Finding a difference

Medialens, April 1:

On March 22, an Economist magazine editorial described the recent violence in Tibet as a “colonial uprising”, a “revolt” against foreign occupation. This was accurate, as was the implication that China has no legitimate claims over Tibet. (”˜A colonial uprising – Tibet,’ The Economist, March 22, 2008)

By contrast, recent media coverage of the fifth anniversary of the 2003 US-UK invasion of Iraq depicted the conflict as an “insurgency”, with the US military engaged in “counter-insurgency”. American media analyst David Peterson commented:

“In other words, in Tibet, China is a colonial power and doesn’t belong there. Okay. But in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. military forces are not a colonial power imposing their will from the outside, but +do belong there+, quite unlike the people who are resisting the U.S. forces, who clearly lack this right.” (Email, March 22, 2008)

Instead, in covering the fifth anniversary, the media emphasis was on the success of the “surge” in reducing violence. The invasion may have been a disaster, we were told, but the addition of 30,000 extra US troops has stabilised the situation, and so the troops should stay until ”˜the job is done’. The presupposition is that the US-UK presence has some kind of legitimacy. Anyone seeking the logical basis for this idea need look no further than George Bush Sr’s comment towards the end of the 1991 Gulf War: “What we say goes.”