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War Made Easy
Film Review
25 September 2007
John J. Fitzgerald

War Made Easy, a Media Education Foundation Production, (Loretta Alper producer) is an excellent addition to the growing library of films of media analysis and media literacy.

I strongly recommend it for classroom and community use. It is worthwhile for both high school and college audiences. It deserves consideration by anyone concerned about the future of our democracy and the malevolent role played by corporate controlled media in our society. The basis for the film is Norman Solomon’s book, War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death (2005).

The film focuses on the propaganda effects that accompanied all wars in the 20th Century. Adolph Hitler used film and media, under the leadership of Leni Riefenstahl, Triumph of the Will, to generate support for his regime. The United States, under the leadership of Frank Capra, used film and media, Why We Fight, to generate support for American participation in World War II. The film argues that wars have been accompanied by massive propaganda campaigns and the liberal use of lies, omissions and half-truths.

The heart of the film begins with the Vietnam Conflict from the Tonkin Gulf incidents of 1964 to Lyndon B. Johnson’s use of them to promote and enlarge the war. Senator Wayne Morse’s vigorous defense of democracy and the need for well-informed citizens is a highlight. Nixon’s use of the media and his Orwellian decision to prolong the war in the name of “fighting for the peace” comes in for thoughtful criticism backed up by film footage. No recent President is exempt from the analysis, although Carter is barely mentioned in the film. The tradition of media manipulation carried on to new heights under Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush, William Clinton and George W. Bush.

War Made Easy shows that all of these Presidents operated with the full support of the major media outlets of the United States. There is no evidence of a “liberal media” at work here. The bias of the media is clearly pro-war and pro-government. Powerful corporate interests control all of these media, a fact which the film does not explore in any depth. (ABC is owned by Disney, NBC by General Electric and CBS by Viacom and National Amusements.) There is no mention of the concept of the “military-industrial-complex.” The few media dissenters were minor players and being cut off from their broadcasts or being denied access to the general public effectively silenced some of these dissenters.

This film works well with two other films, WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception (2004), by Danny Schechter and, The Myth of the Liberal Media: The Propaganda Model of News, featuring Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman (1997), Media Education Foundation.