Raouf Rasool

You heard it right, it’s about manufacturing wars!

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Bosnian Serb scholar and politician, Vasa Cubrilovic, who was part of the gang that assassinated Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914, which is believed to have triggered the World War I, once said that the “countries that still go to war have not evolved.” When asked ‘evolved from what?’, he was unequivocal: “From fear. From nationalism based on fear.”

At a time when media should actually have been earnestly engaged in dousing the fires of possible confrontation, it is out there creating conditions for war. Indeed various TV channels of Indian mainland, using the same ‘nationalism based on fear’ for the purpose, have already declared a war on Pakistan and right now their visible frustration is fueled by the political executive not heeding their unsolicited counsel.

It is not only the hyper-ventilating news anchors but all those ex-military-men, desperately seeking their post-retirement relevance, are also shouting their throats out, pushing New Delhi to go for war. Now as if all these were not enough, there is no dearth of other jokers in the politics, who have for years basked in their 15-minute glory on prime-time shows by stoking ancient and recent, latent and visible hatreds against all kinds of people. Even though these groups have rarely had any electoral successes, but they do have a nuisance value and they know how to translate it into some political capital. There are others  as well – those representing one of the other smaller interest groups, usually for the sheer love for their of personal interests  than of the group they claim to belong, by birth or through some other appropriation. All these people have of late found a good pastime – war mongering; and they are doing it without fail over the 24×7 media which has dedicated itself almost entirely to creating conditions for war.

When a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl testified before the American Congress during the Gulf War I to the effect that Iraqi troops in Kuwait were killing premature babies and stealing the incubators to take them back to Iraq, she twanged many a heartstring. According to the Alvin and Heidi Toffler neither the US Congress nor the world was informed that she just happened to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador in Washington and a member of the royal family, or that “her appearance on TV and before the waiting press-people as also the air-time and newspaper space for the chilling revelations made by her were stage-managed by the Hill and Knowlton Public Relations firm on behalf of the Kuwaitis and through their petro dollars, which subsequently created conditions for what’s been the world’s first televised war.”

‘Give dog a bad name and kill it’. When adversaries resort to naming and blaming, it stokes hatreds – sometimes real and sometimes imaginary – which ultimately fuels conflict/war. And in today’s “mediatized” societies of “globalized” world and globalized wars, like opinions, even the dissent too is manufactured to lend legitimacy to a conflict or war.

While this clash of interests creates differences between US and THEM, it is the popular media which actually differentiates US from THEM. For this media portrays even the ancient ethnic conflicts, which are inherently over the resources (water being one of the resources involved in India-Pakistan hostilities over Kashmir) as religious wars, or the clashes between cultures or civilizations. Obviously this makes for catchy themes that would attract good TRPs in a country where religious faith-based ethnic nationalism has taken the centre-stage of politics. So what we are witness to now are attempts to manufacture war, and for this an evil mythology woven together with the evils of fear, greed, and paranoia, is being run and controlled by the people who have access to, and mastery over controlling the media, at least its content.

“Nationalistic and ethnic conflicts are fratricides that turn on absurdities and are sustained only by the myths.” And unfortunately it is media that manufactures or glorifies these myths by cultivating a sense of victim-hood among the members of a particular group (ethnic, religious or other) or a nation, which is an essential fodder for any conflict. It happened in former Yugoslavia, Hutus did it against the Tutsis in Rwanda, and indeed every country uses its media to build or manufacture the opinion of its public, unfortunately most of the time for the war. This is exactly what is happening here now. How unfortunate!

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