June 24, 2005

Public Relations and War

A great column from Victor David Hansen:

As September 11 faded in our collective memory, Muslim extremists were insidiously but systematically reinvented in our elite presentations as near underprivileged victims, and themselves often adept critics of purported rapacious Western consumerism, oil profiteering, heavy-handed militarism, and spiritual desolation. Extremists who would otherwise be properly seen in the fascistic mold were instead given a weird pass for their quite public and abhorrent hatred of non-believers and homosexuals, and their Neanderthal views of women. Beheadings, the murder of Christians, suicide bombings carried out by children, systematic torture — all this and more paled in comparison to hot and cold temperatures in American jails on Cuba. Suddenly despite our enemies’ long record of murder and carnage, we were in a war not with fascism of the old stamp, but with those who were historical victims of the United States. Thus problems arose of marshalling American public opinion against the supposedly weaker that posited legitimate grievances against Western hegemons. It was no surprise that Sen. Durbin’s infantile rantings would be showcased on al-Jazeera.

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Contrary to all recent popular wisdom, the war in Iraq is not a disaster, but nearing success. It has been costly and at times tragic, but a democracy is in place, accords are being hammered out with Sunni rejectionists, and the democratic reformist mindset is pulsating into Lebanon, Egypt, and the Gulf. This has only been possible because of the courage and efficacy of a much maligned military that, for the lapses of a small minority at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, has been compared to Stalin and Hitler. But once the suicide murdering and bombing from Iraq began to dominate the news, then this administration, for historical reasons largely beyond its own control, had a very small reservoir of good will. The Islamists proved to be more adept in the public relations of winning liberal exemption from criticism than did the administration itself, as one nude Iraqi on film or a crumpled Koran was always deemed far worse than daily beheadings and executions. Indeed, the terrorists were able to morph into downtrodden victims of a bullying, imperialistic America faster than George W. Bush was able to appear a reluctant progressive at war with the Dark Age values of our enemies.

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