparative study about the ways terrorism is interpreted, challenged, promoted, and influenced by media in various cultural contexts around the world.

Quotes

There are 35 quotes currently associated with this book.

Virtual or real, national or transnational, state-sponsored or executed by small groups, terrorism in all its forms remains a central concern for contemporary societies. (page 1)

[From chapter: Introduction]
Tags: [Truth & Real, Propaganda, Postmodernism, Culture, Terror, Myth]
[I]n the post-Cold War, post 9/11 world a particular version of terrorism has come to dominate policy and media discourse internationally. The Kremlinologists have been replaced by the proliferation of 'jihadi studies', one leading exponent of which has baldly suggested that the 'war on terror' is going to be a generational event: The Longest War (Bergen, 2011). For the US, dealing with terrorism has become a major post-Cold War strategic priority. Given the primacy of the US as the world's largest economy and its formidable media, military and technological power, this strategic priority seems to have become a global political priority. By virtue of its unprecedented capacity for global surveillance, as well as its domination of global communication hardware and software (from satellites to telecommunication networks; from cyberspace to 'total spectrum dominance' of real space, and the messages which travel through these), the US is able to disseminate its image of terrorism to the world at large. (page 4)

[From chapter: Introduction]
Tags: [Truth & Real, Postmodernism, Terror]
'What are the connections between technological innovations and Western imperialism?' asks Headrick in his latest book. His answer is 'the desire to conquer and control other peoples; a technological advantage is itself a motive for imperialism' (Headrick, 2010:5). 'The Great American Mission', to borrow a phrase from the title of a book about America's global modernization effort -- 9/11 and its aftermath -- has given the US a pretext to shape the world to suit its own geo-strategic agenda (Ekbladh, 2009). (page 4)

[From chapter: Introduction]
Tags: [Universality, Globalization, Terror]
It is difficult to disagree with the observations of the historian of US imperialism Richard Immerman:

"The empire that America constructed in the twentieth century is the most powerful empire in world history...It has assembled institutions -- the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, the Organization of American States, the World Trade Organization, and more -- that provide potent mechanisms for global management." (Immerman, 2010:12)

The majority of mainstream media enthusiastically take part in this global management process. (page 4)

[From chapter: Introduction]
Tags: [Fascism, Propaganda, Globalization, Terror]
The global reach and influence of American media are well documented...The US vision and version of terrorism is therefore extended to reach a global audience. In Russia, the government has tried to link its Chechen problem with international terrorism, with the former Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov claiming that 'the war in Chechnya is against international terrorism -- not Chechens, but international bandits and terrorists' (cited in Gilligan, 2009: 6). The suppression of Muslim minorities in China's northwestern Xinjiang region was also framed as China's war on terrorism (Wayne, 2009). In India -- one of the countries worst affected by terrorism-related violence -- large sections of the media and intelligentsia have bought into the US 'war on terror' discourse. (page 5)

[From chapter: Introduction]
Tags: [Universality, Globalization, Terror]
Yet despite its primacy in contemporary politics there is a distinct lack of agreement on how to define terrorism...When Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the main suspect in the 2009 shooting of 13 army personnel at Fort Hood, Texas, was featured on the cover of Time magazine (23 November 2009), the word 'TERRORIST?' was emblazoned over his eyes. Jared Lee Loughner, accused of critically wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killing six others in Tucson, Arizona, also made it to the cover (24 January 2011) but this time the headline focused on 'Guns. Speech. Madness'. The Wall Street Journal also treated the two incidents in very different ways: '[Sen. Joe] Lieberman Suggests Army Shooter Was "Home-Grown Terrorist" was how it covered the Fort Hood story on 9 November 2009 while on 10 January 2011 the WSJ's headline was 'Suspect Fixated on Giffords'. The line between acts of terror and insanity was drawn very tightly. It seems so obvious, after all, that a Muslim targeting American soldiers must be a terrorist while a 22-year-old white native of Tucson must simply be disturbed. (page 6)

[From chapter: Introduction]
Tags: [Everyday Life, Propaganda, Culture, Terror, Madness]
This is where definitions matter and where the influence of the media in making things 'obvious' is particularly stark. By privileging certain associations -- for example, of Islam as a 'violent' religion, of the West as a 'victim' of terrorist attacks, of terrorism itself as a form of violence carried out against 'democratic' states -- the media assist in the naturalization of particular interpretations of terrorism and thus legitimize specific strategies used to confront terrorist actions. Such strategies might include passing domestic anti-terror legislation, curbing civil liberties in order to reduce the threat of terrorism and invading, occupying and bombing countries that are said to host terrorist elements -- all in the name of a 'war on terror' conducted by a 'civilized' West against a less civilized 'other'.

The problem is that there is no single, commonly accepted definition of terrorism on which to base such associations and therefore no independent and reliable way of assessing what constitutes a terrorist act; hence the old adage that 'one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter'. There are instead interpretations: socially constructed understandings of events based on 'conscious efforts to manipulate perceptions to promote certain interests at the expense of others' (Turk, 2004: 490). (page 6-7)

[From chapter: Introduction]
Tags: [Truth & Real, Culture, Terror, Rationality]
But while the history of terrorism suggests that terrorist acts emanate from a range of both state and non-state actors, contemporary definitions increasingly limit the agents of terrorism to the latter...Conceived in this way, terrorism refers to acts of indiscriminate violence carried out against those with the power to define it in this way. (page 8)

[From chapter: Introduction]
Tags: [Terror]
[W]ithout agreement on what terrorism refers to as well as the identity of its protagonists and victims, the use of such a slippery term is likely to have serious policy consequences. As Edward Said remarked following the events of 9/11, terrorism

"has become synonymous now with anti-Americanism, which, in turn, has become synonymous with being critical of the United States, which, in turn, has become synonymous with being patriotic. That's an unacceptable series of equations." (page 9)

[From chapter: Introduction]
Tags: [Propaganda, Terror]
For the majority of people who are not directly subject to its violence or intimidation, terrorism has to be 'made to mean' and the media are crucial ideological vehicles in systematizing and organizing disparate 'acts of terror'. Indeed, media are not simply external actors passively bringing the news of terrorist incidents to global audiences but are increasingly seen as active agents in the actual conceptualization of terrorist events. They are credited, in other words, not simply with definitional but constitutive power: we now have 'mediated terrorism' (Cottle, 2006), 'media-oriented terrorism' (Surette et al., 2009), 'media-ized warfare' (Louw, 2003) and 'mass-mediated terrorism' (Nacos, 2007) (page 9-10)

[From chapter: Introduction]
Tags: [Truth & Real, Postmodernism, Culture, Terror, The Other, Simulacra/Illusion]
[T]he growing impact of electronic and, more recently, digital media has intensified the spectacular capacities of terrorism so that it has come to be described not simply in relation to media but, in itself, as a 'communicative act' (Hoskins and O'Loughlin, 2007: 9) and a 'symbolically organized event' (Blain, 2009: 24). (page 10)

[From chapter: Introduction]
Tags: [Postmodernism, Terror]
[T]here is a significant danger in focusing too much on the mediated nature of terrorism and, in particular, on the idea of terrorism as the most spectacular form of modern political struggle: that we pay attention to only one, highly visible, form of modern terrorism, such as the attacks on the Twin Towers...'While insurgent terrorists and the media often seek each other out, state terrorists generally avoid publicity and attempt to conceal the regimes' repressive activities by media censorship and/or disinformation' (Schmid and Jungian, 2005: 164). (page 11)

[From chapter: Introduction]
Tags: [Truth & Real, Terror]
Apart from the official framing of news, the US entertainment industry too plays an important role in shaping global perceptions about terrorism. The Hollywood-dominated 'Military-Industrial-Media-Entertainment Network' has a major contribution in making the 'war on terror' an entertainment genre (Der Derian, 2009). As Shaheen has argued, the representation of Islam, and especially of Arabs, in most Hollywood films is deeply problematic in terms of racist stereotypes which contribute to a discourse where Muslims are projected as a threat to Western ways of life (Shaheen, 2008...). Terrorism is also the prime subject of several popular American television series like 24, The Unit and Sleeper Cell, which are all examples of intersections between popular entertainment and politics (Kellner, 2009)...This 'militainment' has redefined terrorism as an object of consumer play, deployed by the Pentagon in association with the gaming industry. (page 13)

[From chapter: Introduction]
Tags: [Everyday Life, Truth & Real, Culture, Terror]
Despite systematic and largely successful attempts to manage 'official' representations of terrorism, dissonances keep appearing...The 'war on terror' frame is hardly convincing when significant parts of the Arab world are spilling onto the streets demanding democracy and not jihad. Additionally, in the new digital media landscape where alternative messages travel globally and instantaneously...the mediation of terrorism is likely to become more multi-layered and multi-lingual...However, a word of caution is in order. Apart from global media conglomerates such as Google and Facebook, with their formidable power over the aggregation and distribution of information, governments are determined to ensure that they control the global commons. (page 14)

[From chapter: Introduction]
Tags: [Activism, Apathy/Resistance, Truth & Real, Globalization, Terror, The Other]
How many destabilized governments and rigged elections will it take, from Lebanon, Indonesia, Iran and Vietnam in the 1950s, through Japan, Laos, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Bolivia and Chile in the 1960s, Portugal, Australia and Jamaica in the 1970s, and Central America in the 1980s, before gringos realize that US imperialism is bellicose, bloodthirsty, anti-democratic -- and their responsibility? (page 101)

[From chapter: Terrorism and Global Popular Culture by Toby Miller]
Tags: [Truth & Real, Culture, Myth, American Exceptionalism]
Clearly, the poor quality of US journalism, specifically its coverage of military conflicts, is significant here. These failings are produced by four forces, which I have analyzed elsewhere in depth: transformations in the wider political economy of journalism; financialization -- over-reportage of news from the perspective of capital; emotionalization -- the emphasis on news from a feelings point of view; and a chronic dependency on official sources -- the Pentagon as truth-teller (Miller, 2007). But we must equally understand public ignorance in the light of nationalism. (page 101)

[From chapter: Terrorism and Global Popular Culture by Toby Miller]
Tags: [Myth, American Exceptionalism, Media]
Today, the mythology of exceptionalism finds expression through hyper-Christianity and the latest Great Awakening, which has been articulated, like other Great Awakenings before it, to a stalling economy and accelerating immigration (Miller, 2008). This both results from and helps reproduce a radical disarticulation between public anti-statism, which finds so many people loathing US governmental institutions, and their sanguine view of -- let's say, their orgasmic cathexis onto -- the military. (page 101)

[From chapter: Terrorism and Global Popular Culture by Toby Miller]
Tags: [American Exceptionalism]
The Kuma War game includes online missions entitled 'Fallujah: Operation al Fajr', 'Battle in Sadr City' and 'Uday and Qusay's Last Stand'. Its legitimacy and realism are underwritten by the fact that the firm is run by retired military officers and used as a recruiting tool by their former colleagues...Such ideological work became vital because the military-diplomatic-fiscal disasters of the 2001-07 period jeopardized a steady supply of new troops. So at the same time as neophytes were hard to attract to the military due to the perils of war, recruits to militaristic game design stepped forward -- nationalistic designers volunteering for service. Their mission, which they appeared to accept with alacrity, was to interpellate the country's youth by situating their bodies and minds to fire the same weapons and face the same issues as on the battle field. (page 106-107)

[From chapter: Terrorism and Global Popular Culture by Toby Miller]
Tags: [Truth & Real, Propaganda, Culture, Terror]
Universities have applied their idée fixe of rational-actor theory to these developments. In 1996, the National Academy of Sciences held a workshop for academia, Hollywood and the Pentagon on simulation and games. The next year, the National Research Council announced a collaborative research agenda on popular culture and militarism. It convened meetings to streamline such cooperation, from special effects to training simulations, from immersive technologies to simulated networks (Lenoir 2003: 190; Macedonia, 2002). today, untold numbers of academic journals and institutes on games are closely tied to the Pentagon. They test and augment the recruiting and training potential of games to ideologize, hire and instruct the population. (page 107)

[From chapter: Terrorism and Global Popular Culture by Toby Miller]
Tags: [Truth & Real, Propaganda, Culture]
In Los Angeles, the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) articulates faculty, film and television producers, game designers and the Pentagon to one another. Formally opened by the Secretary of the Army and the head of the Motion Picture Association of America in 1998, it began with $45 million of the military's budget, a figure that was doubled in its 2004 renewal. ICT uses military money and Hollywood muscle to test out homicidal technologies and narrative scenarios -- under the aegis of film, engineering and communications professors, beavering away in a workspace thoughtfully set up by the set designer for the Stark Trek franchise. By the end of 2010, its products were available on 65 military bases. I guess that is convergence.

ICT collaborates on major motion pictures...But more importantly, the Institute produces Pentagon recruitment tools such as Full Spectrum Warrior that double as 'training devices for military operations in urban terrain': what's good for the Xbox is good for the combat simulator. The utility of these innovations continues in the field. Many off-duty soldiers play games. The idea is to invade their supposed leisure time and wean them from skater games in favour of what are essentially training manuals. The Pentagon even boasts that Full Spectrum Warrior was the 'game that captured Saddam', because the men who dug Hussein out had been trained with it. (page 108-109)

[From chapter: Terrorism and Global Popular Culture by Toby Miller]
Tags: [Truth & Real, Postmodernism, Culture]
For the scholarly advocates of corporate culture who proliferate in game studies, none of this appears to be a problem: 'games serve the national interest by entertaining consumer-citizens and creating a consumer-based demand for military technology' that is unrelated to actual violence (Hall, 206; Power 2007: 277). But academics who are involved with these delightful paymasters would do well to read some scientific history. In his testimony to the US Atomic Energy Commission, J. Robert Oppenheimer, who led the group that developed the atomic bomb, talked about the instrumental rationality that animated the people who created this awesome technology. Once these scientists saw that it was feasible, the device's impact lost intellectual and emotional significance for them -- overtaken by what he labelled its 'technically sweet' quality (United States Atomic Energy Commission, 1954: 81). (page 109-110)

[From chapter: Terrorism and Global Popular Culture by Toby Miller]
Tags: [Truth & Real, Culture, Rationality]
As per the brave actions taken by professional bodies in anthropology and -- belatedly -- psychology against their co-optation by the US war machine (see AAA, 2006; APA, 2009), we should shame universities for their role in electronic-game militarism...We must all work to counter DARPA's ideological incorporation of untenured faculty, whom it seeks to engage via the 'Young Faculty Award'. The goal is 'to develop the next generation of academic scientists, engineers and mathematicians in key disciplines who will focus a significant portion of their career on D[epartment] o[f] D[efense] and national security issues' (DARPA, n.d.). Faculty in other countries should boycott military-endowed US universities and researchers if we fail to contest these murderous paymasters. The task is massive, and it will require people with progressive politics to collaborate as never before. They must do so with an appreciation of the history of imperialism, the experience of militarization, the play of games and the complicity of higher education. (page 110-111)

[From chapter: Terrorism and Global Popular Culture by Toby Miller]
Tags: [Activism, Culture]
Numbers of 'CIA movies' increased significantly in the 2000s...These movies frequently rewrite history to support US interests or soften potential critique. Some are supportive of the institutional CIA, CIA protagonists, and US foreign policy. Some favour only one or two of these three. Occasionally a movie is critical of all three. Movies commonly acknowledge popular disquiet with CIA methods while quietly endorsing the authority of its 'parent', the global hegemon. Spying and covert activity are unquestionably 'normal'. If 'normalization' was Hollywood's only ideological work, this alone would contribute to US empire. (page 116-117)

[From chapter: Hollywood, the CIA, and the 'War on Terror' by Oliver Boyd-Barret, David Herrera, and Jim Baumann]
Tags: [Politics & Art, Culture, Media]
The film [Spy Game] uncritically adopts a US-framed list of 'good' and 'bad' nations, reinforcing a world view that synchronizes with US policies. North Vietnamese sympathizers are 'bad' in the Vietnam War: no call for ethical qualms over torture and death visited upon neutrals and nationalists alike by Phoenix. (page 118)

[From chapter: Hollywood, the CIA, and the 'War on Terror' by Oliver Boyd-Barret, David Herrera, and Jim Baumann]
Tags: [Politics & Art, Media]
But even the most critical movies see the world through the lenses of western, and usually US, eyes, and indulge an exaggerated confidence in the willingness of the US press to expose wrongdoing and hold the powerful to account. (page 132)

[From chapter: Hollywood, the CIA, and the 'War on Terror' by Oliver Boyd-Barret, David Herrera, and Jim Baumann]
Tags: [Politics & Art, Truth & Real, Culture, American Exceptionalism, Media]
The key point is that the gaps in audience knowledge very closely parallel the absences in news reporting. (page 162)

[From chapter: Pictures & PR in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by Greg Philo]
Tags: [Media]
The US response to 9/11 became, if not a turning point, at least a radicalization of the American practicing of double standards -- in legal matters in general and in the treatment of media and journalists in particular. Numerous examples of improper interference with freedom of the press in the US after 11 September 2001 have been documented (Ottosen, 2002b). Even more remarkable is that the American authorities have tried to broaden their media control on a global scale. The first step after the attack against Afghanistan on 7 October 2001 was that the Pentagon bought up all the images from commercial satellite companies that could potentially be used to challenge the official US views on the development of the war. (page 214)

[From chapter: Wikileaks and War Laws by Stig A. Nohrstedt and Rune Ottosen]
Tags: [Truth & Real, Media]
The eagerness of the parties in conflicts to censor journalists as well as to attack them physically are important obstacles to reporting from conflict areas. Statistics indicate that journalists are often targets in recent wars. According to the IFJ, more than 1,100 journalists and media employees were killed on duty between 1995 and 2007. The number of journalists killed worldwide has risen 244 percent between 2002 and 2007. Statistically speaking, journalists were ten times more likely than any of the 250,000 American and British soldiers to be killed in Iraq, which has been the most dangerous place to work as a journalist in recent years. A vast majority of the journalists killed in Iraq were not embedded. The embedded journalists were protected physically by being in military units and, more importantly, their presence was regarded as beneficial by the military. Are other journalists and media facilities perceived to be legitimate targets in modern warfare? (page 216)

[From chapter: Wikileaks and War Laws by Stig A. Nohrstedt and Rune Ottosen]
Tags: [Truth & Real, Myth, Media]
Rather than uncritically reproduce propaganda rhetoric from politicians, we suggest that journalists carry out their own investigations of the legal basis for warfare in cases like Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts. The first step could be to listen to what the juridical experts say about the legal issues...Humanitarian rhetoric applied in selective or biased interpretations of international law...needs to be scrutinized by public media. (page 216-217)

[From chapter: Wikileaks and War Laws by Stig A. Nohrstedt and Rune Ottosen]
Tags: [Truth & Real, Culture, Universality, Terror, Media]
The experiences of dead journalists and the case of WikiLeaks should be understood in a context of the emergence of a threat-society as a later phase of the risk-society Beck wrote about more than two decades ago (Beck, 1986). In threat-society there are trends that work as undercurrents, and channel opinions towards accepting violations of human rights and international laws for the sake of security. The culture of fear has a firm grip on popular culture, mediatized discourses and people's minds, and it is exploited for threat policies based upon speculative threat images together with public appeals for patriotism and trust to the leaders in these difficult times. In particular, the militarization of security policy implies that democratic deliberation is moulded into an iron cage of complicity and subordination . (page 218-219)

[From chapter: Wikileaks and War Laws by Stig A. Nohrstedt and Rune Ottosen]
Tags: [Fascism, Culture, Media]
Historically speaking, 9/11 was certainly a world event with wide and tragic consequences, also for the global respect for freedom of expression, civil rights and international law. Dissident voices and alternative information sources are regarded as Fifth Columns instead of as the Fourth Estate, and are targeted as enemies, almost equivalent to illegal combatants. (page 219)

[From chapter: Wikileaks and War Laws by Stig A. Nohrstedt and Rune Ottosen]
Tags: [Fascism, Culture, Media]
In the 1960s, the sociologists Galling and Ruge (1965) attempted to define those features that made some events or issues 'news' while others are ignored. Although their list is suggestive rather than comprehensive, a series of newsroom ethnographic in the 1970s (notably Schlesinger, 1978; Gans, 1979; Tuchman, 1978) confirmed that news-making is more a matter of manufacture than mystery. (page 258)

[From chapter: Terrorism and News Narratives by Justin Lewis]
Tags: [Media]
In...earlier wars, media outlets and personalities have been indicted for their role in instigating conflict and contributing to it...The post-World War II Nuremberg Trial established a precedent in this regard...[T]he protection case, argued by Drexel Sprecher, an American, placed considerable stress on the role of media propaganda in enabling the Hitler regime to prepare and carry out aggression that violated the laws of war. The use made by the Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack. (page 313)

[From chapter: Challenging the Media War by Danny Schecter]
Tags: [Fascism, Media]
The Nuremberg prosecution raised an issue that is of the greatest relevance today: the role of Nazi media propaganda in inuring the German population to the sufferings of other peoples and, indeed, urging Germans to commit war crimes. Historical parallels are never exact and I am not here to argue that because the Nazis distorted their media, the US or British media are Nazis. That is specious reasoning. But a broader point, also argued at Nuremberg, does have resonance today. Many in the Pentagon believe to this day that it was the media coverage that was responsible for the loss of the Vietnam War. That led to large amounts of money and manpower invested in controlling the media in preparation for future wars. (page 313)

[From chapter: Challenging the Media War by Danny Schecter]
Tags: [Fascism, Media]
The government took PR to a new level: it is now called PM for 'perception management' and it treats war as a product to be 'rolled out' and promoted. It is serious and systematic. It branded the war and used advertising-like slogans to sell it...Anchormen complained the the media had gone from being a watchdog to a lap dog, but did nothing about it...It is important to understand that this does not add up to a critique of a few lapses or media mistakes. The Iraq War was more than a catalogue of errors or flaws. The war was shaped for coverage, planned and formatted, pre-produced and aired with high production values, designed to persuade, not just inform. What we saw and are seeing is a crime against democracy and the public's right to know. (page 314-315)

[From chapter: Challenging the Media War by Danny Schecter]
Tags: [Truth & Real, Fascism, Postmodernism, Simulacra/Illusion, Media]