Monday, May 24, 2010

More between the lines

Latest news from Afghanistan ....

Taliban admit Kandahar attack from the Independent (UK)

I love the wording of that headline. Like the headline writer expects the Taliban to be ashamed of kicking our rears. They 'admit' it. More likely they jumped up and down and shouted it at the top of their lungs.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for an assault with rockets, mortars and automatic weapons on Kandahar airport, Nato's biggest base in southern Afghanistan, in the third major attack on the military in six days. Several coalition troops and civilian employees were wounded.

This post goes with the one below. So read it as well.

Then, think about Gen. McCrystals quote in that post. And then think about this. The insurgents in Afghanistan have launched three major attacks on NATO/US installations in a week. That's as close as McCrystal is going to get to having the guerrillas come out in the open and fight the battle that a US general who was trained to fight the Soviets in a massive tank battle in central Europe wants.

Three times in the last week, the guerrilla have massed themselves for a major attack on a NATO installation.

The Saturday night attack against Kandahar base was the second ground assault on a major NATO installation this week. Officials said a number of soldiers and civilians were wounded but gave no figures. They said there were no confirmed deaths among the more than 20,000 people who live and work at the base.

Militants unleashed rockets and mortars about 8pm and then tried unsuccessfully to storm the northern perimeter of the base, about 300 miles southwest of Kabul. One of the rockets hit a shop-lined boardwalk where soldiers socialize in the evenings.

Its one thing for guerrillas to sneak up outside a base, fire off a couple of mortar rounds, and then run away before there's a response. You'd think a mighty empire that rules the world could control the perimeter around its massive major bases well enough to stop this, but it still happens.

The key words in that paragraph are how they tried to 'storm the northern perimeter'. Think about that. They are trying to openly launch ground assaults on the perimeter of a major base that holds 20,000 NATO troops and civilians.

Gen. McCrystal? Are you there? You say you want an open battle against the guerrillas. Well, they are at the northern perimeter right now and it looks like they want to come fight you as well.

This is not good for a guerrilla war. When the guerrillas stop hiding in caves and instead come out and openly attack your major bases at the airfields of Kabul and Kandahar, that's usually a sign of the beginning of the end. That's Tet Offensive time, and a sign that our fantasies about convincing the Afghan people to become model western consumer/slaves are coming to an end.

Read between the lines when dealing with propaganda. Especially with military propaganda that comes from a military that openly states it wages information wars and tries to control information. When you hear that the guerrillas who are always described as cowards who are too afraid to fight are instead massing and attacking NATO/US bases with impunity, pay very close attention. This is not news from a victorious army.

Note also how these are becoming NATO bases. Can't tell the US people that US bases are being attacked and in some places captured. So, suddenly the spin machine starts to call them all 'NATO' bases. If this war continues to go downhill, watch how much this becomes a 'NATO' war in the US media.

If they put the US brand on this war, then that says they think they are winning and they want to claim the glory for themselves. That's how Afghanistan was for years. But, when they start to pull the US brand away from this war, that tells you they don't want the brand name tarnished by what's to come.

PS ... if you like observing how the propaganda works, note how this same attack was portrayed in the LA Times. U.S. troops, Afghan police sweep through Taliban stronghold

In the US papers, the attack on a major base of 20,000 soldiers/workers becomes just a minor little footnote in an article that describes yet another victory and successful operation for our brave troops. We actually sent 400 or so troops and police out of their forts into an Afghan town in the daylight. This is a major victory worthy of a major LA Times article ... and the detail that our major base in the area was attacked is reduced to mere footnote.

Hours later, insurgents launched a rocket, mortar and ground attack on the main base used by foreign troops, at Kandahar's air field a few miles east of Kokaran. Explosions wounded several troops and civilian workers, said Capt. Scott Costen, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization spokesman at the base. Costen said he could not provide details on the attack, the number of wounded or any insurgent casualties.

But the attack seemed similar to an insurgent assault Wednesday on the sprawling U.S. base at Bagram, north of Kabul.

That single sentence 2nd paragraph is weird. It has the smell of a remnant of a larger paragraph that didn't clear the censors. If all the writer wanted to say was that one sentence, then it makes more sense attached to the end of the previous paragraph. I wonder what was cut from that 2nd paragraph?

Funny, other reporters got more details. But in the US, they can't be mentioned apparently. In fact, its highly likely that this LA Times reporter who was out with the troops in the daytime was staying inside this major base of 20,000 people when it was attacked that night. I'm just guessing, but I doubt that this American propaganda artist, who openly walks around with US troops, just checked into a local Taliban bed and breakfast to get a room.

But, we certainly aren't allowed any eyewitness details that he might have experienced. Instead we get the vague excuse from a NATO officer that no more details are available. Meanwhile, the article goes back to the 28 of 30 paragraphs the describe our victorious troops actually out in an Afghan city.

But even in the LA Times, note how they are pulling the US brand away from this. Especially when its a defeat or a setback. Now its just a base housing 'foreign' troops that was attacked, and that its NATO officers that they associate with this base. One would get the impression that this was a completely separate fight, involving few if any US troops, and unconnected with our great victory.

Instead, after a day when 400 soldiers and police, who have to be heavily armed and travel in a large force to even walk the streets, tried to hand out candy bars to win the local hearts and minds, their base was attacked that night with an attack that tried to storm their perimeter.

Yeah, we're winning, right? Its just a lot harder to tell what's going on if you read propaganda organs like the LA Times.

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