Thursday, December 01, 2005

Terrorists; masters of propaganda

...and what's worse is they've duped the media into helping their cause. Take this headline from today, Insurgents Attack U.S. Bases in Iraq. Sounds horrible right?

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Insurgents attacked several U.S. bases and government offices with mortars Thursday before dispersing in the capital of western Iraq's Anbar province, residents and police said.

Iraq's interior minister on Thursday also fired his top official for human rights in connection with a torture investigation.

Gunmen, meanwhile, attacked the six-vehicle convoy of a Saad al-Obeidi, an adviser to Iraq's defense minister, seriously wounding him along with two of his bodyguards in the predominantly Sunni Arab Yarmouk neighborhood of Baghdad, police said.

The attacks in Ramadi occurred as local tribal leaders and U.S. military officials were to hold their second meeting in a week at the governor's office in the city center. The insurgents apparently tried to shell the building, but reporters inside said there was no damage or injuries.

Police Lt. Mohammed al-Obaidi said at least four mortar rounds fell near the U.S. base on the eastern edge of the city, but that there were no reports of casualties.

An AP Television News video showed the insurgents walking down a shuttered market street and a residential neighborhood, as well as firing four mortar rounds. The masked men, however, looked relaxed and did not engage in any battles, and no U.S. bases or government buildings were shown.

Residents said that within minutes, scores of masked gunmen, believed to be members of Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaida in Iraq group, ran into the city's streets but dispersed after launching attacks with mortars in what U.S. officers said may have been little more than a propaganda stunt.

The U.S. military reported that only one rocket-propelled grenade was fired at an observation post and there were no injuries of significant damage. Life in Ramadi quickly returned to normal after the shooting.

The insurgents did leave behind posters and graffiti saying they were members of al-Qaida in Iraq and claiming responsibility for shooting down a U.S. drone. There were no reports of any U.S. drones being shot down, though.

So this really amounts to a whole lot of nothing. Perhaps "attempted attack" may have been a better phrase. Terrorists making tons of claims of their accomplishments against the Great Satan that aren't true. So why are trivialities like this hyped as stories bigger than they really are? Sure part of it is the "if it bleeds, it leads" shock-journalism in an age where people have a choice between newspapers, network news, cable news outlets, and the internet. But I think I large part is also propaganda. MyPetJawa had a very interesting post on what exactly propaganda means:

2 : the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person
3 : ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect

Propaganda, then, has nothing to do with the accuracy of information, only with its deliberate use to further goals. Hence, The Jawa Report has always proudly proclaimed our mission to be that of spreading propaganda in the cause of America and targeting those who spread the propaganda of the enemy.

Propaganda is not a problem, it is what that propaganda is used for that is a problem.

He went on the say...

How can one be in favor of killing in war but not telling stories in war?

What made the Nazi propaganda of Josef Goebells and Tokyo Rose so wrong (and why both were legitimate military targets) was not that it was propaganda but that it was propaganda meant to undermine the victory of the United States military.

Propaganda is a weapon in war. When any weapon is in the hands of our military, it is an asset. Weapons are bad only when they are in the hands of the enemy.

Which makes one wonder why Leftists, so-called 'moderates', or even some on the Right, would consider a weapon in the hands of the U.S. military a bad thing? Unless, of course, they considered the real enemy to be.......

This is especially pertinent today with questions being raised as to whether or not the US is paying journalists...

Exactly. Our enemy is is making use of this weapon, so why not us. I'm not advocating the US lying to the American people, but doing what it can to make sure the good news in Iraq gets as much airplay and print as the bad news. Look at story headline at the beginning of the post. What does it make you think, feel? My initial thoughts were "were any soldiers killed?", "any civilians?", "what was the damage to our bases/fortifications?", etc. Whether or not it was a successful attack was not a question I was thinking (shame on me I ought to know better), but I read the article. How many people skim through the main pages on news websites or newspapers just grabbing the quick info based on the headlines? Our enemy has taken full advantage of a worldwide media that is quick to be sympathetic. Take a look at this photo off the cover of a book that has quickly moved to the top of my Christmas list:

I heard the author interviewed on Dennis's show the other day and she said take a close look at the photo and think of the photo that would have been published in the papers or the video clip shown on TV. A angry teenager throwing a rock. Based on past stories I think he's throwing a rock at armed soldiers or police. So it becomes another example of "the man" (armed Israelis in riot gear) keeping "us" (harmless Palestinian teens armed only with rocks) down. But if you look at the cover where's he aiming? Who's he aiming his throw at? There's no police or soldiers in that direction (unless he's got one hell of an arm) just more photographers. The Palestinians have become master of manipulating the media for their own ends, mainly worldwide sympathy for their cause: that they're David vs. the Goliath of the Israeli military. Was this a stunt? A scheduled photo shoot? Could be.

The terrorists are out their using the (willing?) media to disperse their propaganda, why can't we?

UPDATE: VodkaPundit puts it in in an easy to swallow WMD metaphor... straight up, stirred not shaken.