My observation that “One of the most striking features of the war so far has been the fact that, on a wide range of issues, Iraqi official statements have been a more reliable source of information than those of the US and allied governments” drew some derision from my friendly nemesis, Jason Soon, though he did not give any counterarguments. Following the same line, Catallaxy contributors Heath Gibson and Jack Strocchi reproduced as fact British reports of an uprising in Basra, despite denials not only from Iraqi officials but from the much more credible Al-Jazeera. The same reports predicted an imminent British assault in support of the rising.
A day later, the British defence minister, Geoff Hoon is quoted as saying the situation is ‘unclear’, and there has been no move to assist the putative rising with ground troops, as opposed to shelling. Either the Shias have been left in the lurch yet again or, as seems more likely, the original reports were bogus, just like:
The crowds cheering the liberation of Safwan
The Scud attacks on Kuwait
The effortless victory at Umm Qasr
The effortless victory at Nasariyah
The chemical weapons factory at Al Najaf
The surrender of entire Iraqi divisions
The 8000 prisoners taken in the first two days
This would be bad enough if these falsehoods were the product of deliberate propaganda aimed at shoring up public support. The worst of it is that the Coalition leaders believe them and act on them, producing yet more disasters.
And as I write this comes the news of a Coalition hit on a crowded market in Baghdad – shades of Sarajevo.