Nayirah’s Testimony. Why did it succeed?
A 15-year-old girl named Nayirah claimed to be a refugee and hospital volunteer of the maternity ward of Al Adan hospital in Kuwait City to Congress in October 1990: stating she witnessed Iraqi soldiers steal the incubators and leave 312 infants to die on the cold hospital floor. After this testimony, public opinion gradually shifted in favor for war.
But as it turned out later everything around this girl was fabricated from her identity to her words and behavior to criminally incite war. Nayirah lied about her identity; she was the daughter of Kuwait Ambassador to the United States and a member of the Kuwait royal family. Nayirah had no connection to the hospital and was coached on how to give her testimony by the US public relations firm Hill and Knowlton.
It worked for many reasons, thanks to who she was, how she presented and what she said. Every big media event needs “the hook” to catch audience attention and change their attitude. An ideal hook becomes the central element of a story that makes it newsworthy, evokes a strong emotional response, and sticks in the memory. It turned out to be a wartime propaganda, serving the purpose of United States attacking Iraq and removing them from Kuwait.
We as a human being would most likely sympathize to the young tender girl. There is saying: “Out of the mouths of babes comes the truth”, we are not used to that children are lying, we think that they are not spoiled by this evil world. But as we see, we cannot trust anyone, the PR campaign was corrupt, deceptive and unethical. This case goes to the pile of “bad examples” or “how you should not do” — do not spread false or exaggerated tales. But history shows, people as governors as citizens needed this fake story to justify the invasion.
Nayirah attacked all on all fronts: appearance as shell and context as filling. Her trembling voice and crying eyes make a good impression. And violence on babies finished the deal with fanfares. We are emotional, and it is our weakness.