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Letter To Helen Boaden - Grozy Assault - Orwellian Newspeak

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Post Post subject: Letter To Helen Boaden - Grozy Assault - Orwellian Newspeak Reply with quote

The presenter on Newsnight (11/08/2008) said...

"The Russians are calling it a peace enforcement operation, it's the kind of Newspeak that would make George Orwell proud."

It's funny because I don't recall the BBC ever talking about US operations in the same way. When was the last time the BBC called the phrase"Winning Hearts and Minds" Newspeak?

Can we expect the BBC in future to suggest that US or UK official statements/justifications for war are Orwellian Newspeak or is this kind of analysis solely reserved for official enemies such as Russia?

This is far from the only example of the "gloves coming off" when it comes to reporting on official enemies. For example, compare the clinical and dispassionate BBC reporting on the US assault on Fallujah with this BBC report on the Russian assault on Grozy in 1999 (very similar situations).

"I had already witnessed the consequences of Russia's pitiless bombardment of its own citizens."

"Grozny was once a city of half a million people. Now it is torn down, crushed and violated."

"Of the hundreds of thousands of people who once lived here, but a handful remain, eking out a perilous existence in the fetid basements of crumbling housing blocs."

"It is thought as many as 40,000 people may have still been in the city at the height of the inferno. How many of them were incinerated, crushed by falling masonry or shredded by shrapnel nobody yet knows. "

"Moscow excused itself the trouble of worrying about such details by equating those who stayed on with terrorists. "

"But it was no choice at all. Many were too old, too sick or too weak to move. Some never saw the leaflets telling them to leave and others did not want to go. Grozny was their only home."

"Why should they go? By what right was the Russian army forcing them from their homes? So Russia could destroy what it itself dismissed as a handful of terrorists?"

Grozny was surrounded in 1999 much like Fallujah was surrounded in November 2004. In both cases the official goal was to defeat the fighters within and in both cases they numbered just a few thousand. While surrounding Grozny, Russian forces urged civilians to leave and even dropped leaflets. US forces did the same in November 2004 as reported by the BBC.

"The US military has been warning residents of Falluja through loudspeakers and leaflets to leave the city. "

After the US dropped the leaflets, there was a distinct absence of BBC journalists saying "Why should they go? By what right was the US army forcing them from their homes?"

In the case of Fallujah, the BBC wrote the following article.

Fixing the Problem of Fallujah

I can't seem to find an article titled "Fixing the Problem of Grozny" and even if I could, I doubt it would have the same dispassionate and factual tone to it.

Since Russia is an official enemy, the BBC are allowed to get fist-shakingly angry about its military tactics and throw words like "brutal" around.


"Media coverage of the recent conflict is also far more restricted. That means the Russian military is free to act with much greater brutality."

"Mr Putin sent the army back to subdue the republic by force in a second brutal campaign which, despite Russian claims of victory, has yet to reach a conclusion."

"BBC correspondent Paul Anderson says it will hear harrowing accounts of indiscriminate brutality against Chechen civilians by Russian forces."

"By its brutal use of force in Chechnya, and its uncompromising political stance, Moscow has managed to alienate all voices of reason in Chechnya."

I'm sure you can see that the BBC adopts a completely different tone when it comes to Russian military adventures. The gloves come off. Reporters are allowed to get angry. Official statements are analysed, second-guessed and even referred to as Orwellian Newspeak. I am looking forward to future BBC articles using the words Brutal, Orwellian and Newspeak in the context of US/UK operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. How long am I going to have to wait?
Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:45 am
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