The first major post-Cold War conflict, the 1991 Gulf war, indicated how much had already changed. Saddam Hussein had enjoyed Western support in Iraq's war against Iran in the 1980s, but was abruptly cast as the 'new Hitler' after his invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. This book is about how the media have interpreted conflict and international intervention in the years after the Cold War. By comparing press coverage of a number of different wars and crises, it seeks to establish which have been the dominant themes in explaining the post-Cold War international order and to discover how far the patterns established prior to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks have subsequently changed. The key concern is with the legitimacy of Western intervention: the aim is to investigate the extent to which Western military action is represented in news reporting as justifiable and necessary. The book presents a study that looks at UK press coverage of six conflicts and the international response to them: two instances of 'humanitarian military intervention' (Somalia and Kosovo); two cases in which the international community was criticised for not intervening (Bosnia and Rwanda); and two post-9/11 interventions (Afghanistan and Iraq). There were a number of overlapping UN and US interventions in Somalia in the early 1990s. Operation Restore Hope was the first major instance of post-Cold War humanitarian military intervention, following the precedent set by the establishment of 'safe havens' for Iraqi Kurds and other minorities at the end of the 1991 Gulf war.
’ for IraqiKurds and other minorities at the
end of the 1991 Gulf war. It forms the core of this case study, although
we shall also look at earlier and later coverage for purposes of
Divided under British, French and
Italian rule during the nineteenth century, Somalia became independent
in 1960, uniting the former British and Italian colonial territories
ours on this side of the border and theirs on the other side.” 13
As for their common Kurdish problem, for decades Turkey and Iraq worked hand in hand imposing restrictions on the Kurds living within their borders (approximately up to one-fifth of the population in each country, altogether around 25 million in Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and in the republics of the ex-Soviet Union – mainly Armenia – making it, globally, “the largest stateless, self-described nation”). 14 During the 1980s, IraqiKurds rebelled against Baghdad while its army was
to a prolonged state of chaos and disorder. Such a state of affairs would ultimately provoke another military coup, putting an end to democracy and isolating Turkey in the international community. This would make foreign intervention on behalf of the Kurds more likely, resulting in the imposition of a sort of a Kurdish “Safe Haven” inside Turkey, similar to the one the United Nations has enforced in northern Iraq for the IraqiKurds. One could question the prudence of these aims and their relevance to Turkey’s realities or to the readiness of the international
worryingly, the courts at home and in Strasbourg have been slow to stem the ﬂow.
I’ll consider here one important case and its implications.
The case of Saadi v. the United Kingdom went to the European Court of Human
Rights (ECHR) via our own House of Lords Appellate Committee. It represents
one of the worst compromises of hard-won due process principles in recent years.
It concerned the practice of ‘fast-tracking’ asylum claims and detaining claimants
pending consideration at Oakington detention centre (referred to as a ‘reception
Mr Saadi is an Iraqi
’s declarations in the spring of 1999 carried a particular weight though, since the war in Kosovo had marked a difference from previous military interventions undertaken by a coalition of states against another state in response to a persistent and systematic violation of fundamental rights. 3 In fact, in the case of the intervention in Iraq to defend the IraqiKurds (1991) and that in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1994–95) the United Nations Security Council had ratified the military operations, but the NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had started without this
to IraqiKurds in 1991. As Rana concludes: “the phenomenon of
armed forces engaging in humanitarian action in the 1990s was a new
and evolving concept” ( 2004 , p. 568). If the assumed history of the relationship
between humanitarians and the military extends only as far back as
1991, it is reasonable to conclude that humanitarians were always
separate from the
is responsible for wasted opportunities in dealing with liberal but Islamic orientations in Sudan and Iran and has led to the immoral practice of persuading one country to invade another either to bring the downfall of a purportedly Islamic government or to prevent such a government from coming into power, as in the invasions of Iran by Iraq and Somalia by Ethiopia. Part of the price tag for attempting to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran was a decade-long silence on Saddam’s intolerable human rights record and his infamous genocide against the IraqiKurds
, directed by Brian Moser, was about the ecstatic Qaderi Dervish cult in a village of refugee IraqiKurds living just over the border in Iran. The consultant anthropologist on the first film was the Sri Lankan anthropologist Gananath Obeyesekere, while on the second film, unusually, there were two consultants, André Singer and the Iranian anthropologist Ali Bulookbashi, both of whom had recently completed postgraduate degrees in social anthropology at Oxford.
In neither of these films was the principal
discredited after the Pergau Dam scandal, and was ended by New Labour.10
Finally, John Major’s government had been scarred by secret arms sales to
Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s repression of the IraqiKurds.11 The ethical
foreign policy and focus on poverty reduction in the Third World were a
conscious attempt to show that New Labour offered something different
from the sleaze and selfishness of its Conservative predecessors.
However, Labour came to power at a time when international approaches, in particular to the Third World, were already being overhauled. Political