May 6, 2006


Not All See Video Mockery of Zarqawi as Good Strategy (C. J. CHIVERS, 5/06/06, NY Times)

[S]everal veterans of wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, as well as active-duty officers, said in telephone interviews yesterday that the clips of Mr. Zarqawi's supposed martial incompetence were unconvincing.

The weapon in question is complicated to master, and American soldiers and marines undergo many days of training to achieve the most basic competence with it. Moreover, the weapon in Mr. Zarqawi's hands was an older variant, which makes its malfunctioning unsurprising. The veterans said Mr. Zarqawi, who had spent his years as a terrorist surrounded by simpler weapons of Soviet design, could hardly have been expected to know how to handle it.

"They are making a big deal out of nothing," said Mario Costagliola, who retired as an Army colonel last month after serving as the operations officer for the 42nd Infantry Division in Tikrit, Iraq.

An active-duty Special Forces colonel who served in Iraq also said that what the video showed actually had little relationship to Mr. Zarqawi's level of terrorist skill. "Looking at the video, I enjoy it; I like that he looks kind of goofy," said the Special Forces officer, who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on military matters. "But as a military guy, I shrug my shoulders and say: 'Of course he doesn't know how to use it. It's our gun.' He doesn't look as stupid as they said he looks."

The release of the captured video reflected the dueling public relations efforts between the American-led forces fighting in Iraq and the terrorists and insurgents. It also reflected increasing interest by the military and civilian strategists in trying to ridicule Mr. Zarqawi.

"In Arab and Muslim societies, pride and shame are felt much more profoundly than they are in Western culture," said J. Michael Waller, a professor at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school in Washington. "To find video like this that can cut him down to size and discredit him is a real way of fighting terrorism." A paper written by Professor Waller advocating the use of ridicule against the insurgents has been circulating at the Pentagon and among military commanders with experience in Iraq recently, according to several military officers.

After all, if an American Special Forces operative knows how hard it is to use that gun, who doesn't?

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 6, 2006 2:38 PM

Jason van Steenwyck has a brutal takedown of the media apologists for the Zarq-man's incompetence.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 6, 2006 4:14 PM

In such a macho culture, mockery is a way to fight the terrorists. No one there will follow a weak horse. Hopefully, he will be drawn by shame into doing something stupid, and then dying ignobly.

Posted by: Mikey at May 6, 2006 5:17 PM

"After all, if an American Special Forces operative knows how hard it is to use that gun, who doesn't?" Who cares? He's humiliated, and that's the point.

Posted by: ic at May 6, 2006 10:19 PM

Way I see it, the MSM's attempts to discredit the blooper reel just proves that it is effective.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at May 6, 2006 10:45 PM

Good to see the NYT springing to the defense of yet another downtrodden minority community leader.

Posted by: Amos at May 6, 2006 11:08 PM

42nd Infantry Division

As an aside, my dad who served in World War II (Europe) was in the 42nd Infantry Division. The 42nd is the Rainbow Infantry Division. They liberated Dachau in late April of 1945.

By the way, today (May 8) is the 61st Anniversity of VE day.

Posted by: pchuck at May 8, 2006 10:10 AM