Public Distortions and Persistent War

The Afghanistan Study Group blog draws our attention to a particularly egregious example of pro-war propaganda at the Washington Post. Apparently Monday’s headline “Support for Afghan war rises, poll shows” was technically true, but still a clear misrepresentation of what the poll actually showed. But the Post has a particular story it would like to write:

“The number of Americans who say the war in Afghanistan is worth fighting has increased for the first time since President Obama announced at the end of 2009 that he would boost troop levels, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The finding may give Obama slightly more political breathing room as he decides how many troops to withdraw from Afghanistan in July, the deadline he set 18 months ago to begin bringing home the additional U.S. forces.”

Support for the war, according to the WaPost/ABC poll, is up about ten percentage points from March. But this story is still only half the truth. As Will Keola Thomas put it:

Why would Americans, whose support for the fight in Afghanistan has declined precipitously over the last few years in response to the war’s skyrocketing cost in dollars and lives, all-of-a-sudden decide that the enormous price tag is worth it?

Oh, wait. They didn’t.

That’s right. The poll showed that all in all, 43 percent think the Afghan war is worth it, while 54 percent think it is not worth it. Additionally, 73 percent support a full withdrawal this summer, compared to 23 percent who think we should stay. Curious that the Post, read by millions of Americans, would choose to focus on the rise in support and not the fact that a majority of Americans oppose the war. And notice how this information is treated: we’re told that this rise gives Obama “political breathing room” to continue to conduct a war that doesn’t have the support of most Americans. The mainstream media are so helplessly subservient to the political and military class, they’ll construct any headline and news story that serves those interests.

A study by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democrats came out today (go here to download the PDF) which says essentially that we are wasting billions of dollars, fostering corruption, distorting local economies…basically that our nation building efforts are a failure.

The violent and bloody side of the war is uglier than most people perceive, too. After a couple years of pleading diplomatically with the U.S. political leadership and military to stop killing civilians, Hamid Karzai tried again last week in a “last warning.” What was the U.S. response? More blood and violence.

NATO’s response to Karzai’s threat has been to launch 12 airstrikes a day, a slight increase in the rate of attack runs that coalition planes have typically flown this year. NATO aircraft fired their weapons on 48 sorties in the four days following Karzai’s pronouncement, according to U.S. military statistics. 31 of those attack flights came last Friday, June 3.

Needless to say, this causes immense human suffering. Yet many in the American public perceive the war to have progressed in a positive direction. The primary reason for that is that they have no idea about the realities of this war. This is why that poll didn’t show 80 or 90 percent opposition. The media doesn’t tell them, and the political and military leadership repeat utter distortions about how it’s all going down. This war continues in large part because of the ignorance of the American people, a citizenry totally unaware. Just how the media and political class like it.

  • skulz fontaine

    The Washington Post "distorts" polling? Wow, go figure. Ummm, does the Washington Post/ABCPoll actually "poll" anyone outside the Beltway? I'd be surprised if they did. No matter. The Washington Post is still Amerika's bestest media whore ever. All polling shows substantial numbers of Amerikans believing exactly that.

  • marko

    The Obama administration (and the one before) has made it clear that the wishes of the voter are irrelevant. So, while this is all interesting from a propaganda production perspective, it's important to realize that regardless, the wars will continue because the oligarchs still have pockets to line. And clearly, the pocket lining will continue until there is nothing left with which to line those pockets.

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  • JackDeneris

    So, while this is all interesting from a propaganda production perspective, it's important to realize that regardless, the wars will continue because the oligarchs still have pockets to line. Austin Locksmith

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