In a war of information and perception, the truth no longer matters. It is all about the message and in Libya, the regime is coming out on top. - Times, 11th August
Strange words indeed from Deborah Haynes, defence editor at the Times, in a piece bemoaning the snafu that is our latest war (Full article in comments, below). It's an odd column, listing the following points as presentational problems for Nato and the Libyan rebels...
1. Nato forces have killed quite a lot of kids in Tripoli recently. Additionally, Nato's bombing campaign is causing major medical shortages, power cuts and petrol shortfalls for the civilian population.
2. Gaddafi's stooges on TV are making much hay from these facts.
3. The rebels claimed they'd killed one of Gaddafi's sons, when he is in fact alive and well.
4. The rebels are disorganised, fractious and appear to have a Jihadist problem.
5. Our record of having bombed a whole series of Muslim countries this decade is making it very easy for Gaddafi's stooges on TV to portray Nato as crusaders and aggressors.
6. The failure of a coup to materialise is being exploited by Gaddafi's stooges as evidence that there is no majority desire to end Gaddafi's reign.
7. This means that the rebels' challenge appears fatally flawed and that Nato are after Libya's oil, and that
This is a huge Propaganda Fail on Nato's part.
Well. Let's note here that, while Haynes bemoans all of these points as propaganda problems, she doesn't actually bother to question their accuracy at all.
To pick a few of these points - Britain and France are not leading a holy Christian war and are probably not primarily motivated by lust for Libya's resources. Nonetheless, Nato does appear to be killing quite a lot of kids and intentionally depriving the citizenry of medicine and fuel; the rebels are fractious and disorganised, and so on. Further, the failure of a coup to materialise may actually mean that there's no majority desire in Tripoli to end Gaddafi's reign.
The problems raised here are, for the most part, facts and not inconvenient lies promulgated by a tyrant's pet broadcaster.
The quote at the top of this post - "In a war of information and perception, the truth no longer matters" - would be a tiresome truism were it made by a disinterested observer. Far from being disinterested, The Times has been the foremost cheerleader for the Libyan war from the start, bigging up our chances of quick victory and egging on intervention like Manchester United's prawn-sandwich brigade in hospitality.
For the defence editor of the Times to disavow the importance of truth itself in piece which essentially concedes that the entire war is a travesty is... interesting, to say the least.