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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:

Misuratah Misrata baby infected in the hospital from of 3-23-2011 Free Libya!

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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

    by Clay Claiborne on Sat May 07, 2011 at 08:39:02 AM PDT

  •  Gaddafi and the government of Bahrain (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DennisMorrison, wu ming, joanneleon

    have murdered wounded revolutionaires and the medical personnel who dared to treat them.

    In both cases, the evidence is overwhelming, and damning.

    Our response should be consistent.

    It's surprisingly hard to have a reasonable conversation with a person who considers you a cockroach and publicly fantasizes about killing you with neurotoxins.

    by JesseCW on Sat May 07, 2011 at 08:45:39 AM PDT

    •  One of the (wise, IMO) preconditions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Actuary4Change

      for R2P (Responsibility to Protect) is that the action is countenanced by the international community. Bahrain does not meet that standard at this point in time. That is an important difference.

      In any event, if I can help an old lady cross the street I'll do it, even though I cannot help every old lady cross every street. We do what we can.

      I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

      by doc2 on Sat May 07, 2011 at 09:50:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  NATO has gone far beyond what is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JesseCW, scilicet

        countenanced by the international community IMHO.

        For a month they did nothing. They gave Gaddafi plenty of space to dispatch the opposition with military violence. John Kerry suggested that two bombs cratering two runaways could save a lot of lives. Still they did nothing. After Gaddafi failed to put down the uprising with massive violence and it was becoming clear that he could not, they started out with 102 cruise missiles.

        Whatever the rhetoric, the NATO mission is not about R2P unless it means Road to Petroleum.

        Here's a very interesting take on NATO's role that I found while forging material for this dairy. I hoped to fit it in but didn't. In any case, I think it is worth considering on it's own merits. It is all the more interesting because it was written before NATO got involved:

        I think that Libya is different from Tunisia & Egypt in a sense that in both Tunis & Egypt establishment ended up with power control and managed to change face only, but in Libya there is no possible face change, West has no alternative for Qazafi, so I think they will monitor closely and when forces loyal to people are near win, UN mandated invasion will take place to keep their control on oil rich nation-

        They will not just sit & watch and let people take control so easily-
        Posted 2 months ago on 26 Feb 2011 11:41 #

        Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

        by Clay Claiborne on Sat May 07, 2011 at 10:38:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That doesn't adress my comment in any way (0+ / 0-)

        shape or form.

        It's surprisingly hard to have a reasonable conversation with a person who considers you a cockroach and publicly fantasizes about killing you with neurotoxins.

        by JesseCW on Sat May 07, 2011 at 10:42:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  BTW - that you think killing your fellow (0+ / 0-)

        human beings is in any way analogous to helping elderly women cross the street pretty much makes it clear why you and I are not likely to ever engage in meaningful or productive conversation.

        Our values are simply to widely divergent.

        It's surprisingly hard to have a reasonable conversation with a person who considers you a cockroach and publicly fantasizes about killing you with neurotoxins.

        by JesseCW on Sat May 07, 2011 at 10:43:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Moammar Gaddafi is not my (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Actuary4Change

          "fellow human being". Therein lies the difference between you and I. I accept that there is real evil in the world, and that we either kill evil people, or we allow evil people to kill. I repeat, he is not my fellow anything.

          I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

          by doc2 on Sat May 07, 2011 at 10:47:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You're right. I believe that I am not (3+ / 0-)

            fit to judge who is or is not human.

            You believe you are.

            And that difference is so fundamental that it obscures utterly any commonalities between us.

            You are as much my enemy as are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and for exactly the same reasons.

            I understand this.  I hope that you do, too.

            It's surprisingly hard to have a reasonable conversation with a person who considers you a cockroach and publicly fantasizes about killing you with neurotoxins.

            by JesseCW on Sat May 07, 2011 at 12:40:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You may consider me your enemy, and (0+ / 0-)

              if you ever see me you may very well try to kill me. But I am not your enemy. I'm just a guy who likes this site and blogs for the entertainment value. It is a distraction, like video games are to some. I think you are taking dKos a bit too seriously.

              I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

              by doc2 on Sat May 07, 2011 at 12:44:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I am not you. I don't believe that people (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                joanneleon

                need to be killed just because they are my enemies.

                You actively threaten my life and liberty, and that of countless millions more, but I don't want to kill you.  I don't want you to die.

                I don't even want you to come to harm.

                I just want you to find a way to develop an appreciation for the value of human life, and for our shared humanity.

                Please stop assuming that everyone shares your basic worldview.  

                Most of us don't.

                It's surprisingly hard to have a reasonable conversation with a person who considers you a cockroach and publicly fantasizes about killing you with neurotoxins.

                by JesseCW on Sat May 07, 2011 at 12:49:45 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Actually, most do. On this site, (0+ / 0-)

                  and certainly elsewhere. OBL got what he deserved. And I can live with the fact that 1) he wasn't read his Miranda rights, 2) the Pakistanis were not given the opportunity to alert him, and 3) his wasn't brought back to face trial. I speak for 99% of Americans when I say "fuck him". Long live Barack Obama, long live Barack Obama's family, and death to the terrorists that attack us.

                  I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

                  by doc2 on Sat May 07, 2011 at 12:54:48 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I understand that you're ok (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Vtdblue, joanneleon

                    with giving someone the unregulated power to demand the death of anyone, anywhere, at any time.

                    Most of us are not.

                    You do not speak for "99% of Americans".  That you think you do shows that you're rather disconnected from the world that most of us live in.

                    You are not fit to declare who is or is not human.  You are not fit to determine who "deserves" to die.

                    It's surprisingly hard to have a reasonable conversation with a person who considers you a cockroach and publicly fantasizes about killing you with neurotoxins.

                    by JesseCW on Sat May 07, 2011 at 01:04:04 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You know what? Barack Obama (0+ / 0-)

                      is able to determine who gets to die. He just proved it. And in the case of OBL, we all support his decision. I don't determine who lives and who dies, nor should I. But President Obama, who I happen to support, does have that power. And while you consider me your enemy, the rest of us know that Osama bin Laden was a real enemy, and needed to be killed. And it is done, and any further discussion is pointless.

                      And thank you for saying that you won't try to kill me even though I am your enemy, that is nice of you.

                      I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

                      by doc2 on Sat May 07, 2011 at 01:15:56 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Good luck when "President Palin" (or the like) (5+ / 0-)

                        takes office. You won't be so blithe in your ceding to the executive branch the right to kill whomever they wish. There's a reason for the Rule of Law: It's to prevent dictators from making "exceptions" at their whim. Obama's acting dangerously close ways in which a future Republican would-be dictator will take full advantage.

                        Conservatives are] engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; ...the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. JK Galbraith

                        by Vtdblue on Sat May 07, 2011 at 04:03:33 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  That's a situation I hadn't considered. (0+ / 0-)

                          Yeah, I guess this power in the wrong hands could be abused. But I trust Obama. I'm going to have to think about this a bit more. Maybe it's a temporary power he has, something like that.

                          I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

                          by doc2 on Sat May 07, 2011 at 06:00:31 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  Unlike you, (0+ / 0-)

                        Bin Laden had no power to destroy this Republic.

                        All he ever managed to do was to kill 1/10th of the number of Americans who die on our highways every year.  Big Tobacco has 1,000 times as many of us in the last decade.

                        Unlike you, he could not vote to throw away my right to have a fair trial before being sentenced to death.  Unlike you, he could not enable the abrogation of my most basic civil rights.

                        President Obama has the ability to order the death of you or I or any other person on Earth, whenever it suits him, with no oversight, simply by labeling us terrorists.

                        He does not have, and will never have, just authority to do so.

                        That I do not wish you harm is not nice of me.  I am not, nor do I strive to be, a nice person.

                        It is, however, decent.

                        It's surprisingly hard to have a reasonable conversation with a person who considers you a cockroach and publicly fantasizes about killing you with neurotoxins.

                        by JesseCW on Sat May 07, 2011 at 04:28:26 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  actually, i don't support assassination as policy. (0+ / 0-)

                        bin laden was unarmed. he could have been taken alive.

                        •  Well, none of us support assassination (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          stolen water

                          as a policy. It has to be taken on a case-by-case basis. And I think we all can agree on one thing - that in this case it was justified. The argument here seems to be over whether or not this could be a workable or ethical policy, for everyday purposes. And that is something none of us is smart enough to know the answer to. But I'm sure Obama has thought about it, and I'd like to know his thoughts.

                          I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

                          by doc2 on Sat May 07, 2011 at 06:03:44 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

    •  I agree and Bahrain is so important now (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, Bluefin

      Massive repression and state violence is taking it toll in Bahrain right now while the MSM and US look the other way.

      The US can't afford to let Bahrain slip away. They would lose that naval base and it would be much harder to invade Libya.

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Sat May 07, 2011 at 10:17:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  dogmatism (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clay Claiborne

    causes people to disregard common sense. like that earlier kuperman article you linked to. only critics who haven't followed the news coming out of libya would believe kuperman's assertion that qaddafi was only narrowly targeting the rebels and taking care not to kill civilians.

    a fairy tale fiction absurd on its face. the regime is using grad rockets. something even HRW says is indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force. you can't assign the claim of "narrow targeting" to somebody using grad rockets.

    i say "even" because kuperman tried to use HRW to bolster his claims.

  •  how would you boil down this argument (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clay Claiborne

    from anti interventionist critics?

    a equals b. therefore c equals a.

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