Further, since the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Anti-Communist ideology has lost relevance and is substituted by the threat of Islamic terrorism. A key strategy of the Iraq war propaganda campaign is to ramp up perceived dangers of Islamic fundamentalism, especially that present in the Middle East and to project American intervention in the region as a ‘counter-terror’ operation. Although such an attitude is revealed to be hypocritical to the scrupulous observer, a majority of the population, due to lack of alternative sources of information, is brainwashed with such false claims. In the context of media propaganda to link Iraq and Islamic radicalism, one is reminded of the concept of Orientalism coined by Edward Said. Said noted that the Orient (which includes the Middle East and Asia) is used as a perpetual ‘other’ by the Occident, for purposes that are seldom noble. The Orient is portrayed as a timeless, unchanging, exotic and backward place full of mystery and chaos. Such as conception perfectly suits American political agenda in the region, as these adjectives could be propagated with negative political connotations. This is especially true with regard to American invasion of Iraq and also America’s continued support to Israel despite overwhelming international opposition. (Veer & Munshi, 2004, p.55)
Even erstwhile secular public intellectuals such as Christopher Hitchens joined the propaganda bandwagon in portraying Islamic terrorism as the instigating factor in America’s continued occupation of Iraq. Only a handful of radical commentators (who are hardly given any attention in mainstream media outlets) correctly pointed out that the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Iraq and other sections of the Arab world is a ‘consequence’ and not the ’cause’ of American involvement in the region. So by hyping up socio-cultural differences between the West and the Arab world, American media was able to maintain reasonable support for its continued military aggression in the region. It should also be noted that since the flowering of the Internet, alternative voices, views and opinions have found a stage and an audience. As a result of this news stations and websites with alternative editorial guidelines to that of mainstream media have cropped up. Largely listener-supported and not-for-profit organizations, these fledgling media houses were able to create an awareness among the general population that is consistent with ground realities of the situation. Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now station is a prime example of this movement. Here, the attempt is to take media ethics back to its founding principles, namely those rooted on the notion of its function as the Fourth Estate. Objectivity, neutrality and justice being its keywords, alternative and online news media sources have been able to mitigate the propaganda aims of governments across the world. (Eaton, 2004, p.190)
The positive effects of alternative media sources were seen during the Iraq war as well. For example, the popularity of President Bush at the time of his leaving office was at an all-time low, hovering around the 30 percent mark. American government’s plans to bring about political transformation in Iraq’s neighbor Iran was also stifled because of growing public unrest. (Ricchiardi, 2008, p.34) Also, there have been significant cut backs in the military expenditure and personnel deployment in Iraq because of backlash from citizens. This trend gives hope to the people, in that there are ways in which entrenched propaganda channels can be circumvented and marginalized with concerted effort on part of news consumers. It is a highly challenging proposition to bring about such a change in a short span of time. But with the help of Internet activism and grass-roots organization, the mainstream media’s monopoly on information (as well as misinformation) can be dismantled and the public can then have access to objective truth. This in turn will help them make informed choices about electing, ratifying or petitioning public officials; which in turn will bring international politics under the purview of fairness and justice.