The Eastern Daily Press goes to war again
by Ian Sinclair
3 September 2014
What is so impressive about British historian Mark Curtis’s analysis of the ideological framework that dominates discussion of UK foreign policy is just how accurate it continues to be over ten years after he sketched it out in his 2003 book Web of Deceit: Britain’s Real Role in the World. Curtis argues that ‘the ideological system promotes one key concept that underpins everything else – the idea of Britain’s basic benevolence.’ Criticism of foreign policies is possible ‘but within narrow limits which show “exceptions” to, or “mistakes” in, promoting the rule of basic benevolence’.
With this mind, it’s worthwhile turning to the Eastern Daily Press (EDP), a newspaper that has supported every major war the UK has been involved in since Suez. On the current Iraq crisis, the paper faithfully sticks to its traditional pro-war position publishing an editorial on 15 August 2014 with the self-explanatory title ‘We cannot stand by as terrorists march on at great speed’.
On the same day, EDP regular columnist Mark Nicholls (who covered the 2003 Iraq War as the paper’s Defence Correspondent) wrote his column on the Iraq crisis (‘It’s heartbreaking to concede, but we must intervene in Iraq’, Eastern Daily Press, 15 August 2014). Here are some of the key passages from Nicholls’s article, best read with Curtis’s rule above in mind:
- Nicholls on the 2003 US-UK invasion of Iraq: ‘There was an uneasy feeling that once the forces were in situ with Tony Blair and his puppet-master George W Bush convinced that Saddam had a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction – that there was no turning back.’
- Nicholls on the US-UK occupation of Iraq: ‘UK and US forces toiled to sustain an unstable peace until the last British troops left Iraq in 2011 with control fully in the hands of a democratic Iraq.’
- Nicholls on the current Iraq crisis: ‘While it may seem heart-breaking to concede, military intervention is now more necessary than it was in 2003. This is not about regime change and toppling Saddam, it is about preserving all that has been fought for in Iraq for a decade.’
- Nicholls on the current Iraq crisis: ‘To allow what will be a brutal Islamic dictatorship – not unlike the terror administered by the Taliban on Afghanistan – into Iraq will undo all the good that has gone before and compound the mistakes made in the aftermath of the 2003 war where the allies initially failed the Iraqi people because of the lack of a cohesive post-Saddam plan. If action is not taken to halt IS [Islamic State], the ultimate sacrifice of the 179 UK soldiers, and the thousands of US personnel, who gave their lives in trying to restore peace and democracy to Iraq, not to mention hundreds of thousands of civilians who suffered, will have been for nothing.’
On the plus side this kind of unquestioning, unwitting repetition of the British elite’s line should give hope to anyone who aspires to be a journalist. Because if they publish this kind of ignorant, pro-power crap then they’ll publish anything, it would seem.