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Podcast: Obama the ‘Reluctant Warrior’ & Other Myths in Media Coverage of War in Iraq & Syria

Peter Hart

US news media were excited this past week. US-led military forces began to launch air strikes in Syria, which is what they had been anxiously waiting to see happen for weeks.

But with that eagerness to get on with another US war, there have been a set of myths. One fundamental myth involves President Barack Obama being cast as the “Reluctant Warrior.” He did not choose this war. The war chose him. How could Obama shirk from his duty to defend the “homeland”?

This week on the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast the guest is Peter Hart, the activism director for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). Hart discusses these myths in media coverage of the escalated war in Iraq and Syria against ISIS. He talks about Obama being treated as a “Reluctant Warrior” and the effect that has on news reports. He also addresses the fear mongering that has been ongoing and the absence of antiwar voices on television.

The discussion segment highlights Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation and how Holder presided over a Justice Department that is still investigating antiwar activists. Then, an Alabama judge suspending the First Amendment for a newspaper for a little over a week is highlighted. And, finally, the show covers what has been happening in Ferguson with an escalation in police targeting community organizers

The podcast is available on iTunes for download. For a link (and to download), go here. Click on “go here” and a page will load with the audio file of the podcast that will automatically start playing.

Also, below is a player for listening to the podcast. You can listen to the podcast this way or you can go to iTunes and find the podcast listed there.

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“Long before there was any talk of bombing Iraq, certainly of bombing Syria, there was this notion that Obama’s foreign policy should be characterized as one of reluctance, of restraint,” Hart argues. “And I think the most important thing to do is to compare that to reality.”

As Hart recounts, Obama started his first term with a massive escalation in the Afghanistan War, attacks on Yemen, one attack in particular involved cluster bombs.” There has been a “massive increase in the drone program, drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan and, of course, the NATO action to remove Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and the ensuing chaos and violence that kicked off.”

“This is not a foreign policy that any rational person would look at and characterize as being particularly reticent when it comes to the use of military force,” Hart explains. “But, nonetheless, that is sort of the guiding principle of elite discussions about Barack Obama.”

“The problem with this is that serves both sides in a sense that there are two sides of any elite discussion. It serves Obama’s supporters, who say that he is very careful, he’s judicious, he’s not a cowboy like George W. Bush. And it serves his critics, the people like John McCain or Lindsey Graham or anyone like that, [who] want Obama to begin bombing wherever yesterday and with more force.”

“When you start with that flawed assumption, it’s very difficult to have a rational discussion about what’s going forward. Now we move into the current crisis, the bombing of Iraq and Syria, and we have, I think, some of the very familiar media tropes that you see in any war,” Hart adds.

Continuing, Hart suggests:

…If you were watching the nightly newscasts as the bombing of Syria started, they were almost giddy. There is a chance to trot out your B-roll of Tomahawk cruise missiles being fired from American ships, the war planes on the deck taking off and landing, grainy footage of supposedly ISIS strongholds being blown to smithereens. All the things you see in every war are now blasted across your TV screens, alongside a very successful double-sided propaganda war where the ISIS media team are very effective at selling panic about what the group is planning on doing and the US media are very eager to amplify the notion that not only are they plotting an attack on the “homeland” but they could very well have operatives in place now in the United States ready to carry out attacks…

“You put all of that together, and, while the violence and sort of videotaped messaging of ISIS is very different, a lot of the fundamentals about how the media react and respond to war are exactly what you’d expect, whether it was Iraq 2002-2003 or really any other drive to war. The standard kind of response in much of corporate media has been the same,” Hart concludes.

CommunityFDL Main BlogThe Dissenter

Podcast: Obama the ‘Reluctant Warrior’ & Other Myths in Media Coverage of War in Iraq & Syria

Peter Hart

US news media were excited this past week. US-led military forces began to launch air strikes in Syria, which is what they had been anxiously waiting to see happen for weeks.

But, with that eagerness to get on with another US war, there have been a set of myths. One fundamental myth involves President Barack Obama being cast as the “Reluctant Warrior.” He did not choose this war. The war chose him. How could Obama shirk from his duty to defend the “homeland”?

This week on the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast the guest is Peter Hart, the activism director for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). Hart discusses these myths in media coverage of the escalated war in Iraq and Syria against ISIS. He talks about Obama being treated as a “Reluctant Warrior” and the effect that has on news reports. He also addresses the fear mongering that has been ongoing and the absence of antiwar voices on television.

The discussion segment highlights Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation and how Holder presided over a Justice Department that is still investigating antiwar activists. Then, an Alabama judge suspending the First Amendment for a newspaper for a little over a week is highlighted. And, finally, the show covers what has been happening in Ferguson with an escalation in police targeting community organizers

{!hitembed ID=”hitembed_1″ width=”500″ height=”360″ align=”none” !}

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."

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