Babies in Incubators During War

in #news15 days ago


The above image was made by @amberjyang using Midjourney with the prompt 'psychedelic art of babies in incubators.'

After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, a sophisticated public relations campaign was launched to secure support for US military intervention. According to the Christian Science Monitor, this effort was spearheaded by PR firm Hill & Knowlton, which was paid $10.7 million to sway public opinion in favor of war. This firm swayed public opinion in part by telling and repeating a terrible lie. The American public was told that Iraqi soldiers had killed babies in incubators during the invasion of Kuwait. A congressional committee even heard testimony to that effect.

Top tier newspapers like Washington Post were fooled by the incubator baby hoax. Initially, everyone bought the lie, including politicians. Congress authorized military intervention in 1991. The war was over before anyone really understood that they'd been fooled.

More recently, I ran across an AP story about incubator babies in Gaza. From the story:

A premature baby squirms inside a glass incubator in the neonatal ward of al-Aqsa Hospital in the central Gaza Strip. He cries out as intravenous lines are connected to his tiny body. A ventilator helps him breathe as a catheter delivers medication and monitors flash his fragile vital signs. His life hinges on the constant flow of electricity, which is in danger of running out imminently unless the hospital can get more fuel for its generators. Once the generators stop, hospital director Iyad Abu Zahar fears that the babies in the ward, unable to breathe on their own, will perish. ... At least 130 premature babies are at "grave risk" across six neonatal units, aid workers said. The dangerous fuel shortages are caused by the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Israel is feigning concern while maintaining the fuel blockade. President Biden, in response to the story, has declared that hospitals must be protected. This declaration won't have much of an impact. Israel's destruction of infrastructure in Gaza will probably continue.

Nothing pulls at the heartstrings like the thought of tiny babies clinging to life in incubators. The 1990 hoax used this to advance an agenda of aggression. The Gaza story seems much more reliable, but it too may be advancing an agenda. Hopefully an agenda of peace.

Stories with emotional power have always moved us. We are susceptible to their influence regardless of their authenticity. A false story can be just as moving as a true story. Maybe the motivations of the storyteller are just as important as the story itself.

The emergence of AI adds a new dimension to this. Deepfakes are getting good enough to trick viewers. Personalized content delivery is paving the way for propaganda and censorship to be customized. Right now, confirming the authenticity of pictures or footage found online can be difficult. In five years, it might be impossible.

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Maybe the motivations of the storyteller are just as important as the story itself.

Wow. Well said!!!!

That passage you included from AP is intense. And what a fascinating comparison you make with what we were told about the so-called killed babies in incubators in Kuwait. What a well done blog post.

Hey thanks! Yes it's intense stuff. And it's unsettling to recognize how vulnerable to propaganda we may actually be.

The truth is don't you think people in the incubator who are premature at an early stage before they should due, hope it wouldn't have effect on them at the long run

Yes hopefully they'll be okay.

I hope so