Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tell Helen Boaden about the BBC's endless flow of insidious messages downplaying the criminality of what Britain and America have done to Iraq.

The following extracts are taken from an article at Medialens

On its main evening news last week, the BBC’s royal and diplomatic correspondent, Nicholas Witchell, reported from Baghdad on a video which showed (not “appeared to show” as many journalists insist) British troops beating a group of young Iraqis.

This was unfortunate, Witchell observed, because the foreign troops in Iraq are there "in an essentially peacekeeping role".

(Witchell, BBC1 19:35 News, February 12, 2006)

Witchell would doubtless reject out of hand the suggestion that Soviet troops occupying Afghanistan in the 1980s were there "in an essentially peacekeeping role".

Likewise, the Iraqi troops occupying Kuwait in August 1990.

The same unthinking prejudice was exhibited in a Guardian leader on the British abuses.

The editors observed that of the 80,000 British personnel who have now served in Iraq “only a tiny handful have committed any crimes. Still, even isolated 'rogue' breaches of military law and international conventions echo loudly".

(Leader, ‘Abuse allegations: Behind Basra's walls,’ The Guardian, February 13, 2006)

It is beyond the Guardian to accept that the entire invading force is responsible for breaches of international conventions simply by being in Iraq.

And yet a September 17, 2004, Guardian editorial noted that the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, had said of the invasion:

"From our point of view and from the [UN] charter point of view, it was illegal."

(Leader, 'Kofi Annan on Iraq: The war was illegal,' The Guardian, September 17, 2004)....

Why is all of this important?

Very simply because the BBC, like other media, is producing an endless flow of insidious messages downplaying the criminality of what Britain and America have done to Iraq.

If the public can be persuaded to re-label
cynical 'sincere',
illegal ‘ill-judged’,
vicious ‘victorious’
and killing ‘keeping the peace’,
then we are likely to feel that what we have done is 'not that bad'.

This is important because only public resistance, only public concern, stands between our violent, greed-driven political system and future victims.

Only intense and widespread public opposition can put the brakes on this killing machine - the media’s job is to stop us trying.


The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. In writing letters to journalists, we strongly urge readers to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.

Write to Helen Boaden Email:
Write to Nicholas Witchell Email:
Write to Write to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger Email:


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