14 Mar 2011

Conspiracy and Pacifism: Libya

I was appalled to read in The Evening Standard tonight about potential lobbying by the British Government to allow the EU to provide Libyan Residents with weapons.

The ever-present war in the media at the moment is constant chipping at the well being of civilisation. The 24 hour news culture of western society is presenting all conflicts in the Middle East as battles of democracy, adopting a polarised understanding of conflict. This is, I am sure, intended to make it palatable for the general public, but also translates into a sensationalist and hyperreal interpretation of a conflict of which we, in reality, know very little about.

I am not defending dictators, I am simply stating that media representation of war is very different from the reality and history that has led to the current situations.

And handing out weapons is not a solution.

If there are children fighting in the play ground, does the teacher say "punch each other til one of you wins"?

Of course not. The teacher separates the fighters, discusses independently and then mediates, attempting to form an objective and external presence that will allow a resolution to be reached.

At the moment, Britain is behaving like the school kids jeering the fight from the sidelines. And jumping in to assist whomever they support.

I genuinely do not believe that arms resolve anything. It is pouring petrol on a smouldering fire.

Media Manipulation

The Hyperreal is a fascinating topic and we are seeing it employed this year in a form of persuasion that I haven't observed before.

One observation of Vietnam was the way in which every moment was potentially televised, and as a result the public grew in unease and eventually demonstration against the atrocities. Here the media was constructed and worked against the people.

However, the opposite is happening with Libya.

We are being shown furious clips, disjointed hand camera work and reporting messages from Twitter. This all contributes to a perception of extreme terror and helplessness. Shown on 24hr news, the public is inevitably persuaded that these clips are the truth, and therefore all contrary accounts must be incorrect or lunacy.

Again, I am not justifying genocide or slaughter, but do we have all of the facts presented to us?

Or are the public being hand fed an interpretation of conflict that endears them to justifying invasion, committing ground troops and other, spectacular heroic gestures?

Iraq and the Great Comparison

The acrimonious disputes over Iraq waged in Britain for a long time. The general concept is that the archetypal left were, and are, anti the invasion, for they were informed that the motivation was weapons of mass destruction, and persuaded it was really oil.

The ongoing Hague hearings will have no significant outcome, no more than an internal review, but they dredge up the bitterness at every turn, the significant lack of evidence of WMDs.

So, with my marketing head on, how would I want to persuade Britain that war with a country that had the single largest oil export market was both justified and necessary?

Well, as it was the "left" I would need to convince, I would have to appeal to a sense of justice, democracy and fairness. A persuader of great need, that the left can empathise with and justify.

And a consistent, relentless media campaign that puts across a tangible message of good and evil, like some obscure role-play game, would be the perfect tool.

Dear reader, I am not assuming this is an enormous conspiracy theory. I am very much aware that there is real conflict in operation. However, I do not believe in coincidence, horoscopes or fate. I do believe in opportunism, risk taking and gambling as methods of human manipulation.

And what I see appears to be an opportune manipulation when the moment arose. A gamble, yes, but many gambles pay off. Especially if you coordinate it well enough.

And, to provide some element of persuasion for those of you who think I am a crackpot, please ask yourselves why we are not demanding a no-fly zone on Bahraim. Or The Ivory Coast. Or Somalia. Or, indeed, any other country where there is dramatic and life threatening civil war, dictators, raw battles for life and death and many, many pleas of democracy.

1 comment:

  1. I think a big challenge facing the government and supporters of intervention in Libya is justifying this particular intervention either in place of others, or in addition to others, particularly in light of the following quote:

    Well, as it was the "left" I would need to convince, I would have to appeal to a sense of justice, democracy and fairness. A persuader of great need, that the left can empathise with and justify.

    David Cameron and Ed Miliband are calling this the "why tidy my room if the whole world is a mess" line of argument. I don't agree with it either, but how do we justify what to prioritise? Whichever looks most kinetic on the television? Whoever is killing people in the most barbaric way at the time our troops can commit to intervention?



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