Wednesday, May 05, 2004

The BBC's Caroline Hawley, or the 'White Witch' as my brother-in-law calls her, has produced an article following up some TV reporting that tries to capture the state-of-play in Fallujan hearts and minds. They seem rather confused.

The article headline talks of 'fury' in Fallujah, but the first thing Hawley reports is is the declaration of victory on the part of the Iraqis she claims are now in charge of Fallujah. If this was the seige of Fallujah, the defenders have succeeded and this represents a reversal of the US victory over the Iraqi army this time last year. Cause for celebrification, it would seem.

But Hawley insists on saying that 'it was always an uneven battle, and there is fury in Falluja at what people here say was an indiscriminate use of American force.' (note: there is a difference between 'force' and 'American force' that ought to be clear to any right thinking person). So it was an uneven battle favouring the US, with excessive 'American force', which the US apparently lost? Why no credit for being gallant enough to hold back from flattening them properly, even though some Fallujans might have- and have- declared this their victory? Mark Steyn sums up the issue thus: 'heartless and mindless as they are, I’m reluctant to kill 300,000 of them.'.

Then, after the briefest mention of what the 'US military says', we go on to the exemplar Hawley offers to background what she calls 'strong international criticism of what is widely seen as a disproportionate response.'

And this is where it gets even more annoying. Hawley refers to Ali-Hassan as a Fallujah resident. That's all, despite the fact that he's very much a male of fighting age. There's no examination of Ali Hassan's account of the killing of 36 people from three families, presumably in US bombing though that's purely an inference from her account. Again, when we hear that 'The bodies of five children are still said to be under the rubble' there is no corroborating evidence on offer. The gravestones Hawley points to have no names, yet we are asked to believe that two children are buried there- but who knows how they died when even Hawley does not say? All of this appears without corroboration. Are we just supposed to emote with Hawley (a concept difficult to imagine), or have we a right to expect some evidence when atrocities (deliberate or accidental) are being alleged?

Given the BBC's record in Fallujah so far, it's not difficult to imagine them adopting Al Jazeera tactics and asking what those residents who are revolting would like them to report. 'Have Your Say' for Jihadis.

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