Friday, November 19, 2004

To be a part of it, or to be apart of it? 

Despite a spectacular offensive action that makes the Blitzkrieg look like the siege of Troy, the big news out of Falluja centers on a single action of a single Marine. In the midst of the circus, the question I keep asking with no clear answer is what purpose was served by the high visibility given to this event? That it caused concern on behalf of some is not questioned, but I do question the judgment of sensationalizing it and presenting it almost seemingly as the most prominent and important worldwide example of the entire action in Falluja. Given the extremely strong role near real-time propaganda has consistently played in the war, especially on behalf of the terrorists and their sympathizers, I feel confident in saying that despite the original intended purpose of the video feed any reasonable thought would lead to the conclusion that it would also serve the purposes of the terrorist propagandists. In deciding to release the video, therefore, one may logically infer that it was done with the full knowledge that its use would in at least some way support the terrorist cause.

Making that assumption, I see only three possible thought processes that lead to the decision made:

1. The video was released with the intention of providing it to the terrorists for their use. While there are undoubtedly those that either sympathize with the terrorists or feel that anything that hastens the withdrawal of US troops (under any circumstances) is desirable, I certainly hope and believe that such is not the purposeful motivation behind our major news sources.

2. The video was released in the belief that the positive value exceeded potential negative value derived from the terrorists. This would be a judgment call, but I would strongly argue against it. If the reporter had witnessed and filmed a massacre of civilians that was intentionally being covered up by the military there would be little doubt that it would be a proper decision to release the video. In this case, however, the video covered a single Marine in a single incident that was hardly black and white and was released after an investigation had already begun on the individual in question. I fail to see that there was any demonstrable positive effect at all in releasing the video.

3. The video was released without any consideration of the effects. Unfortunately, it seems the most likely explanation is that the sole interest in releasing the video was simply to release it. There was no thought, no consideration of risk, no though about effect, a complete disregard for "why" lost in the discussion of "how" and "when". It would be tempting, with this picture in mind, to draw a parallel to the stereotypical mad scientist who is concerned only with what he can do and not with if he should do it.

While one may conclude that there was no intended purpose in releasing the video beyond the single simple desire to broadcast, that very assumption is betrayed by both the vast amount not being broadcast (from the terrorist murders to the "slaughter houses" where these crimes took place) and the existence of an Editorial body within these news shops. For, if it is as simple as "shoot video, play video" it seems the media is carrying a lot of useless overhead. So I've come around again to the thought that there was a conscious decision made to release this particular piece of film and not others, but the reasons still elude me.

So we must look at the second option, that the perceived benefits outweighed the perceived risks. My initial logical fault here is to evaluate this question based upon what I perceive the benefits and risks to be, but what if I felt the personal benefits of having a scoop outweighed the possible risks to mission, lives and public confidence? What if I felt that being able to say "see, I told you US troops were indiscriminately killing Iraqis" was more important than denying the terrorists the ability to do the same. What if I believed my own parochial and business interests were collectively more important than the next Marine who hesitates one second too long and is taken by surprise by the perfidy of a ruthless murderous death-seeking fanatic.

I don't believe the main stream media wants us to loose in Iraq. However, I am increasingly convinced they feel they are too important to actively care. And it is just another example of the attitude of elitism, entitlement and assumed superiority that took its toll in marginalizing them during the campaign. And it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

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