Who are we?
Investig’Action is a collective founded in 2004 by Michel Collon. It brings together journalists, writers video producers, translators, artists and a series of other individuals to help put together a platform for alternative information. Because it is not possible to let the media, dominated by the profit motive, monopolize news about wars, the economy and the North-South relations, Investig’Action gives a voice to those whose point of view has been excluded.
Michel Collon is an independent writer and journalist. Having qualified for a bright legal career, he left the law for factory work, where he engaged in the trade-union struggle. After having fought for many years inside à range of different organisations while also working for the journal Solidaire, Michel reached out to a wider public with his book Attention, Medias ! (1992), a work that exposes the lies churned out in connection with the first Iraq war.
Did this amount to a change of battlefield for the old trade unionist? Not really. You could say rather that it was the next logical step. In fact, the exploitation of workers, the wars for money, and media manipulation …are all connected.
And Michel never ceases to demonstrate this throughout his work, i.e., (Observer missions in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Venezuela, and in Libya, books about NATO, about Israel and about Chavez, film productions about Kosovo, Latin America and about Africa…. )
It is a common thread throughout the work of Michel Collon and Investig’Action to show that the system that exploits the workers for the profit of the 1%, equally produces wars. Moreover, the mainstream media systematically publish disinformation about the conflicts, using 5 main principles of war propaganda.
Because they are the property of the 1%, because they are motivated by profit, because the conditions under which they operate are incompatible with quality of information, the media relay the dominant ideology and sell us “humanitarian” wars.
Persuaded that the press cannot be reformed, even if courageous journalists are doing what they can, Michel decided to found Investig’Action with the idea that the involvement of ordinary people is essential in order to guarantee the right to Information.
Today the collective can therefore count on hundreds of volunteers : journalists, professionals, correspondents, students, computer specialists,..
All these talents are coordinated by Elisabeth, Michèle, Olivier, Alex and Gregoire from our base at our editorial office.
We can also diffuse articles about current affairs, background analyses, uncut testimonies and videos, through our newsletter which goes to some 60.000 subscribers in French, 10.000 in Spanish and 5000 in English. We also have projects in Arabic and Italian.
Investig’Action, also issues two important publications each month, the Journal de l’Afrique and the Journal de Notre Amerique.
And finally Investig’Action is responsible for training and study weeks for the education of reporters; conferences on international issues and the handling of number of projects on Islamophobia, the far Right, and Palestine.
OUR BOOKS, YOUR SUPPORT
The website of Investig’Action is free and guaranteed free from advertising. Its survival and its development is possible only thanks to sales of our Books and Films.
But there are also your donations.
These are essential for preserving independence as Investig’Action does not receive any subsidies. And everything we have achieved since 2004, wouldn’t have been possible without you.
The battle for information continues, and it is together we will fight it out.
Investig’Action’s mission is to provide an alternative point of view about the world news and denounce medias’ lies.
How did the Western media cover the various wars that followed the first Gulf war? Are there similarities regarding the way the media covered each of these events? Are there major “war propaganda” principles? Yes, there are.
- Hiding the interests. Our governments fight for human rights, peace, or whatever noble ideal it might be. A war should never be presented as a conflict between divergent economic and social interests.
- Each war must be preceded by a spectacularly big media lie in order to win public support. And after that, keeping on demonizing the enemy, especially by showing continually pictures of atrocities the latter committed.
- Hiding History. Hiding the historical facts and geography of the region, making local conflicts that are stirred, or even provoked by the Great Powers themselves, incomprehensible.
- Organizing the amnesia. Avoiding any serious reminder of past cases of media manipulation – it might make the public too suspicious.
Principle no. 1: Hiding the interests.
The most basic principle of war propaganda is hiding that these wars are about specific economic interests – those of multinational companies. Whether it be having control over strategic raw materials or oil and gas routes; opening up markets and crushing states showing too much independence; destroying any country that might represent an alternative to the current system: all things considered, wars are always fought for economic reasons. There are no humanitarian wars. And yet, every time the public opinion is told the opposite.
The first war against Iraq was presented as a war which purpose was to enforce international law. However, the real purposes, that were set out in various documents (to which access was not even restricted) of the US government were:
- Bringing down a government which encouraged Arab countries to unite against the Zionist entity and the United States.
- Retaining control of all the Middle Eastern oilfields.
- Setting up army bases in an already reluctant Saudi Arabia. It is very instructive and funny to reread today the statements that were made in the European press then regarding the worthy motives of the first Gulf war.
Nothing has been inferred from all this.
The various wars against Yugoslavia were presented as humanitarian ones, whereas the Western powers explained in their own documents – that anyone could have access to – that they had decided to crush its economic system, which was too independent from multinational companies and provided workers with important rights. The real objectives were as follows: controlling all the strategic routes in the Balkans – the Danube and pipelines in course of construction, setting up army bases – and therefore subduing the strong Yugoslavian army – and economically colonizing the country. A lot of information that can currently be found there confirm that multinational companies – one of them being US Steel – are shamelessly colonizing the country, that the country’s wealth is being looted, and that the population is living in increasing poverty. But all of this is carefully kept secret from the international opinion, just as the suffering of populations in various other countries that are being colonized again.
The invasion of Afghanistan was initially presented as being part of a plan to fight terrorism, then as a democratic and social emancipation struggle. Whereas, also in this case, anyone could find in US documents that are absolutely unclassified, what it was actually about. 1. Building a strategic pipeline that would make it possible to control the supplies of all the south of Asia – Asia is a key continent in the economic warfare of the 21st century. 2. Setting up US army bases in Central Asia. 3. Weakening any potential “rival” in this continent – Russia, Iran, and especially China – and preventing them from becoming allies.
We could analyze in the same way how the true economic and strategic stakes of current or future wars – in Colombia, in the Congo, in Cuba, in Korea… are carefully hidden from us. In short, the fundamental media taboo is that it is forbidden to show that each war is always about very specific corporate interests, and that wars are the result of an economic system which literally forces them to rule the world and loot it to prevent their rivals from doing so.
Principle no.2: Demonizing.
Every big war begins with a big media lie to swing the opinion in favor of its rulers.
- In 1965, the United States triggered the war in Viet Nam by making up an attack against two of its own ships (the “Gulf of Tonkin” incident), and for which Viet Nam was blamed.
- Even then, against Grenada in 1983, it had invented a terrorist threat that was supposedly aimed at the USA.
- The “reason” for the first aggression against Iraq in 1991 was the alleged robbery of baby incubators in a maternity hospital in Kuwait City. This media lie was made up by Hill & Knowlton, an American public relations company.
- Similarly, NATO intervened in Bosnia in 1995 on the “basis” of falsified accounts of “extermination camps” and bombings of civilians in Sarajevo, which were imputed to the Serbs. And yet, investigations – which were kept secret – proved later that the perpetrators were actually NATO’s own allies.
- In early 1999, the “reason” for attacking Yugoslavia was another misrepresented event: an alleged “massacre of civilians” in Racak (Kosovo). It was actually a fight between two armies, provoked by UCK separatists. Those are the same that US officials used to call “terrorists” at the beginning of 1998, and “freedom fighters” a few months later.
- The reason for going to war against Afghanistan? An even bigger lie: the 9/11 attacks regarding which any reliable and independent investigation is suppressed, while the Bush administration’s hawks are rushing to implement aggression plans that were prepared long ago, against Afghanistan, Iraq, and a few others.
Every big war begins with a media lie of the following kind: shocking pictures showing that the enemy is a monster and that intervention for a “right cause” is needed. There are several necessary conditions for such a media lie to be effective: 1. Dreadful pictures – manipulated ones if necessary. 2. These pictures must be shown continually for several days in the media, with frequent reminders after that so as to keep them in people’s minds. 3. Monopolizing the media, and ruling out the opponent’s version of events. 4. Dismissing criticisms, at least until it is too late to back off. 5. Calling anyone who questions these media lies an “accomplice” or even a “revisionist”.
Principle no. 3: Hiding History.
When covering the major conflicts of the last few years, the Western media concealed from the public opinion historical and geographical pieces of information that are essential to understand the situation of the strategic areas involved.
In 1990, the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait (that we aren’t justifying or analyzing in this article) was presented as a “foreign invasion”. However, they “forgot” to tell us that Kuwait had always been an Iraqi province, that British colonialists decided in 1916 to separate it from Iraq with the clear intention to weaken the latter and maintain control over this area, that no Arab country has ever recognized the “independence” of Kuwait, and lastly, that Kuwait is only a puppet allowing the United States to seize oil revenues.
In 1991, in Yugoslavia, the Croat Franjo Tudjman and the Bosnian Alia Izetbegovic who are two agitators and extremist and racist leaders armed by Germany before the war were presented as nice democrat “victims”. It was concealed from us that they were reviving the most sinister period in Yugoslavian history, namely: the genocide against the Serbs, Jews, and Roma committed between the years 1941 and 1945. The Bosnian Serbs were presented as invaders despite the fact that they have been living there for centuries.
In 1993, the intervention of Western countries in Somalia was presented as a “humanitarian” one. The fact that US companies had bought the countries’ oilfields was carefully hidden, but also that Washington intended to control this strategic area located in the “Horn of Africa” as well as the Indian Ocean routes.
In 1994, we were told about the genocide in Rwanda but not that it was colonized by the Belgians and French, who deliberately stirred up the racial tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups to make it easier to divide them.
In 1999, Kosovo was presented as a land invaded by the Serbs. We were told that “the Albanians account[ed] for 90% of its population and the Serbs account[ed] for 10%.” Any reference to the great decrease in the number of Serbs during the genocide that was committed in that province during the Second World War, and after that when the province was administered by the Albanians (in the 1980’s), was omitted. The existence of various minority groups in Kosovo such as the Roma, the Jews, the Turks, the Muslims, the Gorani, etc…was also hidden from us. These minorities are currently suffering from ethnic cleansing, planned and carried out by “our UCK friends”, with the blessing of NATO and under the eyes of its forces.
In 2001, the Taliban were inveighed against. Their system of government is certainly not very justifiable. But who brought them to power? Who protected them from criticisms from human rights organizations in order to build with them a lucrative transcontinental pipeline? And above all, who originally used Bin Laden’s terrorist activities to overthrow the only progressive government that emancipated farmers and women? Who, accordingly, re-established the worst reign of fanatic terror in Afghanistan? Who, if not the United States? The public was not really informed – or informed too late – about all this.
The rule is simple: hiding past events so that the public does not understand the historical background to local troubles. It also makes it possible to demonize at will one of the protagonists, which always happens to be the one that resists the neocolonial aims of the Great Powers.
Principle No. 4: Organizing the amnesia.
When a Great Western Power is preparing or launching a war, wouldn’t it be the time to remind the public of the big media lies regarding the previous wars, but also learn to read between the lines of the information we are given by oh-so-greedy top government officials? Did we see this done when, in the 90’s, several wars broke out? We never did. Each new war is always a “fair” one, even cleaner than the previous ones, so anything that may sow doubts in peoples’ minds at this moment must be avoided.
Debates are left for later. Or will there ever be any? Here is a blatant instance: recently, a big liar was caught red-handed, lying blatantly to the media. Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s Director of Communications, had to resign when the BBC revealed that he gave false information regarding the alleged weapons of mass destruction. Did it prompt a debate about the previous achievements of the aforementioned Campbell? Would it not have been interesting to explain that everything we were told about Kosovo had been cooked up by this very same Campbell? That the information we were given regarding the war against Yugoslavia certainly needed to be reviewed and reassessed? None of these things happened.