I was chatting the other day with a character who posts recycled publicity images from the Pentagon onto Flickr (it takes all sorts).
At one point I complimented him on his Tora Bora photographs, recording as they do the efforts of the coalition forces to capture a completely non-existent cave complex, taken straight out of a James Bond film; complete with Blowfeld style international criminal mastermind and everything.
The conversation changed direction.
Bizarrely, he was still under the impression that the cave complex actually existed.
Which gets me to the end of my line of thought about the mixed blessing that is the Internet. If it wasn’t for the Internet I would probably still believe that Tora Bora crap and lots of other crap as well. The very existence of the Internet has turned the notion of keeping abreast of current affairs by passively consuming media on its head. It’s much harder work and much more interactive than any of us would reasonably want it to be.
Whether there is any real point to keeping abreast of current affairs or not is another subject.
And why stop at Tora Bora? Mainstream coverage of the War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq has consisted of almost pure horse manure from beginning to end. And why presume that the horse manure is restricted solely to the War on Terror? It seems unlikely. Without the Internet I would have suspected that. With the Internet I am certain of it.
Favourite examples from Iraq and Afghanistan that come to mind, aside from the now obvious ones, include:
- Saddam’s statue being toppled at the instigation of a US Army psyops unit after the fall of Baghdad
- The Jessica Lynch fable and the Jerry Bruckheimer inspired rescue video
- The Pat Tillman story – didn’t play too much in the UK but it is an interesting tale. I was particularly tickled by the news that Tillman's own men burned his uniform and body armour after shooting him because they considered it a biohazard
- The blatant misreporting of Iraq soldiers’ corpses from the Iran Iraq war as being Saddam’s torture victims
- The Kurds being gassed at Halabja story
And a blast from the past
- The story that Iraqi soldiers tore Kuwaiti babies from incubators and left them to die. As told by a cute 15 year Kuwaiti girl who happened to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the States (not reported at the time)
I won’t go on but I could, for a very, very long time.
The Saddam killed his own people story was especially crucial in justifying the 2003 war. Whilst it is rarely articulated, the government and the media are presumably aware that military intelligence is composed of two elements; capability and intent. We know for sure that lots of countries have WMDs but we do not perceive them as being a threat as we have judged that they do no intend to use them on us. So when it came to lying us into a war in Iraq it was necessary to exaggerate the Iraqi intent side of things as much as the capability aspect.
That’s why we kept hearing the same mantra time and time again ‘He used chemical weapons on his own people’. The plain fact that Saddam didn’t use his supposed WMDs when we kicked his arse and ripped through his army the first time was simply ignored.
I don’t know if Saddam gassed Kurds in Halabja. The article I linked to above raises questions that no one is answering. I know I can’t trust anything Saddam says. I also know I can’t trust anything the Kurds say on this either. They have a stake in perpetuating the story whether it is true or not. And the fucking pisser is that I can’t trust my own government or newspapers.
Up until the start of Saddam’s trial I tried to maintain an open mind on the subject. And then, surprise, surprise, it turns out that the Halabja atrocity and none of the other incidents that proved what a wicked regime we have overthrown will be aired in a court of law.
Saddam is going to be tried for reprisals made after an attempt was made on his life almost 25 years ago. If he’s found guilty he will be executed without any further hearings. In particular, nothing will be heard about the really big stuff the bastards responsible for the war still cite as being a justification for that war. Our wonderful news media and opposition politicians apparently see nothing wrong with that.
What’s a boy supposed to think?