Monday, December 01, 2003

Dressed to rob
This doesn't make any sense

An ambush on US troops in Iraq's city of Samarra was an attempt to seize new Iraqi banknotes, the US military say.
"It was a co-ordinated attack... on a convoy... delivering a significant amount of Iraqi currency," US Colonel Fredrick Rudesheim told reporters.

In the Samarra incident, US commanders initially reported 46 dead and 18 wounded but later raised the death toll without explaining whether the additional victims were insurgents or civilians.
US spokesman Lieutenant Colonel William MacDonald said that US forces had fought back with tank fire when they were attacked three times by militants wearing uniforms of the pro-Saddam Fedayeen fighters.

So after happily attacking occupation forces and civilians in plain clothes for months, insurgents assume dress uniform to pull a heist? Of course, they could be completely stupid. Or maybe the fedayeen 'uniforms' were just a keffiyah pulled over the head, in time honoured one-across-the-pavement style.

But the report smacks of a consistent problem with coalition propaganda. Instead of shaping events into a credible pro-occupation story, they are inflated Jessica Lynch style into something practically unbelievable. Believing in them then becomes a kind of patriotism test.

There seem to be two ideas the coalition want transmitting: that insurgents are under Saddam's control, and that they are a standard issue bunch of thieves and killers. Well, maybe, for all I know. But as presented here, they conflict with each other and make the coalition account of the event unconvincing.

Note to Centcom: propaganda wars are fought against the enemy, not those back home inclined to treat hot news from the front line with due scepticism. It's much easier to get people to believe what you say if you don't offend their notions of credibility.