When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

June 18, 2004

A Picture... A Thousand Words?

Bravo Romeo Delta

A picture... has variable worth depending on its distribution via media channels.

At any rate, you've all seen (or can find) the Berg decapitation video with its hallmark blood-curdling scream as his windpipe is cut.

To bring together two more bits of evidence showing that the religion of submission to Allah the merciful and magnificent is truly a religion of peace, understanding and tolerance.

Doc Rusty of My Pet Jawa has a post linking to pix of the now headless Johnson and his head.

Steve Green o' Vodka Pundit has, bar none, the most galling video I've seen in a while.

Now, just a quick context check for all y'all here. Al Qaeda's mission statement considers any person who pays any form of tax to the American government to be an eligible target for jihad. That means much of my readership, their parents, siblings, co-workers, and so on.

The only reason that we're not generally likely to receive much of the treatment of the folks in the video is that that is the kind of behavior they people in that part of the world reserve for those who aren't already beyond hope and might be cured of the errors of their ways.

Think about the implication here kids - a lot of these ratbags think that the treatments given in the second video are too good for the likes of you and me.

I still wonder if this won't continue to exert a pressure on the American psyche such as the one we saw in things like the Plains Indian Wars or the Pacific Theater in World War II. In those cases, there was never a formal, vocal declaration that no quarter was to be extended to those who will do you harm, but a general acknowledgment that, over time, it wasn't worth it to spend a lot of time and effort going out of your way to avoid killing those folks.

I thought that the Berg video was the turning point (and it may have been) but sooner or later we'll be looking back and discover that decapitation has jumped the shark or that the strategy has hit the culminating point of success and I think we'll reach it before November.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at June 18, 2004 09:53 PM

Retaliatiory Launches

I don't think events can ever give us the will to fight a long term war. In my view, an event like this one may change minds for the time being, but not in the long-haul.

If the terrorists continue to use this as a strategy, though, it may serve the same purposes that home-grown propaganda used to serve: remind the public why we fight and what we are up against.

Posted by: Rusty Shackleford at June 18, 2004 10:15 PM

There seem to be two forces at work - desensitization and infuriation. I'm curious to see how these two things will combine and shape the American psyche.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at June 18, 2004 10:35 PM

Hmmm. Good point. But I wonder which would be the greater tendency if the pictures were shown on TV? It seems like it is one thing to hear about all this, but when you see it....whoa.

Posted by: Rusty Shackleford at June 19, 2004 02:58 PM
There seem to be two forces at work - desensitization and infuriation. I'm curious to see how these two things will combine and shape the American psyche.

The latest Pew Research suggests that the public is becoming desensitized to some extent. At least, they aren't paying attention to a lot of the Abu Ghraib hand-wringing, or the "Vietnam parallels." The best outcome would be if the public adopted a certain level of pragmatism, and doing so isn't beyond the capacity of the American character.

Our main problem is that I think we need a virtual revolution in the media. We don't have a media establishment that's capable of covering a war competently, and the sort of media that task requires is actually something a lot more like military intelligence. The blogosphere is capable of producing something along those lines, which might goad the media to some reform... especially if the blogosphere becomes an obviously better source of info than TV or print.

I, for instance, am not entirely sure why I've been given the go-ahead to break this story, but suspect it's because the vaunted "neocon cabal" simply wants to promote the blogosphere as some sort of counter to TV and print. I think they may also be planning a major embarassment of "big media," utilizing information from the above source, among others. It's part of a larger reformist strategy. Well, maybe. I'm just guessing.

Posted by: Scott at June 19, 2004 06:12 PM

Ah, and there's the bitch of it - barring some sea-change, we run the risk that the war and its justification will be seen by the public not how they are, but however the media decides they should be seen.

In the eyes of the peaceniks, desensitization to the wrongs the US is trying to correct juxtaposes nicely with hypersensitization of comparatively minor things like Abu Ghraib. The stance of the government, which really ought to have some benefit of the doubt, will continue to be questioned, ridiculed, and interfered-with.

And, sadly, we'll run the risk of that old chestnut, "Vietnam all over again", where today's stand-in for Uncle Walter will call it a loss, and the landslide of public opinion will head that way.

And we'll pretend that we're now safe forever. Who you gonna believe, the media, or your own lying eyes?

Posted by: Patton at June 21, 2004 06:26 AM

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