Reports by the BBC about insurgents being killed by US and Iraqi forces are rarer than hens’ teeth, but even the Beeb couldn’t brush under the carpet the news that US and Iraqi forces killed 33 bad guys in a single operation on Monday.
The fact that coaliton forces have to kill this many of the enemy in order to make it on to the front page of the BBC and other news websites is a good indication of the difficulties they face in trying to win an information war that pits them against not just the insurgents, but against a cynical and hyper-critical media.
Whereas the MSM regularly reports on suicide bomb attacks that kill four or five Iraqis, it appears the coalition needs to get into at least double figures for enemy dead, and ideally the twenties and thirties, to make the headlines.
A quick look through the press releases on the MNF-I website reveals that at least 55 other insurgents have been taken out by US and Iraqi forces since Sunday, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the major news websites – CNN, for example, prefers to lead its Iraq news section with a story about whistleblowers being punished for exposing corruption in reconstruction projects.
The bad news from Iraq and Afghanistan is easy to find, but if you want to hear the positive news don’t hold your breath waiting for the MSM to report it. Visit Bill Roggio and Victory Caucus, or the MNF-I website.
Some commentators, notably Hugh Hewitt, think the military and the Bush administration should be less reticent about flagging up numbers of enemy dead. Opponents of the body count argument warn that it could cause soldiers to go on indiscriminate killing sprees to 'get the numbers up', and encourage insurgents to carry out even more mass-casualty attacks. However, I'm fairly sure that the terrorists are already trying as hard as they can to cause murder and mayhem, and the troops are well aware by now of how sensitive the public and the media are to civilian casualties.
Oh, and another thing you won’t be hearing at the top of the hour: by its own admission, al-Qaeda in Iraq’s ability to launch attacks has been dramatically diminished in the past couple of months.