Thursday, 30 April 2009

BBC trumpets the last post from Iraq

A buglar plays the last post as British forces leave Iraq. It's the "winding down", the "end of operations", the "hand[ing] over" according to the BBC. Memorials are offered for the lost British service men and women. But no note is made of the catastrophic loss of Iraqi lives. Nor, of course, in passing mention of the "invasion" is there the slightest reference to the war's illegality and the awkward, persistent truth that those same UK forces have been involved in mass crimes against humanity.

Welcome to the new phase of media war distortion: the 'duty done' reportage, the post-conflict 'reflection', the 'laments' and 'soul-searching' - or BBC version of it.

Alongside shamefully distorted casualty figures, the BBC have been running news specials on the 'honourable departure', with obsequious coverage of the ceremonial and 'our boys' sentiment. A flavour:
"Army chaplain Father Pascal Hanrahan, who opened the ceremony, said: "Today is about remembrance and thanksgiving.

Sergent Steve Denny and Rifelman Sameer Hassan talk about their time on duty, and getting ready to leave Basra."

The BBC narrative of 'noble retreat' continues in fawning depictions and quotes:

"The last post was sounded by a buglar and prayers were said. There was also a roar overhead as a lone Tornado aircraft conducted a fly-past in tribute.

Lt Col Edward Chamberlain, commanding officer of Iraq-based battalion 5 Rifles, said: "We've been slowly working, as part of a coalition together over the six years, to achieve an end-state which is an Iraq which is secure, happy, at peace with itself and its neighbours.

"We're slowly but surely transitioning towards that."

Mr Hutton said the UK should be proud of what its troops had achieved.

"It's been a long and hard campaign. There's been no question about that, and we've paid a very high price," he said.

"And the families of those who've lost loved ones here today will be thinking very hard about that - and we should all as well.

"But I think when the history is written of this campaign, they will say of the British military 'we did a superb job', as we would expect them to, and we should be very proud of what they have done here." "

The furthest extent of the BBC's 'critical' citation is the war-supporting David Cameron calling for a public inquiry. Nothing from Stop the War, or the Lancet and ORB studies, the latter of which estimates in excess of a million dead in Iraq. Nothing on the mass population of Iraqi refugees and staggering human displacement that's taken place these six murderous years. All inconvenient, extinguished issues for the BBC as they celebrate the 'sterling job' carried out in Basra.

But, as Mr Cameron says, "vital lessons" have been learned - and, as dutifully intoned by the BBC, we must all, as a nation, learn from those vital lessons.

Quite what lesson the student of history will take from this kind of service propaganda is another matter. Perhaps they will reflect on how earnest-sounding BBC reporters gushed in selective tones about the singular difficulties faced by 'our' armed forces, or, in true lessons learned, despair at the kind of journalistic malfeasance which talked of British military "strengths and weaknesses" rather than complicity and guilt.

A last post selection of embedded BBC deference:

"BBC News defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt says there is a sense of relief for many British servicemen and women that their final tour of Iraq is winding down.

Some are now serving on their fourth tour, taking them away from home for two years out of the last six.

Our correspondent says many of them will look back with mixed emotions.

Southern Iraq is more peaceful than it was a year ago but when British forces invaded Iraq as part of the US-led coalition in 2003 few people imagined troops would still be in the country six years later.

As British forces prepare to leave Iraq, senior commanders admit they have learned lessons from the campaign.

It was a conflict that showed the strengths and weaknesses of the British armed forces.

There were acts of great heroism but also a force that came under great strain, fighting on two fronts - in Iraq and Afghanistan."

UK military and BBC duty done. Salute the troops and the correspondents. Another lesson learned in establishment whitewash and media complicity.


1 comment:

Aaron Bezem said...

Excellent post. I think Britain is developing an American style "God-complex" attitude towards the troops. There is the recurring belief that "our" troops have had nothing to do with the deaths of over a million Iraqi civilians, and any criticism of this attitude is looked upon as disrespect for the "sacrifice" offered by the British military. It's all war propoganda, drawing on patriotism and blind nationalism in order to by-pass the truth of the situation. Can't see that changing anytime soon. Just another product of the typical mainstream, distorted media.