Wednesday, June 16, 2004


To Deborah Orin at the New York Post. Go read it all.
But part of the issue is simply that Saddam's tortures, like al Qaedas tactics, are so awful that they're unbearable to watch.

If I couldn't watch them myself, I'm hardly arguing that others should have to. Yet it raises a very complex problem in the War on Terror. It's worse than creating moral equivalence between Saddam's tortures and prisoner abuse by U.S. troops. It's that we do far more to highlight our own wrongdoings precisely because they are less appalling.

In this era, a photo is everything. We highlight U.S. prisoner abuse because the photos aren't too offensive to show. We downplay Saddam's abuse precisely because it's far worse — so we can't use the photos. And that sets the stage for remarks like Sen. Ted Kennedy's claim that Saddam's torture chambers have reopened under "U.S. management."

Terrorism is sometimes called asymmetric warfare — America had to adjust to new tactics to deal with small bands of terrorists who were able to turn our airplanes into weapons against us. Now it turns out that we also face asymmetric propaganda — where the terrorists gain a p.r. advantage precisely because what they do is so horrific that our media aren't able to deal with it.

The U.S. military hasn't figured out a strategic way to deal with this problem.

But neither has the press.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

About Ted Kennedy, I have a problem with the rich, famous, privileged and powerful especially when they are morally suspect. So why are we paying so much attention to a cheat (at his college and to his first wife), a drunk (he CLAIMS he doesn’t drink any more but...), a BIG LIAR (he initially denied he cheated on his exam thus got expelled and denied he was having multiple affairs and he denied at first he was an alcoholic), and a coward (he just chickened out very recently from endorsing a bunch of misguided professors calling for the impeachment of President Bush)?? Oh yeah, let's don't forget he did minimal token penance for “leaving the scene of an accident” but was never convicted of DUI or vehicular homicide/manslaughter!

John, Dad of 1AD Soldier