In our previous post we point out how much fun war could be - especially when it came to the taking of prisoners. In yet another post we talked about the language of war and the necessity of demonizing one's enemy to rally public support. Now we have the response of the occupation force to the capture and detaining of a US soldier:
“We will do everything possible to ensure his safe return,” (Central Command spokesman, Marine Capt. Bruce) Frame said. “However, we will not negotiate with any terrorists or anti-coalition forces.”
The first thing that should jump out at us from this statement is everything possible versus we will not negotiate. Where I come from, that's called a first class contradiction. It shows the Coalition's lack of sincerity.
The guys who took the prisoner/hostage are certainly anti-coalition forces - whether they are terrorists or not, no US-based news agency would know at this point - or would not readily admit to knowing if these guys were not, in fact, terrorists. This happens to be a very qualified statement from the Coalition - you'll see a lot less of it from all the Republican talking heads. The Coalition spokesman - since what he says will be published by the international press - has to be a bit more careful about demonizing the enemy so as to not be so obvious. The Coalition can count on the American press, and subsequently the American public, to lap it up, but the rest of the world will not be so uncritical.
[Remember: A terrorist, by definition, is one who kills (non-military) innocents to gain a political objective. That definitely precludes these Iraqis from the 'terrorist' label. I would argue that Coalition forces fit much more comfortably into the 'terrorist' category - since they've killed about 10,000+ innocents since invading Iraq - in part for political purposes. The 'enemy' terrorists have killed less than 1,000. Of course, if we're talking in general terms, then anyone carrying a gun is a terrorist. War is stupid. How people glorify it is truly beyond me.]
By saying that the Coalition will not negotiate with anti-coalition forces - what exactly do they hope to gain? I would guess that they don't want to encourage the taking of prisoners - which makes sense - but who would want to encourage the taking of prisoners? Let's makes sure we latch onto that - prisoners are taken during a war by the opposing army. Hostages are taken by some armed group - and the hostages are civilians. Which definition fits here? The other side is not quite an army - more probably a militia - which is a small army, I guess. But the person being held is not a civilian, he's US military. Hostage fits more with the 'terrorist' selling point - so the Coalition is sticking with it where possible.
The we will not negotiate talk is just rhetoric - psy-ops. The 'we are tougher than you' machismo means nothing - it's just Bush campaigning - the Coalition is bargaining behind the scenes right now for this guy's return. A fresh-faced white boy from Iowa plastered all over the television is certainly not good for Bush's re-election chances. It shows the insanity and unfairness of all wars - but especially this war. The killing of the US soldier would only help Bush & Co. demonize the Iraqis more - and the militants are probably savvy enough to recognize that, so they'll just keep holding him and releasing tapes to al Jazeera for the world press to eat up. Eventually that stuff will make its way to US airwaves - and Bush & Co. will worry, and act.
Count on al Jazeera to not publish the Coalition propaganda so readily.