Monday, May 21, 2007

The Opinionator: In Iraq, Violence as Propaganda Tool

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross files a couple of interesting dispatches from Baghdad for the Counterterrorism Blog. The first is on the increasing deadliness of insurgents’ mortar attacks inside the “IZ” or Green Zone in the capital. The second is on the increasing number of journalists killed of late.

Gartenstein-Ross feels the two trends are linked. “Just as the mortar targeting of the IZ seems clearly part of the militants’ propaganda war, so too is the targeting of journalists.” he writes. “If journalists believe the country is falling apart, and feel that their profession places them in constant danger, that pessimism will be reflected in their writing. And just as Iraqi translators who work with U.S. troops need to be disguised while in the field, it has reached the point where Iraqi reporters with strong American sources need to be disguised too.”

  • Iraq isn’t, of course, the only place reporters are finding dangerous these days. The Web site Internet Haganah, which monitors Islamic militant groups’ Internet activities, came across a rather disturbing online poll: “The fate of the BBC’s Alan Johnston, held hostage in Gaza by the jihadist Jaish al-Islam group, was put to a vote today on the Palestinian forum al-Ommh.” Unfortunately, you can guess the results.

  • Rachel Carson, mass murderer? Rich Karlgaard at Forbes’s Digital Rule blog is in a lather over a Washington Post article on the upcoming anniversary of the “Silent Spring” author’s death that “concedes that ‘numerous’ deaths might have been prevented by DDT.” “Let’s stop here,” writes Karlgaard, “any curious reader would ask, Just how “numerous” is numerous? Wouldn’t you ask that question? The Post never asks that question. Why? Because the answer devastates Rachel Carson and her followers. According to these C.D.C. figures, malaria kills more than 800,000 children under age five every year. Every year, 800,000 small children die from malaria, a disease once nearly eradicated. Ponder that.”

  • – Tobin Harshaw

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