Guardian 'Investigation' Claims Vindication for Libya War


Amy Woods, 4 October 2011

Categories: The Guardian | Libya | War | David Cameron |


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“How Cameron swept aside Libya sceptics”, read The Guardian’s front page article, written by Patrick Wintour and Nicholas Watt, yesterday (3 October 2011). The paper also contained a “special report” by the two writers looking at “how the Arab spring in Libya transformed him from a reluctant to a passionate interventionist”.

Absurdly referred to as a “Guardian investigation”, the articles seem rather more like a platform for “key players in Downing Street, the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office” to perform some public back-patting. (“David was brave … he stuck to his guns.”)

“The prime minister became one of the first world leaders to taste the Arab spring when on a round of Middle East diplomacy he took a walk in Cairo on 21 February” the writers remind us, kindly overlooking that the aim of this round of “diplomacy” was to help his accompanying delegation of arms traders to sell yet more arms in the Middle East.

Any potentially grim details of “Cameron’s war” are overlooked in this report. The Bahraini uprisings – brutally repressed by Saudi Arabia, whose purchase of British arms increased by 15% between February and June of this year – don’t feature in the writers’ narrative. British arms sales to the region in general seem unworthy of comment.

This account is whitewashed to such an extent that the authors uncritically quote a “Whitehall source”, dividing pro-regime and rebel forces into “good guys” and “bad guys”. Simple, no?

William Hague is quoted as saying: “Things have really moved on even since the Iraq war. The criterion for targeting was zero civilian casualties and that was rigorously stuck to." A Liam Fox quote adds: “I said that even if people are firing at you, you cannot bomb schools, hospitals and mosques, and that held all through the conflict". This is the only context in which the question of civilian casualties of NATO attacks is broached. The writers do not even so much as refer to targets that NATO did bomb. As Hamit Dardagan, founder of Iraq Body Count, wryly observed in the Guardian’s Comment is Free in August, “judging by the regular press releases from Britain's defence ministry, Nato planes only ever destroy military facilities and equipment, with nary a soul anywhere near or within them.”

It should be the responsibility of our media to unearth the facts of war and you will not find those in the public pronouncements of politicians. Relying on the claims of those in power will never provide us with the evidence required to form an accurate account of events. Yet this is precisely how Wintour and Watts have formulated their narrative of Britain’s Libyan intervention.


Categories in which this article appears: The Guardian | Libya | War | David Cameron |

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