A review by Paul Rockwell
Reese Erlich, Oakland-based foreign correspondent, and Norman Solomon, America's best-known progressive media critic, returned from Iraq a few months ago. Their new book Target Iraq: What The News Media Didn't Tell You, examines the role of the U.S. mainstream media in promoting war and empire. The pentagon and the press are, as Solomon puts it, co-producers of illusion.
Target Iraq is not about any media conspiracy. It contains no personal attacks on working journalists. On the contrary, Erlich describes the huge pressures "the rewards and punishments, and the rigorous military censorship" under which mainstream journalists are forced to work. Target Iraq is really about the ideology of empire in American journalism, the structure that sustains it, and the human consequences of war propaganda.
In response to the glorification of high-tech weaponry on our nightly screens, Target Iraq presents a fascinating chapter entitled: "Depleted Uranium: America's Dirty Little Secret," where Erlich uncovers the environmental toll of America's celebrated weapons. Much of U.S. ammunition and armor is made out of depleted uranium, radioactive material that may well disable U.S. veterans and Iraqi civilians years after wars are over. Depleted uranium (DU) is a residue collected from the processing of nuclear fuel. It's much denser than lead, and it remains radio active for billions of years. Iraqi doctors and Western scientists attribute the rise of disease and birth defects in today's Iraq to U.S. and British uranium from the first Gulf War. DU gets into the ground water, the soil and food chains. According to Dr. Doug Rokke, former U.S. Army depleted uranium project director, "U.S. military leaders knew that using DU would cause health and environmental problems."
It is ironic that the war on Iraq is framed in terms of halting arms proliferation, while the same region is becoming a testing ground for new U.S. technologies of death.
A moving preface by Howard Zinn, an afterword by Sean Penn, combined with the analytic power of the authors, make Target Iraq a timely book. And the conversational tone "it's like having a cup of coffee with the authors, who just returned from Iraq" make the the information about the human costs of war and propaganda all the more convincing.
Published in In Motion Magazine March 2, 2003.
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