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[casi] Anti-war tactics/strategy/Guardian article on Monday

Dermot Moynihan <> wrote:

>If all these people are so sussed where were they in 1991? Or when we
>to stop the bombing of Yugoslavia? They have arrived because they
>have realised that the world has changed and that 9/11 has demonstrated
>that we are all vulnerable.

But also because they now have so much greater access to the whole
picture.  Politicians just cannot ignore what it means to be a leader
nowadays, ie.: they are leading people who have
- greater access to information
- a wider awareness of world issues and
- easy contact with people across the world.
See the article below from Monday's Media Guardian:,7558,896874,00.html

The challenge for all those who are information-rich, and against war,
is to work out a successful strategy for a peaceful solution and to
persuade our leaders to go with it.

best wishes
Cathy Aitchison

Spin caught in a web trap,7558,896874,00.html
Truth may be the first casualty of war but now in the age of instant
news and views at the click of a mouse it's a hostile world for
propaganda too, writes Owen Gibson

Monday February 17, 2003
The Guardian

When Allied forces were last on their way to the Gulf in 1991, the
internet was little more than a gaggle of bearded academics swapping
information on their latest computer programs. The last Gulf war
heralded the coming of age of rolling news television. CNN, with
reporters on the ground and in the studio, made its name by
comprehensively outperforming its traditional rivals.

But now 24-hour news is commonplace, it is the web that is opening up a
world of different perspectives and viewpoints. As we've seen over the
past two years, from September 11 to the subsequent war on terror and
the current countdown to war, after the initial rush towards recognised
news sources such as the BBC and CNN, web users started to cast their
net far wider as they searched for explanation and context.

Sites such as Afghanistan Online and Islamic Gateway saw a thousandfold
increase in their traffic while web users also flocked to sites such as and Amnesty International. And just last week, interested
parties were able to flick from the French press to the US tabloids and
back again to see how differing views on the war were taking shape.

Not only that, but it becomes a lot easier to tell when a government is
looking to mislead. As Tony Blair and Labour found to its cost when it
was caught bang to rights pinching bits of its Iraq dossier from three-
year-old academic documents lying around on the internet.

All of which presents governments with a problem. Propaganda in the
historical sense is simply not an option. After all, when you can see
opposing views at the click of a mouse, controlling the nation's
perception of a conflict becomes a lot more difficult.

Imagine if we'd been able to see and hear the Argentinian view of events
in 1982. Or even if, in 1991, we'd been easily able to read alternative
news sources from the Middle East, rather than watching carefully
released footage of "smart bombs" turning right at traffic lights.

Professor Bill Dutton is director of the Oxford Internet Institute, a
department of Oxford University devoted to researching the social impact
of the web.

"The most obvious thing that the web provides is access to a greater
diversity of viewpoints and a more international viewpoint. Although you
have to remember that people gravitate towards sites that reflect their
own views, there's no doubt that there's the potential to access a wider
diversity of opinion," he says.

In many ways the Kosovo conflict of 1999 was the first war of the
internet age. But even in the three years since, we've seen the number
of people on the web, and the amount of time they spend on it to the
exclusion of other media, increase exponentially. And public opinion on
the decision to send troops into Kosovo was far more clear cut than over
Iraq, where there's a huge split in attitudes to the prospect of
military action.

Put simply, when you have a worldwide depository of millions of points
of view, the propaganda war becomes a lot harder to win. There have been
several cases in recent years where online research has uncovered lies,
inconsistencies and mistakes in the government line.

The key thing is that it now only takes a few minutes to search through
several lifetimes' worth of information - and access to that huge
archive is not restricted to journalists, academics or government
officials, but open to all.

The very fact that the government published its Iraq dossier on the web,
as it had previously with its Bin Laden evidence, was tacit recognition
of the growing power of the medium in influencing opinion.

"The depth at which people can research any given topic is incredible,"
says Dutton. "It greatly enhances the relative power of the individual
in getting access to information and forming communities, for better or
worse. While it enables a neo-Nazi group to exert influence far beyond
its numbers, it also, by the same token, enables anti-war groups to do
the same."

Many of the hundreds of disparate pressure groups that congregated in
Hyde Park at the weekend were brought together by the web, while sites
such as Urban75 and not only give an alternative spin on
the mass media but provide access to fully formed communities.

Adam Porter, founder of Year Zero and a former managing editor of
Loaded, believes that the proliferation of alternative news sources on
the web goes hand in hand with an increasingly media-savvy audience.

"People are looking for alternative sources of news information because
they fully understand the process that goes on in government and in big
news organisations. They want serious questions, they distrust anyone
with a vested interest and they want complex analysis of complex
problems," he says.

Dutton stresses that it's important not to view the internet in
isolation but as part of the wider explosion in news media, and also
points out that it's only in countries where people have free access to
the web that it is able to act as a counterbalance to the excesses of
government propaganda. "During the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre
people were saying the fax machine was democratising China because it
gave people access to the outside world. But the fact was that the
Chinese government had bought up all the fax machines," he points out.

But Porter is adamant that sites such as Year Zero in the UK and GNN in
the US will form the basis of an alternative news network that will
eventually rival traditional media. "It's really patronising to assume,
as the mainstream media often does," he says, "that ordinary people
don't talk about Iraq, asylum or economics down the pub. You can go all
around the world and find similar things and it's the web that's
bringing them together."

Cathy Aitchison

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