Psychological Warfare: Mumbai

Dear Friend and Reader,

Three days into the attack, With Nariman House and Hotel Oberoi-Trident cleared, between one and three terrorists holding ground in the Taj Hotel and close to 200 dead civilians, now is an important time to pause and examine the situation.

We’ve been bombarded these past three days by news briefs, casualty counts and photographs from Mumbai, including the one displayed above of Indian commandos firing in Nariman House through someone’s bedroom window: assumedly, the man laying on the ground in jeans and a yellow shirt, in the forefront.

The South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) discussed media bias, particularly in CNN’s focus on American and British civilian deaths. Though at least four Americans’ and one Canadian’s deaths have been confirmed, there is no question at this stage that the majority of those killed were Indian. True, CNN is an American news source, but asВ Mira Kamdar, Asia Society fellow and author of Planet India, explained, even CNN International — meant for a worldwide audience — is focusing on the deaths of non-Indians. Why is this?

12 people were killed and 19 injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up this morning 50 miles south of Baghdad. About 700 people were gathering, both for morning prayers and to prepare for a peaceful protest “at the ratification in the Iraqi Parliament on Thursday of a new security agreement with the UnitedВ States.” The Sudanese government is ignoring a UN-sanctioned ceasefire in Darfur, continuing their air strikes. In the five years (and counting) of the Darfur conflict 200,000 have died and 2.5 million have been driven from their homes.

It’s been a violent few days leading up to and passing over Thanksgiving, and not just for the Western civilians that are dead or missing in Mumbai. Yet, somehow, it seems we need a First World face to identify with, to care. It makes me wonder how long the news coverage would last if there weren’t any Westerners involved. A couple of days? Would the headline today be back to Obama and family volunteering in a soup kitchen or Black Friday — the biggest shopping day of the year — during an economic downturn?

Regardless of this speculation, our focus is on India now, returned to the fear of random and horrible terrorism that, eight years after September 11th, we let fade into the background a bit.В Psychological warfare “could be considered a type ofВ unconventional warfare. This is because it attempts to influence the mind of theВ enemyВ rather than destroy its military. The press is one of the most commonly used weapons for spreading propaganda.”В Between their timing: starting the attack the night before Thanksgiving, and the media’s separate agenda with a one-two punch of Western focus and bedroom scenes like the one above, psychological warfare becomes a central element.

The fear of what comes next; it could be us — it could be me — has returned. It’s the media’s primary way to hold our interest; by identifying ourselves with the issue, and to scare us. What worries me about it is the human connection isn’t enough to trigger us. It has to have a Western face.В 

Yours & truly,

Rachel Asher

2 thoughts on “Psychological Warfare: Mumbai”

  1. Don’t worry, Victoria. The US has been fighting a secret war in Asia for as long as I’ve been alive. The CIA likes it out there because they can do anything they want. And the Islamists…well, it’s about Love, believe it or not, which equals money really if your dad happens to be a King.

    This in particular ended up on DAWN but not on Reuters for Americans:

    November 29.

    But look what is on Reuters:

    Oct. 27, Nov 14, 17, 19, 21 and 26.

    The drones really started hunting in September:

    Suspected US strike kills two in South Waziristan Saturday, 29 Nov, ISLAMABAD: A suspected US drone aircraft fired a missile at a house in the militancy-plagued Pakistani region of North Waziristan on the Afghan border on Saturday, killing two people, Reuters reported security agency officials as saying. US forces in Afghanistan have carried out at least 27 air strikes by unmanned aircraft on militant targets in northwest Pakistan this year, according to a Reuters tally, more than half of them since the beginning of September. �A missile was fired at a house owned by one Taj Mohammad, and we have reports of two men killed,’ said an intelligence agency official. (Posted @ 14:40 PST)

    It wasn’t a terrorist attack. It’s a low level conflict between whatever is in Waziristan and US drones. That’s why it looks so different. That’s why the only outfit we’ve heard from in the past 78 hours is Al Qaeda. That’s why the boys were targeting Americans and Israelites.

    Sometimes the analyst is wrong but this one seems obvious.

    This has been your Intelligence Minute.


  2. I don’t take this incident lightly at all. Kinduv put a dark cloud around the turkey.

    But would a good rule of thumb be to maybe not take holiday where a pirate ship has just been blown up? And Indian leadership has vowed to take the lead in ridding the waters of pirates?

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