April 1, 2004

Finale of seem  

All this suggestion that yesterday's murder and mutilation of four American contractors was another Mogadishu is a little overblown. For one thing, I think Americans are much more aware and accepting of the fact that we're at war right now; we've been desensitized to this kind of violence through months of casualty reports trickling in. I don't think this means Americans are unconcerned or that the incident won't affect public opinion toward the war, but it certainly isn't going to bring the White House to adjust its military policy anytime soon, and it's hard to imagine a backlash beyond what we aleady have.

Another big difference with this incident is the way the media has handled it. Domestic US media has kept a pretty tight lid on the images, just like it's avoided covering the return of soldiers' coffins or maimed "medical evacuees". This failure may not even be corrected by foreign press in Iraq, who as we saw earlier this week are controlled by the provisional authority. But in any case, the flow of information this time means the images are a lot less in you face.

And then there's the whiff that these guys weren't really civilians, as the news reports have been so careful to point out. Calling them contractors somehow avoids the question of who they're contracted out to - almost certainly the military. It reminds me of the situation with the "civilians" who were taken hostage after their plane was downed over Colombia... calling them civilians was pretty misleading. Jeanne D'Arc has more on this.


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