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Wednesday, April 09, 2003
Lessons in getting it wrong

Here is part of this article, covering some of the more ridiculous misconceptions about the current war:
On March 21... an "embedded" CNN correspondent interviewed an American soldier. "I wanna get in there and get my nose dirty," Private AJ said. "I wanna take revenge for 9/11."

To be fair to the correspondent, even though he was "embedded" he did sort of weakly suggest that so far there was no real evidence that linked the Iraqi government to the September 11 attacks. Private AJ stuck his teenage tongue out all the way down to the end of his chin. "Yeah, well that stuff's way over my head," he said.

According to a New York Times/CBS News survey, 42 per cent of the American public believes that Saddam Hussein is directly responsible for the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. And an ABC news poll says that 55 per cent of Americans believe that Saddam Hussein directly supports al-Qaida. What percentage of America's armed forces believe these fabrications is anybody's guess.
Why are so many Americans so ill-informed? When it comes to a battle for the hearts and minds of Iraqis, Private AJ is not the best of ambassadors. Given the recent lunatic display of the Stars and Stripes in Baghdad, one can see that the Americans are unlikely to be seen as liberators for long.

Indeed, I have just watched live, the toppling of the large Saddam statue in the centre of Baghdad. The US engineers could not resist wrapping the tyrant's head in the Stars & Stripes, albeit briefly, before an Iraqi flag was provided temporarily as a necktie (not a hood). The felling of the statue was a moving moment but it was spoiled by triumphalism.

The biggest question of all is Why aren't the soldiers properly briefed?

I heard a report recently, en passant, that US troops would be expelled from the army if they behave like conquerors. But let's see some courts martial of officers. They're supposed to be the ones in control and if they're not doing their jobs properly, they're the ones who should be disciplined. Fat chance, though.

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