Mrs. Jaeger Hr. 5
Oral History Research Paper
Government Restricted Media
During Operation Desert Storm, TV networks were showing precision bombing being done from miles away, taking out the enemy. The war was described as “cities like Baghdad getting shelled from miles and miles away” (T. Clemens). In reality, 90 percent of the bombing done was unguided “dumb” bombs dropped from planes above the target. If the public had been told this during the war, there more than likely would have been an addition Woodstock from viewpoints such as “it would [not] be a very good choice at all, it’s a bad idea” (J. Clemens). The U.S. government limited and required the media to only report certain things in Desert Storm. This was to cover unneeded violence and the government and President George H. W. Bush’s decisions.
Operation Desert Storm was part of the Persian Gulf War. The Iraqi government, led by Saddam Hussein, had invaded Kuwait. Kuwait is a large exporter of oil to the US so naturally everyone in the country was wary. Another concern was that Iraq’s troops might continue on into Saudi Arabia. If it had come to this, Iraq would have been controlling 1/5 of the world’s oil (ushistory.org). President Bush counteracted by setting up troops all along the border of Saudi Arabia so that it couldn’t be taken over. To go farther, “Bush, remembering the lessons of Vietnam, sought public support” (ushistory.org). He found the way of doing this by using the media to persuade the country with facts that weren’t entirely true. After this Desert Storm had officially started, the military along with other UN countries took part in bombings that targeted places that the public was told were Iraqi government and military bases. A little longer than a month after that the US sent troops into Kuwait. One hundred hours later, the US forces declared Kuwait free of Iraqi force.
This operation was, in a lot of ways, “a war made for TV” (Holland). It was intense and dramatic, complete with missiles and local heroes. It came right to your house via satellite, ad was over before it became depressing or sad (Holland). President Bush was a straight forward Texan from the heart of America. “It seemed to him like war was a good way to get after it” (T. Clemens). What almost everyone watching was not aware of though, was the amount of restrictions that had been placed on the media. There were many restrictions were being put into effect at the start of the war. These restrictions did not allow media to get very close to the war. This resulted in inaccurate writings and broadcasts. It only allowed certain news groups to go with certain troops. Most of these troops were specialized and their rate of success was extremely high (Grossman). This type of action can simply be explained as “an extensive campaign by the White House and the Pentagon to influence public opinion by presenting Americans with carefully controlled images and information concerning the conflict and the issues surrounding the Bush administration’s decision” (Sharkley 152).
The information that the American public was given was controlled and blanketed by the US government. A large myth that was told by the controlled media was that the new and advanced technology in bombs was going to save lives (Clark 127). The precision missiles that were shown all of the television and in newspapers only made up for 8.8 percent of the air war. The other 91.2 percent were falling from bomber airplanes. They were “falling from high altitudes and no more accurate than the bombs dropped in the World War II” (Clark 127). Casper Weinberger, Secretary of Defense, “insisted that it was ‘impossible’ that civilians were killed” (Clark 127). By the end of the war there were over 250,000 Iraqi dead and thousands from other nations. Most of these were civilian men, women, and children (Clark 126). Testimony from a former...
Cited: Clark, Ramsey. Perspectives on Modern World History, The Persian Gulf War, The Fire This Time. Missouri, US: US, Greenhaven Press. 2011. Print.
Clemens, Jen. Personal Interview. 2 Feb. 2015
Clemens, Tim. Personal Interview. 2 Feb. 2015
Grossman, Mark. Encyclopedia of the Persian Gulf War: Santa Barbara, California. 1995. Print.
Holland, Gini. America in the 20th Century-1990s V.10. New York: Marshall Cavendish 1995. Print.
Sharkley, Jacqueline, Perspectives on Modern World History, The Persian Gulf War, Desert Storm Disinformation. Missouri, US: Greenhaven Press. 2011. Print.
Ushistory.org, Operation Desert Storm, US History Online textbook, www.ushistory.org, 2015. Thursday Feb. 5, 2015
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