Foundationalist myths

Military glory – that attractive rainbow, that rises in showers of blood – that serpent’s eye, that charms to destroy…

~Abraham Lincoln

Jessica Lynch has been testifying to Congress.

“The bottom line is the American people are capable of determining their own ideals of heroes and they don’t need to be told elaborate lies,” Lynch said.

Update: Glenn Greenwald is scathing about the role of the press in the stories invented about Lynch and Tillman.

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Posted in Film, TV, Video etc, Iraq, USA, War
31 comments on “Foundationalist myths
  1. Rob says:

    From the footagv I wasn’t able to determine whether Lynch was criticising the DoD or the media for the stories that were told about her.

    But her patriotism and support for the troops deployed to Iraq were great.

  2. Kim says:

    Lynch was criticising the DoD or the media for the stories that were told about her.

    Both.

  3. Rob says:

    It seems the Pentagon knew the truth of the matter more than thjree years ago.

    From the ABC’s AM program, 11 July 2003:

    LINDA MOTTRAM: Remember Private Jessica Lynch? The 19-year old US soldier who became the centre of one of the highest profile stories of the war in Iraq.

    Her rescue by US Special Forces from an Iraqi hospital was captured by television.

    It was said that Private Lynch had emptied her revolver and sustained gunshot injuries while trying to evade capture by the Iraqis.

    Now, a draft report from the Pentagon reveals that Private Jessica Lynch, whose own credibility has not been called into question, was injured not in a fire fight with Iraqis, but in a vehicle accident, as an Iraqi doctor who had examined her at the time had concluded.

  4. Kim says:

    More egregious probably is the Tillman case, which was also discussed at the hearing, and which is also reported in the link in the post.

  5. Rob says:

    But the Lynch thing does not appear to me to illustrate any spinning by Bus$hitlerburtonMcChimpy, which I took, perhaps wrongly, to be the point of your post.

  6. Kim says:

    No, I’m trying to make the point Lynch does – that in war, people are held out to be heroes, and that process is damaging not just to the cause of truth but also the the people themselves.

  7. Rob says:

    But she specifically singled out some of her soldier colleagues in Iraq as heroes.

  8. Rob says:

    I mean, I agree with her. Do you?

  9. Kim says:

    Up to a point – but I think we need to take it beyond the individual hero perspective. That’s my point too.

  10. Rob says:

    I don’t think it was hers. In fact, I don’t think Jessica actually was saying anything that you are trying to make her say.

  11. Kim says:

    I’m not “trying to make her say” anything, I’m pointing to her experience as an illustration of a point I want to make. I don’t see a problem with that, Rob.

  12. Rob says:

    So long as you don’t try to colonise her experience for your own purposes, Kim, when it clearly means something quite different to her.

  13. Kim says:

    I’ve made it clear I’m not trying to do that, Rob. You have a suspicious mind!

  14. Christine Keeler says:

    I think the meaning of her words is pretty clear Rob. She wasn’t there to point fingers or make political statements, merely to emphasise the need for “truth versus hype and misinformation,” and to put events into their proper perspective because the story, as originally reported, has had a dramatic impact on on she, her family, and friends.

    The original story appeared in WaPo from ‘battlefield reports’ (i.e. local army PR flacks, probably not cooked up in the Pentagon) and was enthusiastically taken up by the global media pack because it was obviously such a great yarn.

    I just want to hug her.

  15. Kim says:

    Update: Glenn Greenwald is scathing about the role of the press in the stories invented about Lynch and Tillman.

  16. Christine Keeler says:

    …let the Sheehanboating begin http://powerlineblog.com/archives/017435.php

  17. Graham Bell says:

    Everyone:

    This whole circus is proof again that if the United States wants to save itself, it must force the resignations of those losers, Bush and Cheney, as fast as possible.

    Have you any idea how corrosive these bullsh*t stories are on the morale of American troops? Each time one of these cheap propaganda stunts is concocted it is seen by other troops there at the time. No matter how severe the intimidation or persuasive the appeals to “patriotism” to enforce silence, word gets out that the whole thing was nothing but a load of unadulterated bullsh*t ….. within a matter of a few days, thousands of troops find out the whole thing is smelly and, rumours being rumours, the stories get embellished along the way. Then the families of these soldiers get to hear all about it too and the government’s credibility goes down the drain.

    The unembellished truth is by far a much better propaganda weapon.

    The sad thing is that the real story of what happened to Jessica Lynch had the potential to be a terrific propaganda story. In the hands of propaganda experts [such as the British Army] it would have been a great story. However, in the hands of failed marketeers, it became a story that damaged the US government’s credibility and harmed the troop morale that it was supposed to bolster.

  18. This whole circus is proof again that if the United States wants to save itself, it must force the resignations of those losers, Bush and Cheney, as fast as possible.

    No, it isn’t.

    It’s proof that military establishements and the media love ‘hero’ stories, true or not, because they are popular, and that they have, in effect, an institutionalised process of creating those stories.

    This happens under governments of all colours, and is, in itself, nothing to do with any criticism of the current US Administration.

  19. derrida derider says:

    Yeah, much as I loathe them you can’t put Lynch’s story down to the Bushistas. Though maybe the lies about Tillman came from a bit higher up.

    But that’s missing the post’s point. David’s right – this is a product of the sort of militarism and jingoism that transcends parties, or indeed nations. But so much the worse for militarism and jingoism.

  20. Katz says:

    Over-eager flacks in the Pentagon may well have constructed these lies without consulting the chain of command all the way to Rumsfeld’s office.

    The best way to test that is to offer immunity to successive rungs in the chain of command if they can demonstrate that they were following orders from higher up.

    An open judicial process will reveal the origin of these deliberate lies.

  21. John Greenfield says:

    Graham Bell

    This whole circus is proof again that if the United States wants to save itself, it must force the resignations of those losers, Bush and Cheney, as fast as possible.

    Save itself from what, pray tell? The Chinese? French? Palestinians? Indians? Canadians?

  22. Craig Mc says:

    Glenn Greenwald is scathing about the role of the press in the stories invented about Lynch and Tillman.

    Oh, the irony!

  23. Graham Bell says:

    David Jackmanson, Derrida Derider and Katz:

    No, disagree. The inspiration or orders to change standard propaganda pprocedures and tell outright lies instead would have come from right from America’s “royal court”. The usual procedure is to select an appropriately inspiring story and to emphasise the hell out of its positive aspects. Bad news stories that don’t inspire just dont get the publicity. No need for lies.

    Successful propaganda avoids outright lies like the plague because if they are found out by the public, the damage is considerable. The British were damned lucky getting away with the stories of the Kaiser’s troops amusing themselves tossing babies from bayonet to bayonet and of chopping the hands off Belgian babies just for fun [there was even money collected in the British Empire for limbless Belgian babies!]; the truth didn’t come out until the Great War was over …. and by then, it didn’t matter, because Germany had been defeated. The British, give them their due, did learn from that blunder and went into the Second World War with a much cleverer propaganda set-up.

    John Greenfield:
    From itself of course. The worsening fractures in their society right now make the San Andreas Fault look puny by comparison. [Oh sorry, we’re not supposed to speak about the unspeakable, are we?]

  24. MarkL says:

    The facts argue against the meme being peddled here on Lynch.
    It wasn’t “later” that the government warned against this fight-to-the-death story line, it was at the time of the initial reporting by the media. Why?
    Becuaset The Washington Post did run the story first:

    ‘She Was Fighting to the Death’
    Details Emerging of W. Va. Soldier’s Capture and Rescue

    By Susan Schmidt and Vernon Loeb

    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Thursday, April 3, 2003; Page A01

    Pfc. Jessica Lynch, rescued Tuesday from an Iraqi hospital, fought fiercely and shot several enemy soldiers after Iraqi forces ambushed the Army’s 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition, U.S. officials said yesterday.

    Lynch, a 19-year-old supply clerk, continued firing at the Iraqis even after she sustained multiple gunshot wounds and watched several other soldiers in her unit die around her in fighting March 23, one official said. The ambush took place after a 507th convoy, supporting the advancing 3rd Infantry Division, took a wrong turn near the southern city of Nasiriyah.

    “She was fighting to the death,” the official said. “She did not want to be taken alive.” Lynch was also stabbed when Iraqi forces closed in on her position, the official said, noting that initial intelligence reports indicated that she had been stabbed to death. No official gave any indication yesterday, however, that Lynch’s wounds had been life-threatening

    [i] Several officials cautioned that the precise sequence of events is still being determined, and that further information will emerge as Lynch is debriefed. Reports thus far are based on battlefield intelligence, they said, which comes from monitored communications and from Iraqi sources in Nasiriyah whose reliability has yet to be assessed. Pentagon officials said they had heard “rumors” of Lynch’s heroics but had no confirmation. [/i]

    So let’s get this straight, The WASHINGTON POST single-sourced this story from one official that they couldn’t even identify. Why couldn’t they identify a military official praising a soldier? That’s no secret. This isn’t a whistle blower or Bush Administration insider. It would more than likely be an officer or NCO at the tactical operations center IF this person existed.

    So why couldn’t The Washington Post name the source? The answer is obvious; because the reporters don’t know who it was, or if the incident even occurred.

    Then The Washington Post ran with the information despite army officials warning them about the veracity of such rumors.

    And this is the military’s fault? Are you kidding?

    MarkL
    Canberra

  25. Christine Keeler says:

    So why couldn’t The Washington Post name the source? The answer is obvious; because the reporters don’t know who it was, or if the incident even occurred.

    Well I don’t think there’s any question that WaPo should be taken out and soundly whipped over the rotting corpse of Judy Millers’ career over such sloppy, unverified reporting, but Schmidt and Loeb have both acknowledged that they ran with the story because they knew and trusted the source.

  26. Graham Bell says:

    MarkL;
    One possible reason the Lynch story wasn’t shouted from the rooftops here in Australia was that …. apart from the dutiful regurgitating of it in the Ministry Of Truth’s papers and electronic media …. Australian authorities may have been somewhat cautious since the Hilton Hotel bombing in Sydney. That is, IF that bombing was indeed a brilliant propaganda stunt that went horribly wrong and instead of making noise and breaking glass in the middle of the night, people actually got killed. As I said, ” IF “…….

  27. Kim says:

    Judy Millers’ career over such sloppy, unverified reporting

    Blame where it’s due, Christine, she worked for the NY Times.

  28. MarkL says:

    Thanks, Graham, I got a chuckle from that one.

    It is interesting that I think there is considerable common ground here on the basis of the media being held accountable when they basically lie to us like this, or simply make stuff up and pretend it is true (the uncritical media use of faked images, set-up images and Hizb’allah propaganda last year being a recent case in point).

    The blogosphere is remarkably useful in fact checking the media – irrespective of affiliation.

    MarkL
    Canberra

  29. Christine Keeler says:

    Blame where it’s due, Christine, she worked for the NY Times.

    I know. Metaphor for wider problem.

  30. Graham Bell says:

    MarkL:
    Media accountablility? Now there’s an oxymoron if ever there was one.

    The Hizbollah stuff was to strengthen the fervour of uncritical supporters and to influence the unsophisticated. If well-informed people. whether Arabs or Westerners, were taken in by it all too then that was a bonus for Hizbollah. Note that Hizbollah propaganda usually had factual and quite plausible elements in it.

    Maybe the White House might have been better off contracting Hizbollah to do its Iraq War propaganda seeing that they seem to have chosen to ignore wise counsel from American propaganda experts.

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