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<nettime> The Information Warfare About Kosovo=20
tff on Fri, 16 Apr 1999 18:09:21 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> The Information Warfare About Kosovo=20


Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research

P r e s s I n f o  # 6 2

T H E   I N F O R M A T I O N   W A R F A R E   A B O U T   K O S O V O

April 15, 1999

"Most people around the world probably think that war and media are
separate. When there is a war, the media tell us about it as objectively
as they can under the often difficult circumstances. But in today's
information society, every war is two wars: that on the ground and that in
the media. Weapons communicate and communication is a weapon. We must ask
what interests determine what we are told and what we are not told? The
history of warfare makes one thing abundantly clear," says TFF director
Jan Oberg, "namely that we can safely assume that we are not told the
truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In NATO's war with
Yugoslavia, there is reason to paraphrase Hamlet - 'there is something
rotten in the state of the media.'

This is what you can read about the use by the United States of
information in times of war: "Psychological operations (PSYOP) are
operations planned to convey selected information and indicators to
foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective
reasoning, and ultimately the behaviour of foreign governments,
organizations, groups, and individuals. PSYOP are a vital part of the
broad range of US political, military, economic, and informational
activities. When properly employed, PSYOP can lower the morale and reduce
the efficiency of enemy forces and could create dissidence and
disaffection within their ranks. There are four categories of military
PSYOP; strategic, operational, tactical, and consolidation. PSYOP, which
are used to establish and reinforce foreign perceptions of US military,
political, and economic power and resolve."

Other countries work with PSYOP, too. Let's remember that when we watch
television. And let's ask some questions when we do:

* IS THERE A LARGER STORY BEHIND WHAT WE SEE ON THE SCREEN? Balkan
conflicts not only have a Balkan but also a world order dimension. For
instance, did you ever hear about the National Security Decision Directive
(NSDD) 133 entitled "United States Policy towards Yugoslavia" labelled
"SECRET SENSITIVE"? A censored version was declassified in 1990 and
largely confirmed NSDD 54 from 1982 the objective of which included
"expanded efforts to promote 'quiet revolution' to overthrow Communist
governments and parties" while integrating the countries of Eastern Europe
into a market economy.

* WAR REPORTING - BUT NO CONFLICT JOURNALISM
Media tend to focus on today's 'story.' But there is a larger frame in
which the events take place. To facilitate a broader understanding - in
contrast to simply justifying what happens - we need a frame of reference
in time and space, analyses of the root causes behind the events. Any
conflict holds an incompatibility, some attitudes and some behaviour. What
you see on the screen is mainly behaviour. What the conflict in Kosovo is
about has been forgotten by the media.

* WHO ARE VICTIMS OF WHAT? ARE SOMEBODY's SUFFERING LEFT UNTOLD?
Conspicuously lacking from the media coverage is the suffering of Serbs,
Gorans, Turks, Montenegrins, Yugoslavs and gypsies, the roughly 15% of
Kosovo's citizens who are not Albanians. Likewise, we are given few
opportunities to empathize with the 8-9 million people whose country is
being devastated under NATO's 6000 bombing sorties (as of April 14). We
hear that the West is not at war with the people of Yugoslavia and if
civilian targets are hit, it's a deplorable mistake. It should be
journalistically interesting to learn how those at the receiving end see
it.

* WHAT IS A MILITARY TARGET AND WHAT IS A CIVILIAN TARGET?
This distinction is made repeatedly, but it's a myth that the two can be
distinguished. Sure, when you bomb oil depots, bridges or telecommunication
facilities these are objects that the military needs. But civilians need
them too. How far can we go in undermining a military machine without
actually destroying, slowly but surely, an entire society?

* WHO SELECTS THE NEWS WE GET AND DON'T GET?
Given the use of very advanced intelligence technologies and various types
of human presence in the conflict area, there is hardly any doubt that SOME
people know much more than we media consumers are told. What appears on the
screen is only the top of the information iceberg. For instance, there have
been constant rumours about NATO use of depleted uranium bombs against
tanks. If so, what are the effects on human beings and the environment?

* PROPAGANDA IS STEPPED UP ON ALL SIDES IN TIMES OF WAR.
Could it be that there is a pattern to media events such as these: the day
after Albania declares that it is willing to place all of the country at
the disposal of NATO, news reach us that Yugoslav troops have gone over the
border. Was that really the first time? If there was a serious loss of
lives on NATO's side, would we be told immediately, given the sensitivity
surrounding the loss of Western lives?

* WHAT ARE THE SOURCES OF THE INFORMATION NATO DISSEMINATES?
Some Western leaders and NATO's spokesman, Jamie Shea, repeatedly refers to
'information on the ground' and tell us that some of it comes from KLA
leaders. Robin Cook just repeats the number of refugees in Kosovo that he
has been told by KLA's Jakub Krasniqi. At the same time, Western media
consistently do NOT publish information coming from the Yugoslav government
- for instance the very detailed lists of civilian destruction - presumably
because it is considered non-reliable or controlled by Milosevic, or
serving particular political purposes. But can we really exclude the
possibility that the same applies to KLA-based information and NATO's
public relation in this situation?

* UNCONFIRMED NEWS FUELS DESIRED SUSPICION
Journalists now make extensive use of non-confirmed news and even though
they tell us that this or that is not confirmed, their audiences are
manipulated to think 'there is no smoke without a fire' and they may not
notice if, much later, the 'story' or 'the report' are proved to have been
false.

* WHO INTERPRET THE EVENTS FOR US? WHO ARE THE EXPERTS?
Predominantly military expertise, statesmen, ministers and diplomats - from
NATO countries. Fewer political experts, Balkan experts, and virtually no
psychologists, peace and conflict researchers, professional mediators and
never independent intellectuals. American think tank scholars are invited
to comment on American foreign policy. No media has provided Yugoslav think
tanks or scholars an opportunity to participate in a dialogue.

* THE QUESTIONS ASKED ARE VERY POLITICALLY CORRECT.
The typical press conference or briefing goes like this: a spokesman runs
the show, selects the questions, give them a ready-made answer - they are
NEVER taken by surprise and have eloquent formulations about everything -
and says: Next! Since March 24 the general representatives of the free
press have NOT questioned the content of the Rambouillet Dictate, they have
NOT challenged the morality of NATO's policy, they have NOT highlighted its
destabilizing effects, they have NOT highlighted the discrepancies between
the stated goals and the consequences of NATO's policies. They are shown
photos and videos of targets bombed and told that this is a tank or this is
an ammunition storage - and NONE of them asks: I can't see that it is, how
can we be sure? Others raise directly helpful questions such as: how can
the West prevent Yugoslavia from importing oil?

* 90% OF ALL INFORMATION COMES FROM MILITARY SOURCES
Military authorities have a virtual monopoly over virtual reality. Pictures
from Aviano base and interviews with brave pilots are more frequent than
coverage of the civil destruction. Beyond CNN, there are surprisingly few
independent journalists in the region. The uniformity of their 'stories' is
staggering to come from a press that should be free to have many angles and
many different stories.

* VIOLENCE AS SUCH IS NOT PROBLEMATIZED
When a black-and-white image of the parties has been established, media
promote the view that there is a 'good' violence combating an 'evil'
violence. The West's moral justification was that, over one year, 2000
people had been killed, 250.000 people displaced and that 45 people were
killed in Racak. After three weeks of bombing, at least 350 civilians have
been killed, an additional 500.000 have fled and NATO remains 'determined'
to reduce the welfare of 8-10 million Yugoslavia citizens for years.

* THE WORDS THEY USE
Judge for yourself: Was Rambouillet 'negotiations'? Was the document a
'peace' plan? When civilians are killed it is called 'collateral damage.'
To 'neutralize' or 'take out' an object means to destroy it. Belgrade's
media are 'censored' or 'controlled,'ours are not.

* WHAT YOU DON'T HEAR A WORD ABOUT IN THE MAIN(STREAM) MEDIA

1. The economic costs and who will pay
Remember how you heard again and again that the United Nations was so
expensive and could not make peace in Croatia and Bosnia? American
investment bank, Lehman Brothers, calculates one month of bombing to 3 US
bn $, Financial Times quotes sources that estimate 20 bn US $ to be closer
to reality. That is, the sheer military costs. Add to that the price of the
destruction in human and material terms - and what it will cost to
reconstruct the region later - and care for refugees, compensate
neighbouring states etc. Probably we are talking about 1-2 bn $ per day -
not to speak of 'opportunity' costs: what welfare could have been purchased
for that sum instead?

2. The interests of the military-industrial complex
Huge economic interests are at stake. War is another way of doing research
and testing weapons and strategies. Capitalism's productive overcapacity is
absorbed through the destruction-reconstruction cycles that wars go through=
=2E

3. The role of intelligence services and their infiltration in various
'civilian' missions and NGOs.

4. Whether there could be more NATO casualties and more NATO planes shot
down than we have been told up till now (6000 sorties implies a certain
risk).

5. The independent peace proposals
They proliferate from experienced peace and other civil society
organizations such as the International Peace Bureau, from peace and
conflict research networks such as Transcend or TFF. You will see few and
short reports from the hundreds of demonstrations for peace and Stop the
Bombing around the Western world. But you will hear about it when
EU/Germany presents a 'peace' plan (April 14) which is cobbled together of
what NATO can accept does not address the roots causes, is unacceptable to
Belgrade and otherwise devoid of creativity. So why is it highlighted?
Because it comes from governments, from the same circles that
simultaneously need to legitimate the air campaign: "We actually hate to
bomb, but we do it for peace..."

"The Soviet leadership consistently deceived its own people and allies
about the dangers of nuclearism, about 'real' socialism and its
consequences and about its activities in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland,
Somalia, Afghanistan and Chechenya. And only later were KGB's murky
activities confirmed.
The American leadership consistently deceives its own people and allies
about nuclearism, 'real' capitalism and its consequences for the poor of
the world and about its activities in Vietnam, Chile, Nicaragua, the
Filippines, Iran, Haiti, Panama, and Iraq. And only later are CIA's
activities confirmed. I don't think for a moment that NATO's war against
Yugoslavia will be any different. What is at stake now for the West in the
Balkans is MUCH bigger than what was at stake in the above-mentioned
conflicts. Thus, the media warfare, the perception management and the
PSYOPs, will be much more massive," ends Jan Oberg.=20

=A9 TFF 1999
 =20
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