- Why do we aid and abet the lies and propaganda of this
filthy war? How come, for example, it's now BBC "style" to describe
the Anglo-American invaders as the "coalition". This is a lie.
The "coalition" that we're obviously supposed to remember is
the one forged to drive Iraqi occupation troops from Kuwait in 1991, an
alliance involving dozens of countries ö almost all of whom now condemn
President Bush Junior's adventure in Iraq. There are a few Australian special
forces swanning about in the desert, courtesy of the country's eccentric
Prime Minister, John Howard, but that's it.
- So, who at the BBC decreed this dishonest word "coalition"?
True, there's a "coalition of the willing", to use Mr Bush's
weird phrase, but this is a reference to those nations that have given
overflying rights to the United States or have given political but not
military support. So the phrase "coalition forces" remains a
- Then there's the historical slippage to justify the unjustifiable.
When Jonathan Charles, an "embedded" journalist, reported in
the early days of the invasion that the British army outside Basra was
keeping a watchful eye on the Iranian border because the Iranians had "stirred
up" an insurrection in the city in 1991, his dispatch was based on
a falsehood. The Iranians never stirred up an insurrection in Basra. President
Bush Senior did that by calling for just such a rebellion ö and then
betraying the Shia Muslims who followed his appeal. The Iranians did everything
they could to avoid involvement in the uprising.
- Then there's the disinformation about the "securing"
of Basra. This was followed by an admission that though the British had
"secured" Basra they hadn't actually captured it ö and,
indeed, have still not captured it. The same goes for the US Marines who
were said to have "secured" Nasiriyah, but didn't capture it
until last week when, given the anarchy that broke out in the city, they
appear to have captured it without making it secure. The US forces bravely
rescued a captured American female soldier; what didn't make it into the
same story was that they also "rescued" 12 Americans, all of
whom were already dead.
- The Iraqis try to imitate the US Central Command (CentCom)
propaganda operations, though with less subtlety. An attempt to present
an American cruise missile attack on a secret police office in the Mansour
district last week as the attempted destruction of a maternity hospital
ö it was just across the street but only sustained broken windows
ö was straight out of the "Huns crucify nuns" routine. Iraqi
military communiqus inevitably claim a number of American and British tanks
and personnel carriers destroyed that is way beyond credibility. At Najaf,
the Iraqi Armed Forces General Command (communiqu number 16) stated on
Friday that Iraqi forces had destroyed 17 tanks, 13 armoured personnel
carriers and a Black Hawk helicopter. Whoops.
- Yesterday, according to the Information Minister, Mohammed
Saeed al-Sahaf, Iraqi troops destroyed four US personnel carriers and an
- Sometimes the communiqus are verifiable. An Apache actually
was shot down by a farmer and CentCom admitted an F-18 bomber was shot
down over Iraq last week. However, the sheer military detail put out by
the Iraqi authorities, grotesquely exaggerated though it often is, far
outstrips the old bones chucked by the Americans at the correspondents
in their air-conditioned high-security headquarters in Qatar.
- Another enjoyable lie was the American assertion that
the anti-chemical weapons suits issued to Iraqi soldiers "proved"
that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. The Iraqis neatly replied
that the equipment was standard issue but that since US and British forces
carried the same equipment, they too must be in possession of forbidden
weapons. The Iraqi lie - that the country remains united under a beloved
leader - is hardly questioned in press conferences held by Taha Yassin
Ramadan, the Iraqi Vice-President. Unity may be the one element Iraq will
never possess under US occupiers. But its existence under Saddam Hussein
has been imposed through terror.
- Then there's the famous "war in Iraq" slogan
which the British and American media like to promote. But this is an invasion,
not a mere war.
- And isn't it turning into an occupation rather than a
"liberation"? Shouldn't we be remembering in our reports that
this whole invasion lacks legitimacy? Sure, the Americans claim they needed
no more than the original UN resolution 1441 to go to war. But if that's
the case, why did Britain and the US vainly seek a second resolution? I
can't help thinking readers and viewers realise the mendacity of all this
sleight of hand, and that we journalists go on insulting these same readers
and viewers by thinking we can con them.
- Thus, we go on talking about an "air campaign"
as if the Luftwaffe was taking off from Cap Gris Nez to bomb London, when
not a single Iraqi aircraft has left the ground. So, it's "coalition
forces", a war not an invasion, liberation rather than occupation,
and the taking of cities that are "secured" rather than "captured",
and when captured, are insecure.
- And all this for the dead of 11 September.