Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Fearful Asymmetry

This article by Anshel Pfeffer is based on a report from the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. The point of it is that, however inferior in arms the Jihadists, Hezbollah, etc may be, in the information war, not only do they have considerable advantages, but they are using what they have very well indeed.

Pfeffer describes how open the IDF was to scrutiny even to the Arab TV networks. Just north, however, the situation was very different.

ON THE other side, Hizbullah controlled the journalists covering the situation in Lebanon with an iron fist. Media tours of Hizbullah-controlled areas, where the IDF's bombing was mainly concentrated, were tightly managed, with foreign reporters being sternly warned against wandering off and talking to local residents unsupervised. Infringement of these rules would be punished by the confiscation of cameras and disbarment from any further visits or access to Hizbullah members. According to Kalb, only CNN's Anderson Cooper openly admitted to having operated under these rules.
This is not control for its own sake. They were building a storyline.
Hizbullah also forbade any photographs of its fighters. Cameramen were warned never to show men with guns or ammunition. The only armed personnel seen during this war were IDF soldiers; Hizbullah remained throughout a phantom army.

Another scene almost never shown was the hundreds of Hizbullah firing positions and missile launch sites within residential areas and private homes, the cause of many civilian deaths and a violation of international law.
The images told the story: this war was unarmed civilians against heavily armed (Israeli) soldiers. Civilians = Victims. Soldiers = Oppressors. Simple. Clear. Wrong.

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