The things they say By William Bowles

2 December 2003

The state’s representatives – with the able assistance of ‘objective’ journalists – first deceive themselves before deceiving the rest of us, or so it would seem if one listens to their ‘earnest’ pronouncements on the ‘progress’ of the occupation of Iraq. In the month of November occupation forces and their mercenary assistants, suffered their highest rate of casualties since the invasion began, not that you’d know it from this morning’s news.

On waking up this morning and whilst I’m downing my first cup of café con leché, BBC AM News on Radio 4 is interviewing Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Blair’s pro-consul in Iraq when he came out with following gems that definitely put a sour taste into contents of the cup in my hand.

When asked why no record was being kept of Iraqi civilian deaths, Greenstock responded by saying:

“I can’t get into these details.”

Details? The interviewer then asked Greenstock whether it had been a good idea to disband the Iraqi Army, to which Greenstock responded by saying (and you have to suspend belief for this one):

“The Iraqi Army disbanded itself.”

When asked why the level of resistance seemed to be higher now, eight months after the war was declared ‘over’, he responded in part, by saying:

“[Iraq is a] proud and brutal country”

Off-the-cuff remarks reveal much about the mindset of the imperialist as these three quotes show, for in the space of fifteen words, Greenstock manages to reveal firstly his absolute indifference to the lives of Iraqis, dismissing their deaths as mere “details” and then goes on to lie about the “disband[ing]” of the Iraqi army and finally reveals his prejudices about the nature of Iraqis as being the inhabitants of a “brutal” country, which we must assume is the reason why they resist being occupied. Clearly nothing has changed in the space of the last couple of centuries to British imperialism and its arrogant assumptions about the ‘natives’, their capacity for “brutality” or their ‘indifference’ to death, for these words could have come from the mouth of Lord Kitchener. Damn you Jeremy Greenstock!

And if this wasn’t bad enough, the interviewer even though he did rather meekly challenge Greenstock over why no record of Iraqi deaths had been kept, colluded in the disinformation being put out by this smug, self-satisfied representative of the imperium, by allowing the man to get away with these ‘throwaway’ items of propaganda. My anger overwhelmed me and will continue to do so until the Greenstocks of this world are no more.

And to reinforce the point about the assumptions of the Western mindset as it pumps out the same bullshit day after day, the Independent’s front page headline on Monday (01/12/03) reads:

“November: the cruellest month”

Underneath we read:

• Bloodiest four weeks in Iraq leaves 105 troops dead
• US claims 46 Iraqis died in latest ambush attempts
• Attacks on non-military workers seen as tactic change

Yes but bloodiest for whom? The story carries no mention of the death toll of ordinary Iraqis as they continue to be permanently ‘liberated’ by the occupiers that reliable accounts by independent observers now put at around 1000 a month.

Further reading of the article that occupied the entire front page still finds absolutely no reference to Iraqi deaths or casualties whatsoever. Turning to a continuation of the story on page 2 we find a ‘diary of fatalities’ of occupation troops and their foreign mercenary accomplices, entirely misidentified I might add as ‘civilians’ or “non-military workers” but still no mention of any Iraqi deaths.

The story that put the ‘enemy body count’ at 46 (shades of Vietnam), has been dismissed by eyewitnesses as a complete fabrication by US occupation forces. Visits to the local hospital by independent journalists and interviews with local witnesses revealed that women and children, all innocent bystanders as being the main victims of what some inhabitants described as “indiscriminate” firing by US troops, including tank fire at people and buildings in the town.

But on page 2 of today’s Independent (02/12/03) we finally read:

“Iraqis attack US accounts of casualty rates”

But the damage had already been done the day before with the uncritical ‘reportage’ of US propaganda accounts on the Independent’s front page. And the article itself whilst questioning the accuracy of the US account of the battle, still manages the following ‘dig’ at Iraqi witnesses when it says:

“Some of their [Iraqi] accounts were clearly inaccurate”

Although it doesn’t mention what the inaccuracies consist of nor how the reporter (Phil Reeves) came to this conclusion. One would also expect the Independent to vigorously challenge the US accounts not only of the death count but also of the fact that contrary to US reports, local people reported that none of bodies of the alleged ambushers wore uniforms.

US contravention of international law regarding its responsibility to protect the lives of civilians is mentioned — in passing — but there is no attempt to link US actions or behaviour to the fundamental illegality of its occupation of Iraq. Nor is the outrageous situation of the US or it appears British occupation forces not even bothering to count Iraqi casualties, raised as what one would assume should be a front page headline, never mind it not being mentioned at all, given what it reveals about the behaviour of the ‘liberators’. And, I might add what its omission reveals, whether through ‘benign neglect’ or as an act of conscious omission, of the collusion between the state and the corporate media in misleading the public over events and most important of all, the causes of events.

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