Every war is started by a lie!!
- The story of babies torn from incubators by Iraqi soldiers during the first Gulf War is the latest demonstration of a principle long understood by propagandists, that a lie repeated many times ends up being accepted as truth.
The blurring of boundaries between truth and myth is certainly not started with the Bush administration. The misinformation was part of the war at least since the days of Alexander the Great, who disseminava large shells along the path of his troops in retreat, the enemy into believing that his soldiers were giants.
The trick anecdote about Alexander the Great is usually told the soldiers in the first lesson of training in psychological operations (often called “psyops”).
In 1998 the U.S. Air Force document, titled Information Operations, states that “Information Operations are applied across the range of military operations, from peacekeeping to full conflict … it is important to emphasize that the Information warfare is a formula that is implemented in all Air Force activities, from peace to war in order to enable the effective execution of all tasks … The execution of information operations in the aeronautical, space and cyberspace across all aspects of the conflict “(note the use of” doublespeak “[or” dual language “, in the context of the terms” peace “and” military operations “).
The document contains sections entitled Information Operations “psychological operations”, “electronic warfare”, “information attack”, and “military deception”.
In today’s world, it declares: “the growing information infrastructure transcends industry, media, military, and governmental and nongovernmental entities involved. And ‘characterized by a fusion of military and civilian networks and technologies … In fact, a newsletter, a press diplomatic or military message ordering the execution of an operation, all depend on [global information infrastructure]. ”
In this context, the psyops “are designed to convey selected information and clues to the leaders and foreign audiences, in order to influence their emotions, stimuli, motives, objective and ultimately the behavior,” while “military deception confuses opponents , leading them to act according to the objective of its creators. ”
In practice, the document says, quoting the Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, “all operations of war are based on deception”.
The story of “babies torn from incubators” by 6 Iraqi soldiers have contributed to the creation of public support for the first Persian Gulf War. At the time of its spread, the story was widely believed and there was no denial to the end of the war. Since then, some journalists and humanitarian organizations have made inquiries and concluded that it was a fake. The fact was considered serious in the same areas of public relations, yet the public still believes that it is true.
After August 2, 1990, the date of the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, the U.S. had to turn around quickly. For about a decade, until then, Hussein was an ally of the U.S. despite the condemnation of international human rights groups.
The public relations firm Hill & Knowlton, which was in the employ of Citizens for a Free Kuwait, had arranged the testimony. Nayirah‘s testimony was widely publicized. Hill & Knowlton, which had filmed the hearing, sent out a video news release to Medialink, a firm which served about 700 television stations in the United States.Her father was the Kuwaiti ambassador to the USA; he is sitting right next to her during the hearing but he pretends not to know her.”]Her testimony, which was regarded as credible at the time, has since come to be regarded as wartime propaganda. The public relations firm Hill & Knowlton, which was in the employ of Citizens for a Free Kuwait, had arranged the testimony. Nayirah’s testimony was widely publicized. Hill & Knowlton, which had filmed the hearing, sent out a video news release to Medialink, a firm which served about 700 television stations in the United States.Her father was the Kuwaiti ambassador to the USA; he is sitting right next to her during the hearing but he pretends not to know her.”
The Hill & Knowlton, at that time the largest public relations agency in the world, was the creator of the massive campaign set in motion to convince Americans to support a war of liberation of occupied Kuwait from Iraq .7
Much of the money to finance the campaign for war came from the Kuwaiti government itself, which signed a contract with H & K came nine days after Saddam’s army in the country.
The Hill & Knowlton created the group “Citizens for a Free Kuwait,” a classic propaganda operation designed to conceal the sponsorship of the Kuwaiti government in cahoots with the Bush administration senior. During the next six months, the Kuwaiti government appropriated about $ 12 million for the Citizens for a Free Kuwait, while the remaining funding totaled $ 17,861 and came from 78 individual donors. Practically, all the group’s budget – $ 10,800,000 – as compensation went to Hill & Knowlton. 8
The documents filed at the U.S. Justice Department officials showed that 119 of the H & K in 12 offices throughout the United States working on behalf of Kuwait. The agency arranged the interviews with Kuwaiti officials, the celebration of “Day of National Liberation of Kuwait” and more public events, the distribution of news and information kits, and contributed to the spread and influential journalists in the U.S. army of over 200,000 copies a mini guide of 154 pages of atrocities committed in Iraq, called The Rape of Kuwait (Rape of Kuwait, NdT) .9 The size of the campaign began Hill & Knowlton in awe even the O’Dwyer’s PR Services Report, a major publications in the field of public relations. The publisher Jack O’Dwyer wrote that Hill & Knowlton “has assumed an unprecedented role as a public relations agency in international politics.”The H & K has used an incredible variety of techniques and tricks for creating a public opinion favorable to the U.S. support to Kuwait … Among the techniques covered in the comprehensive conference which were described the torture and other human rights violations committed by the Iraqi regime, and the distribution of thousands of shirts with the slogan ‘Free Kuwait’ and stickers on college campuses in the U.S. ” .
All the big media events require that journalists and advertisers call “hooking”. The ideal coupling and ‘the central element to a story newsworthy, causing a strong emotional response, and remain in your memory.
For the campaign over Kuwait, the hook came October 10, 1990, when the Assembly conference on Human Rights held a hearing on Capitol Hill, which officially for the first time violations of human rights in Iraq. The audience appeared as a regular official congressional proceeding, but was not exactly so.
Although the meeting was chaired by members Tom Lantos and John Porter, was not an official committee of Congress. Only a few observers have noted the importance of this detail. Among them was John MacArthur, author of The Second Front, which remains the best book ever written about the manipulation of news during the first Gulf War. “The Assembly on human rights is not ‘a congressional committee, and then’ free from the legal implications that would hesitate before a witness to lie,” said MacArthur.”Lying under oath before a congressional committee and ‘crime, to lie behind anonymity before a summit meeting, and’ only diplomacy” .11 The most moving testimony on October 10 was that of a Kuwaiti girl of 15 years, identified only by name, Nayirah.According to the Assembly, the surname of Nayirah remained confidential to prevent Iraqi reprisals against his family that he was in occupied Kuwait. Sobbing, the girl described what he saw with his eyes to a hospital in Kuwait City. The transcript of his testimony was spread to an information kit of Citizens for a Free Kuwait. “I volunteer at the hospital-Addan,” he told Nayirah. “While I was there, I saw the Iraqi soldiers in the hospital with guns come and go in the rooms where they were babies in incubators. They took the children, they took the incubators and left them to die on the cold floor.” He continued by saying that this had happened to “hundreds” of childern.
After three months of testimony Nayirah beginning of the war. During these months, the story of children removed from their incubators was repeated continuously. The President told the Bush administration. He was told during testimony to Congress, on talk shows on TV, radio and the United Nations Security Council. Amnesty International carry ‘the complaint in a human rights report of December 1990, stating that “more than 300 premature babies would have died after being removed from incubators by Iraqi soldiers taken away”.
“Of all the accusations made against the dictator,” MacArthur observed, “none had more impact on American public than that Iraqi soldiers removing 312 babies from incubators would let them die on the cold hospital floors of Kuwait City.”
Assembly on human rights, however, Hill & Knowlton and Congressman Lantos had said that Nayirah was a member of the Kuwaiti royal family. In fact his father and ‘Saud Nasir al-Sabah, Kuwait’s ambassador to the United States, who was also present during the testimony of the assembly in the classroom. The Assembly also did not reveal that the vice president of Hill & Knowlton, Lauri Fitz-Pegado, had trained for Nayirah testify.
After the war, some human rights investigators sought confirmation on the story of Nayirah, without finding any witness or other evidence which could support it. John Martin of ABC World News Tonight visited the hospital and interviewed al-Addan Dr. Mohammed Matar, director of the health care system of Kuwait, and his wife, Dr. Youssef Fayeza, who headed the department of obstetrics hospital. According to their testimony, the charges were false Nayirah. Throughout the Kuwait were very few available incubators, certainly not the “hundreds” mentioned by Nayirah, and no one had seen Iraqi soldiers pull babies to machines. “I think it was just propaganda,” said Martin Matar.16’s testimony led to an inquiry independent of Amnesty International, which at the time of the testimony of Nayirah had taken the story of the good “babies torn from incubators “.
Amnesty International investigators also found no “credible evidence” that they confirmed the story and disproved their previous rapporto.17 “We believe … that the case of infants who died did not occur in the proportions initially reported, if it actually happened”, reported a spokesman for Amnesty International.
Even Middle East Watch, another human rights organization, has carried out its investigation, concluding that the story was a hoax. The Director of Middle East Watch, Aziz Abu-Hamad, who conducted a survey of three weeks in Kuwait after the war, said: “The diligent investigation of Middle East Watch have not produced any evidence to support these allegations. After liberation of Kuwait, we visited all the hospitals in which the second witness such an event would occur. We interviewed doctors, nurses and administrators, and we consulted the archives of the structures. We also visited cemeteries and we examined the records. Although we had clear accrued on various atrocities committed by the Iraqis, we have not found anyone on charges that Iraqi soldiers would remove babies from incubators and they died. Some witnesses of the Kuwaiti government, which had supported Iraq during the occupation of the veracity of the story the incubator, they changed their minds and others have been discredited. Dissemination of false reports of crimes committed causes considerable damage to the cause of human rights. This will distract attention from the real violations committed by the Iraqi army in Kuwait, including the killing of hundreds of people and the imprisonment of thousands of citizens and non-Kuwaiti, hundreds of whom are still missing ”
Why invent such stories as the regime of Saddam Hussein has an abundance of real crimes? And there ‘no doubt it was a brutal dictator, guilty of having tortured and killed thousands – or rather, hundreds of thousands – of innocent people. One explanation could be that stories like the one on “baby killers” are the ‘”hook” for the war propaganda. During World War I, for example, French and British had spread stories (never documented or confirmed) that the German soldiers had shot a child of two years and “cut off the arms of a child left hanging on the clothes of the mother “The story was further embroidered when a French newspaper pubblicoò a drawing of German soldiers who ate mani.
If the organizers of the U.S. war wanted to attack the label of “murderess of infants’ neck of Saddam, they would still have done so honestly. Of the 5,000 people killed by Saddam’s gas in the Iraqi Kurdish village of Halabja in 1988, 75% were women and children. The problem ‘that the story of Halabja and others who saw the use of chemical weapons, took place while Iraq received economic and military support from the United States.
“However, the position of America Halabja and ‘shameful’ said Joost R. Hiltermann at Human Rights Watch, the organization that has conducted extensive investigations on the Halabja affair. In fact, the U.S. State Department even had “instructed diplomats to report that part of the responsibility ‘fell on Iran. The result of this sophistry was that the international community stopped to pick up his calls for a strong condemnation of Iraq for an act as the heinous attack on the World Trade Center. “21
During the campaign for war in 1990, the atrocity at Halabja and the tacit consent of the State Department had become so recent that it would be difficult for the first Bush administration to convince someone of honesty ‘of his moral indignation. Telling the truth would have raised too many awkward questions. The campaign in favor of the war meant to tell the truth about the nature of the regime of Saddam Hussein but to protect themselves from the enormous consequences of that truth was necessary to resort to what Churchill or Rumsfeld would call a “basis of lies.”
Therefore, during the planning of the operation “Desert Storm”, the first Bush Administration has avoided mentioning the Halabja incident, and journalists have rarely spoken.
A database search of the LexisNexis news shows in the United States and the story of Halabja ‘was mentioned in 188 articles during 1988 (the year in which e’ event occurred). and ‘however, was rarely cited in the following year: in 20 articles in 1989 and only 29 in 1990, the year when Saddam invaded Kuwait. In the time interval between the invasion of Kuwait, August 2, 1990 and the end of the operation “Desert Storm”, February 27, 1991, there were only 39 references to Halabja.
In the following decade, the media and ‘references the year was 16. During the presidential election of 2000, there were only 10.
Actually the story is not ‘re-emergence on the U.S. media until September 2002 when the administration of George W. Bush began his public pressure for war in Iraq. Since then, the references begin to increase significantly. The episode of Halabja and ‘was reported only 57 times in February 2003. In March, the month the war began, and it ‘was 145 times. It had been almost 15 years, memories had faded and you could easily talk with gas killing of Iraqi citizens from Saddam. Few reporters who wrote of Halabja in 2002 and 2003 have taken the trouble to mention the fact that Saddam had committed the worst atrocities while the father of the President of the covered financial aid.
In quite another way things went after the story about Nayirah “babies torn from incubators”. According to the same database Lexis-Nexis, the story of babies removed from incubators has received 138 citations during the seven months between the invasion of Kuwait and the end of the operation “Desert Storm”. Immediately after the war, journalists, once gone into Kuwaiti hospitals and collected the testimonies of the hospital staff’s argument that the story was false, they have begun to scale back the original version. After 1992, the history and ‘almost completely disappeared, with an average of just 10 citations per year over the next decade. However, the story of baby resurfaced briefly in December 2002, when HBO passed on to preview a document “based on a true story” titled “Live From Baghdad,” in which he retraced the adventures of Peter Arnett and other journalists CNN during Operation “Desert Storm”.
“Live From Baghdad” included the entire service on Nayirah and statements of some observers, giving the impression that the story was true.
In response to protests raised by the observatory FAIR Media, HBO added a note at the end of the credits, in which it was admitted that “the accusations leveled against Iraqi soldiers removing babies from incubators … have never been proven “.22 Of course, the note and ‘was seen only by the few viewers who read the credits. Prior to insertion of the note, the Washington Post television critic Tom Shales, in his review of “Live From Baghdad,” he wrote: “The horror made vivid in Kuwait returned during a sequence in which [Robert, the producer of CNN ] Wiener and his crew traveling through Kuwait to investigate allegations that Iraqi soldiers would have stripped away the infant incubators during a looting, remember? “.
It would be unfair to point the finger at Shales recalled for a fact never happened. The story of Nayirah on incubators and ‘just another demonstration of a principle long understood by propagandists, that a lie repeated many times ends up being accepted as truth.
John Stauber and ‘the founder and director of the “Center for Media & Democracy”, an institute that analyzes the propaganda waged by corporations and governments. He and Sheldon Rampton publish on the “PR Watch,” the observatory of the U.S. public relations industry.