Saturday, December 25, 2004

Insurgents want their stories told

The Belmont Club has been tracking what exactly was the link between the photographer who took pictures of islamic jihadis killing iraqi muslims on Haifa Street, in Baghdad a few days ago, and the islamic jihadis themselves.

The pictures were originally run by the AP, and they were posed in such a way that it seemed that the photographer had the cooperation of the killers.

The AP wrote back saying
Several brave Iraqi photographers work for The Associated Press in places that only Iraqis can cover. Many are covering the communities they live in where family and tribal relations give them access that would not be available to Western photographers, or even Iraqi photographers who are not from the area.

Insurgents want their stories told as much as other people and some are willing to let Iraqi photographers take their pictures. It's important to note, though, that the photographers are not "embedded" with the insurgents. They do not have to swear allegiance or otherwise join up philosophically with them just to take their pictures.
It seems that the cooperation was real, and the day time street murders were really more like a press conference, with the jihadis announcing to the world that they were not defeated, and to potential backers that they were the best and baddest in the business and thus most deserving of support.

The idea that the press, or anyone, can be neutral in a war has been disconfirmed. Bush's "you are either with us or you are with the terrorists" is a figure of fun, but it is also a reasonably accurate description of the reality we find ourselves in. Kerry and the Democrats were not with Bush, so by extension they were considered "with" (or soft) on the terrorists and unsurprisingly lost in 04. They will continue losing, I think, until they find some way to triangulate between Bush and Bin Laden which does not paint them as jihadi-sympathisers. This should be easy, but I fear it will actually be quite difficult.

Wretchard (of the Belmont Club) frames his posts in such a way that he calls into question the morality/loyalty of the killer-sympathetic photographer. I ask "so what if they are in cahoots?" Ideological wars are fought both on the ground and in the realm of ideas, so it is unsurprising that conduits of ideas (photographs, newspapers, weblogs) would be recruited to further one side and the other. In areas with competitive media landscapes, such as the US, audiences will find the bias that suits their taste and keep an eye on the competition by haranging them for mistakes (Faux News vs the liberal MSM). In areas without such a landscape, demand for alternative points of view will seek alternative supplies.

The executions were a staged press conference to support these particular jihadis in their quest for power, and the AP's editorial policies have been noted.


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