10 November 2004
As Fallujah burns and scores of civilians die at the hands of the Bush/Blair criminal action, BBC Radio Orwell talks glibly of “mopping up operations”.
No one doubts the ability of the US and its handmaiden, the UK to turn Fallujah into a pile of rubble, destroying is the one proven ability of imperialism that no one (in their right mind) can deny, as a decade of unparalleled destruction in Vietnam demonstrates.
My most vivid memory of the US occupation of Vietnam is the one of a ‘Huey’ lifting off the roof of the heavily fortified US embassy with people clinging to it as the Vietminh stormed the gates in 1975, thus proving the cliché (like all clichés) correct that the ‘people united, can never be defeated’ even if as Uncle Ho said, ‘it takes one hundred years’. Of course the imperium hasn’t got one hundred years, this entire deal has got to be ‘stitched up’ before January 27 2005 when the puppet government of Allawi will preside over a sham election.
This morning (10/11/04), BBC Radio Orwell News had the anchorperson almost pleading with Robin Cooke ‘but we gotta do something!’ about the ‘insurgents’ followed by a report from Radio Orwell’s ’embedded’ (censored) journo on the scene who described how sniper fire was met with tank rounds and how the leader of the Marines, “cigar clamped in mouth” strutted around the roof of a captured building, an image straight out of ‘Apocalypse Now’ as he surveyed the scene of his latest ‘success’. Clearly a guy the Radio Orwell reporter, Paul Wood has a ‘thing’ for as it is the same one who claimed that, “The enemy has got a face. He’s called Satan. He lives in Falluja. And we’re going to destroy him”.
Satan however, also seems to have taken up residence in the body of a nine-year old boy who bled to death after having been hit by shrapnel (is this what the saying that ‘God moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform’ means? Perhaps the cigar-chomping Colonel Brandl can enlighten us being as he seems to be on such intimate terms with the deity).
One tiny change has taken place as to how the Beeb’s Radio Orwell reporting is described as we are now told (once) that “reporting restrictions apply” though not why or under what conditions the restrictions operate (on the BBC’s Website it does actually say “military restrictions apply” but apparently radio listeners don’t need to be told this). What it won’t do is tell its listeners that reporting is actually CENSORED by the military authorities.
The same BBC Radio Orwell report also failed to deal with the level and scale of destruction, something that the print press eg the Independent found no difficulty in doing. So what gives?
Not so strangely, the ‘turnaround’ in the coverage of Iraq occurred immediately after the Dr. David Kelley debacle and the unprecedented onslaught on the BBC by the government, not that the coverage preceding was anything to write home about. What has happened is that since then alternative voices have disappeared entirely from the electronic spectrum and Robin Cooke really doesn’t count in this respect especially when one looks at his pro-active role in the destruction of Yugoslavia. In defending the bombing of Yugoslavia, Cooke said:
“[T]he legal basis for our action is that the international community states do have the right to use force in the case of overwhelming humanitarian necessity”. 
Whereas the bombing was in fact illegal under the NATO treaty, Article 5 that states that force can only be used in self-defence. Moreover, Cooke’s alleged criticism on the radio this morning failed to mention the humanitarian catastrophe that is Fallujah with the destruction of hospitals and clinics and the wide-scale loss of life, limiting himself to the fact that the action was “self-defeating”. With ‘friends’ like Cooke who needs enemies?
Clearly, the BBC has been given explicit instructions as to what it can and cannot say about the situation in Iraq as the disappearance of views different than that of the government’s so obviously illustrates. In fact the lack of views at variance with that of the government’s is so blatant that rather than being a sign of strength, it’s a sign of the weakness of the government’s position. But then what else can we expect from a government that ignores the opinions of millions of its subjects (with the emphasis on being subjected) and just to make sure, dumps on the very media we pay for with dire (but unstated) threats of retaliation.
This then is democracy and the ‘open society’ in action and judging from the copies of letters sent to BBC Radio Orwell I’m receiving from quite a few of you good folks out there (and not just in the UK either) feel the same way. All power to you and keep on keeping on with bombarding the craven bunch that toe/tow the line for the Goebellian spinmeisters.
And it’s not only the lies and deception that rankles, it’s the wholesale omission of what’s actually happening in Fallujah. So for example, not a single news report on the Beeb today (10/11/04) has actually referred even once to the scale of the civilian casualties. Yet the evidence is there (of course if you’re ’embedded’ with your pals viewing everything from the aggressor’s position, then it’s unlikely you’ll ever see anything that disturbs the view that the destruction of Fallujah is being “reluctantly” carried out and all the ‘insurgents’ need do is not resist).
“…residents said that scores of civilians had been killed or wounded in 24 hours of fighting since US-led forces pushed deep into the city on Monday evening… Overnight US bombardments hit a clinic inside the Sunni Muslim city, killing staff and patients, residents said.”
Independent 10/11/04, page 5.
Later in the same piece we read that:
“Sami-al-Jumaili, a doctor at Fallujah Hospital, said the city was running out of medical supplies. He painted a grim picture… There’s not a single surgeon in Fallujah. We had one ambulance hit by US fire and a doctor wounded. There are scores of injured civilians in their homes whom we can’t move. A 13-year-old child just died in my hands.”
And it gets worse:
“Every minute, hundreds of bombs and shells are exploding. The north of the city is in flames. Fallujah has become like hell”
Says Fadri-al-Badrani, an inhabitant whose son died for lack of medical care after being wounded by a bomb that hit his house.
Coverage on the BBC’s Website from its slew of ’embeds’ reiterates the government line ad nauseum:
“No-one has accounts of insurgent or civilian dead. It will be difficult to tell them apart.”
Quil Lawrence, ’embed’.
“The offensive has not been without cost. So far ten American troops and two Iraqi soldiers have been killed.”
Jennifer Glasse, ’embed’.
Clearly “costs” don’t extend to the Iraqi people caught up in the assault.
“The mopping up operation will be lengthy and will not be easy.
“There is outgoing mortar fire from the company I am with. They are in that famous euphemism “softening up” the target before they go in.”
Paul Wood, ’embed’.
‘Mopping up’, ‘softening up’, the euphemisms for murder roll easily off the tongues of these ’embeds’.”
Most insidious is the assumption by the BBC’s coverage that the entire operation is as Paul Adams (non-embedded) tells us:
“…part of a wider effort to set the stage for successful elections at the end of January. But for now Iraq’s new leaders are seen by many as coalition puppets, a notion Operation Phantom Fury will not have dispelled.”
So “for now” Iraq’s leaders are seen by many (the implication being the majority) as puppets yet the piece fails to mention that these puppets are the ones organising the election next year, so how exactly, will they cease to be puppets?
Most telling is the following observation by the ’embedded’ Quil Lawrence who tells us:
“…but they could not leave a part of the country totally under the control of insurgents, for reasons of morale…” 
So it’s for morale that a city of 300,000 people has been destroyed and scores if not hundreds of people murdered. But whose morale? The occupation forces that’s who. The state-run media’s complicity is staggering. You’ll listen in vain to the BBC for even a hint of the reality in Fallujah, ramming home once more what embedded really means: complicity in covering up war crimes and crimes against humanity by the American and British governments. Once more I implore you to bombard the Beeb with letters letting them know what you feel about their propaganda campaign on behalf BushBlair and their criminal gang of murderers!
Addendum: BBC Radio 4’s PM News tonight (10/11/04) on both its 5 and 6pm airings chose to make its lead story Darfur in the Sudan, apparently feeling that tear gas is more lethal than tank rounds and 2000lb bombs. One can hear the cogs whirring in the editorial offices BBC News. It also chose – for the first time since the assault on Fallujah – to let the listener know that reporting from the unfortunate city was “subject to military restrictions” though the exact nature of the restrictions still remains unknown to the listener. Perhaps they can enlighten us at some point?
Write to Paul Wood and let him know what you feel
Write to director of BBC news, Helen Boaden
If you care to share your thoughts with us, please email them to me. Unless you tell me otherwise, I might publish them. If you do forward copies, please let me know if this okay.