Monday, March 20, 2006

Analysis worthy of a third-former

Oh dear. John Simpson. Tut tut tut.

How can you have access to so much real information, so many facts, so many people who could give you the real lowdown, and miss the big story by such a huge margin? If you or I wrote this article, or perhaps a third-former, we would never get it published anywhere. In fact, whoever sub-edited it would probably query our credentials for submitting this kind of work.

But Mr Simpson has all the credentials you really need to get to the top of the BBC: A vague left-wing bias, a haughty disdain for America and a rock-like faith in his own anecdotal experience. Forget burrowing into large amounts of data like the documents revealed recently by the US congress, interviewing military personnel as well as Iraqi civilians, or going outside Baghdad for a wider picture of Iraqi life- base your analysis of the whole of Iraq by interviewing a few Iraqi's in a local cafe somewhere in downtown Baghdad.

"If you see a US patrol, you should brake sharply and keep away from it. The gunners on the vehicles kill people every day for getting too close to them. Every Iraqi has a horror story about a friend or relative who misunderstood an instruction, often in English, and was shot at. "

No mention of the very active Sunni insurgency in Baghdad who never miss an opportunity to IED, bazooka and snipe into oblivion those same trigger-happer gunners. In fact, John Simpsons articles never miss an opportunity to omit the evidence that would explain the situation to his readers.

No building work in Baghdad? Hmmmm. Wonder why that might be? Do you remember the US contractactors hung from the bridge in Fallujah? I sure do. There have been many attempts at rebuilding all over Iraq, many of them successful, although you'd actually have to leave Baghdad to notice that. But in the four provinces of Iraq where the insurgency still exists, the possibility of doing peace-time activities like large-scale infrastructure and building projects is just out of the question. That is something that any reasonably intelligent person could deduce from the many military and civilian organisations reporting out of Iraq, but is beyond Mr Simpson. He would rather leave his readers with the distinct image of an Iraq that is completely broken, patrolled by lethal psychopath redneck American soldiers who don't bother to learn even basic Arabic for their work, with civil authorities who can't be bothered, or don't want to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed by war.

This is his closing paragraph:

"Few Iraqis will even think about the anniversary of the invasion. Many are still glad that Saddam Hussein was taken off their backs.
But there is a real, abiding anger that the richest nation on Earth should have taken over their country and made them even worse off in so many ways than they were before."

You could have made the same argument in Germany after Hitler was finally smashed, when Germany itself was utterly destroyed, I suppose. For most Germans the eventual outcome of the war was utterly disastrous. So who do you blame? The Russians, the Americans and the British who undoubtedly destroyed Germany? Thats not what usually happens. Mostly, people apportion blame on those who provoked the entire situation in the first place. But thats not good enough for John Simpson! So we hardly hear about Saddam Hussein any more, nor the Baathist Socialist murderer party that he led.

I know that John Simpsons ludicrous mis-representation of the real narrative of Iraq will be disregarded when history comes to be written; but he still makes me very angry for his obtuseness and his lazy journalism.

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