U.S. military invasion of Iraq 20 years ago was largely framed in news media to meet strategic objectives, and the skewed media narratives continue to hide many truths, said an opinion piece published on the website of Al Jazeera on Monday.
In the article titled "How U.S. propaganda won Iraq's 'battlespace'," the columnists said the United States has utilized information operations as tools of wars since World War I.
During the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in addition to "dressing up battlefield events in polite language," the U.S. propaganda also "invented targets and set operational objectives."
The U.S. mission in Iraq defined victory as "the winning of Iraqi and American hearts and minds," and the media was enlisted as a force multiplier in the exercise of soft power, it said.
"Perception management" became a strategic priority for the U.S., which involved "carefully crafted press conferences and press releases as well as the selective leaking of information," and journalists within military units "helped control the perspective from which Americans viewed the conflict, with the experiences of U.S. soldiers foregrounded and those of Iraqis relegated to the background," it added.
U.S. information operations "exaggerated the threat of enemies or even invented one altogether," it noted, adding few Americans are aware of how many Iraqi civilians were killed alongside the so-called insurgents, most of whom saw themselves as defending their homeland from an aggressive invasion and occupation.
The success of U.S. propaganda on the Iraqi war is reflected in Americans' attitudes about the invasion. The fact that the war was illegal under international law "drew little comment in the mainstream press," and the violation of Iraqi sovereignty, as well as numerous war crimes committed there, "were simply filtered out of media coverage and political discourse," said the opinion piece.
Ultimately, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq proved calamitous for Iraqis, with over a million civilians killed. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of American soldiers were also deceived into fighting an unjust war, and 4,500 paid with their lives, it said.
However, till now, 20 years after the war, no politicians or military planners have been held to account, it stressed.