All Zarqawi, all the time

After the air strike that killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, comes the inevitable downpour of analytical stories. Here’s one from the Washington Post.

Until he was killed Wednesday by U.S. forces, the Jordanian-born guerrilla served as Osama bin Laden’s proxy in Iraq, attracting hundreds if not thousands of foreign fighters under the al-Qaeda banner. At the same time, Zarqawi had grown into a strategic headache for al-Qaeda’s founders by demonstrating an independent streak often at odds with their goals.

But the Atlantic Monthly has a terrific report on the jihadist, in a special edition rushed for the Web (the story comes out in the July-August issue). This may be the best place to start.

The Washington Post story that disclosed the Pentagon policy to "magnify" al-Zarqawi’s reputation a full two months ago can be found here.

Some senior intelligence officers believe Zarqawi’s role may have been overemphasized by the propaganda campaign, which has included leaflets, radio and television broadcasts, Internet postings and at least one leak to an American journalist. Although Zarqawi and other foreign insurgents in Iraq have conducted deadly bombing attacks, they remain "a very small part of the actual numbers," Col. Derek Harvey, who served as a military intelligence officer in Iraq and then was one of the top officers handling Iraq intelligence issues on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an Army meeting at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., last summer.

In a transcript of the meeting, Harvey said, "Our own focus on Zarqawi has enlarged his caricature, if you will — made him more important than he really is, in some ways."

A deadly cartoon.



Filed under Readings in Politics

4 responses to “All Zarqawi, all the time

  1. manuelbuencamino

    Zarqawi, Saddam, Osama are necessary ingredients of wartime propaganda. They give a face to the enemy. The uglier, more subhuman and evil they look the better it is.

    In a very important way, they serve to minimize the horror of innocent civilians being killed because they are collateral damage or an acceptable cost to defeating “evil”

  2. DJB

    But PDI’s Editorial stunk. It claimed Zarqawi killed only dozens of Iraqis. violation of the code of professional conduct, John: intentional inaccuracy in aid of ideology. Pathetic.

  3. You mean this editorial, Dean?

    The one that referred to two important articles, a profile in the Atlantic Monthly and a scoop in the Washington Post?(The Post’s exclusive:

    That scoop where the following statement can be read?

    “U.S. authorities have said he is responsible for dozens of deaths in Iraq and have placed a $25 million bounty on his head.”

    I guess the Washington Post, despite its sterling reporting on the Iraq war, is, ah, intentionally inaccurate too!

  4. Beyond the dispute in regard to facts, is the ‘tension’ between mainstream media and bloggers-as-alternative also at play here? Or is there something else? 🙂

    By the way, can I link to your blog John?

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