Deja Vu All Over Again

With the US, Britain, France and Russia rapidly escalating military aggression against Syria, I thought it would be useful to look back at this Al Jazeera documentary from 2004. Al Jazeera analysts were the first to predict (2003) that the US and their allies would lose the war in Iraq.

The Control Room – Propaganda of the Iraq War

Directed by Jehane Noujaim (2004)

Film Review

The Control Room is about the Qatar TV network Al Jazeera and their coverage of the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq. It alternates between footage of the Doha control room and the US Central Command media center. Highlights include vignettes of US officials condemning Al Jazeera for showing footage of civilian casualties and dead and captured Americans.

Because of the Pentagon’s tight control over US media, Al Jazeera was the only mainstream outlet to address the issue of civilian or GI deaths.

Al Jazeera was first launched in 1996 and several Arab countries banned it for criticizing their regimes. In 2003, they would broadcast coverage of the US invasion to 40 million Arab viewers, eventually becoming the most popular Arab TV station.

Their analysts would also be the first to predict (in 2003) that the US had “miscalculated” by invading Iraq – that the Iraqi resistance would eventually defeat the occupation.

The commentary by Al Jazeera senior producer Samir Khader is definitely the high point of the film, especially his discussion of the importance of propaganda in war. I was really surprised by his strenuous efforts to balance pro-US and pro-Iraqi propaganda.

I was astounded by his comment that he would take a job at Fox News if they offered it to him – to “trade the Arab nightmare for the American dream.” He speaks openly about his plans to send his children to the US to study.

The most heart-wrenching part of the film involves the deliberate assassination (via a US missile) of Al Jazeera reporter Tarek Ayyoub as he was broadcasting from the roof of the Al Jazeera building in Baghdad. His death would result the first of many anti-occupation protest marches.

7 thoughts on “Deja Vu All Over Again

  1. There was one voice at NY Times constantly and articulately opposing Bush’s Gang war on Iraqi and one Blogger doing the same Juan Cole But something happened over war on Libya maybe the smell of money or what they both capitulated along with Al Jazeera .

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    • I am also very disappointed with the change at Al Jazeera. As far as I can see they have been totally gungho on regime change in Syria. I assume this is linked to Qatar’s role in funding the anti-Assad rebels.

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  2. Excellent video… I had the urge to reach through the screen and choke G Bush when he was giving the spiel about ‘bringing peace and freedom to Iraq’…. 😦

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  3. I meant to say Paul Krugman at NYT and thinking more about US policy of endless war it fits right in there with middle east being a Quagmire and to lose a war is a big plus for financial world.

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