Is It Possible to Know What Happens in War Zones?

The world we live is definitely not a stranger to war. From civil wars to global wars, all wars have had their own purposes and moral justification. The public also believe that those wars have had causes, because, even they have not been there, they have seen and heard what happens from the newspapers and on TV. However, there are two opposing circumstances, truth and facts, that determine whether it is possible to know what happens in war zones. This essay will discuss truth and facts of happens in war zones, focusing on three elements of governments, information and heroes.

Governments and War
Governments have used wars to win the confidence of the people. The public in democracy society can choose governments. This choice gives governments power to stay. However, how do governments gain the pubic? According to Mor (2007, p. 661), governments' half of "power politics" could be made by image-making. Image-making means the representation of government figures or the portrayal of authority, conservatism, and liberalism. On one hand, it is possible that the government put forward certain images for the sake of the people. Waging war is one of the good ways to show government's efforts for the people, and to gain public support, because of this, the public always feel uneasy when they relate about war. So, they have to believe and have faith the government's process in war. As a result, waging war may be good chance for governments to stay in power within the public; by spending money on resources, and protection for soldiers to keep safe their country and keep the peace of the world.

Information within Wars
Information within wars is limited by governments. Even though governments said that the purpose of waging wars was for the protection of the public and keep the peace, wars could be used by advantage governments. For example, there is a relationship between governments and the munitions industry, and no war means any need for the munitions industry.

There is no war without a "just" cause. To wage war, governments need the help of the other side; the 'enemy'. But, government requesting help from the enemy must convince the public that they are only the 'enemy'. However, what is the reason for establishing an enemy? An example of this was "Weapons of Mass Destruction" for Iraq War in 2003. The main reason of the Iraq War was so the U.S. government could remove these weapons, eventually creating a war; but there was no evidence of this. They did not care about just causes, because the public also did not care about it. The reasons for war changed as the enemy attacked "our soldiers". Now, the just cause is the destruction of all opposing countries, even the innocent. This gave reason for the public to change their belief about the war. How? The information the public had seen was controlled by US military with US government. War reporters could not take photographs whatever they wanted, and go wherever they wanted, because they had to stay with an army company. It seemed limited lens. The public also saw what happens in Iraq through limited lens. That was not freedom and truth of information. It was given by US military to the public. However, they believed it; because that was just one thing they could see and hear from Iraq.

"If it is on television, it must be real" (in Wag the Dog, 1997).

Heroes within Wars
Government had slanted the news about wars. This can be done through the description of a hero in war zones. One hero can influence many people. To be a hero is people's desire, also a hero must have respect by the people. For these reasons, within wars, heroes were aspects of making purpose for war by the governments. "Moreover, warriors and journalists are irreplaceable components in the structure of a constitutional republic, ensuring national security and the right of the people to know what their government is doing in their name and in their interests" (Buchanan and Press, MSNBC, April 16, 2003). Examples of this propaganda are Private Jessica Lynch and US Soldier Pat Tillman. Private Jessica Lynch was captured in an Iraqi ambush and then rescued by US special troop from an Iraqi hospital. However, the real story was that she had a vehicle accident and Iraqi doctors looked after her well. Moreover, they helped US special troops to rescue her. Another example, the case of Pat Tillman also showed government propaganda. Tillman was a football star in US match. He denied a multi-million dollar contract and then he joined the US military. Tillman was killed in Afghanistan during working military service. However, the real story of Tillman was that he had been killed by 'friendly fire'.

The purpose of the war was not simply removal of enemies. There were many reasons, such as the public's support and relationship between government and the munitions industry. To make governments’ side, the wars had slanted and repacked. The press was also controlled by the governments to keep the public's concerns. Governments did not want the public to know the real purpose and what happens in war zones, because there is no just cause if there is no support from the public and no staying in power. The public believe what they can see and hear what happens in war zones because it is on TV, even if truth is behind the "TV".


Carlson, M. 2006, 'War Journalism and the "KIA Journalist": The Cases of David Bloom and Michael Kelly', Critical Studies in Media Communication, vol. 23, no. 2, June 2006, pp. 91-111.

Dexter, G. 1941, 'The Canadian Economy in Two Wars', Foreign Affairs, vol. 19, no. 2, January 1941, pp. 442-452.

MOR, B.D. 2007, 'The Rhetoric of Public Diplomacy and Propaganda Wars: A View from Self-Presentation Theory', European Journal of Political Research, pp. 661-683.

Playdon, P. 2002, "'Under Friendly Fire": an Interview with Eve-Ann Prentice', Journalism Studies, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 267-275. 2007, 'Jessica Lynch', viewed 12 December 2007, <>. 2007, 'Pat Tillman', viewed 12 December 2007, <>.

No comments: