Monday, June 28, 2004


I am disturbed by the "new" technique that is being employed by al-Qaida and not just because it seems overly cruel and bestial. The technique seems to be effective -- now before you rush off and think I condone the beheading, I want to clarify that murder is murder period and I don't; however, this seems to be garnering worldwide attention which in al-quada's eyes must be "good".

Two things. First, when they, and I will use the most general "they" including the insurgents and al-Qaida, RPG a convoy or attack the green zone or even manage a coordinated series of attacks that kill almost 100 people, they make the headlines, but the headlines are fleeting. There seems to be natural public apathy to these stories because they are so commonplace and happening to nameless, faceless people "over there" somewhere. When they behead someone, even a "foreigner", they make and keep the headlines. They personalize the story. They make a connection with the audience. Indeed it is a disturbing connection, one of sick curiosity and horror, but people tune in and watch. They follow what's going on. The story becomes something more than just a killing over there and their message of both promising more violence, more kidnappings and beheadings, and their "reasons" for doing it are broadcast over and over again. Their message may not be understood or it may be overscored by the pugnacious act and overwhelmed by the shock of its audience, but it is out there--likewise, if the audience is plugged in for this story, they may plug in for the other, more mundane, stories including the the other "normal" combat related deaths or the resources that keep disappearing there.

Second, Bush said these terrorist thugs, evildoers, what have you, will harden our resolve -- but what mother who has a child either in the military or working for Haliburton will see her resolve harden after watching numerous beheadings and imagining her child in that position? What child who sees the news or has access to the net won't be begging for their parent/sibling to return? Who is actually saying, "yes, I will be beheaded for this cause of Iraq"? How many 18 year olds are going to enlist for the Iraqi mess versus say, "fuck it, I'm flipping burgers and getting drunk"?

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