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IBC vs Chilcot August 28, 2010

Posted by dissident93 in Iraq mortality.
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Note: a longer and slightly differently worded version of this piece has been published by The Comment Factory.

Iraq Body Count (IBC) has successfully drawn media attention to the failure of the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry to take account of Iraqi casualties: “most of the attention has remained firmly fixed, fixated even, upon the interplay between political and military actors here and in the USA…”. I suspect that the point made strongly by IBC will lead to discomfort in certain media and political circles, where it applies just as much (as anyone who has witnessed the typical level of discussion on this topic among politicians in the respectable UK “news” will appreciate).

Putting on my Chomsky hat, I find it remarkable that so much media coverage has been given to this particular criticism of Chilcot. It creates a new story in its own right (whereas one expects such criticism to be added perhaps only as a sidebar to an existing story, if it’s mentioned at all). A major Inquiry into the war fails to address the central issue of the war (the vast amount of bloodshed and suffering it led to) – that’s surely not a topic fit for the “news” organs of Establishment Power. And yet there was a lot of coverage (due, I think, to the praiseworthy efforts of IBC in presenting its case so effectively). Here’s a partial list of media coverage:

Guardian 27/8/2010
Independent 27/8/2010
Channel 4 News 27/8/2010
BBC News 27/8/2010
Sky News 27/8/2010
Press Association 27/8/2010
Morning Star 27/8/2010
ABC News 28/8/2010
Daily Express 27/8/2010

So, for once, we have a prominent news story about “official” failure to take account of the blood spilt in Iraq. Is it important that there’s media coverage focusing on this very point? As a relativist in such matters, I can only compare its importance to other things. For example, my favorite amateur-Chomskyite website once declared it “very important” for George Monbiot to namecheck their site in his Guardian column – as if the mere mention of it would automatically have beneficial effects on humanity. If namechecking a website in the Guardian counts as “very important” on some media-activism scale, then, by comparison, I would classify IBC’s accomplishment in creating the above news story as of almost cosmic importance. (IBC will get the joke – they have a sense of humour and perspective. The chaps who run the Chomskyite website probably won’t get it – they have very little humour/perspective).