Bits and Pieces

Saturday, October 23, 2004

New Video of Margaret Hassan Released

Margaret Hassan, the kidnapped director of CARE International in Iraq, wept and pleaded for Britain to act to save her life in a video aired Friday. "Please help me. This might be my last hours," the gaunt Hassan begged, shaking with fear and burying her face in a tissue.
The wrenching appeal by Hassan puts new political pressure on Prime Minister Tony Blair's government after it agreed to a U.S. request to redeploy troops to the Baghdad region to free up American forces for a new assault on insurgents.

Hassan, an Irish-British-Iraqi citizen who has been doing humanitarian work in Iraq for 30 years, pleaded with Britons to persuade Blair not to carry out the redeployment and warned she might meet the same fate as British hostage Kenneth Bigley, who was beheaded by his captors.

Forgetting for a moment the unpleasantness of this whole situation, you have to admire the strategy. I've been reading a lot of comments on other blogs along the lines of 'Even terrorist sympathisers will turn their backs if these guys kill an old woman'. Surprise, surprise, these guys aren't trying to gain friends.

The strategy is simple. Make military issues personal. Ken Bigley was taken by al-Zarqawi in an attempt to force us to release prisoners. Without Bigley the threat would be 'release our prisoners or we will kill people.' With him, it was 'release our people or we will kill this man. Look at him. He has a family. A wife. We will take these knives and show you his severed head.'. A much more powerful threat, I'm sure you'll agree. People tend not to listen to the threat of death on a general basis, but to look in the eyes of the man they intend to kill... No point in going on- you saw the impact it had.

The Bigley threat didn't work, but the terrorists saw the public uproar and liked it. They enjoyed the pressure it brought on Tony Blair, and they saw a weakness. The strategy didn't work with an male engineeer who was working for profit, so now they'll try a woman working for charity, a woman who has devoted her life to good works.

It won't work. No matter how much shit he takes for it, Blair can't allow military decisions to be made by the public. Have you met the British public? I live with them, and I'd barely trust them to brush their teeth in the morning. The downside to this is that people like al-Zarqawi will continue to take our people, and we will over and again be subjected to the videos of their deaths, before he learns that the strategy is flawed. Before this ends we'll see the deaths of many more women, and maybe even children. Propaganda is a powerful tool, and they'll push this as hard as they can, testing us to breaking point. It's gonna get a lot worse before it gets better.

Also blogging: Rusty Shackleford, Rambling's Journal, Diggers Realm, ISOU, Slant Point, and Body and Soul.
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