Guardians of the truth?

If you click on the Guardian story link in the ‘Post-Orientalism” entry below, you’ll find it doesn’t work. Here’s why – from the Guardian’s web site today:

A report which was posted on our website on June 4 under the heading “Wolfowitz: Iraq war was about oil” misconstrued remarks made by the US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, making it appear that he had said that oil was the main reason for going to war in Iraq. He did not say that. He said, “The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil.” The sense was that the US had no economic options by means of which to achieve its objectives, not that the economic value of the oil motivated the war. The report appeared only on the website and has now been removed.

I wonder whether the Guardian got it wrong because they’d really like it to be right? Nope? Fair enough, I don’t want to be uncharitable, so here’s Jonathan Steele excelling himself in the Guardian instead:

One of the UN’s biggest worries is the future of the oil-for-food programme. Around 16 million people, more than 60% of the Iraqi population, depend on it. At the moment the Iraqi government imports food commercially through a UN-supervised programme. It is distributed by Iraqis via 45,000 outlets in every big city in a scheme which is accepted even by the US and the UK as fair and efficient.

Once the first shot is fired, distribution is likely to stop because drivers will fear going into a war zone. The Iraqi government last month gave people two months’ ration but aid agencies say the poorest Iraqis have sold some of it. Even if they do not flee their homes under bombing raids, they will be at risk of hunger. UN officials will be withdrawn from Iraq in advance of the bombing, and there is no guarantee when their programmes will resume. The World Food Programme appealed for $23m to finance “an initial contingency plan” which would stockpile enough food just outside Iraq to give meagre rations for 900,000 people for 10 weeks. “So far only enough is in place for 500,000 for 10 weeks. We have received only $7.5m,” said Trevor Rowe, the WFP spokesman. “We may have to feed more than 10 times the number we appealed for, that is, 10 million people.”
Jonathan Steele, The Guardian, March 10th

And here he is again a month later:

The Pentagon’s failure to plan for the “day after” adds to the anger. Making the time-honoured mistake of re-fighting the last war, the only preparations they made were for food. Air-dropping humanitarian parcels or delivering food by road provides good propaganda images. In a country that had suffered from three years of drought like Afghanistan it also made sense.

Washington did not seem to know Iraq was different. The one thing people are not short of is food, thanks to the monthly rations of basics such as rice, sugar, cooking oil, tea and flour that every Iraqi receives, regardless of income. In a sanctions-damaged economy, 60% rely on the state-run programme and on the eve of war Saddam Hussein sensibly issued up to five months rations in one go.

Instead of concentrating on food aid, the US ought to have prepared teams of water and power engineers, as well as flown in extra troops to prevent the postwar looting that breaks out in every country when regimes collapse (there should have been no surprise here).
Jonathan Steele, The Guardian, April 21st

What a guy!

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