The PR war

The PR war
: The Guardian says we’re losing the PR war.

The Centcom command centre in Qatar, with its hugely expensive press facilities, has also been slow to get its case across. It was not until Saturday that General Tommy Franks got round to speaking to the world’s media, with a polished performance that said almost nothing….

The battle for Umm Qasr, the small port near the border with Kuwait has been won and un-won so many times that by now most people have lost count….

Iraqi spokesmen, on the other hand, have been remarkably forthcoming and, if we disregard the usual rhetoric, the factual content of their statements has often been more accurate than that of the invasion forces.

This reporter also tells a different tale about our welcome in liberated towns:

As the invasion forces move closer to Baghdad, it is still an open question as to whether ordinary Iraqis will view them as conquerors or liberators. The omens so far are not particularly good. When they arrived in Safwan last Friday, one Iraqi greeted them by saying: “What took you so long? God help you to become victorious.”

Possibly he meant it, though it’s not hard to imagine similar words being addressed to anyone who arrived in town with a conspicuous display of weaponry. Two Reuters correspondents, travelling independently of the military, told a different story:

“One group of Iraqi boys on the side of the road smiled and waved as a convoy of British tanks and trucks rolled by. But once it had passed, leaving a trail of dust and grit in its wake, their smiles turned to scowls. ‘We don’t want them here,’ said 17-year-old Fouad, looking angrily up at the plumes of grey smoke rising from Basra. ‘Saddam is our leader,’ he said defiantly. ‘Saddam is good’.”