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BBC TV whitewash job


BBC TV's The Iraq War - a TV whitewash

BBC TV’s The Iraq War – a TV whitewash

The first episode of BBC’s three programmes celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq does not promise a reasoned analysis. On the basis of this first programme, it looks like a whitewash job.

These clips of past programmes illustrate how far the BBC has fallen short of its previous standards of unbiased coverage.


The main thrust of the first programme was to identify Tony Blair as the good guy in this sorry affair, supposedly acting as a moderating influence on the hawks of Washington DC, urging them to get a second UN resolution to legitimise decisions that had already been taken as long ago as 1997, when the Project for the New American Century think tank established the guidelines for the attack:

    • “Promote American global leadership”,
    • “American leadership is both good for America and good for the world”, 
    • “A Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity”,
    •  “The removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power”, and, most chillingly,
    • “Advanced forms of biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool”.

As the programme continued, its omissions from its record of what happened became almost too numerous to mention, but the most obvious were:

    • The dodgy dossier of February 2003, most of which was plagiarized from the September 2002 issue of the Middle East Review of International Affairs.
    • The way intelligence reports were sexed up to justify the attacks.
    • The legalistic arm-twisting that forced the attorney general, Lord Goldman, to reverse his first opinion that the attack would be illegal.
    • The 2009 veto by then Justice Minister, Jack Straw, over-ruling the decision of the Information Commissioner that the relevant Cabinet minutes should be made public under the Freedom of Information Act.

One interesting revelation, though a minor one, was of how upset Blair was when he was confronted by 20 angry women on TV (one of them my wife, as it happens), including one who had lost a relative in the 9/11 bombings. ITV should re-release the whole programme, and its subsequent follow-up, which displayed Blair’s arrogance and hubris in setting up the meeting in the first pkace. He clearly believed his charm and charisma would persuade them to drop their opposition. In fact (a segment not included in this programme) they ended giving him a slow hand-clap.

It was perhaps reasonable they didn’t go into any detail on the widespread opposition to the war, though under-estimating the numbers who packed the London streets on February 15, 2003, and the travel by 300 Human Shields to Baghdad was not even mentioned. (The story of the Human Shields is in preparation. Go to this posting for the latest news on this project.)

Nor was the considerable opposition within the British establishment referred to; a right-wing lady Shield assured me that it was well-known in Court circles that “our dear Queen” was against the war.

What we on the left lack, of course – and which we cannot expect to get any of the audio-visual establishment – is a self-critical judgement on why we failed to stop the war. This has a deeper significance, since the opportunist leadership that failed to mobilise the two million into a nationwide lockdown still maintains its hegemony over the left today.

Those issues aside, all in all the programme was predictably bad.

If you agree that it falls short of BBC standards, you can COMPLAIN HERE.

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