Thursday, November 29, 2007

Taliban Spin Doctors.

There was a report on the television news earlier this afternoon about a US bombing in Afghanistan that had killed 12 construction workers in the North East of the country. There have been numerous reports of US/ Nato bombing killing groups of innocent civilians of late and I had actually planned to write something along the lines of; a reliance of airpower will invariably lead to civilian casualties, whilst there are often a lot of bogus reports of wedding parties being hit genuine mistakes do appear to be occurring quite a lot of late in Afghanistan and there is a danger that they are endangering the mission by building up support for the Taliban etc.

However when went to look up the relevant story online in order to provide a link I read:
Nato says it is confident that reports that it killed a number of civilians in an air strike in Nuristan province on Monday are incorrect.

The provincial governor has said that 12 construction workers died.

But a spokesman for the Nato-led Isaf force says evidence so far "points to a successful strike" against a Taleban leader with no civilian deaths.

The incident has probably already seeped into the public consciousness though as a careless slaughter of the innocent, despite it now looking likely to be another example of the Taliban using the Western Media to spread lies about Nato. This tactic is quite an intelligent one from the point of view of the Taliban it has to be said and it is explained in better detail on the website "Strategy Page":

There are two main obstacles to establishing (or re-establishing) Taliban control of the country. There's the current government, which is basically a coalition of Pushtun and non-Pushtun tribes that disagrees with the few Pushtun tribes that supply most of the Taliban leadership and manpower. This lot can be taken care of by forming an alliance with many of the drug gangs, who will supply money to hire irregular fighters. These guys will be used to terrorize other tribes into going along with the Taliban. This worked fifteen years ago, and should work again. Except for one thing. The foreign troops and their smart bombs.

NATO and U.S. air power have been a disaster for the Taliban. It was a few dozen aircraft, dropping a few hundred smart bombs, that smashed the Taliban fighting force in late 2001. Since then, the Taliban have come up with some ways to limit the smart bomb damage, but have not been able to avoid the constant destruction these weapons deliver.


But the Taliban have a plan for getting rid of the smart bombs, and it depends a lot on foreign journalists. These folks are always looking for an "exciting" story, and nothing is more exciting than "atrocities" committed by NATO or American troops. Defeats by NATO or American troops also plays well with the foreign reporters. So the Taliban endeavor to feed the foreign journalists as many suitable stories as possible. The Taliban understand that the story doesn't have to be true, just plausible. The news cycle is short, and the media proceeds on the assumption that news consumers have no sense of history. If the Taliban can get a story out there, they have succeeded, no matter how much the story is later discredited.
In a free society we cannot silence the media, quite rightly of course. The media ought by now to treat any claim of NATO massacres with the utmost scepticism until independent confirmation is made, but failing that then the press simply cannot be trusted.

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