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Media Essays - Afghanistan War Media

Afghanistan War Media

At 8:40 eastern standard time, on the 11th of September 2001, the residents of New York woke up to fear, chaos and confusion. For the first time since the wall street bombing in 1920 and the first world trade center bombing in 1993 a large scale attack was being carried out on American soil. As a direct result of the attack 2,973 American lives, including the 19 organizers were lost.

Following the confusion, it was imperative that the United States single out who was responsible for the act and bring the party to justice. All fingers and leads pointed towards Saudi Arabian national, Osama Bin Laden, leader of the controversial Al-Qaeda sect. George H Bush, president of the United States of America on his Tuesday night address, two days after the attacks, gave a hint of the possibility of war on Afghanistan, where Al-Qaeda primarily ran operations with this quote “no distinction will be made between terrorists and those who harbor them”.

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President Bush, backed by the highest approval ratings in the white house history invaded Afghanistan on the 7th of October 2001, barely a month after the attacks in the United States. The main stream media failed to paint a clear picture to warn the citizens of the united states of the flaws that preceded the attacks.

Only after the invasion of Afghanistan, did the news come to air that there had been numerous warnings and signs given to the Bush administration that an attack of such magnitude might be carried out in the near future, warnings which all fell on deaf ears. Majority of the citizens of the United States might not have voted so graciously in the polls to positively affect Bush’s ratings had they come across this piece of information before the invasion. This important piece of security flaw might have probably stalled the invasion.

By normal standards, declaring war on a country whose only crime was guilt by association only three weeks after an attack on your country would be deemed as making grave decisions in haste by most, especially when none of those responsible for the attacks were of afghan decent. None of these issues or critiques made it to the mainstream media; instead, it was full of praise and support for the president’s decisions.

None of the main stream media reported that when the attacks occurred and all airspace above the United States was closed, the family of Osama bin Laden was quietly allowed to leave on charter plane back to Saudi Arabia. The President defended this decision by explaining that he didn’t want them to face undue repercussions as a result of their family ties with Osama.

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From an analytical perspective, allowing the family members of the one you deem a perpetrator of the largest and most deadly attacks on your country leave immediately after the attacks and then declaring war on a country three weeks later just because the perpetrator happened to reside there should definitely raise a few eyebrows, especially in mainstream media circles. Alarmingly this double standard did not seem to be an issue important to report on as the mainstream media seemed hooked on the War on terror as it was dubbed.

Such disregard for reporting important information that would put the citizens of the United States in true awareness of their situation might be seen as bias reporting. According to Dr. Winter, the media should never be the tool of the government in a truly democratic society which the United States government claims to operate under.

The United States invasion in Afghanistan has resulted in the loss of 463 American, 84 British, 73 Canadian lives. There are indications that these casualties might have been possibly avoided altogether following careful negotiations and decision making. The main reason behind invading Afghanistan was the supposedly continual harboring of Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda cohorts.

An ultimatum given to the ruling Taliban government requested the immediate handover of Osama to the United States for trial. Even though this offer was initially refused, reports by alternative media sources (Justice Not Vengeance) disclose the fact that a counter offer was made at first by Mohammed Omar, leader of the Taliban, to hand Osama bin Laden over to neighboring Pakistan for a Sha’ria court trial as is the Muslim tradition, after a disclosure of the evidence against Bin laden had been made available to them.

President Bush refused the offer and instead opted for war. Also as reported by the guardian in the October 14th issue, the Taliban government agreed to hand Osama Bin Laden over to a neutral country of The United States choice for trial if evidence of his guilt were made available to them and the bombing of Afghanistan was halted. The president once again refused this offer.

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All these reports somehow managed to fly under the radar missing the mainstream media coverage while a picture was painted that the Taliban government were not open to negotiations whatsoever with the United States convincing the citizens of the United States that a war was needed to bring whoever was responsible to justice. A war which would cost the United States billions of dollars and more American lives, a war that might have been avoided.

The war in Afghanistan has brought about a lot of controversies usually kept hush-hush by the mainstream media. Currently, majority of the armed forces currently fighting in Afghanistan are not American. Canadian, British, French and NATO peacekeeping troops make up the forces on ground and it’s no secret that the war has been a disaster.

The mainstream media has shied away from exposing the glaring fact that the whole campaign for war in Afghanistan was to capture Osama bin laden and bring him to justice. While this has by no means been fulfilled, the United States government switched its tune to justify fighting in Afghanistan as the war against terrorism. The war rages on despite the fact that the United States government has confirmed acquiring evidence stating that Osama fled Afghanistan for Pakistan after the invasion.

According to a report by the Ambassador Kenzo Oshima of the United Nations after the 10-member mission from 11-16 November, Afghanistan could turn out to be a failed state as direct result of the invasion and the inability of the United States to exert proper control over the region. To occupation of Afghanistan by United States and coalition troops continues, while the time line for a complete withdrawal to enable democracy take full effect in the country has not been set.

In his 2003 State of the union address, a year and 3 months after the Afghanistan invasion, President Bush claimed the United States had irrefutable evidence that Iraq was working towards nuclear capability and had recently sought uranium from Africa. These facts he claimed were reason why he would consider leading a coalition of armies to disarm Sadam Hussein and liberate the Iraqi people.

In February 2003, The United States secretary of state, Collin Powell, gave a speech before the United Nation Security council presenting evidence of Iraq’s possession of Nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction. They advocated for the United Nations to approve the use of force to disarm Sadam Hussein in Iraq of his weapons. This was denied as U.S. NATO allies Canada, France, and Germany, together with Russia, strongly urged continued diplomacy with Iraq. The United States and The United Kingdom finally withdrew its offer for the United Nations to give a go-ahead and decided to attack Iraq without the UN’s approval.

The mainstream media carried on a charade of bias reporting on the war in Iraq. They hid facts and repercussions of the war from the general public while not digging deep to confirm supposed facts before reporting. It would seem that sourcing for information from only what is released by the government without finding alternate sources or the other side of the story would result in unreliable news.

A page on the USA today paper on the 11th of December 2002 read “Saudis will stabilize world oil prices if Iraq war begins” going on to explain that The United States and the world had nothing to fear if Iraq was invaded as oil prices would remain stable. Such stories were aimed at trying to quell the doubts of war by giving reassurances to the citizens of the United States that they had absolutely nothing to fret about.

Eric Alterman, a liberal media critic and author, has argued, "Support for this war is in part a reflection that the media has allowed the Bush administration to get away with misleading the American people. In his 2003 book titled what liberal media?” Alterman points out the fact that The strongest indictment of the press, many of these critics argue, are recent polls that suggest many Americans see Iraq as being responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.

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This is indeed the case as the United States government pointed out the ties with Iraq and Al-Qaeda whereas there has been evidence showing Saddam Hussein was never interested in working with Osama Bin Laden. None of the 13 perpetrators of the September 11th attacks in the United States were Iraqi, they were predominantly Saudi Arabian.

On the 20th of March 2003, the United States of America commenced attacks In Iraq. As of November 20th 2007 there have been 3,875 coalition casualties as a result of the war and an astounding report of between 77,000 to 84,000 Iraqi casualties.

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Questions that have been whispered are now starting to get asked. According to the book Weapons of Mass deception, 2003 by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, Questions that should have been asked before the invasion but were kept mum by the mainstream media, questions like, what are the actual and factual documents and evidence to prove that Sadam Hussein had in his possession, weapons of mass destruction.

If true, were these mentioned weapons actual threats to the United States or any of its allies. Interestingly, another huge fact that was left out of mainstream media reporting in the United States was that the war in Iraq was actually declared illegal based on the United Nations code of operations and the resolution of international differences and disputes.

Ironically this was the same reason why the United States declared war on Iraq, stating the violation of the United Nations sanctions on Iraq to disarm all nuclear and biological weapons, a sanction which Saddam Hussein claimed he honored. The mainstream media not pointing this out leads to the assumption that a different yard stick was being used to judge the actions of both countries.

On the 13th of December 2003, Saddam Hussein was captured by United States forces. After being found guilty for offences committed against humanity by the Iraqi special tribunal, he was hanged on the 30th of December 2006. Despite being actually guilty of the crimes he was tried for, the issue of weapons of mass destruction was not brought up and has since been regarded as a lost cause as documents and reports supporting the allegation have come under scrutiny.

In conclusion, issues that shouldn’t have been causes of great concern are finally turning up repeatedly. Originally, because of the poor planning and swiftness of decision making on the part of the United States, it has been discovered that no actual plans to pull out of the campaign had been drawn.

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The insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan had been very much under-anticipated resulting in the continual loss of American and coalition lives in the war. The United States economy continues to decline having hit its all time low. Only now has the mainstream media leaned a bit from one sided source reporting, having been constantly attacked by critics and blamed by the citizens of the United States for bias reporting and hiding the true facts of the developments surrounding the wars.

In an April 2006 column by ABC news, it was reported that the Bush administration initially budgeted $50 billion dollars for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, however the request for more money has continued to spiral upwards and analysts claim it could eventually reach the $1 trillion dollar mark.

Americans also continue to leave in fear as the fiasco has painted a picture of the west waging a war against the Islamic lifestyle and culture; this has unified several extremist to label America as the enemy. All these are things the media, which should ideally serve in the interests of the people, failed to warn the American citizens about and has resulted in a backlash currently reverberating through the United States of America.


Associated Press, ‘US fatalities in War exceed those in 9/11’msnbc’ < >, 2006, (accessed 10 November 2007)

Winter, J. Dr. ‘World affairs II’ Lecture, November 13 2007.

Cnn, ‘US and coalition casualties’ < > 2007, (accessed Nov 19 2007)

The smoking gun, ‘The Taliban agreed to extradite Osama to another country ‘ justice not vengance’<‘

Cnn “US rejects offer to try Bin Lade’ Cnn, < > 2001, (accessed Nov 19 2007)

The Guardian, ‘Bush rejects Taliban offer to hand Bin Laden over’ Guardian unlimited <,1361,573975,00.html >2001, (accessed Nov 19 2007)

Deyoung, K, ‘Letter gives glimpse of Al-Qaeda leadership’, Washington Post <> 2006, (accessed Nov 19 2007)

Oshima, K. ’Afghan Could return to being a failed state warns security council mission chief’, United Nations News Center < >2006, (accessed Nov 19 2007)

Bush, G. ‘2003 State of the union address’, the white House <> 2003, (accessed Nov 19 2007)

Alterman, E. What Liberal Media? Basic Books, 2003, pg.16.

National Commission on Terrorist attacks,’ The 9-11 Report’, gpoacess < >2007, (accessed Nov 19 2007)

Department of Defense,’ Iraq coalition casualty count’, <>2007, (accessed Nov 19 2007)

Rampton, S. & Stauber, J. Weapons of Mass Deception, Tarcher/Penguin 2003, pg 45.

Rampton, S. & Stauber, J. Weapons of Mass Deception, Tarcher/Penguin 2003, pg 57

Garvin, K.’ the one certainty about Iraq: Spiraling cost for Americans’, ABC news, < > 2006, (accessed Nov 19 2007)

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