The BBC and the ‘so-called war on terror’.

Frank Gardner, so-called ‘BBC security correspondent’ provides an ‘analysis


Is US winning its war on terror? [emphasis added]

Much has happened in the past 12 months. Some of al-Qaeda’s leading lights have been caught and interrogated. Saddam Hussein is no longer in power in Baghdad. Numerous plots and attacks have been thwarted. And yet, depressingly, the so-called war on terror is still with us. [emphasis added]

If we were to look at this purely in terms of military gains the answer would be obvious. The US has swiftly toppled two governments it considered to be rogue regimes – first in Afghanistan, then in Iraq. The Pentagon’s supremacy on the battlefield is unrivalled and unstoppable. Its troops are holding down a sort of peace in both countries.

But waging a war on terror is a complex business. In fact many in Britain are convinced that the regime of Saddam Hussein, brutal as it was, had little to do with terrorism per se. ….

I would suggest that those who are of Gardner’s view read former Clinton advisor and anti-terror expert Laurie Mylroie’s article as well as new documentary evidence showing a definite link between Iraq and al Qaeda. Why is the Beeb so determinedly disinterested in that sarin which has been confirmed?

Gardner continues with his ‘analysis’–

Since it was President Bush who declared the war on terror two years ago, let us look at the gains and losses from the perspective of his administration.

He goes on to conclude that evident military gains have been clouded by PR losses.

Mr Gardner has an historical affinity for this ‘so-called’ term (from 21 February)

I came here to see for myself how the Pentagon was fighting its so-called “war on terror”. [emphasis added]

Apparently, the BBC does not agree with the proposition that the ‘so-called war on terror’ is a reality. Could they simply acknowledge that whether Bush declared war on the terrorists after 9/11, terrorists had long ago declared war on the West? Or could it be too much of a stretch.

Christopher Hitchens wonders why there is such indifference to stories which disturb the anti-war group-think which the BBC articulates so effortlessly.

So a Sarin-infected device is exploded in Iraq, and across the border in Jordan the authorities say that nerve and gas weapons have been discovered for use against them by the followers of Zarqawi, who was in Baghdad well before the invasion. Where, one idly inquires, did these toys come from? No, it couldn’t be.…

What will it take for the BBC to be convinced that this is a real war?

UPDATE: Could it be that persuading the Beeb that we really are in a war violates their creed? What follows is a portion of The Liberals’ Creed by Robert Alt, now reporting from Iraq.

We believe that there were no WMDs.

We believe that finding sarin gas is 14th page news;

We believe that if the sarin gas is old, then it really isn’t a WMD we were looking for;

We believe that it wasn’t really sarin gas;

We believe that sarin gas isn’t necessarily a WMD.

We believe that there was no terrorist connection to, or threat from, Iraq.

We believe that members of Abu Nidal in Iraq would not have committed terrorist acts if we had not invaded;

We believe that al Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would not have committed terrorist acts if we had not invaded;

We believe that Saddam’s terrorist training camp at Salman Pak—complete with a Boeing 707 plane used for hijacking drills—did not exist or posed no real threat;

We believe that it was merely a coincidence that the pharmaceutical factory bombed by President Clinton in Sudan was using al Qaeda funds and a uniquely Iraqi formula to produce VX gas;

We believe that we are responsible for bringing terror on ourselves.

We believe that the prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib is widespread and is probably the tip of the iceberg;

We believe that Abu Ghraib proves that the America’s occupation is no different than Saddam’s tyranny;

We believe that any attempt to suggest that there is a moral difference between a regime which systematically killed 300,000 people and tortured countless others and a regime which punished the acts of Abu Ghraib is illegitimate.

Yes, it seems like a BBC statement of faith– rarely articulated but never abandoned. (Hat Tip No Left Turns)

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34 Responses to The BBC and the ‘so-called war on terror’.

  1. Miffed Scot says:

    THE BBC was today branded arrogant and immature over its refusal to
    hand over tapes to Lord Fraser’s inquiry into the Holyrood building

    In a blistering attack, John Campbell QC, counsel for the inquiry,
    said the BBC had subordinated the public interest to its own private


  2. David Vance says:

    If Bin Laden himself piloted an aircraft into BBC headquarters itself, the BBC would

    a/ Blame America
    b/ Blame Israel
    c/ Seek to understand the “root causes” of Jihadi terrorism.

    The BBC has taken up a position in “its” war against the US which necessitates that it plays down the good news from Iraq whilst screeching bad news. George W said “You are either with us or against us” Now where might the BBC be located? Mmmm…


  3. David Field says:

    Think you;re being a bit over sensitive. I’ve heard Gardner tell it straight on a radio chat show. He says the terror is an Islam-inspired terror. I’ve always had the impression he is well connected with the security services.

    I don’t think any supporter of the Iraq war could claim it has been well handled after the initial victory. To say Iraq is a diversion from the war against terror would not be unfair.

    Gardner has to play a double game in the world of teh BBC-Guardian elite. So I think he probably slips in these code words every now and again to avoid suspicion.

    David Field


  4. marc says:

    We should not have to pay for this garbage.

    Hilary Andersson writes on BBC website today about the ethnic cleansing in the Sudan and ends with this:

    “…and wondered, after Rwanda and Bosnia, why Darfur is being allowed to happen? ”

    To which I answered:

    The BBC, The Guardian, the left, the anti-war movement and the appeasenicks all bemoan the atrocities committed around the world. But what do you do about it? You give it lip service and do not lift a finger to help. You look to the UN as your saviour. The same UN that let Rawanda happen, the same UN that caused thousands to die in Iraq via their oil-for-food scandal.

    But what do you do when the US tries to stop these atrocities? You condemn us, call us impearlist, war mongers, it’s all about oil, the evil empire, and Satan.

    So, Hilary, the question is not why don’t we stop atrocities like Darfur, the questions is why does the BBC condemn those who try and help?


  5. billg says:

    As Marc indicated, there is a fundamental hypocrisy in the positions of those who condemn U.S. action in Iraq and elsewhere while simultaneously condemning lack of U.S. action in other areas.

    Their constant upholding of the UN banner must be only an attempt to advance their own partisan political agendas. Even they must realize that the UN has failed to meet the intent of its founders and its Charter. The UN is a failure because it is powerless to take military action unless it has the approval, the support, the troops and the weaponry of the powers on the Security Council. Those powers will, like every sovereign state, act first in their own interests and, second, in the interests of the UN.


  6. Anonymous says:

    The BBC’s treatment of America ie downplay any good news highlight any news it deems to be bad, is the exact opposite of it’s treatment of the EU.
    And we all have to pay for this liberal-left propaganda!


  7. Peter Bolton says:

    Oops sorry-that shgould not have beem anonymous.


  8. YOY says:

    Bit OT
    At the risk of overmaking the point of BBC bias but… why does the BBC describe Blunkett as ‘defending’ his position re Capn Hook

    ”Blunkett defends UK Hamza probe.
    Abu Hamza, was remanded in custody
    Home Secretary David Blunkett has defended the UK’s actions over radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza, who is facing 11 terror charges in the US.”

    Why not simply ‘Blunkett explains reasons for probe.’

    (Rhetorical question btw)


  9. billg says:

    Sorta OT, two headlines from today’s (28 May) BBC website reflect bias or incompetence, or both:

    A story now stealthly headlined “Inuit survival battle against US base” was earlier described as an Inuit struggle to regain “their land”. (Nice to see the BBC is adjudicating international disputes.) The U.S. has a military installation there, bsaed on an agreement with the folks who own Greenland, Denmark. Kudos to the Beeb for getting an editor into the process, if hours after the fact.

    In a story headlined “Nxon ‘too drunk’ for Cold War crisis chat”, the phrase “too drunk” appears only in the BBC-supplied lede. The actual quote — in a story about the release of Heny Kissinger’s Nixon White House phone conversations — was “too loaded”. Now, odds are “loaded” does mean “drunk” in this case, but shouldn’t BBC let that judgment remain in the hands of its readers and reflect the quote accurately? How many times have BBC headlines quoted words authored by the BBC?


  10. MissJessel says:

    OT, sent in to the current (Don’t) Have Your Say thread on the Sudanese peace agreement:

    “Note to Patamia of Ghana: The US oil companies could have signed oil deals with the Khartoum government at anytime in the past 22 years of war. We did not, but plenty of European, Canadian and Asian oil companies have done so over the past two decades. European oil companies active in the Sudan for years include a joint venture partly owned by British Petroleum; France’s Total Final Elf and Sweden’s Lundin oil.

    Shame on you, Have Your Say Team, for continuing to print such ignorant comments in practically every thread. Do you have some kind of weekly anti-American comment quota to fill or something? You don’t seem to be content with commenting on our real sins but seem obliged to print comments on made-up sins too. Sickening!”

    (Submitted in response to the obligatory comment, published in nearly every thread, accusing the US of lusting after this or that Third World country’s oil


  11. JohninLondon says:

    Now the BBC is appearing to criticise the choice of new provisional leader for Iraq, a choice made by the governing Council, NOT by the BBC’s beloved UN.

    All the BBC reports have been raising queries about the decision, none of them reflect the Iraqi disgust and impatience with the corrupt and now cowardly UN.

    And to back this up, guess which newspaper comments the BBC chooses to highlight in its review of the press. The Independent and the Guardian, both whining about the sidelining of the UN’s reresentative, who is of course a Sunni, hardly a propitious choice.

    Quelle surprise. They don’t give a damn about the Iraqis, they just want to peddle their anti-US prejudice.


  12. MissJessel says:

    On this day when we Americans pause to remember our war dead (including the half-million lives we “donated” to the cause of European stability and prosperity in two World Wars,) the BBC online hits bottom — and DIGS.

    Check out the last sentence:

    “Our Rome correspondent David Willey says 60 years on, some Italians are asking whether America’s armed forces should still be classified as liberators.”

    Truly, jaw-droppingly, sickening. Thank God all my WWII-era relatives fought in the Pacific and not for the sake of any of the whey-faced little Commie shits who run Pravda on the Thames. Up yours BBC, and that goes double — triple — quadruple — for the horse you rode in on!!!!


  13. Peter Bolton says:

    Why has the BBC recently taken to describing terrorists as ‘militants’?


  14. john b says:

    MissJessel: the question raised in the article you reference is whether the US Army of 2004 is following in the footsteps of the brave men who gave or risked their lives in 1944 to save the world from unspeakable badness, or whether it can no longer be seen as following in that tradition of liberation.

    Still, any excuse to throw a hissy fit…

    (BTW, I didn’t realise until yesterday that there were more British front line troops than Americans in the D-Day landings – must be the anti-American media implying it was US-dominated)


  15. Andrew Hirst says:

    I like some of the pieces on here, but the part in this one talking about sarin and the lack of BBC coverage is crap. Even the US govt hasnt made a big deal of this as they realise the shell was empty and that when it exploded the sarin content was extremely low – other reports have suggested that it might have been left over from the Iran/Iraq war, but yet again no mention of that in this report. Where is the context in this piece of ‘journalism’?

    If you’re going to slam the Beeb then get your facts right, or dont bother.


  16. THFC says:

    Gardner’s piece looks pretty well balanced and informative to me. The evidence for Iraq-Al Quaeda links and any continuing widespread sarin programme is extremely weak to non straw clutchers.

    The piece MissJessel highlights is abysmal though. The US should be able to remember its war dead without snide comments and no matter what your politics the US input into WWII should be remembered and appreciated.

    Americans are hardly alone in having a limited historical perspective of the War. There was a comment on here recently about D day being the ‘decisive battle of the 20th Century’. Heard of Stalingrad?


  17. john b says:

    THFC – indeed. It’s quite wrong that we in Britain annually honour the Americans who died to liberate Europe while not doing the same for the (ten times as many) Russians who did the same…


  18. billg says:

    Certainly, John B, every soldier who fought for the Allies in WW2 should be homored and remembered, But, we should also remember that both the Red and British military were dependent on hardware and equipment — weapons, plans, ships, trucks, etc. –supplied by the U.S. It would, in fact, be very difficult to make a case for Britain’s prospects against Germany absent massive U.S. aid and support. Go see what Mr. Churchill says about it.

    Now, I’m a Yank who had the good fortune to live in the UK for a few years. Frankly, I don’t remember anyone at all taking note of Memorial Day, much less forgetting to remember British losses.

    The truth is that we should memorialize the sacrifices made in WW2 as, simply, free peoples. It matters little what country we live in. In fact, that kind of prideful and misplaced nationalism is the root of the bigotry that fueled Naziism and fascism.

    It also lies behind the obvious spitefulness of your post.


  19. JohninLondon says:

    We also owe the US for the sixty years of NATO defence against the Russian menace that Churchill spoke of at Fulton in 1946. And Europe owes for all the Marshall Plan aid.

    The US is entitled to a touch more respect than the BBC deigns to give it.


  20. john b says:

    “Obvious spitefulness” – my word, I’d forgotten how thin skins are round here.

    We don’t commemerate Memorial Day in the UK, because it’s an American holidy (do you guys commemmorate 11/11?). We do *rightly* stress – from primary school onwards – the vital role the US paid in liberating Europe and defending the UK. We don’t stress the vital role that the Russians paid in providing the people to defeat the Germans in the bloodiest war of attrition ever.

    We’d have lost without the Yanks. We’d have lost without the Ruskies. One of these rightly gets remembered, one wrongly doesn’t. This is wrong. That is all.

    & my “root of bigotry that fueled Naziism and fascism” (does that invoke the Godwin corrolary?) comment was merely surprise and amazement at finding out yesterday that Overlord featured more British troops than US troops (and vague suspicion that Hollywood might have a role in my previous false perception…)


  21. THFC says:

    Not sure whether you’ve been watching too many bad films but I’m British and I certainly don’t remember being taught much about the US war input. Up to a pretty advanced age the WWI and WWII education I had was of the ‘Britain alone against evil’ variety. In contrast my American mates seem to have had it drummed into them that the US ‘saved’ Europe singlehandedly and Russian colleagues are barely aware of the existence of the Western front.

    Pretty sad really.


  22. Kerry says:

    Andrew Hirst wrote:
    “….Even the US govt hasnt made a big deal of this as they realise the shell was empty and that when it exploded the sarin content was extremely low – other reports have suggested that it might have been left over from the Iran/Iraq war, but yet again no mention of that in this report….

    A couple of points–
    1) The US gov’t. is very conservative on points like these because they’ve been burnt before. Sarin was confirmed.
    2) Press accounts note that sarin content was not ‘low’ but was the normal 3 to 5 litres. This is fact. The chemicals did not properly mix.
    3) The point being–why is the BBC so uncurious about this story when it is a major issue of the war? Whether or not other media outlets are interested is not my concern here. The Beeb is in focus.

    Thanks for your feedback.


  23. MissJessel says:

    John b, no one expects Brits to celebrate our Memorial Day, and I wasn’t suggesting that you do (where do the leftish people who comment here get these totally absurd ideas?) (BTW We DO celebrate 11/11 as Veteran’s Day — formerly known as Armistice Day, the commemoration of the end of WWI in which we lost 116,000 lives.)

    Memorial Day was founded to commemorate the end of the American Civil war in which neither Britain nor any other European country took part, and in which we lost 750,000 lives. So obviously, no we don’t expect any other nation to take part in it.

    However. the BBC CHOSE to cover OUR celebration of OUR Memorial Day, and use it as a tacky opportunity to insert their usual snide anti-American propaganda in it. I’m certainly within my rights to express disgust at their coverage. Which I did. Even THFC admits it was abysmal.


  24. billg says:

    John B:

    As part of a discussion of WW2 that began on Memorial Day. you create a post with this quote: “…wrong that we in Britain annually honour the Americans who died to liberate Europe.” Why shouldn’t readers assume your talking about Memorial Day? (And, the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” is marked in the States as Armistice Day, a national holiday.)

    Yes, we should never forget the tens millions of Russians and other Soviet citizens who died defeating the Nazis. The fact that the behavior of Soviet leaders differed only marginally from the behavior of Hitler surely has something to do with that.

    I take your point about Hollywood and D-Day. But Hollywood creates entertainment, not history. Most American impressions of the UK are gathered from British TV and movies, which, I’d argue, are no more reflective of reality that anything out of Hollywood. Nor should they be.


  25. billg says:


    For most Americans, WW2 began on Dec. 7, 1941. For Brits, Poles, and the rest of Europe, it is 1939. For the Chinese, it is 1937, if not earlier. Such are the attributes of nationalism

    However, American histories of the war typically focus much attention on the UK’s isolated position after the fall of France. Those who know the war’s history know the price the UK paid.

    I believe that, in terms of deaths as a percentage of population, the Poles suffered most. No one really knows how many Chinese died at the hands of the Japanese, who routinely massacred Chinese prisoners and civilians, sometimes using them for bayonet practice. (At war’s end, only 56 Chinese PoW’s were found alive.)


  26. Laban Tall says:

    off topic

    the BBC presenter who refused to open a village fete because there was a stall run by a Christian group…


  27. rob says:

    Our Orla reports from Baghdad on BBC1 10pm News.
    She wants us to know that the interim government are US stooges, like the governing council before them.
    She shows gunmen in the street & rhetorically questions whether they will lay down their arms for a government other than of their choosing. She doesn’t suggest what type of government that would be, but because of her cynical view on the interim government she makes it seem that the gunmen are struggling for “real” democracy.


  28. Jon S says:

    BBC is amodern day lord Haw Haw, the coverage this morning (2nd June) was quite possibly the biggest American bashing event yet. Also how the world now hates Britain according to some shoddy BBC ‘poll’.Is someone with power is reading this then for the love of god shut the BBC down their revolting!


  29. john b says:

    If I were in power, I’d be slightly reluctant to shove the BBC down my revolting.

    BTW, the poll wasn’t “the world hates Britain”, it was “British people think the world hates them”. Maybe you should take this up with the British people.

    Billg: thanks for appreciating some of my points. I’m still underimpressed by your criticism based on selective quoting – “it’s wrong to cross the road without looking” does not shorten to “it’s wrong to cross the road”.


  30. Susan says:

    Laban Tall, that’s disgraceful, but fully in line with the BBC’s general anti-Christian bigotry.

    PS — congrats on the blog. I visit often.

    Jon S — what was so particularly foul about the June 2 coverage?


  31. Joe says:

    What about their “so called” metrics?


  32. Joe says:

    John: in a way we do celebrate rememberance day. It used to be day off for many, and in some areas people adopted the Commonwealth habit of wearing poppies which also speaks of our closeness to Canadians. It’s easy for me to remember, as it’s my late dad’s birthday.
    Then again, things have changed. I’m told by a business associate that Canada Day itself is a holiday but not a day off, the nearest monday or friday is. Not much of a celebration of establishment of a nation. We’ve caught that virus as well. Thankfully not on Independance Day.