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SDP Leader/BBC blunder on Russia-Georgia war

R.A.McCartney | 10.08.2008 18:13 | Analysis | Other Press | World

The BBC broadcast an interview with former Foreign Secretary and former SDP Leader David Owen, in which he said it had been right to block Georgia's NATO membership because it did not border on any NATO country. Georgia borders on Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO.

The BBC has made a major blunder in its news coverage of the Russian-Georgian war. This followed Russia's routing of Georgian forces in South Ossetia, and its bombing of military installations in other parts of Georgia. BBC Radio 4's “The World At One” news program (13:00 Sunday 10 August 2008) broadcast an interview with the former Labour Foreign Secretary, David Owen, in which he claimed Georgia did not have a border with any NATO country. He said this was why the French and Germans had been right to oppose Georgia joining NATO.

Georgia has a border with Turkey, which is a NATO member. Turkey's army is the second largest among NATO members, exceeded in size only by the USA. A major oil pipeline is being constructed which will export oil from Azerbaijan, through Georgia, to the Turkish Black Sea port of Ceyhan. This pipeline would be impossible if Georgia and Turkey did not have a common border. It has been central to western and Russian relations with the region almost since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

That a former Foreign Secretary, and the former leader of the Social Democratic Party, could get such basic facts wrong should be a news story in itself, The interview was the main package in this edition of The World At One, which is one of the BBC's flagship news programs. That they could broadcast this rubbish without realising the error demonstrates breathtaking ignorance and incompetence.

The corporate media will no doubt refuse to publicise these blunders. They generally have a very cosy relationship with the political establishment and with each other. People can get away with spouting all kinds of rubbish on a wide variety of subjects, without fear of rebuke from the corporate media, as long as they don't upset anyone “important”.