Friday, March 26, 2010

News from the mythical war on terror and from the city that never was

Should we automatically assume that the 'New York Times' would actually invent a town that never was? No, it was in good faith that I wrote on February 13, "some 1,000 Taleban insurgents are thought to be in Marjah, a town which has a population of 80,000." Of course, at least by the time I wrote about the possible number of civilian casualties, civilian casualties which Washington said were "inevitable", my suspicions should have been alerted; the number of dead according to human rights groups was "just" 19. Nineteen, too many and a war crime, of course, nevertheless, this was reportedly " the biggest offensive of the Afghanistan War and launched against what we were told was, a "city of 80,000 people."

So, what we have is "our boys" entering their "Stalingrad" and visions of street fighting are planted in the minds of the myopic majority for whom, we can reasonably assume "only nineteen dead civilians" is a reasonable price to pay for the capture of this strategically important, taliban enclave and now we learn that "Marjah is not a city or even a real town, but either a few clusters of farmers' homes or a large agricultural area covering much of the southern Helmland River valley."

Of course, we shouldn't be too hard on the Pentagon and its propaganda boys at COIN (Counter Insurgency) for trying to paint a positive picture of the war for the folks back home through "showing" that the military can win a large, strategically important victory. No, the last thing they want is for the public to see U.S. marines storming isolated farms. Nevertheless, surely we can inspect a little  more of the "free press". Well, we should and would if that press were actually free. However, what this "just one more lie" underlines is that we have a motley crew of "gleichgeschaltet", "running scared", career hacks who work for a mainstream media which a Dr Josef Goebels might have been proud of. Still, there is hope and a healthy skeptism coupled with a modicum of analytical skills, along with a willingness to delve into some of the mass of alternative media that is available, might even facilitate us getting a bit closer to the truth. Or do we really want to condemn ourselves to the illusion of  strategic victories, hand to hand combant and fighting the good fight in non-existent cities, in a mythical war on terror, in a country where we have no right to be?

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