Thursday, January 19, 2006


At Play in the Fields of Propaganda

Glenn Reynolds, Austin Bay  and others cite the recently publicized Bin Laden statement  as evidence that we’re winning. I think we are, too, and Bin Laden’s press release is surely a piece of evidence of our success.

As Bay humorously paraphrases, Bin Laden begs, “Please don’t wage war on our turf, but let us wage war on yours.”

Reynolds draws the proper conclusion:

The offer is insincere, of course, but that he (or his designated al Qaeda stand-in) is making it at all tells us everything we need to know. I guess that "intelligence failure" in Pakistan must have been even more successful than we thought.

Tigerhawk and the many links he points to reflect that there are some people who will be very unhappy that that may be the case. Readers of conservative media, and especially conservative blogs, have seen clear and convincing proof that BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) has widely infected the Democratic Party and others in the liberal elites. Though even they, I suspect, like Sullivan, are going to hedge their bets as to the significance of Bin Laden’s offer to parlay.

So why would Bin Laden make a public request for a “truce?” He can’t seriously think that President Bush or the other members of the coalition would be foolish enough to take him up on it. Clearly, this message is for another audience altogether. But who? His supporters in the Arab world? The American public? Peace activists? The press? All of the above?

Hugh Hewitt links to transcription of Bin Laden and some excellent analysis by Walid Phares in National Review Online. Phares transcribes Bin Laden’s opening as "Our situation, thanks to Allah, is better than yours,” and notes that this would be standard fare for his Arab audience.  Per Phares, Bin Laden then goes on to say,

Your polls indicate that your people want a withdrawal from Iraq, but your president objected as this would constitute a wrong message to the foes. And it is best that we fight them (Americans) on their land than on ours."

The remaining of Bin Laden’s threats and admonitions are meant to convince his audience that Americans will come to know how big a mistake Iraq was, when his Jihadis turn the tables to bring the fight back to the U.S.

I know military analysis is a skill largely vacant in mainstream media, and we all see demonstrated regularly that most Democrats don’t have a clue (except those few other Democrats despise), but just a thought from a practitioner.

If your enemy doesn’t want you to do something, that usually means it’s a good thing to do. (That’s just for the novices.)

More importantly. None of this is really intended for public consumption, and Bin Laden doesn’t really give a crap what the American people think, nor does he care what’s better for them. (Like that needed to be said, after 3,000 Americans dead at his “Saudi Dissident” hands. Don’t get me started on that.) This is for the Western Press, his unwitting allies. It will get press. It is part of occasional efforts to “mainstream” and rehabilitate the pubic standing of terrorists for political ends. (Hey if it can happen to Yassar Arafat, it can work for Bin Laden, right?)

Which I think points to the dimension of this Information War with Al Qaeda that doesn’t get enough attention at all. Most regretfully, those who are Al Qaeda’s unwitting allies in this fight, who we should desire to be on our side, are those who distrust us more than they distrust the enemies who exploit them.

Instapundit today also links to a report at Defense Tech that observes that the media’s near-obsessive desire to remain “objective” and impartial leads them to dispense credulity with every press release from our enemies, yet cynically dismiss or disparage any effort by the U.S. Military or the Bush Administration to highlight successes or other positive news.

NOTE: This was an excerpt from the piece by David Axe at Defense Tech, linked by Glenn Reynolds but later temporarily pulled as it was to appear within an upcoming article.

Whether there is much progress in Arab Iraq is certainly debatable, but it's apparent that the increasing inability of media to cover ANYTHING, much less coalition successes, is hurting the war effort. Iraq is a big, complicated problem, and as media flee or hunker down deeper in their hotel fortresses, the Western world's understanding of Iraq can only suffer.

There is a workable solution, and it's called embedding. No one protects journos as well as the U.S. and British militaries, but many media refuse to embed because they fear losing their objectivity. This is a valid fear, one even U.S. officers acknowledge, but what's better: slightly biased coverage? Or no coverage at all?

Glenn also mentions an oft-quoted comment by Pam Hess on CNN Reliable Sources that makes much the same point.

Dave Price, writing at Dean's World adds an additional insight, that of the “decency” difference between our enemies and our coalition:

In addition to the aforementioned problem of disproportionate media distrust of our military, it seems to me this is another example of our "decency disadvantage": because the U.S. does not murder journalists who report on us unfavorably, we're at a natural disadvantage to the insurgents who do. Their media plants can wander around doing their jobs without fear of reprisal, while anyone sympathetic (or even just neutral) to the cause of democracy in Iraq faces kidnap, torture and death. The net result is that the point of view they're pushing into the media gets more play.
One might hope that at some point the media as a whole will ameliorate that disadvantage by noticing one side is murdering them while the other is protecting their right to speak freely and start reporting the situation with that in mind, rather than ignoring the gaping moral chasm in the name of an effectively pro-fascist "objectivity," but I'm not holding my breath.

I am not asking for the miracle of full self awareness for the press, and I don’t want a press of sycophants or boosters (although with their own civilization and lifestyles under threat, they might think about that). But objectivity shouldn’t just mean being neutral or on the other side. Objectivity should mean first seeing things for what they are, not confirming your own biases, and then trying to ensure some kind of balance if there are multiple viewpoints.

There is no way in God’s Green Earth that the bastions of the mainstream media have any kind of balance to their reporting. This aids our enemy propaganda effort, and hurst our own information operations.

Links: Mudville Gazette

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