What makes up the myths of war?
"the casual fact, the creative imagination, the will to believe,
and out of these three elements, a counterfeit of reality."
- Walter Lippmann
A long article investigates the events surrounding the knocking down of Saddam Hussein's statue during the U. S. invasion of Iraq. Was it the truth, or was it an example of war propaganda?
"Propaganda has been a staple of warfare for ages, but the notion of creating events on the battlefield, as opposed to repackaging real ones after the fact, is a modern development. It expresses a media theory developed by, among others, Walter Lippmann, who after the First World War identified the components of wartime mythmaking as "the casual fact, the creative imagination, the will to believe, and out of these three elements, a counterfeit of reality." As he put it, "Men respond as powerfully to fictions as they do to realities [and] in many cases they help to create the very fictions to which they respond."The author says that in this case, it wasn't the government but the media that created the myth of victory.
The toppling of Saddam's statue turned out to be emblematic of primarily one thing: the fact that American troops had taken the center of Baghdad. That was significant, but everything else the toppling was said to represent during repeated replays on television—victory for America, the end of the war, joy throughout Iraq—was a disservice to the truth. Yet the skeptics were wrong in some ways, too, because the event was not planned in advance by the military. How did it happen?"An overview of the story, narrated by journalist Peter Maass.
- The Toppling: How the Media Inflated the Fall of Saddam’s Statue in Firdos Square, ProPublica>>
- The Toppling, How the media inflated a minor moment in a long war, The New Yorker>>