Monday, 28 March 2011

Silence on regime change

THE BBC’s reporting of events in Libya, already outrageously slanted, hit new depths of journalism tonight. The other media are nearly as bad.
The military action by America, the UK and France, from bases in Italy, was sanctioned by the United Nations on the understanding that it was to be confined to protecting Libyan citizens from attack and slaughter by the forces of dictator, Colonel Gaddafi.
They were specifically told that they were not to aspire to regime change.
This was very lucidly and eloquently explained by Penrith and Border MP, Rory Stewart, on Question Time last Thursday, when the unconventional Conservative MP warned of mission creep, as the Americans call it.
So what has happened? After bombing forces loyal to Gaddafi as they were said to be about to attack the rebels’ base city of Benghazi, the allies have been laying a trail of destruction across the North East coastline of Libya, clearing the way for the rebels to follow.
This is an obvious and blatant contravention of the UN resolution. It is not protecting Libya’s people from attack. It is giving the rebels clear military support.
That is interference in a civil war. Earlier today the Russians, who were so sceptical about the UN vote they abstained, pointed out this deception.
But what do the British media do? They ignore the Russian comments and blithely continue reporting the allied action without any analysis.
This evening the BBC and national newspaper web-sites were still lauding the “untrained” rebels for defeating Libya’s professional army, as they closed in on Colonel Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte.
Upbeat jingoistic language, like “the rebels have made lightning advances west from their stronghold in Benghazi”, litter the news channels.
But it is obvious that Gaddafi’s loyal troops dare not fight back, otherwise they will be bombed out of existence by the missiles from warships and aeroplanes. Some of the eye-witness reportage, notably in the Independent on Sunday, showed just how brutal and horrific these attacks on Gaddafi’s soldiers had been.
If this is not engineering regime change, I don’t know what is.
This issue ought to be right up there at the top of the BBC’s news agenda, not ignored as it was on the main news bulletins.
The public may support David Cameron’s decision to send troops and machines of war to Libya , but opinion polls would suggest the opposite.
It was not comforting to realise that he was only now starting to make contact with these rebels and find out what sort of people they are and what their aims are.
It is not the media’s job to decide what is right or wrong. But it is their job to highlight inconsistencies between what the Government says is the policy it supports and the reality on the ground. That is why licence fee payers pay for reporters to travel to these foreign trouble spots.
For reporters and camera crews to meekly follow the military line without putting it in political context is a betrayal of their profession.

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