Appeasement and the War on Terrorism

Ron Smith is an international relations professor at Waikato University in New Zealand. His article concerning Iraq is nothing short of excellent:

From at least the time of the Prussian theorist Clausewitz, some 200 years ago, it has been recognised that the use of violent means for political ends (war) is an uncertain business, replete with misapprehension and mistake, as well as tragic loss.

It is thus essential that the media (and the publics they serve) keep their eyes on the broader picture and understand the strategies and objectives of the various parties and particularly the significance of how they, the media, respond.

In relation to the war in Iraq, it was obvious from the outset that the adversary parties (al Qaeda or Saddam loyalists) could not cause the United States and its allies to withdraw by defeating their forces. They could achieve this end only by causing them to leave through some other factor.

Most obviously this could happen through political pressure following unacceptable losses of service personnel, or because of apparent human-rights violations in the way they fought.

In both these cases, the essential conduit is the media and it is noteworthy that from the outset (from the first military death), Western media were conjoining reports of the event with questions about whether the US would now pack up and leave. Of course, the fact that they made this connection only reinforced the adversary in his strategy.

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