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December 01, 2005

MATT WELCH, like a lot of people, has lost perspective over the propaganda-in-Iraq story, but commenter "Tom" restores it:

Good God! We're talking about propaganda, right?!? Not carpet-bombing, or summary executions, or napalm, chemical and biological weapons, concentration camps, forced marches, slave labor...??? Propaganda!! PROPAGANDA!!!! Are you people insane? Tell me one war where both sides didn't use propaganda as much as possible. No, no, NOOOO! We don't want to win using PROPAGANDA! We'd much prefer having to kill thousands more than to win anyone over with PROPAGANDA!

Propaganda is a part of war, and it's not run according to Poynter Institute seminar standards. One might argue that what the U.S. military was doing is a bad idea -- I don't know one way or another on that -- but the howls of outrage seem rather forced. As is so often the case these days.

UPDATE: Reader Don Wolff reminds us that there are worse things in recent Baghdad media history. Perhaps that memory, or a desire to erase it, explains the excessive outrage now.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan, seldom accused of stinting in his Bush criticism these days, comments:

So we're spinning the Iraqi press by planting propaganda in its pages? BFD. The only problem with this scheme, it seems to me, is not that somehow it's unethical to use propaganda in wartime, especially in occupied areas where local support is crucial. This is war, as some people still refuse to understand. The problem is that media is now global, the free citizens of Iraq can access information from almost anywhere on earth, and these stories will leak and backfire. We're adjusting to war in a new media universe. We haven't adjusted swiftly enough.

This seems to me to be a plausible criticism, unlike Welch's.