Full of contradictions, flat-out lies and groundless affirmations, the torrent of reporting and commentary on the 'coalition' war against Iraq has obscured the negligence of the military and policy experts who planned it and now justify it. For the past two weeks, I have been travelling in Egypt and Lebanon trying to keep up with the stream of information and misinformation coming out of Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar and Jordan, much of it misleadingly upbeat, but some of it horrifyingly dramatic in its import as well as its immediacy. The Arab satellite channels, al-Jazeera being by now the most notorious and efficient, have given a quite different view of the war from the standard stuff served up by American reporters with their mass uprisings in Basra, their multiple 'falls' of Umm Qasr and al-Faw, their talk of Iraqis being killed for not fighting, and their grimy pictures of themselves, as lost as the English-speaking soldiers they have been living with. Al-Jazeera has had reporters inside Mosul, Baghdad, Basra and Nasiriya, one of them the irrepressible Tasir Alouni, fluent veteran of the Afghanistan war, and they have presented a much more detailed, more realistic account of what has befallen Baghdad and Basra, as well as showing the resistance and anger of the Iraqi population, dismissed by Western propaganda as a sullen bunch waiting to throw flowers at Clint Eastwood lookalikes.
LRB 17 April 2003 | PDF Download