Tuesday, July 31

Try on this image of defeat, Mr Fishman

Last Friday Bill Moyers invited one Mr Fishman on his PBS show to discuss the situation in Iraq. Moyers said, "Brian Fishman is part of a team at the U.S. Military Academy whose mission is to train young officers who may find themselves up against those Muslim militants. The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, where Brian Fishman is a senior associate, does just what its name implies. It was established to make sure cadets get the best possible education in global terrorism. [...] Assume I'm one of those cadets at West Point who may well be in Iraq a few months from now. What do you want me to know about al Qaeda in Iraq?"

Well, one thing Fishman wanted Bill to know is that the US has already been defeated:
BRIAN FISHMAN: With the cadets in class, we walk through some of the jihadi chat rooms that are used to spread propaganda against their fellow soldiers. And they need to understand -- there's a photo out there, a very famous photo that's on all of these chat rooms. It's a picture of a bunch of American soldiers taking a rest in a mosque with their boots on. And it's everywhere. And because it's just a symbol of sort of insult to Islam. And the cadets need to understand that even if they are doing something that they think is completely benign, that they don't mean any sort of insult, it can be used against them. And it's that kind of awareness that they need to get to the point where they understand that they could accidentally do something extraordinarily insulting. That photograph is more of the strategic defeat than any sort of tactical engagement on the battlefield. And we need to understand it and the cadets need to understand that.
If images create strategic defeat, I wonder what Mr Fishman would say about the image shown today of the US Secretary of State in the Middle East, in a meeting with Arab diplomats wearing traditional robes: Condi wearing a pantsuit, her African features framed by uncovered hair.

That image is also going all over the Muslim world, thanks to al Jazeera and several other satellite TV stations. And many millions of Muslim women are seeing it -- many more than will ever visit a terrorist chat room.

Here is Pundita's advice to Bill Moyers: Courage.

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