Monday, August 27, 2007

War By Press Release

Many writers have commented on the Taliban policy of reporting civilian casualties when there are none. Simply fighting among civilians to provoke civilian deaths hasn't worked as well as our enemies hoped given our training and equipment, so they just started claiming deaths without so much as a body as a backdrop.

NATO is finally calling the Taliban on this:

The U.S.-led coalition made the claim Monday after Afghan elders alleged that up to 18 civilians were killed late Sunday by coalition troops in Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold.

Capt. Vanessa R. Bowman, a coalition spokeswoman, said credible intelligence suggested the claims were fabricated as part of a propaganda war. "The insurgents continue to follow their pattern of falsely reporting civilian casualties," she said.

NATO-led forces, whose operations in Helmand are being supported by U.S.-led coalition troops and aircraft, insist that no noncombatants were killed in the fighting. The claims could not be independently verified due to the remoteness of the area where the clash took place.

Reports of civilian casualties at the hands of foreign forces are highly sensitive in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly deplored such deaths, saying they undermine efforts to win the trust of the people.

You'd think that this strategy would clearly fail. But the strategy relies on our press to spread the certainty of collateral damage, so it has a real shot at working.

Remember, even if a tree doesn't fall in the woods but our press tells you it did, it will make a very loud noise.