Thursday, June 07, 2007

The games they play

Perhaps we're getting too sensitive over something about which very few people seem to care, but one does tire of the games played by the media over Iraq.

The Guardian kicks off, exploiting the death of another soldier in Iraq by using it as a "hook" to promote the views of Britain's former ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer.

He has "warned" that UK and military presence in Iraq is worsening security across the region said the mission was not worth the death of one more serviceman. "I personally believe that the presence of American and British and coalition forces is making things worse, not only inside Iraq but the wider region around Iraq. The arguments against staying for any greater length of time themselves strengthen with every day that passes," Meyer says.

Compare and contrast that with the views of Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's Foreign Minister (pictured). As reported by The Times, who interviewed that man, he says the stakes are too high for Mr Brown to make a hasty and dramatic change to Britain's military strategy and warned that "any sign of weakness by the new Prime Minister would fuel the insurgency in Iraq."

But even then, The Times cannot play it straight, as it uses the interview to front a lurid headline, "Iraqi minister puts pressure on Brown not to cut and run," presenting the issue as if there were somehow any difference in view between the Iraqi and British governments. As it stands, however, Zebari is doing nothing more than reiterating the views of his prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Meanwhile, the BBC, through its daily current affairs programme, Newsnight on the back of an e-mail from an anonymous Captain, tried to make a case that the Army is suffering from low morale, a case its reporter Mark Urban had to concede was "not proven", despite spending the best part of his report suggesting otherwise.

Nowhere in the national media, though, do we hear or read the upbeat message from Brigadier James Bashall, the new UK Brigade Commander in southern Iraq. He, after all, had a message the MSM does not want us to hear, telling the Iraqis there was no question of British troops withdrawing. "My Brigade," he said, "is here to offer you support and we will stand by you."

In a parallel universe, where lives were not at stake and it did not matter so much, the distorting prism of the media would actually be comedic – it could make a pointed Monty Pythonesque sketch, showing in close relief the games the media are playing. As it is, they are selling us down the river.

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