Wednesday 26 March 2003

Shock, awe and precision porkies

by Rod Liddle

Our military people haven't been telling us the truth, have they? Every day they tell us stuff - either directly, through press conferences and statements, or through private briefings with our more credulous television journalists - and 12 hours later the reverse of what they've told us turns out to have happened.
Here are a few examples.

Day one of the war will begin with the unrestrained bombing of Baghdad, a massive "shock and awe" assault that will make the world quiver in its boots with respect.

In fact, Baghdad suffered comparatively light bombing on night one. It was not, everybody agreed the next morning, quite what we had all expected.

Coalition forces have taken the "strategically important" town of Umm Qasr, we were told on day two.

No, actually, they hadn't, as they were decent enough to admit two days later. They still haven't taken it as I write this. Ditto those oilfields they kept on about and then, very suddenly, stopped going on about.

The third night of the bombing of Baghdad would be remembered, after the war, as the most significant and punitive so far, with a magnificent flattening of the city. (This was an off-the-record briefing repeated ad nauseam by BBC News 24 throughout the previous evening).

In fact, the third night saw by far the lightest bombing of the war so far.

The coalition forces have no intention of taking Basra because it would involve street fighting and therefore a potential danger to civilians.

So, to clarify, then: Basra is indeed, now, a target. Because, er, otherwise there would be a danger to civilians, a veritable humanitarian catastrophe.

Saddam Hussein was killed or seriously injured in the initial two bombing raids on Baghdad. An ambulance was seen taking him to hospital.

Well, I'm no doctor, but Saddo seems still to be in pretty good health to me. Quite chipper, in fact. Maybe he just had bad gout, or something.

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