Monday, January 5, 2009

Taliban Triumphs and the Truth: Or, Never Tell a Little Lie

Wow! The Taliban, those Lions of Islam, killed 5,220 foreign troops in Afghanistan's quagmire (oops: quicksand) last year!

According to the Taliban.

That's about 20 times what the foreign oppressors say were killed.

The foreign oppressors are, of course, America which is 'unilaterally' 'brutalizing' Afghanistan, along with NATO and other forces.

I'm inclined to believe the western figures. Partly because I'm an American - but mostly because I know the west's almost obsessive attention to detail, when it comes to reporting its own casualties.

NATO's member countries, and NATO as a unit, report all troop deaths: complete with names, ages, hometowns, and how the soldiers were killed. America is the same way.

It's possible that the military of over a dozen countries would lie about death tolls: but soldiers have families, who probably would notice if their son or daughter dropped out of sight; and if the families didn't notice something odd, reporters routinely nose around war zones and the home front, looking for a story.

And discovering a systematic cover-up of thousands of American and European deaths would be news!

The Taliban has an answer to that: it's all a vast conspiracy. "The true damage inflicted on U.S. and NATO fighters over the last year has been 'repeatedly hidden by the enemy and they have controlled the media by using money, power and their lies,' the [Taliban] statement said."

If the Truth Doesn't Suit You: Substitute Your Own

One of the advantages the Taliban has, I think, is that they're playing to an audience whose members desperately want to believe that
  • America and western civilization is absolutely awful, and the cause of all their problems
  • The god of their own hand-rolled version of Islam will give them victory
  • Any inconvenient facts are part of a plot against them
Maintaining that sort of belief system is, I think, a lot easier than thinking: which may help explain the popularity of outfits like the Taliban - in some quarters, anyway.

Running Low on Funds and Suicide Bombers? Tout Your Triumphs!

If the triumphs aren't really as big as your marketing people say they should be: boost the numbers. But, be sure to say that western media, military, and governments are all involved in a big plot to hide your version of the truth.

The Associated Press article explained it this way:

"The insurgents' exaggerations are designed to boost morale inside the Taliban and to attract financing from donors sympathetic to their cause, a U.S. military official and a Taliban expert said.

" 'They put out this propaganda in order to raise capital to continue their operations,' said Col. Jerry O'Hara, a U.S. military spokesman.

"Vahid Mojdeh, the author of a book on the Taliban who continues to study the militia, said the exaggerated claims help the insurgents recruit new fighters.

" 'The Taliban needs volunteers to carry out suicide attacks, so they want to show they are killing a lot of people,' Mojdeh said...."

Of course: that's the Associated Press. And, according to the Taliban, they're conspiring with the American military to hide The Truth - Taliban style.

Related posts: In the news: Related posts, on censorship, propaganda, and freedom of speech.


Anonymous said...

After all this, there is only one thing to say: Have reverence for God, and obey his commands, because this is all that we were created for. ECCLESIASTES 12:13 TEV

Brian H. Gill said...

Thankful Paul,

Excellent point. There's now a short post in another blog, "My Life Has Purpose: Everybody's Does" (January 5, 2009). Thanks for raising the issue.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.