War Propaganda: Disneyland goes to war-torn Iraq

Disneyland  goes to war-torn Iraq, with a multi-million dollar entertainment complex, to be built on a 50 acre lot adjacent to the Green Zone. (“Fun park rises from ruins of Baghdad zoo”, The Times, London, 24 April 2008)

The American-style amusement park will feature a skateboard park, rides, a concert theatre and a museum. 

The occupation forces are of the opinion that Baghdad is “lacking in entertainment”. General David Petraeus, is said to be a “big supporter” of bringing Disneyland to Baghdad. 

Fox News considers the project as a “market signal that the arrow is pointing up.: …We should not refuse to take notice when good things are happening in Iraq. Item number one, a Los Angeles entrepreneur said he plans to invest millions to create a vast entertainment and amusement complex in the center of downtown Baghdad.” (Fox News, April 26, 2008)

Supported by the Pentagon, an unknown Los Angeles based holding company C3 of unnamed private equity investors, will be developing the “Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience”. The park will be designed by Ride and Show Engineering (RSE)

RSE founders Eduard Feuer and William Watkins pioneered Walt Disney’s  “Imagineering”, the design and engineering division of the Walt Disney Company, before setting up RSE as a separate corporate entity.

RSE has developed numerous large scale entertainment complexes around the world including a project at the Anaheim California Disney Complex.  


Ride and Show Engineering Projects


Animated Bridge

Large Scale

Source RSE website

The American Dream

The entertainment park is an integral part of war propaganda. 

Establishing an American cultural outpost in an occupied land serves to uphold the legitimacy of the invaders and their Worldwide “cultural values”. 

Most of the country’s cultural and educational infrastructure including museums, schools, universities, parks, theaters, cinemas have been destroyed and  now the invaders are “helping to rebuild”.

Under this “reconstruction effort”, America is to donate 200,000 California style skateboards to Iraqi children. 

The skateboard is a symbol of American pop culture, which has attracted “a tough, independent, and rebellious type of urban youth, who have created their own subculture.” 

What happens when, under the auspices of the Pentagon, these colorful skateboards (with suggestive subliminal images) are brought from Los Angeles, California to Baghdad…

What will be the impact on impoverished Iraqi kids and adolescents living under US occupation? 

The hidden agenda is to cut them off from their own social reality, depoliticize Iraqi youth and curb anti-American sentiment.   

More generally, through Hollywood imagery, the Baghdad style Disneyland is intended to nurture Iraqi public opinion, mould a pro-American view of the World as well as weaken the resistance movement against the US occupation.

Designs of the Baghdad Park
Copyright John March

Through the use of motion based simulations and sophisticated entertainment equipment, the harsh daily realities of poverty and military occupation are replaced by a World of fiction and fantasy.  

The concept underlying Disney’s Imagineering (developed by RSE) is to “overcome the barriers between reality and dreams”.

The objective is to replace reality by a dream world.  

Iraq’s daily realities of death, destruction and torture are replaced by a “Dream World Made in America”.  

The imagery and motion simulations intended for Iraqi children and adolescents provide a “human face” to the American invaders. 

The project constitutes a despicable form of war propaganda. It is a cover-up of the extensive war crimes committed against the Iraqi people in the name of an illusory “American Dream”. 

The project will take possession of the existing Al Zawra park and Baghdad Zoo, which was ransacked when US troops entered Baghdad in April 2003. 

Al Zawra park

Also in April 2003, Iraq’s archeological treasures were looted with the support of the American invaders. The pillaging of Iraq’s cultural heritage was a premeditated act. The looters were protected by the invaders. 

And now the looters return to Baghdad with a new museum  

Psychological Warfare

The Baghdad Disneyland-style project has all the essential features of a PsyOp. It is intended to instill American values and destroy Iraqi identity.

 “The people [of Iraq] need this kind of positive influence. Its going to have a huge psychological impact,” said Mr. Werner of C3.

In a cruel irony the PsyOp target group are Iraqi Children:

“There are all sorts of investment opportunities all over Iraq. But it’s not just hydrocarbons. Half the Iraqi population is under the age of 15. These kids really need something to do,” (Mr. Brinkley, quoted in The Times, April 24, 2008)

Iraq’s cultural heritage is destroyed.

The historical memory of Mesopotamia is wiped out.

US investors are to “bring badly needed fun” to the war theater. 

The sponsor of project Mr.  Llewellyn Werner says the time is ripe for a “fun park”:

“I think people will embrace it. They’ll see it as an opportunity for their children regardless if they’re Shia or Sunni. They’ll say their kids deserve a place to play and they’ll leave it alone.”(Ibid)

According to a spokesman for the US installed Iraqi regime: 

“There is a shortage of entertainment in the city. Cinemas can’t open. Playgrounds can’t open. The fun park is badly needed for Baghdad. Children don’t have any opportunities to enjoy their childhood.” Mr al-Dabbagh added that entry to the park would be strictly controlled.” (Times, April 24, 2008)

Children don’t have any opportunities to enjoy their childhood?

What kind of childhood can be “enjoyed” in a land where public infrastructure, including schools and hospitals have been transformed into rubble? 

Imagine the road-blocks and military check points that impoverished Iraqi children will have to go through to see Mickey Mouse… 

The US investment company will essentially take possession of municipal lands in an undisclosed deal reached with the Mayor of Baghdad. 

At the moment the site is occupied by the Al-Zawra park and zoo, where Baghdad residents gather on weekends. The park is typically Iraqi with ponds, fountains, sculptures, and children’s playgrounds.

“Everything Here is for Profit”

The site is a functioning national park, which is slated for privatization. It is prime real estate for the US investors. The California holding company C3 plans to use the land for lucrative investments in hotels and upscale housing. No doubt, for the project to be profitable and financially viable, it will also require direct financing by the Pentagon. 

“I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t making money”:   

“Mr Werner will retain exclusive rights to housing and hotel developments, which he says will be both culturally sensitive and enormously profitable… I also have this wonderful sense that we’re doing the right thing – we’re going to employ thousands of Iraqis. But mostly everything here is for profit.” 


Iraqi youth attend a concert in Al-Zawra amusement park during Eid al-Fitr, a national holiday to celebrate the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Baghdad October 14, 2007.

An Iraqi soldier talks to youths as they queue outside al-Zawra park in central Baghdad during the Eid al-Adha festivities in December 2007. (Photo: Khalil al-Murshidi / AFP-Getty Images)

video of Al Zawra Park in 1971

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About the author:

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal, Editor of Global Research.  He has taught as visiting professor in Western Europe, Southeast Asia, the Pacific and Latin America. He has served as economic adviser to governments of developing countries and has acted as a consultant for several international organizations. He is the author of eleven books including The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003), America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005), The Global Economic Crisis, The Great Depression of the Twenty-first Century (2009) (Editor), Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War (2011), The Globalization of War, America's Long War against Humanity (2015). He is a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.  His writings have been published in more than twenty languages. In 2014, he was awarded the Gold Medal for Merit of the Republic of Serbia for his writings on NATO's war of aggression against Yugoslavia. He can be reached at [email protected]

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