Sunday, June 11, 2006

A good PR move to draw attention

Colleen Graffy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, says that the Gitmo suicides did not value human life (click here for the 7½ minute audio clip), including their own (the valuable human life which the US still refuses even to name [Update: they are Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi Al-Utaybi, Yassar Talal Al-Zahrani, and Yemeni Ali Abdullah Ahmed; the Saudi government named its citizens), and then demonstrates her own high regard for human life by calling the suicides “certainly... a good PR move to draw attention,” a “tactic to further the jihadi cause.” She almost sorta had a point – that the actions were a statement aimed at the world, not just a gesture of despair aimed inwards – but then she just had to append that casually callous adjective “good.” Graffy knows all about good PR, because she works for Karen Hughes making the US beloved throughout the Muslim world. (Here’s an interview she gave the BBC in March about Guantanamo).

The outrageous quotes I’ve been relating the past 2 days have been about the US desperately trying prevent these people being seen as victims and martyrs, to portray as vocal, active and dangerous those from whom all voice and action had been removed. When you’ve been working tirelessly to silence these prisoners – no speeches in court, no interviews by UN inspectors, much less journalists, no letters to their families, no suicide notes – and they still manage to communicate with the outside world through the only medium left them, their dead bodies, perhaps that seems like a “good PR move.” When you’ve been trying to reduce these prisoners to entirely passive bodies, employing physical violence to break even their attempts to refuse food, only to see them retake their autonomy one last time in the only way not closed off to them, perhaps that seems like an “act of asymmetrical warfare” to you. The more totalitarian the system, the louder any act of defiance seems.

I’m feeling a little lazy and Deadwood’s on soon, so let’s assume this paragraph is something devastatingly clever linking 1) the Bushite fury that the Gitmo prisoners might be perceived as victims of a system of detention without end or hope with 2) the stuff about Zarqawi being used by the Bushies as a symbol, a more or less mythical figure only marginally related to the actually existing human being named Zarqawi.

Three Square Blocks of Kabul Afghan President Karzai will distribute guns to tribesmen, who are supposed to use them against Taliban. He will call those tribesmen “community police.” He does not see how this could possibly backfire.

Caption contest, if you’re so inclined:

No comments:

Post a Comment