baghdad face Other anti-war bloggers seem to be doing a fine, and extensive, job of commenting on the war. I’d decided to focus my attention on correcting misinformation, but there is so much of it out there that it’s almost easier to list what is credible and corroborated.  Almost all of the early reports and predictions have turned out to be either completely false or wildly exaggerated:

  • Massive defections and surrender: The Pentagon claims there are fewer than 3,000 POW’s, so that’s an upper limit, after five days of hundreds of thousands of invading soldiers marching through half the country. 
  • Cheers for the conquering army: These have been, on more than one occasion, ruses or just displays to prevent feared aggression from the U.S./U.K. troops. Contrary reports from the dubious Moonie press (UPI, Washington Times) notwithstanding.
  • WMD finds: There haven’t been any found, or any used against the invaders. Even the U.S. military acknowledged that the report of a huge chemical weapons plant was ‘premature’, i.e. probably bogus.
  • Death of Saddam & family, Aziz etc.: Despite interviews with ex-mistresses, government disguise experts and psychics, there is no credible evidence that anyone in the family was killed or injured or that Saddam press conferences were pre-taped.
  • Oil Fields Blown Up: Early reports of the number seem wildly exaggerated, and there seems to be nothing systematic. Latest count from the U.S. military is seven fires.
  • Precision Strikes and Limited Civilian Casualties: The UK Independent is the only paper that seems to be talking about this (77 so far in Basra). The most credible numbers are shown on the bar at right from – see their site for explanation of the estimation process. The reporters in Baghdad who are not ’embedded’ seem to corroborate the precision of most strikes. If any war has ‘good’ news, this precision, and the low casualty figures, are it. The sieges on Basra and Baghdad may yet produce humanitarian disaster , however. Keep watching the numbers or get your own counter from the IBC site.
  • Weblogs from Iraq are Bogus: Despite all the talk, there is no evidence of this. The best known blog Dear Raed just reads too straight and balanced to be propaganda, with equal distain and distrust for both Saddam and the invaders.

My only other thoughts on the war so far: Admiration for the ‘unembedded’ press: Their courage and the value of their independent reports is amazing. And dismay at the uselessness of the ’embedded’ press: Even the once-proud BBC crew are reduced to repeating military press releases and ooh’ing and aah’ing at the pyrotechnics in the distant sky. And Kevin Sites’ blog was shut down by his own bosses at CNN.

Don’t get me wrong. The examples above are disparaging of the Western propaganda machine and the toothlessness of most of the Western media in the face of it. But as Dear Raed reports, the misinformation being fed to Iraqis by their government’s propaganda machine is just as incredible. But we don’t get to see much of it.

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