Wow! The FT today has a very long and extensive story about how the US military have been ‘placing’ stories in the Iraqi press. While I don’t disagree with the observation by one commentator in that “I donâ€™t think that thereâ€™s anything inherently evil or morally wrong with it” in a war situation, I do agree with another Pentagon spokesman quoted who argues that it is more than just efficacy which is at stake:
â€œHere we are trying to create the principles of democracy in Iraq. Every speech we give in that country is about democracy. And weâ€™re breaking all the first principles of democracy when weâ€™re doing it,â€ said a senior Pentagon official who opposes the practice of planting stories in the Iraqi media.
All this takes me back to my Afoe post last week about alleged suggestions that it might be a good idea to bomb the Doha headquarters of the Arabic satellite TV channel al-Jazeera. The point is, you don’t bomb people just because you disagree with their opinions. That in fact is terrorism, not anti-terrorism, and if you want a free and independent pressthen that is what you have to accept, that it won’t necessarily agree with, or support you. The big danger is that the official Iraqi press loses credibility through this kind of thing, and as a consequence the fragile Iraqi democracy also loses credibility.