The BBC’s Dan Snow gives us a guided tour of Syrian history in ‘A History of Syria with Dan Snow’
‘A History of Syria with Dan Snow (BBC Two) was an excellent opportunity to tell a complex story. But while it provided useful background information, experienced Syria-watchers were likely to be exasperated by its simplistic analysis and reliance on Syrian government sympathisers. ‘
I’m certain Dan Snow is just exercising some ‘real politik’ and doing what he has to do to make the film rather than deliberately siding with any particular faction or dictator.
The same might not be said about Hughe Sykes who seems to say that perhaps we should have left Saddam Hussein in place in what is an entirely negative piece about the situation in Iraq and which employs highly selective quotes to paint a bleak scene of desolation.
He manufactures a conclusion from an American soldier’s comment that this is a ‘Christian Army’ that the US is on a ‘crusade’…..that of course would entail ‘recovering land from the Muslims’ and presumably converting the Heathens….none of which was intended or attempted. It is the sort of careless talk that drives or excuses the radicalisation of Muslims and incites terrorism and leaps all too readily to the lips of BBC journalists intent on undermining any success in the Iraq War.
Sykes suggests that no work has really been done to rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq and his example is the electricity supply which is still unreliable.
The US spent something like $52 bn in Iraq…..the electricity supply was in ever more decrepit state before the war producing 5 gigawatts of power…it now produces over 10 gigawatts….so somehow they are producing double the electricity than pre-war…..Nothing to do with the Americans presumably.
The death rate in Iraq (4.7/1000) is less than the USA’s (8.9/1000)…and less than Mexico’s (4.9/1000).
In Iraq the death rate is around 4,500/year from terrorism….half the Mexican murder rate in the drugs war.
Corruption? Today we hear that council planning officers are selling their services to guide big business around the inconveniences of planning law…..that is just a very minor example of what goes on in this country.
Iraq is certainly not anywhere near perfect or close to a stable, democratic, progressive and economically successful state. It is riven by tensions produced by having three very powerful factions jostling for power…the Sunnis, the Shia and the Kurds…plus jihadists stirring the pot. It has external parties with vested interests such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, amongst others..and of course America, all interfering and giving support to their ‘side’. It has massive infrastructure problems from the power supply, water and schooling…and jobs…and a fast growing population.
‘Although all combat brigades have been withdrawn, Iraq still remains embroiled in ethno-sectarian violence, an internal and foreign refugee crisis, generally weak infrastructure, and recurrent corruption within the public sector.‘
Read that though and you could just as easily apply it to the UK….not to such a large degree but only dissimilar because of the different scale….and no one can say we aren’t just as corrupt as any of these countries.
The Americans certainly made big mistakes but what if they hadn’t taken Saddam out?
Yes it’s OK for Sykes to run around pointing out ‘failure’ but the BBC always fails to consider what the alternative was…that of leaving Saddam in place.
Iraq has had two successful elections and has just passed its latest budget…though with great disagreements. It is ramping up oil production and investing in infrastructure and the economy…but all this takes time. Our own economy has been in the doldrums for nearly 5 years and we have one of the biggest economies in the world with comparatively great education and infrastructure….and yet we are struggling…and we were still rationing food and petrol after the end of WWII…petrol rationed until 1950 and food till 1954…..so how does the BBC expect a war zone like Iraq which suffered a decade of sanctions before the war to suddenly turn into a thriving fully functioning economy and politically stable state in a matter of a few years?
Yes Iraq is struggling…but is it possible to say the ending of the Saddam regime wasn’t worthwhile and has failed as a great humanitarian scheme?
And remember this…the US pulled its troops out of Iraq prematurely, as they will from Afghanistan, because of intense pressure generated by the Media….the Media which published stories exactly like Sykes who is paintng a relentlessly bleak picture of Iraq and portraying the war as a failure.
Killings went up as the troops withdrew and the Jihadist moved in.
As fighting increases and it looks like a nation is falling apart the Media will start asking why the troops were withdrawn and Iraq or Afghanistan were ‘abandoned’.
Panorama has already done one ‘investigation’ into the readiness of Afghan forces to combat the Taliban without Coalition backup…and pronounced them unfit for task. You can write the scripts for years to come as journalists dole out the blame without ever once looking at their own responsibility.
Of course what really messed up Afghanistan was socialism….come to think of it the Baath Party was a sociailist enterprise too….but that might be a step too far for the BBC to admit and pass on the blame to.