Looking for the exit

Others have posted about use and abuse of casualty statistics on last night’s Panorama programme. It is odd that the BBC should reportedly promise not to broadcast what they then nevertheless did. The body of the programme was in keeping: emphatically-presented bad news for the coalition, about all the many obstacles to the coalition’s finding an exit strategy

‘to let them withdraw from Iraq in reasonably good order with at least some of their war aims intact’

It all made an unlikely prelude to John Simpson’s closing remarks. Any viewer who turned off before the end would have concluded that the BBC thought coalition failure likely, or even inevitable. John, it would seem, thinks otherwise:

However it would be wrong to conclude from all this that the process is bound to fail. In fact, I think it is bound to succeed. It’s just a pity that it has been so badly botched by so many people along the way.”

John has more insight than some in the BBC and this may represent his exit strategy for them from the situation in which their coverage of the last two years has placed them. If, a few years hence, Iraq has not subsided into chaos or a brutal regime like Saddam’s, they could still claim that the process of moving from Saddam to the present was so badly botched by so many people that it nevertheless fully merited all the hostile coverage it got.

This strategy could allow the BBC to withdraw from the Iraq issue in reasonably good order with at least some of its aims intact. It will face some difficulties, not least because it has been, and will probably continue to be, so badly botched by so many in the BBC along the way. However it would be wrong to conclude from this that the process is bound to fail. In fact, within the BBC itself at least, I fear it is bound to succeed. Less so with me, however. The Iraq war would be unique in military history if it had no foul-ups. But I shall rely on sources other than the BBC to tell me what they were.

[All quotations noted from memory after the programme.]

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3 Responses to Looking for the exit

  1. marc says:

    I read an interesting point on another blog recently, sorry I forget which one.

    No matter how many mistakes the US has made in Iraq, at least we are doing something, pushing democracy along, and not just sitting about doing nothing. If the rest of the world had its way Saddam would still be in power and the Iraqis enslaved. Now they are free. I’ll take that mistake any day.


  2. ed says:

    Yes- the BBC always provides an escape clause for itself. The fact that this naturally comes against the run of play demands a detailed criticism in order to prove the imbalance.

    It sometimes seems that they don’t really directly wish the coalition failure, but they want it to be as hard as possible to succeed. Then again, if that ultimately means failure rather than success, so much the better. Only a kind of traitorousness, I suppose.


  3. Neil Craig says:

    The PS highlights the inherent problem in deciding are the 2 sides to a problem.

    In this case should we (a) protect scientists from intimidation or(b) not. Once you pose the question you limit the answers.
    Alternately (a) should we let terrorist steal peoples bodies or (b) interrogate forcefully everybody who is a member of such groups “equivocal” of atrocities.
    I’m not sure what the answer would be in the latter case but I sure it would concentrate minds wonderfully.