The BBC and the Imperial mindset By William Bowles

2 September 2012

Yes, I know I keep banging on about the BBC but it is such an influential power, not only nationally but also globally, so much so that its pronouncements are most often taken as gospel (objective, impartial, unbiased). But any reading of the history of the BBC should disabuse you of this piece of fiction.

Take the latest swipe at Syria: in a sidebar to the main story, ‘French MPs see ‘evidence’ of Syria chemical weapons‘ (BBC News Website, 2 September 2013. my emph. WB), of which more later, Jeremy Bowen, one of an apparently endless supply of BBC Middle East editors tells us:

“Faisal Mekdad [Syrian deputy foreign minister] is considered to be a very influential man within the regime.

“As you’d expect, the Syrian leadership is quite relishing where it is – it sees itself as eyeball to eyeball with the Americans.

“Syrian leaders see their country as the vanguard of Arab nationalism, the bastion of resistance to Israel. So they’re standing defiant right now.

“I think they will continue their preparations to ride out an American strike.”

This statement, all by itself, sums up the role that the BBC plays in the scheme of things. It’s unashamedly his master’s voice speaking. Frankly, I find this language quite disgusting; “As you’d expect, the Syrian leadership is quite relishing where it is…eyeball to eyeball with the Americans”? This ain’t news, it’s sick entertainment, of a kind that ultimately demonises the Syrian government as bloodthirsty tyrants, who want nothing more than a fight with the USA. But of course without this view of Assad and indeed any ‘dictator’ in a third world country, it would be much more difficult to persuade us that whatever we do, no matter how many we murder in the process of ‘saving’ them, is ultimately for the benefit of the Syrian people (those left alive, that is).

Then Bowen nails the BBC’s political allegiance firmly to the mainmast of HMS Blowemallup with his comment about Syria’s position as being in the “vanguard of Arab nationalism” as though the events in Ghouta are somehow connected to its alleged ‘vanguard’ position? This is nothing less than outrageous propaganda for the Empire  and the very fact that it’s placed before us, singled out in a sidebar, is indicative of the nature of the BBC as the mouthpiece for British imperialism.

But note that now, the BBC puts ‘evidence’ in quotes, a change from last week’s ‘news’ coverage, again echoing the vote in Parliament and the necessity to adopt a more circumspect approach to the problem of selling war[1].  Yet throughout its coverage since August 21, aside from the odd reference, there has been no attempt to present an alternative view of what happened in East Ghouta. The assumption is, that it’s in the nature of the Syrian government to commit such a heinous crime. You’ll note that this a permanent feature of Western thinking, what Edward Said called ‘orientalism’, transforming mostly people of colour, into the ‘other’, less than human and hence not worthy of treatment as equals.

It’s Robert Cooper’s ‘law of the jungle’ written in part to rationalise the invasion of Iraq:

The challenge to the postmodern world is to get used to the idea of double standards. Among ourselves, we operate on the basis of laws and open cooperative security. But when dealing with more old-fashioned kinds of states outside the postmodern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era – force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the nineteenth century world of every state for itself. Among ourselves, we keep the law but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle. In the prolonged period of peace in Europe, there has been a temptation to neglect our defences, both physical and psychological. This represents one of the great dangers of the postmodern state. – ‘The new liberal imperialism‘ By Robert Cooper

In yet another piece, this time by Mark Mardell, the BBC’s North American editor, he tells us:

“If Congress doesn’t back him, it will be disastrous for the president.

“His decision to call for a vote will look foolish and he would be left with an appalling choice.

“Ignore the vote and enrage Congress and many Americans. Or don’t strike and live with John Kerry’s words that America will be weakened, petty dictators emboldened and history’s judgement harsh on America’s leaders.” – ‘Syria crisis: Obama’s gamble on Congress‘, BBC News Website,  2 September 2013

And not only disastrous for the Prez, it will be disastrous for the BBC and its endless warmongering. Echoing the ‘official’ position, Mardell chooses to select Kerry’s bellicose statements. It’s outrageous! As far as the BBC is concerned it’s war, war and yet more war.

But at least one US congressman was not impressed by the secret ‘evidence’, even if Mardell is (although he’s not seen it):

“I have just attended a classified Congressional briefing on Syria that quite frankly raised more questions than it answered. I found the evidence presented by Administration officials to be circumstantial” …. liberal Democrat Tom Harkin says in a statement released after today’s classified Capitol Hill briefing. – Democrat, Tom Harkin, ‘Weekly Standard‘, 1 September 2013

Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, and someone with direct experience of the UK’s spying operations in the Middle East tells us:

Israel has now provided “intelligence” to the United States designed to allow the United States to join in with Israel’s bombing and missile campaign.

The answer to the Troodos Conundrum is simple.  Troodos did not pick up the intercepts because they do not exist.  Mossad fabricated them.  John Kerry’s “evidence” is the shabbiest of tricks. — Craig Murray, ‘The Troodos Conundrum, 31 August 2013

Moreover, as more and more reports become available that run counter to the official story (here, here and here, and here), surely its incumbent on the BBC to at least consider them? Yet you can trawl through the ninety-four, yes ninety-four stories the BBC’s news website has carried since 21 August on Ghouta (until 2 September) and not find a single story dedicated to any view other than the official line, that the Syrian government did it.

This is a criminal dereliction of duty on the part of the BBC, whose mandate is to report, accurately and impartially, events. Instead, the BBC’s ‘news’ coverage amounts to nothing more than propaganda for the state, without the slightest attempt at presenting conflicting views or interpretation of events. Is this what we should expect from a publicly funded news organisation especially one that has cloaked itself in a veneer of objectivity?

But the BBC operates according to Robert Cooper’s view of the world, one that represents white people, and rich white people at that numbering no more than a few tens of thousands of individuals, that 1%. That in ‘Tomahawking’ Syria, we are saving ‘civilisation’ for the 1%.


1. This change alone should make you stand up and take notice! How can something, that last week, was presented to us as fact, now be in question? How does the BBC justify the quotes?

10 thoughts on “The BBC and the Imperial mindset By William Bowles

  1. Jerry Spring says:

    Jeremy Bowen isn’t the only one looking a little bewildered and jaded lately. I think the other state propaganda journalists of our British Bamboozling Corporation are beginning to realise that they’re running out of ideas on how to carry on with their incessant spinning of the lies.

    One thing that this lot do know is that, for well over a 100 years, the US, the UK, Germany, France and Italy have been responsible for the mass slaughter of men, women and children with all manner of weapons of mass destruction, including the mustard gas used by the UK against the ‘natives’ in the Middle East of the 20’s.

    In their war of 1914-18, although these states mutually slaughtered each others people, they now peddle what they fondly believe to be their get out clause, accusing Assad of committing the, yet to be evidenced, heinous crime of ‘ATTACKING HIS OWN PEOPLE’ with chemical weapons.

    This says it all about the chauvinist, often racist, mindset of the civilising mission of angry, wild west imperialism.


  2. Devan Maistry says:

    The BBC’s “Respect at Work Review” published in May promised a renaissance of the “BBC Values” as a response to the exposure of a culture of bullying and harassment at the corporation. The Values are the assiduously cultivated halo that makes constructive criticism of the BBC – for warmongering, propaganda and much else – all but impossible. Maistry v BBC (2010) and ongoing is an effort to hold the BBC accountable for the Values it insists upon. Remarkably in its defense the BBC is arguing that the “BBC Values” are little more than a mission statement and that its managers cannot possibly be aware that staff may hold a belief in its higher purpose which the corporation itself encourages. The BBC is publicly contradicting itself. An explanation would be useful.


    • InI says:

      Dear Mr Maistry,
      Brilliant! Hoisted by its own tabard no less. Did an explanation ever materialize? BTW, I like the bit about the BBC’s values being “little more than a mission statement”. But what of the BBC Charter?


      • Devan Maistry says:

        The issue of whether a belief in the higher purpose of the corporation qualified for protection in law as a “philosophical belief” was considered at a pre-hearing review. Employment Judge Hughes said: ‘It was the respondent’s case that the legislation could not have been intended to cover a belief of this nature because really it was no more than a ‘mission statement ’i.e. a goal to aspire to rather than a belief. The respondent’s representative argued that that if the claimant was right, then it would follow that beliefs in the aims and values of a whole host of public organizations, if genuinely held, could amount to philosophical belief. By way of example, the respondent suggested that a belief that the aim of the NHS should first and foremost be to look after the health and welfare of its patients could, if the claimant were correct, amount to belief for the purposes of the 2003 Regulations, but it would be absurd for that to be the case.”
        Judge Hughes rejected the argument: “The BBC has a unique place in our society – it is partly funded by the public and it has public purposes, which set it apart from commercial providers of media services. Whilst I accepted that the public purposes set out in the Royal Charter and Agreement might fairly be characterized as idealistic in nature and/or as a ‘mission statement’, that does not negate the fact that the evidence before me was that those purposes arise because of a shared belief in the importance of public service broadcasting in a democratic society. I accepted the claimant was right to argue that neither the 2003 Regulations nor Nicholson provide authority for the proposition that the public aims of an organization cannot amount to a philosophical belief if those aims are the result of an underlying philosophical belief. It is worth noting the aims include ‘sustaining citizenship and civil society, promoting education and learning and stimulating creativity and cultural excellence’. Those are weighty and substantial aspects of human life and behaviour.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.