L. Neil Smith's
Truth, Justice And The ...
by David Purves
Special to TLE
I was cruising the web for news last week and I noticed a headline at CNN: "U.S.-dropped leaflets show bin Laden in Western clothes" (www.cnn.com/2002/US/01/04/ret.bin.laden.leaflets/index.html). The subject of the article is a leaflet supposedly being dropped in Afghanistan showing a clean shaven Bin Laden partying it up on one side ("... THE MURDERER AND COWARD HAS ABANDONED YOU!") and a some dead Afghan soldiers on the back. We will for the moment ignore the wisdom of dropping a leaflet in english to a people speaking Arabic and Farsi.
Somewhere here, the truth is lacking.
While article mentions that the pictures are doctored, and that the whole thing is an exercise in psych warfare that might not play well in parts of the world where the US is already distrusted, there is a bigger issue here than whether a we will lose trust in parts of the world where we never really had it anyway.
This kind of propaganda does not represent the good 'ole U.S. of A. very well. This leaflet reminds me of the time I spent a little more than ten years ago as an E-4 with a radio on my back and toting an M16 on the border with North Korea.
The DMZ between North and South Korea might be described as (while I was there anyway) the most noise polluted mostly unpopulated area in the world. On either side of this strip a few klicks wide, the North and South have massive banks of speakers piping stirring martial music or western rock, depending on which way the wind is blowing. These speakers are so loud, that you can sometimes hear the same program (they mostly played North or South radio) competing with itself from speakers several miles distant and thus several _seconds_ out of sync with itself. Another constant reminder of the propaganda war between North and South are the leaflets deployed by both sides in balloons to spread the truth, as it were, to the poor deluded fools on the other side (in the balloons are sometimes included small radios or small explosives).
The propaganda from the North was wholly uninteresting stuff. Poorly printed, it resembled more the failed attempts of a sixth grade class to operate a printing press than the works of a Great Nation, (God)Fathered by the magnificent Kim Ill Sung.
The propaganda from the South was good stuff. Glossy and pro, you could spot it on the ground a mile away while patrolling the 'Z.
Enough background material... this Bin Laden Leaflet reminds me of what we used to call the "Get Out Of North Korea Free Card" (I'll call it the GOONKFC for... better not). The card was a glossy, full color, 3x5 card that made a number of interesting promises to the bearer (assuming they were a defecting North Korean):
One might suspect that persons responsible for the card in some vast ministry near Seoul might be slightly less than totally honest ... "I'm sorry, Brother from the North, that girl is taken. Would you care to select another?"
Do you remember what Superman used to stand for? (I can't say I've heard him say it lately).
Truth, Justice, and the American Way.
Recalling my time in Korea, it certainly looks like the Koreans figured out that last one.