Unpeople: The Iraqis in the Gulf War by John Pilger


The Iraqis in the Gulf War

written by

John Pilger

from Hidden Agendas, 1998.

Few of us can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that the State has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied.

Arthur Miller

The Gulf War was the first real major action of the new Cold War. Like a videogame all the family could play, it was fun. There was a demon to fight, hi-tech weapons to fight him with, it was all over quickly and "we" won. The bonus was the "miraculously small number of casualties."

"GO GET HIM BOYS," said the London Daily Star on the day war broke out. The London Daily Mirror juxtaposed pictures of a soldier and an airman beneath the banner headline, "THE HEROES," with a scowling Saddam Hussein, headlined "THE VILLAIN." "The time has come," opined the Sun, to "punish the guilty party.... Iraq and Saddam Hussein must be destroyed once and for all."1 After all, President Bush had declared Saddam "another Adolf Hitler;" and the Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, had agreed "100 per cent."2

So it followed that anything short of resolute military action was, like the Munich Agreement in 1938, the work of the "spineless appeasers" (said the London Sun) and "the give-sanctions-a-chance-brigade" (Daily Express).3 A Central Intelligence Agency report disclosing that sanctions had already stopped 97 per cent of Iraqi exports was ignored by all but the Guardian. The fact that most of the population of Iraq were Kurds and Shi'a, ethnic peoples oppressed by and opposed to Saddam Hussein, was not news. The war was "inevitable." "Iraq," like "Russia" during the Cold War, had ceased to be a human community and become a "guilty party" and a target for extraordinary weapons.4

"The world watched in awe," reported the Daily Mirror, "as Stormin' Norman played his 'home video'—revealing how allied planes are using Star Wars technology to destroy vital Iraqi targets. Just like Luke Skywalker maneuvring his fighter into the heart of Darth Vader's space complex, the US pilots zeroed into the very heart of Saddam Hussein's Baghdad."5

The similarity between the "coverage" in the British tabloids and on television was striking. Only the style was different. The BBC's David Dimbleby spoke urgently about the "surgical" effect of the new bombs, which were known by the name "smart," as if to endow them with human intelligence. As Greg Philo and Greg McLaughlin wrote in their review of the reporting of the war, the assumption that the "surgical" weapons ensured low civilian casualties freed journalists from their humanitarian "dilemma."6

"Like two sports commentators, David Dimbleby and the BBC defence correspondent, David Shukman, were almost rapt with enthusiasm," they wrote. "They called for freeze-frames and replays and they highlighted 'the action ' on screen with computer 'light-pens.' 'This is the promised hi-tech war,' said Shukman. 'Defence contractors for some time have been trying to convince everybody that hi-tech weapons can work.... Now, by isolating [the target], they are able to destroy [it]...without causing casualties among the civilian population around.'"7

Interviewing the American Ambassador to Britain, David Dimbleby was especially excited. "Isn't it in fact true," he said to him, "that America, by dint of the very accuracy of the weapons we've seen, is the only potential world policeman? You may have to operate under the United Nations, but it's beginning to look as though you're going to have to be in the Middle East just as, in the previous part of this century, we and the French were in the Middle East."8

Quite so.

The first graphic result of the "surgical precision" was the American bombing of the Al-Amiriya bunker in Baghdad, in which between 300 and 400 women and children died; most of them burned to death. The Sun reported this as a fabrication of Iraqi propaganda. "Saddam Hussein tried to trick the world yesterday," it said, "by saying hundreds of women and children died in a bomb attack on an 'air-raid shelter'. He cunningly arranged TV scenes designed to shock and appal.... The hidden 'civilian ' casualties may have been Iraqi military casualties."9

Like most of the Sun's reporting of the war, this was false. What was instructive was the speed with which the respectable media promoted the same falsehoods, if less crudely, while at the same time minimising evidence of the carnage inside the bunker and American culpability. ITN, in announcing that it was censoring its report because the material was "too distressing," set the tone.10

Six months later, the unedited CNN and WTN "feeds" of footage of the bunker were obtained by the Columbia Journalism Review. They had been censored for transmission in Britain, the United States, Australia and for other Western clients. "They showed scenes of incredible carnage," wrote the reporter who viewed the videotape. "Nearly all the bodies were charred into blackness; in some cases the heat had been so great that entire limbs were burned off. Among the corpses were those of at least six babies and ten children, most of them so severely burned that their gender could not be determined. Rescue workers collapsed in grief, dropping corpses; some rescuers vomited from the stench of the still-smoldering bodies."ll

The US military briefers insisted that the bunker was a "military facility." People living in the vicinity told researchers it was "unbelievable" that the Americans did not know the shelter was used mostly by women and children, who came and went twice a day.12 Abu Kulud, who lost his wife and two daughters, said, "It was impossible for them not to know there were only civilians in the shelter. Their air [communications] were everywhere." A woman who lost her mother and two sisters, said, "How could they not know? They had to know. They had the satellite over our heads twenty-four hours a day, as well as photographs the planes took before they bombed."13

On the day of the attack, the BBC's Nine O"Clock News presenter, Peter Sissons, prefaced a report from Baghdad with the American statement that the bunker was a military installation. This exchange followed:

Sissons: A few moments ago, I spoke with [the BBC's] Jeremy Bowen in Baghdad and asked him whether he could be absolutely sure that there was no military communications equipment in the shelter, which the allies believe was there.
Bowen: Well, Peter, we looked very hard for it. ..I'm pretty confident, as confident as I can be, that I've seen all the main rooms...
Sissons: Is it conceivable that it could have been in military use and was converted recently to civilian use?
Bowen: Well, it would seem a strange sort of thing to. ..
Sissons: Let me put it another way, Jeremy. Is it possible to say with certainty that it was never a military facility?

Sissons concluded the interview by saying that Bowen was "subject, of course, to Iraq's reporting restrictions."14

Long after the war was over, a senior American official admitted privately that the bunker bombing had been "a military mistake." As this was never broadcast, the "mistake" was never challenged.15

The bunker atrocity was passed over quickly, and the "coverage" returned to its main theme of a sanitised, scientific war which the Allied military command in Saudi Arabia promoted, thanks to the "pool" system. The "pool" is a British invention, used to considerable effect in the Second World War, Korea and the Falklands. The Americans used the Falklands model for their invasions of Grenada (1983) and Panama (1989).

Under the rules, only selected journalists can visit "the front," and then under military escort. Their reports are then shared with colleagues remaining behind. Thus the "news" is the same. Those who attempt to strike out on their own are often blackballed and denied military co-operation, such as transport, which means they see no more of the "action." The obedient see what the military want them to see. The control of journalists and the management of news are almost total. That was how it worked in the Gulf.

Press "conferences" became the arena for dispensing propaganda, such as the entertaining videotapes showing pinpoint bombing. Here claims could be made without journalists being able to authenticate them. The Allies' claim that they were progressively "knocking out" Scud missile sites in Iraq with "smart" weapons was dutifully reported. In fact, no Scud sites were destroyed. So enthralled were some journalists with the wondrous performance of the hi-tech weapons—as seen on the military videotape—that few questioned their "surgical precision" or asked to see the unedited videotape. Unknown to reporters in Saudi Arabia, less than 7 per cent of the weapons used in the Gulf War were "smart," as the Pentagon admitted long after the war.16

Most were old-fashioned "dump" bombs, like those dropped by B-52 aircraft, and famously inaccurate. Seventy per cent of the 88,500 tons of bombs dropped on Iraq and Kuwait—the equivalent of more than seven Hiroshimas—missed their targets completely and many fell in populated areas, causing widespread "collateral damage": the jargon for civilian casualties.17 This was not reported. "War is never pleasant," declared the Independent on Sunday. "There are certain actions that a civilised society can never contemplate. This carpet-bombing is undeniably terrible. But that does not make it wrong."18

Editorial writers are seldom witnesses. In, another war, in paddy fields not far from Saigon, I watched three ladders curve in the sky, and as each rung reached the ground there was a plume of fire and a sound which welled and rippled rather than exploded. These were the bombs of three B-52s flying in formation, unseen above the clouds; between them they dropped about seventy tons of explosives in a "long box" pattern. Everything inside the "box" was destroyed.

When I reached the nearest village, the street had been replaced by a crater; people a hundred yards from the point of contact left not even their scorched shadows, which the dead had left at Hiroshima. There were pieces of heads and limbs, and the intact bodies of young children who had been thrown into the air by the blast.

And so it was in Iraq. The Clark Commission—chaired by former us Attorney-General Ramsey Clark—heard evidence from Paul Roberts, a freelance journalist who had travelled with Bedouins during the bombing, that he had watched three waves of bombing every night. "I experienced bombing in Cambodia," he said, "but this was nothing like that.... After twenty minutes of this carpet-bombing there would be a silence and you would hear a screaming of children and people, and then the wounded would be dragged out. I found myself with everyone else trying to treat injuries, but the state of people generally was one of pure shock. They were walking around like zombies..."19 His evidence, like that of many others before the Clark Commission, was never published in the mainstream media.

Perhaps, like the Vietnamese, Iraqi civilians were obliterated in order to save them. Certainly, George Bush, in his victory speech, said the Gulf War had "freed America from the memory of Vietnam"—though not before the truth began to trickle out. As the ceasefire was signed, a column of Iraqis retreating from Kuwait City along the Basra road towards Iraq were attacked by American carrier-based aircraft. They used a variety of rockets, cluster bombs and Napalm B, the type that sticks to the skin while continuing to burn. Returning pilots bragged to "pool" reporters on the carriers, describing the event as a "duck shoot" and a "turkey shoot." Others likened it to "shooting fish in a barrel." Defenceless people had been incinerated in their vehicles or strafed as they ran for cover.20

Television crews travelling with the Allied forces in Kuwait came upon the aftermath by chance. As the first pictures appeared on American television, the White House justified the attack by referring to the dead as "torturers, looters and rapists."21 However, it was obvious that the convoy included not only military lorries, but civilian vehicles: battered Toyota vans, Volkwagens, motorbikes. Their occupants were foreign workers who had been trapped in Kuwait: Palestinians, Bangladeshis, Sudanese, Egyptians and others.

In the British press, the Observer published a shocking photograph of a charred corpse still at the wheel of a truck. With the lips burned away, it appeared to be grinning. Most newspapers preferred a front-page photograph of a US Army medic attending a wounded Iraqi soldier. Here was the supreme image of magnanimity and tenderness, a "lifeline" the Daily Mirror called it, and the exact opposite of what had happened.22

In a memorable report for BBC radio, Stephen Sackur who, like Jeremy Bowen, distinguished himself against the odds in the Gulf, described the carnage in such a way that he separated, for his listeners, ordinary Iraqis from Saddam Hussein. He converted the ducks, turkeys and fish to human beings. The incinerated figures, he said, were simply people trying to get home; he sounded angry.23

Kate Adie, another BBC correspondent, was there. Her television report showed corpses in the desert and consumer goods scattered among the blackened vehicles. If this was "loot," it was pathetic: toys, dolls, hair-dryers. She referred to "the evidence of the horrible confusion." She interviewed a U.S. Marine lieutenant, who appeared distressed. He said the convoy had had "no air cover, nothing," and he added ambiguously, "It was not very professional at all." Adie did not ask him what he meant, nor did she attempt to explain why the massacre had taken place. But she did say that "those who fought and died for Iraq here turned out to be from the north of the country, from minority communities, persecuted by Saddam Hussein—the Kurds and the Turks."24

This was probably the most revealing news of the war; but without context or the barest explanation, it was almost meaningless. The massacre on the Basra road was mainly of troops conscripted from people oppressed by Saddam Hussein and who were his bitter opponents—the very people whom George Bush, John Major and General Schwarzkopf had called on to "take heart" and "rise up in revolt." While Saddam's Republican Guard escaped, Iraq's coerced and demoralised army of mostly Kurds and Shi'a was slaughtered.

Basra road was only one of many massacres. The others were not reported. Throughout the short "war," the slaughter was carried out beyond the scrutiny of the "pool." Unknown to journalists, in the last two days before the ceasefire American armoured bulldozers were ruthlessly deployed, mostly at night, burying Iraqis alive in their trenches, including the wounded. Six months later, New York Newsday disclosed that three brigades of the 1st Mechanised Infantry Division—"the Big Red One"—"used snow plows mounted on tanks and combat earth movers to bury thousands of Iraqi soldiers—some still alive—in more than 70 miles of trenches." A brigade commander said, "For all I know, we could have killed thousands."25 The only images of this to be shown on television were used as a backdrop to a discussion about the reporting of the war on a late-night BBC arts programme.26

"Not a single armoured vehicle of the U.S. [or its allies] was hit by enemy fire. Not one," wrote Ramsey Clark.27 American pilots became so bored with the task of killing defenceless Iraqis that they began joking about "tank plinking," as if the armoured vehicles were tin cans. The operations officer for "Desert Storm," General Richard Neal, admitted that most Iraqi vehicles were destroyed from the rear.28

General Schwarzkopf's policy was that Iraqi dead were not to be counted.29 One of his senior officers boasted, "This is the first war in modern times where every screwdriver, every nail is accounted for." As for human beings, he added, "I don't think anybody is going to be able to come up with an accurate count for the Iraqi dead."30 In fact, Schwarzkopf did provide figures to Congress, indicating that at least 100,000 Iraqi soldiers had been killed. He offered no estimate of civilian deaths.31

The war was not a war at all. It was an old fashioned colonial massacre. Kate Adie, like most of her colleagues, had reported the news, but not the story. Long after it was all over, the BBC's foreign editor, John Simpson, commented in a documentary, "As for the human casualties, tens of thousands of them, or the brutal effect the war had on millions of others...we didn't see much of that."32

In the post-war period some journalists and their editors gave the impression that they knew they had been misled. There was something of an air of atonement. Editorial writers and studio presenters became exercised about "safe havens" for the Kurds in the north of Iraq, policed by the same military force that had slaughtered thousands of Kurds on the Basra road and elsewhere. Star Wars over, the story was suddenly humanitarian. And close to home. Speaking as one, the British media accused the government of "covering up the truth" about the deaths of nine British servicemen in the Gulf, all of them killed by American "friendly fire." Having been led by the nose in the cover-up of the slaughter of "tens of thousands" of Iraqis, their indignation gave no hint of irony.

In the United States, there was some attempt to root out the truth. However, this was confined to a few newspapers, such as New York Newsday and its outstanding reporter Knute Royce, and samizdat publications like Z magazine and Covert Action Quarterly.

The famous TV anchorman, Dan Rather, told Americans, "There's one thing we can all agree on. It's the heroism of the 148 Americans who gave their lives so that freedom could live." In fact, a quarter of them had been killed, like their British comrades, by other Americans. Moreover, official citations describing how Americans had died heroically in hand-to-hand combat with Iraqis were fake.33 American forces had bombed five Iraqi military hospitals; and American newscasters seldom referred to the Iraqi dead, let alone how they had died. These were a shocking omissions, as the cost of the human tragedy in Iraq was now available.34

Shortly before Christmas 1991, the Medical Educational Trust in London published a comprehensive study of casualties. Up to a quarter of a million men, women and children were killed or died as a direct result of the American-led attack on Iraq.35 This confirmed American and French intelligence estimates of "in excess of 200,000 civilian deaths."36

In evidence submitted to the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Select Committee, the major international relief agencies reported that 1.8 million people had been made homeless, and Iraq's electricity, water, sewage, communications, health, agriculture and industrial infrastructure had been "substantially destroyed," producing "conditions for famine and epidemics."37

The Clark Commission concluded that the nature of the American-led attacks violated the Geneva Convention of 1949, which expressly prohibits attacks on "objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas...crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works," as well as "dams, dykes and electrical generating stations," without which there will be "consequent severe losses among the civilian population."38

In 1995, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reported that the military devastation of Iraq, combined with the effect of sanctions imposed by the Security Council—in reality, by the American and British governments—had been responsible for the deaths of more than 560,000 children in Iraq.39 The World Health Organisation confirmed this figure.40 Jean Lennock, a field worker, reported this as the equivalent of the unnecessary death of a child every six minutes. "At Ibn-al-Baladi hospital in Baghdad," she wrote, "I witnessed the death of eight-month-old Ali Hassan from diarrhoea. His life could have been saved with simple antibiotics. I also witnessed the grief of his mother. Like many of us, she could not understand why her child had been punished for the actions of the Iraqi government."41

In a letter to the Security Council, Ramsey Clark, who has carried out investigations in Iraq since 1991, wrote that most of the deaths "are from the effects of malnutrition including marasmus and kwashiorkor, wasting or emaciation which has reached twelve per cent of all children, stunted growth which affects twenty-eight per cent, diarrhoea, dehydration from bad water or food, which is ordinarily easily controlled and cured, common communicable diseases preventable by vaccinations, and epidemics from deteriorating sanitary conditions. There are no deaths crueller than these. They are suffering slowly, helplessly, without simple remedial medication, without simple sedation to relieve pain, without mercy."42

In October 1996, UNICEF, the children's relief organisation, launched an appeal for help from governments, saying that "over 50 per cent of women and children are receiving less than half their calorific needs." In other words, they were close to starvation. Only the Government of the Netherlands made a contribution.43

In the meantime, the UN has sought to negotiate an "oil-for-food" arrangement, by which Iraq would be allowed to sell $1 billion's worth of oil every three months on the world market. Half of this would go in war reparations to Kuwait and be allocated to the Kurds in the "safe havens;" the other half would buy food and medicines and basic spare parts for water and sewage treatment facilities.

The American representatives on the UN Sanctions Committee have used every opportunity to obstruct the plan, which now appears frozen, in spite of having the approval of the Secretary-General.44 When the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright, later to be appointed Secretary of State, was asked whether the lives of half a million Iraqi children were too high a price to pay, she replied, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, is worth it."45

Ramsey Clark replied, "The United States has forced this decision on the Security Council. Three of the five permanent members—China, France and the Russian Federation—have sought to modify the sanctions. [The US] blames Saddam Hussein and Iraq for the effects [on the Iraqi people], most recently arguing that if Saddam stopped spending billions on his military machine and palaces for the elite, he could afford to feed his people. But only a fool would offer or believe such propaganda. If Iraq is spending billions on the military, then the sanctions are obviously not working. Malnutrition did exist in Iraq before the sanctions. If Saddam Hussein is building palaces, he intends to stay. Meanwhile, an entire nation is suffering. Hundreds are dying daily and millions are threatened in Iraq, because of U.S.-compelled impoverishment."46

To report the real reasons why children are dying in Iraq even to recognise the extent of their suffering, is to bracket Western governments with dictatorships and totalitarian regimes. Thus the victims become unmentionable. They become, wrote the British historian Mark Curtis, "unpeople: human beings who impede the pursuit of high policy and whose rights, often lives, therefore become irrelevant."47 As Unpeople, they are not news, and their plight, as Kate Adie said of the slaughter on the Basra road, is merely "evidence of the horrific confusion."

There were a number of reasons for the American-led attack on Iraq, and none of them had much to do with concern for the freedom-loving tyranny in Kuwait. Saddam Hussein said he invaded Kuwait because the Kuwaiti regime was moving in on disputed oil fields on the Iraq-Kuwait border. This was probably correct, as the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, indicated when he argued against military intervention, predicting that Saddam would withdraw and put "his puppet in [and] everyone in the Arab world will be happy."48 The documented fact that Saddam Hussein tried to extricate himself from Kuwait on a number of occasions was ignored by most of the American and Brit media, which preferred the countdown to war.49

As in the American invasion of Panama in 1989, Bush wanted to demonstrate the United States' new single-superpower status, and Iraq was the perfect venue. Here was an opportunity to show off American military power, and thereby conceal the decline of its economic power, as well to test a range of new weapons. For example, munitions made from Depleted Uranium (DU) were used for the first time Iraq. DU has a radioactive half-life of 125,000 years, and like the effects of "Agent Orange" in Vietnam, its effect on the population and on future generations will be insidious and devastating.

There was no burning desire to get rid of Saddam Hussein. He had been the West's man, whom Reagan and Thatcher had armed and backed against the mullahs in Iran; and the last thing the West wanted was an Iraq run by socialists and democrats. For this reason, as the 1991 slaughter got under way, the British Government imprisoned as many Iraqi opposition leaders as it could round up. In 1996, the New York Times reported that the administration longed for the good old days when Saddam's "iron fist held Iraq together, much to the satisfaction of the American allies, Turkey and Saudi Arabia."50

The Americans also wanted to protect Saudi oil and the faltering Saudi economy from the competition of cheaper Iraqi oil. That remains Washington's real reason for opposing the lifting of sanctions. "If Iraq were allowed to resume oil exports," wrote Phyllis Bennis, one of the most astute American commentators, "analysts expect it would soon be producing three million barrels a day and within a decade, perhaps as many as six million. Oil prices would soon drop...And Washington is determined to defend the kingdom's economy, largely to safeguard the West's unfettered access to the Saudis' 25 per cent of known oil reserves."51

An important factor in this is the arms trade. In 1993, almost two-thirds of all American arms export agreements with developing countries were with Saudi Arabia, whose dictatorship is every bit as odious as the one in Baghdad.52 Since 1990 the Saudis have contracted more than thirty billion dollars' worth of American tanks, missiles and fighter aircraft. According to the authors, Leslie and Andrew Cockburn, "Every day, the Pentagon...disburses an average of 10 million dollars—some days as much as 50 million—to contractors at work on the Saudi shopping list." As an insight into the US-sponsored "peace process" in the Middle East, they wrote that a Pentagon officer had told them, "If the Saudis had cancelled their F-15 [fighter aircraft] program [as a result of the fall in oil prices], Israel probably would not have bought any. Basically, that's the only thing keeping the F-15 line open."53

In 1996, President Clinton attacked Iraq with Tomahawk missiles—ostensibly to "defend" Kurds in the north of the country, but the presidential election campaign was well under way. Once again military technology dominated the news, celebrated with Top Gun Pilots and missiles sleek against the dawn light. American and British television used Pentagon footage. The Tomahawks and B-52s were said to have struck only "radar sites" and "strategic control centres." Anchormen spoke inexplicably about "the balance of power" and "urgent Western diplomacy."54 Addressing the American people, Clinton invoked the paramount rule of the Old West: "When you abuse your own people...you must pay a price."55

It was Unpeople who paid the price, and we saw virtually nothing of them. A shot of a demolished building in a crowded part of Baghdad was, explained Trevor McDonald, the anchorman of Britain's Independent Television News, "allegedly hit" by a Tomahawk. "And finally," said McDonald with that familiar transatlantic smile that says the news must now move on to the inane, "Lottery winners say their millions have given them security for life. Good night."56 There was clearly no time for Iraq's dying children.

When, in 1998, Clinton attacked Sudan and Afghanistan with his missiles, demolishing a pharmaceutical factory and killing and maiming more Unpeople, there was fleeting media interest mainly in whether he had ordered the attacks to distract attention from his troubles with Monica Lewinsky, whose starring role in the news was quickly restored.

"Have we grown more wary of instant response to disaster, more indifferent to the stream of seemingly baffling conflicts which flit past on the screen?" asked the BBC's Kate Adie in a reflective article. "Do the pictures of the displaced, the homeless and injured mean less when they are so regularly available? Have we, in short, begun to care less...?"

She did not explain the "we." "What has not changed," she wrote, "is the need to choose news priorities, to judge the importance and relevance of a story against all else that is happening in the world. And the need endlessly to debate whether some stories should be covered for a moral or humanitarian reason, even though the majority of the audience expresses little desire to view them" (my italics).57

She offered no evidence to support this last assertion. On the contrary, the generosity of those who can least afford to give is demonstrable, vivid and unending, as I know from personal experience. It is compassion, as well as anger, that gives millions of people the energy and tenacity to lobby governments for an end to state crimes committed in their name in East Timor, Burma, Turkey, Tibet, Iraq, to name but a few. Far from not wanting to know, the "majority of the audience" consistently make clear, as the relevant surveys show, that they want more current affairs and documentaries which attempt to make sense of the news and which explain the "why" of human events.58

During the Reagan and Thatcher years, broadcasters and journalists invented the public affliction called "compassion fatigue," which represented, not the public's sentiments, but conformism long served by journalists. Following the Gulf War, researchers scrutinised more than 8,000 images of the British television coverage and found that only one per cent dealt with human suffering.

There is a self-fulfilling element in this age of saturation media. In a related survey, a sample group of children were asked, "What sticks in your mind about the television coverage of the war?" Most referred to the hi-tech weapons and equipment; some mentioned specifically the Pentagon war "videogames." None mentioned people.59

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About the Author

John Pilger, an Australian, has twice won British journalism's highest award, that of Journalist of the Year, for his work all over the world, especially as a war correspondent. For his documentary film-making, he has won France's Reporter sans Frontières, an American television Academy Award, an "Emmy," and the Richard Dimbleby Award, given by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, for a lifetime's factual broadcasting. He lives in London.


1. Daily Star, Daily Mirror and Sun, January 16, 1991.

2. BBC Short-wave Broadcasts, January 1991.

3. Sun and Daily Express, January 16, 1991.

4. Thanks to Greg Philo and Greg McLaughlin, Glasgow Media Group, The British Media and the Gulf War, Glasgow, 1993.

5. Daily Mirror, January 19,1991.

6. Philo and McLaughlin, British Media and the Gulf War.

7. BBC TV, January 18,1991.

8. Ibid.

9. Sun, February 14, 1991.

10. ITN, February 13, 1991.

11. Laurie Garrett, "The Dead," Columbia Journalism Review, May/June, 1991.

12. Ramsey Clark, The Fire This Time: U.S. War Crimes in the Gulf, Thunder"s Mouth Press, New York, 1992, p. 71.

13. Miriam Martin, Gulf Peace Team, interviews submitted to the Clark Commission. Copyright 1992 Sati-Castek-Martin.

14. BBC TV, February 14, 1991.

15. Disclosed by Nik Gowing in a speech to Spectrum International Television Conference, 1991.

16. International Herald Tribune, February 23-4, 1991.

17. Ramsey Clark, The Children Are Dying, World View Forum, 1996, p. 109; New York Times, January 15,1992.

18. Independent on Sunday, February 10, 1991.

19. Testimony of Paul William Roberts to the Commission of Inquiry in Montreal, November 16, 1992, pp. 54-8.

20. Daily Mirror, March 2, 1991; Newsday, New York, March 31, 1991.

21. Newsday, March 31, 1991.

22. Daily Mirror, March 2,1991.

23. BBC Radio 4, FM, Gulf Reports, March 1, 1991.

24. BBC TV, March 1, 1991.

25. Newsday, September 12,1991.

26. The Late Show, BBC TV, June 6, 1991.

27. Clark, The Children Are Dying, p. 109.

28. Stichting LAKA, Amsterdam, Gulf War Fact Sheet, no.2, June 1994.

29. Clark, The Fire This Time, p. 42.

30. New York Times, January 26,1992.

31. Wall Street Journal, March 22, 1991.

32. BBC TV, May 25, 1991.

33. Clark, The Fire This Time, p. 110.

34. New York Times, January 26,1992.

35. Ian Lee, Continuing Health Cost of the Gulf War , Medical Educational Trust, London, 1991.

36. The Times and Nouvelle Observateur, March 3, 1991.

37. Memorandum to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, The Economic Impact of the Gulf Crisis on Third World Countries, March 1991.

38. Clark, The Fire This Time.

39. Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, Evaluation of the Food and Nutrition Situation in Iraq, Rome, 1995.

40. New Statesman and Society, September 13, 1996.

41. Guardian, September 7, 1996.

42. Clark, The Fire This Time, p. 10.

43. UNICEF press release, November 22, 1996.

44. Sydney Morning Herald, August 7, 1996.

45. Socialist Review, January 1997.

46. Clark, The Fire This Time, p. 10.

47. Mark Curtis, The Ambiguities of Power: British Foreign Policy Since 1945, Zed Books, London, 1995.

48. Noam Chomsky, Power and Prospects: Reflections on Human Nature and the Social Order, South End P!ess, Boston, 1996, p. 35.

49. John Pilger, Distant Voices, Vintage Books, London, 1994, p. 132-90.

50. Chomsky, Power and Prospects.

51. Covert Action, Summer 1995.

52. Richard F. Grimmett, Conventional Arms Transfers to the Third World, 1986-93, Congressional Research Service, p. 6.

53. New Yorker, November 28,1994.

54. ITN, September 1, 3, 1996.

55. Ibid., September 3, 1996.

56. Ibid., September 1, 1996.

57. "The Tiddler," Observer, vol. 1, no.12, 1996.

58. Numerous media industry surveys have drawn this conclusion. The latest is MediaLab's, 1996.

59. David Morrison, Television and the Gulf War, John Libbey, London, 1992, pp. 41-62, 71-3.

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