Disinformation as a War Crime

By William Markiewicz

Why should public disinformation be considered more a crime than any other war activity? -- somebody asked me this innocent question. Well, for the same reason that disguising mines as children's toys is more evil than making any other kind of mine. We are programmed to be turned off by murderous cheating. Winning by public disinformation is in the category `win at any price` just like, for instance, dismembering children for traffic in organs.

Disinformation is not an act of war, just a crime. Public disinformation means to use peoples as a tool against people. The journalist selling the disinformation is worse than the drug dealer because the second one delivers what he promises.

We are moral beings, even if only for pragmatic reasons; therefore for centuries philosophers, lawyers and statespersons have tried to draw the line between war and crime, gangsters and politicians. Bombing may be criminal or justified depending, for instance, on whether it's for aggression or for self defence, while public disinformation is always a crapulous act.

People are easily fooled in matters that don't concern them personally. But once informed they care for the truth. People want to know the truth, it's part of the human fabric. Without knowledge, no science, no History, only a set of reinforced dogmas. The French Revolution introduced the notion of our right to be what we are as long as it doesn't affect others, and our right to knowledge.

Lets face it, the most reputable journalists have degraded their media from a tool of information to a weapon for propaganda (abusing advocacy journalism) and they enjoy such a capital of public trust that they could report it's night during the day and vice versa and the public would believe them more than their own eyes. Hans Christian Andersen immortalised collective blindness in "The Emperor's Clothes." To reverse this trend, mediapersons should respect certain rules in the vein of a "gentlemen's agreement" but those rules should be reinforced by law otherwise this will remain a pious wish:

1. To report the sources of their information; the general public is unaware when a journalist takes the easy way, using material from some Ministry of Propaganda, Secret Services. The general public knows and doesn't mind when the journalist collects information from soldiers and partisan civilians. OK, during war there is no such thing as a neutral witness; that's why the journalist should consult ALL the engaged parties. Sometimes it is difficult to remain objective, but to be subjective one should write poems, not reports.

2. To be present in the hot spots as much as possible, giving the word 'reporting' its true meaning.

3. To collect EVIDENCE, not just 'testimonies' (where are those countless mutilated corpses?).

The media urgently needs such a binding law so that peace will have a chance before "the world community" (a herd of sheep lead by brutes) starts some new bloody "liberation." Had such a law been applied before, the recent Balkan wars would not have taken place. Those who wanted to separate would have just done it like Czech and Slovakia, like the former Soviet Republics, and today everybody would live as harmonious neighbours, without the load of hatred, the refugees and the destruction. But the big powers (not the designated scapegoat, Milosevic) wanted otherwise and the big media were their initial weapon. "Information" was nothing but a plot to force Serbia into an impossible and absolutely unneccessary war. Why? It's an old story; Emperor Franz Josef said "die Serben mussen sterben" - "the Serbs must die." Without the Serbs there would be a "Pax Balcanica" meaning the Balkans partitioned permanently between Germans and Turks.

Back to the index of the Vagabond

© Copyright 1999 E-mail to: William Markiewicz