Introduction to Yahya R. Kamalipour's
War, Media, and Propaganda: A Global Perspective

Human beings are parts of a body, created from the same essence.  
When one part is hurt and in pain, the other parts remain restless.  
If the misery of others leaves you indifferent, 
you cannot be called a human being…   
Persian poet-philosopher Sa'adi Shirazi (1204-1292)

December 2003-As the manuscript for this book was nearing completion, people throughout the world were witnessing, on their television screens, the video footage of the once powerful Iraqi president‚s arrest by the U.S. soldiers. Saddam Hussein (a.k.a., the Butcher of Baghdad) was reportedly dragged out of a “rat hole” where he was hiding and was subsequently videotaped.

The footage, repeatedly broadcast on every TV channel, showed Hussein being examined, in total humiliation, by an American military physician who is looking into Hussein‚s mouth and searching through his unkempt hair-perhaps for bugs. This prompted a senior Vatican official, Cardinal Renato Martino, to criticize the United States for releasing the video footage in which the former Iraqi president was, as he put it, “handled like a cow” (The New York Times, December 16, 2003). On the other hand, president George W. Bush, Jr. and his cohorts were shown in a celebratory mood as they gleefully claimed a major victory against terrorism and for democracy and freedom in Iraq.  

Significantly, the premise for the war on Iraq-articulated repeatedly by George W. Bush and Tony Blair-was that Hussein was pursuing a program of weapon of mass destruction (WMD). Not only the falsity of that premise but, in the midst of continuous and highly orchestrated propaganda techniques, the death of thousands of innocent Iraqis, hundreds of American/Allied forces, and the destruction of the infra-structures of Iraq were seemingly forgotten. Furthermore, the main perpetrators of the September 11, 2001, attacks on America, Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, were pushed out of the arena of public opinion.

It was against that backdrop that the manuscript for War, Media, and Propaganda: A Global Perspective was being prepared for publication. At a juncture in the history of the civilized world when breakdown in communication, civility, international law, human rights, freedom, lack of progress in terms of humanity, and global/social justice indelibly marked the dawn of the third millennium.

And at a time when such concepts as “human rights,” “dialogue of civilizations” and “clash of civilizations” were being debated side by side with “global terrorism,” “unilateralism,” “globalism,” “imperialism,” and “pre-emptive strike.” Indeed, the looming turmoil in the global village and difficulties posed in intercultural communication, international communication, and international relations render this book an essential platform for discussing, debating, and understanding the complexities of our global affairs.

Undoubtedly, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon will be forever etched into the memories of the people who personally experienced, witnessed, or viewed the images of that unimaginable tragedy on television screens throughout the world.

At the dawn of the third millennium, it has become quite apparent that we, as human beings, have made no progress toward elevating humanity to its potential level of civility. Rather, we have marched backward into the savageries of the Stone Age and succumbed to a vicious circle of violence that continues to plague our lives, curtail our freedoms, alter our way of life, damage our relationships, and distort our perceptions of one another. 

In the name of an ideology of one kind or another, we do anything imaginable, including suicide bombings to ourselves, and to our fellow human beings. A Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia murders, tortures, and buries thousands of Muslims alive while the world watches. A General Augusto Pinochet of Chile kills his own people and builds mountains by pilling up human skulls. A Hitler burns thousands of Jews alive for just being Jews. A Hutu tribe murders millions of Tutsis in Rwanda. A Saddam Hussein kills and even poisons his own people and thousands of Iranians with chemical weapons and subsequently erects victory monuments, in Baghdad, to display his savagery. An Osama bin Laden masterminds terrorist acts against America and American installations around the world.

The American forces rain missiles and bombs on the millions of innocent peoples in Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Tanzania, Japan, and Vietnam. For the past 50 years, The Israelis and Palestinians have been killing one another, almost daily, in a land where the three monolithic religions of the world-Christianity, Islam, and Judaism-have historically and physically converged and are destined to coexist.

We are caught up in a complex web of our own making. We have lost our common sense and our perspectives on what this short journey, called life, is all about. We have become beasts and evildoers. We use our fists more readily than our heads. We destroy one another by thousands and even millions without blinking an eye!

In a message to the World Summit on the Information Society, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, said: “A technological revolution is transforming society in a profound way. If harnessed and directed properly, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have the potential to improve all aspects of our social, economic and cultural life” (World Summit on the Information Society, Geneva, December 10-12, 2003). Accordingly, this book is intended to promote a constructive dialogue and, hopefully, solutions about issues related to war, media and propaganda as they impact our lives throughout the world.

Globalism is upon us and so is terrorism-an evil and destructive force to be reckoned with. Reckon, we must. But to do so, we must first focus on establishing a relative state of stability, peace, freedom, and humanity throughout the world. Nations of the world must put their differences aside and cooperate with one another on denouncing, condemning, and eradicating terrorism in any form or shape, regardless of where it takes place.

This is a prime opportunity for the United Nations, NATO, European Union, and other regional and global bodies to respond to the cries of help from the survivors of the victims of terrorism by devising and implementing a brand new approach toward eradicating this global cancer. This eradication can be achieved only through international cooperation, not by military might and war.

The ultimate goal of this book is to provide a reasonable and sufficient platform for generating meaningful discussions that would result in increased awareness and understanding of the myriad of global problems that face humanity. It is hoped that such discussions would ultimately lead to action and positive change-peaceful coexistence, mutual respect, less conflict, increased cultural sensitivity, and better cooperation among the peoples and nations of the world. As the American Indian Chief Seattle once said, “Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”

Yahya R. Kamalipour (PhD, University of Missouri-Columbia) is professor and head of the Department of Communication and Creative Arts, Purdue University Calumet, Hammond, Indiana, USA. A noted international scholar, he has taught at universities in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Oxford (England), and Tehran. Other than his most recent .

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