Thursday, March 30, 2006

"Some Good News Out of Iraq This Morning . . ."


That’s the way my morning news said it, anyway. Sure, it is great news that American reporter Jill Carroll was released by her captors. And she made a big deal out of how nicely she was treated by her captors. The Soundbite Media subtext, then, is that “those insurgents really are nice guys after all. So why are we still there killing them?” Listening to the giddiness in the Soundbite Media, you’d think that she was released simply out of the goodness of their hearts.

Let’s get something straight. In both politics and warfare in regards to audience, nobody does anything simply out of the goodness of their hearts. There is a strategy behind everything. Just as with politics in business, like your company making a big deal out of switching to 100% recycled paper on their letterhead, releasing hostages or prisoners during wartime always contains an element of selfish strategy.

Some might think me cynical for having such a view. But having witnessed too many Selfless Acts of Social Conscience nullified by the quest for good Public Relations, I’ve become a little jaded. The minute one begins to analyze how the public will view a selfless act is the minute that one’s action loses its true selflessness. But I digress – selflessness has nothing to do with why Jill Carroll was released.

Jill Carroll was released simply because keeping her hostage was no longer of value to the people that were keeping her. Maybe the cost to feed her became too much of a burden. Why didn’t they just behead her then? Maybe they felt it unmanly to behead a woman. Maybe they treated her well because they actually maintained the element of Islam in their beliefs that reinforced a respect for women. Maybe it’s Stockholm Syndrome.

The most likely reason for releasing her is a calculation of the political, and therefore strategic, benefit. In other words, they want to make nicey-nicey with you, the American public, to prove to you how noble and nice they are and how evil the American Military and their President are. This is called Information Warfare – strive to make things appear to be the opposite of what they actually are. “But doesn’t this Information Warfare thing apply to the American Military as well?” Yes, actually, it does. But keep in mind that an American Soldier is strictly forbidden from blackmailing the press with death threats, while the Islamic Militant seems to be taking advantage of that force multiplier pretty well. Having no problem killing civilians makes it so much easier to be an effective terrorist – you can kill (or not kill) whoever you want, depending upon what will best advance your agenda.

No comments: