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Gulf War: Truth or propaganda?

Unlike any conflict before, the Gulf War of 1991 played out in a brave new world of biological warfare. A round-the-clock television audience was captivated by the flying missiles that lit up the night sky. Canadian troops, sent abroad for combat for the first time since the Korean War joined the Allied forces to fight Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. On the surface, the occupation ended swiftly and decisively as the Iraqi forces retreated. But as was evident over the next decade, the problems remained unresolved.

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It is a story that's both shocking and horrific. It is also a lie, a propaganda piece meant to rally the masses. In this clip, CBC Radio dissects the multi-layered public relations disaster. The story, that had been told by a young woman named "Nayirah" to the U.S. Congress in the fall of 1990, was that she had witnessed Iraqi troops storming a Kuwait hospital, ripping babies out of incubators and leaving them to die on the cold floor.

It has since been revealed that Nayirah is in fact the daughter of the American ambassador to Kuwait. Her heartfelt story, told through tears, had been a fabrication developed by a public relations firm in order to build support for the war. Alexander Cockburn, a columnist for The Nation, explains how the story was exposed as a lie.
• Nayirah's story was developed by the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton. Hired by a group named Citizens for a Free Kuwait, the company was paid $11.5 million to boost support for the American intervention in the Iraq occupation of Kuwait.

• Investigators later found that some premature babied did die in the tumultuous war environment, but none were pulled from their incubators.
Medium: Radio
Program: Prime Time
Broadcast Date: Dec. 14, 1992
Guest(s): Alexander Cockburn
Host: Geoff Pevere
Duration: 16:57
Photo: Murad Sezer/Associated Press

Last updated: June 21, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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