Certain people on the left think they can dismiss all the evidence that Mummar Gaddafi is guilty of using massive violence against his people by the use of the term "demonization" and by reference to the Nayirah episode where false stories about Iraqi troops in Kuwait throwing babies out of incubators was widely reported the 1990 built up to the first Gulf War.
This comment on the HPost in response to Gaddafi Forces Firing On Civilians In Misrata is typical:
“Right, and are they throwing babies out of incubators yet? How easy it is to sway public opinion with a few "news" stories.”
How easy it is to dismiss charges of atrocities today with throwaway references to the propaganda lies of the past.
In view of the fact that a number of people seem to be using this incubator comparison to deny all the reports that Gaddafi is committing war crimes and those same people are withholding support for a people's just struggle against a police state dictatorship, I think this comparison needs to be given more than a passing glance to see if it really holds water.
The "incubator allegations" were made after the Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait in 1990. They played an important role in mobilizing US public support for the first Gulf War. The story was that the Iraqi's were so brutal in their looting of Kuwait that in one case 23 babies had died because Iraqi soldiers had thrown them out of incubators so that the machines could be shipped back to Iraq.
The story was told first on September 2, 1990 in a letter from Kuwait's UN rep to the UN Secretary General. Some evacuees also described looting "even infant incubators." On September 5, the Kuwaiti health minister, then in exile in Saudi Arabia told the tale at a press conference. That same day the UN rep backed up the health minister with another letter to the Secretary General. But what really sealed the deal was when "Nurse Nayirah" testified in front of the US Congress that she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers take babies out of incubators, take the incubators, and leave the babies to die. "Dirty Iraqi Looters Throw Babies on the Floor!" The Media took it an ran with it. People were outraged.
Years latter it came out that it was all a Big Lie. According to wikipedia:
It is a misinformation campaign created by the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton for promoting the entry into the war by the western powers against Iraq.
And "Nurse Nayirah" turned out to be the daughter of the Kuwati ambassador to the US. She was lying, as were the letter writers and other operatives of the Kuwaiti government. No babies died, no babies were thrown out of incubators. This so-called "war crime" turned out to be 100% fraud.
Which is not to say that all reports of war crimes are false or can be rendered so by reference to incubators. So let's dig a little deeper and look at the supports for those allegations then and how they compare with the one's that are being made now.
In the case of the "incubator" story we have the testimony of two Kuwait government officials plus the very dramatic testimony of the an "eye witness" and maybe a few "evacuees.", so the whole story rested only on the word of a few people. There were no pictures offered. No video. Of course, this was twenty years ago and before the Internet. That would never fly now. The only video was shot by Hill & Knowlton of "Nurse Natirah" before congress and they made sure that got shown around. This one story also stood out because it wasn't just one of many similar tales being told at the time.
The thing that is so very different today is the technology, especially the Internet and the very wide distribution of cameras that can talk to it. This means that the uprising in North Africa and the Middle East have been cover in depth and in detail like no other event in human history. If one is willing to take the time and do the research you will find almost everything of significant is recorded by multiple videos from independent non-media sources. Look at the cell phone videos on many protests, shootings, struggles, etc. you will see in them other cell phones recording the same event. Many of these get posted directly to the Internet by the those that recorded them. The shear impossibility of 'faking' so much supporting material really precludes an incubator type story.
But that doesn't preclude those that refuse to believe what they are being shown with their own eyes from dismissing it with some reference to "incubators." That is how one writer handles a CBS News story:
Remember the "The Kuwaiti Incubator Baby Hoax" used against Iraq/Saddam? Here's the same spin from MSM about Libya/Gaddafi:
Libyan: Qaddafi forces shoot hospital patients
A resident of the increasingly violent Libyan capital of Tripoli told CBS Radio News Thursday that armed supporters of Muammar Qaddafi, the country's longtime leader, have stormed into hospitals to shoot wounded demonstrators and take dead bodies to an unknown location.
"They go in with guns into hospitals," said the resident, identified only as Adel to protect his safety. "They take the bodies that are dead. In some hospitals, they have shot the wounded. This is true. I know it's very strange for the States, but this is happening today in Tripoli."...
What gives it away is this stup!d bit: "take dead bodies to an unknown location". Like they have nothing better to do!
But if he had not been so quick to dismiss these serious allegations of war crimes and looked for other sources for this story, Arab sources, he would have found them, and with them many more details than in the more easily dismissed CBS version. For example, from yaLibnan Gaddafi forces execute hospital patients, bomb mosque
Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi stormed hospitals in Tripoli and summarily executed injured anti-regime protestors who were being treated, a report said Thursday. Members of the Libyan Revolutionary Committee, the backbone of Gaddafi’s regime, “burst in hospitals and killed wounded people who had protested against the regime,” said Slimane Bouchuiguir, who leads the Libyan branch of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), cited by Italian news agency MISNA.
“They transported the corpses to make them disappear, perhaps to burn them, because they know that foreign journalists are moving closer,” he said of the incidents that took place Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Doctors who objected were threatened,” he added.
The account reached Bouchuiguir in Switzerland, where the rights group is based, because independent organizations are banned in Libya under Qaddafi’s 41-year rule.
While this UK Guardian report gives some supporting evidence:
In the Khadra hospital in Tripoli, the opposition's injured are visibly absent. The only wounded people on view are supporters of the regime, who claim to have been shot by "bearded men" – shorthand for the Islamists whom the regime blames for the country's uprising.
The journalists confront Dr Hawas. He is asked about the other casualties of recent violence in the city, from the districts of Tajoura and Fashloum, from which reports of attacks have come.
He admits that, if there are casualties from those places, they would be brought here. So where are they? He looks nervous and breaks into a visible sweat. "I don't know," he answers finally.
In the corridors of the Khadra, other staff speak, unseen by the minders. They suggest that more victims did come in, perhaps as many as 25. That leaves a deficit of injured people.
There are grim rumours – though they are no more than that – that at other hospitals in Libya the opposition wounded have been taken by police.
Opponents of the regime who live abroad alleged five days ago that forces loyal to the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi stormed hospitals in Tripoli and summarily executed injured anti-regime protestors who were being treated. The claim is impossible to verify, but what is true is that they have fed a sense of fear and paranoia.
So this story may have a little more substance than the incubator story and probably shouldn't be dismissed so easily. Especially since there are many other reports of Gaddafi attacks on hospitals, like this raw video on YouTube:
[SAVE-LIBYA] Injured Babies Children's Hospital Bombed By Gaddafi in Misratah, Libya (23/03/2011) which was uploaded on Apr. 10, 2011
Which gets the comment:
I remember stories that were put out before the Gulf War of evil Iraqi soldiers killing small babies in Kuwait and all that jazz. Now we see this rubbish again. ALthough one baby has a harelip, and both are dusty. Is this Misratah? Could be anywhere in the Arab world...
TheSuperpig66 2 weeks ago
This time there is video, clearly there are babies in distress in the video but it is dismissed as an elaborate fake. But if one cares to spend a little time investigating rather than dismissing it's not too hard to find other supports for the above claim. This video, for example was uploaded on the same day by somebody else:
Children's Hospital Babies Bombed By Gaddafi Today In Misratah Libya 23/03/2011
and this one from yet a third source showing the injured babies being treated:
If you know anything about filmmaking then you will know how difficult and expensive it would be to produce these three videos if they are not what they purport to be. And these are just three videos about one attack and there are hundreds of videos and pictures and blog accounts and recordings about many many instances of Gaddafi war crimes. This is a far cry from a few government official spinning a tale about incubators and these Gaddafi supporters should stop denying these babies their sympathies by the easy device of a comfortable people in some off-hand reference to incubators.