Friday, July 25, 2014

Propaganda is part of every war

Like Booman, I'm fascinated by the propaganda war accompanying Israel's attack on Gaza. A lot of what both sides say doesn't hold up if you look at it too closely. But the Israeli propaganda goes a lot further in the American press.

My basic philosophy is that to assume that any pronouncement about what happens in a bombing or firefight that either side's government, military, "armed faction", whatever, should be taken with a grain of salt. They all have a huge incentive to lie or at least spin the truth. That seems like nothing but common sense to me. That was true with my own country in the Iraq War (when virtually everything the Bush Administration said about Iraq turned out to be horseshit), it's true with the claims of the government in Kiev, the rebels in Eastern Ukraine, and the Russian government with regards to the Ukraine conflict, and it's true in Israel/Gaza.

The "human shields" thing is my particular favorite--just because of how often the claim that Hamas uses human shields is cited by the Israeli side and how much that side tries to stretch the logic of the charge to excuse itself of virtually any atrocity that occurs as a result of the Israeli campaign. The charge seems to be based almost entirely on the IDF's say-so. That doesn't mean it hasn't happened. I just can't seem to find any independent confirmation that Hamas intentionally uses civilians as human shields that doesn't ultimately go back to the Israeli military saying it does when it has a clear interest to absolve itself of killing civilians. The irony is that there seems to be more third party confirmation that Israeli soldiers have used civilians as human shields than there is for Hamas. At least in prior conflicts. For example, here, here, and here. That documented history has done nothing to stop the charge from being flung at Hamas pretty much any time any civilian dies because of an Israeli weapon. On top of that, even if Hamas did use "human shields", I don't think it relieves Israel of very much blame for civilian deaths. If you know someone is using innocent people as a human shield, you should stop shooting.