When propaganda backfires

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When propaganda backfires

Postby Plasma Man » Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:28 am UTC

From the BBC news website.
RAF leaflet box kills Afghan girl

The RAF tries to reach local people with leaflet drops
The Ministry of Defence is investigating the death of a young Afghan girl who died after being hit by a box of leaflets dropped by the RAF.

The information leaflets were dropped in boxes from an RAF Hercules aircraft in Helmand province on 23 June.

The box failed to break apart in mid-air and landed on top of the girl who died later in hospital.

The MoD said it deeply regretted the "tragic incident", and a full investigation was under way.

A spokesman said the public information leaflets were dropped by the C130 Hercules in a rural area. The boxes are supposed to open in mid-air, scattering the leaflets over a wide area.

The unopened box seriously injured the girl who was treated at a local hospital in Kandahar.

"Despite the best efforts of staff, she died as a result of her injuries," the spokesman said.

Leaflet drops have been used extensively in Afghanistan by US and British forces in the battle to win the "hearts and minds" of the local population.

The MoD would not comment on what type of leaflet was involved, but past leaflets have included information about the election campaign, mine awareness campaigns, and warnings of impending military action in an area

In May, C130 aircraft based in Afghanistan with 904 Expeditionary Air Wing dropped 200,000 leaflets in support of the Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force.

Somehow, I don't think anyone who knew this girl will be supporting the US and British forces.
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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby scrovak » Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:36 am UTC

I... Um....


My sentiments spoilered because I know my opinion will likely anger a few.

Spoiler:
I think it's tragically hillarious. Tragic a girl had to die, but hillarious in it's irony and the incredible odds of it actually happening.
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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby General_Norris » Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:37 pm UTC

^I agree, even if it's tragical.

It's an accident the method is very reliable and works well.

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Iv » Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:45 pm UTC

Let's consider this as a serious issue once the NATO plans to stop killing civilians by inadvertent bombing, shall we ? I mean, too often airstrikes are ordered on civilian areas. Each civilian killed is a step toward defeat.

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Dauric » Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:22 pm UTC

Iv wrote:Let's consider this as a serious issue once the NATO plans to stop killing civilians by inadvertent bombing, shall we ? I mean, too often airstrikes are ordered on civilian areas. Each civilian killed is a step toward defeat.


This ties in to the practice of putting military targets in civilian areas, then crying foul when an attack on the military target misses and/or catches neighboring civilians in the blast area. It's nothing new and happened all the time in WWII. The civilian casualties of those carpet-bombing runs ran in the tens-of-thousands and more. I rather think it's impressive that modern precision munitions can hit a physically smaller target effectively and the civilian casualty-counts are in the dozens or hundreds.

If that sounds callous of me, consider that war is the antithesis of empathy and civilized behavior, and setting up a command post in a civilian neighborhood brings war to those people's doorsteps, it does not bring civility and compassion to war.

As far as the OP, technical glitch with the box. Given the number of leaflet boxes dropped, and the fact that they have to be dropped in population centers to be effective, it's notable that unfortunate accidents doesn't happen more often.
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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby MrGee » Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:24 pm UTC

Anyone know what these boxes are made of?

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby frezik » Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:41 pm UTC

MrGee wrote:Anyone know what these boxes are made of?


Leaflets, perhaps? A bunch of paper stacked together dropped from significant altitude could easily kill someone. Anything else that happens to be there is academic.
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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Dauric » Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:46 pm UTC

frezik wrote:
MrGee wrote:Anyone know what these boxes are made of?


Leaflets, perhaps? A bunch of paper stacked together dropped from significant altitude could easily kill someone. Anything else that happens to be there is academic.


If the release mechanism failed to open it was effectively a solid brick of lumber.
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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Sockmonkey » Thu Oct 01, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Yeah, if you've ever seen a bundle of newspapers tossed from the back of those trucks you have some idea of the kind of mass involved.

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Dibley » Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:23 pm UTC

Or have had to carry one of those terrifyingly massive boxes of printer paper.

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Vieto » Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:00 pm UTC

well, I must say.

Quite the paper-cut.

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Jahoclave » Thu Oct 01, 2009 11:21 pm UTC

Vieto wrote:well, I must say.

Quite the paper-cut.

Too soon. :wink:

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Oct 01, 2009 11:37 pm UTC

I'm kind of annoyed at such a prodigal use of paper. Most of this shit is just going to blow into the mountains, where some squirrel will make a nest out of it, or a goat will eat it.

Poor girl though. And to think she never even had the opportunity to be brainwashed by either party.
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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Philwelch » Fri Oct 02, 2009 12:24 am UTC

Dauric wrote:This ties in to the practice of putting military targets in civilian areas, then crying foul when an attack on the military target misses and/or catches neighboring civilians in the blast area. It's nothing new and happened all the time in WWII.


Shit, WWI even. "Oh, yeah, we were shipping weapons and ammunition on a passenger liner, but those Hun bastards sank it and killed thousands of Americans! WAR!"
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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby EmptySet » Fri Oct 02, 2009 1:37 am UTC

Vieto wrote:well, I must say.

Quite the paper-cut.


I'd say the truth hurts, but since they were propaganda leaflets...

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby yoni45 » Fri Oct 02, 2009 1:42 am UTC

(you're all heartless bastards =/

...well, most of you...)

Otherwise, it's an unfortunate incident, but really not reason to condemn any particular war effort any more than a freak work accident is grounds to condemn capitalism...
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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Iv » Fri Oct 02, 2009 8:31 am UTC

Dauric wrote:This ties in to the practice of putting military targets in civilian areas, then crying foul when an attack on the military target misses and/or catches neighboring civilians in the blast area.
Like a UN diplomat once said, when a criminal uses hostage, the correct course of action is not to kill the hostage in order to get the criminal.

Dauric wrote:It's nothing new and happened all the time in WWII. The civilian casualties of those carpet-bombing runs ran in the tens-of-thousands and more. I rather think it's impressive that modern precision munitions can hit a physically smaller target effectively and the civilian casualty-counts are in the dozens or hundreds.
Yes, the precision we can have today is really a blessing to prevent civilian kills. And I am precisely arguing that civilian casualties today are not the result of poor precision of bombs but rather human decisions that tend to bomb human presence in some areas without the appropriate checks.

Dauric wrote:If that sounds callous of me, consider that war is the antithesis of empathy and civilized behavior, and setting up a command post in a civilian neighborhood brings war to those people's doorsteps, it does not bring civility and compassion to war.
If this is what war really is, how come it is acceptable to start one ? This war was presented as a liberation war. Civilian casualties should be counted as NATO's side casualties. As you pointed out, some technologies have been brought to war in order to reduce the amount of destruction required to achieve victory. This kind of things tries to bring some civilized behavior into the war

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby General_Norris » Fri Oct 02, 2009 3:07 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I'm kind of annoyed at such a prodigal use of paper. Most of this shit is just going to blow into the mountains, where some squirrel will make a nest out of it, or a goat will eat it.


I don't think there's a better way to do this. At all.

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby yoni45 » Fri Oct 02, 2009 3:28 pm UTC

Iv wrote:Like a UN diplomat once said, when a criminal uses hostage, the correct course of action is not to kill the hostage in order to get the criminal.


I'd say that only applies to policing actions, where the government power has it's primary duty towards its citizens, which include the hostage.
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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby MrGee » Fri Oct 02, 2009 3:31 pm UTC

For certain cases I would have to say, "Fuck you civilians, you created a government that is using you as a human shield. Prepare to get bombed."

Of course, that doesn't really make sense if the country is a dictatorship.

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Iv » Fri Oct 02, 2009 5:09 pm UTC

yoni45 wrote:I'd say that only applies to policing actions, where the government power has it's primary duty towards its citizens, which include the hostage.
Isn't a war sold as a "liberation war" akin to a policing action ? What is the aim of the Afghanistan war again ?


MrGee wrote:For certain cases I would have to say, "Fuck you civilians, you created a government that is using you as a human shield. Prepare to get bombed."
I say in that case it makes sense for them to become "terrorist" (they will call themselves freedom fighters)

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby yoni45 » Fri Oct 02, 2009 10:15 pm UTC

Iv wrote:Isn't a war sold as a "liberation war" akin to a policing action ? What is the aim of the Afghanistan war again ?


I'd say that's a secondary selling point. I think the primary one was getting rid of a terrorist harboring government.

Even as it stands, I'd imagine the aim is setting up a stable friendly government.
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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Freakish » Fri Oct 02, 2009 10:36 pm UTC

Do you think they gave her family anything?
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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby SlyReaper » Fri Oct 02, 2009 11:24 pm UTC

Freakish wrote:Do you think they gave her family anything?


Maybe a leaflet explaining exactly why they need to drop leaflets from airplanes.
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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Iv » Mon Oct 05, 2009 9:02 am UTC

yoni45 wrote:Even as it stands, I'd imagine the aim is setting up a stable friendly government.
Like the taleban's was, I suppose... The day an Afghan decides that justice is to balance the number of casualties between US civilians and Afghan civilians, he will have a few more 9/11 to organize. Whatever the type of government that will end up there, be it democracy or dictatorship, it will have to match a minimum of its people's expectations to stay in place. If the general population is hostile to US, the government will be, or at least pretend to be, and the operation will be a failure.

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby MrGee » Mon Oct 05, 2009 8:14 pm UTC

I can't escape the feeling that every country hates the US to the extent that we have more money then they do.

Europe, more a polite rivalry. Russia, bitter and uncooperative. Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, they hate us. They hated us before we invaded Afghanistan. And we helped them expel the Russians!

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Freakish » Mon Oct 05, 2009 8:28 pm UTC

A lot of Canadians also hate America. We tend to think you're arrogant.
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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby rath358 » Mon Oct 05, 2009 10:10 pm UTC

Freakish wrote:A lot of Canadians also hate America. We tend to think you're arrogant.

we are

also: i wonder if Al-Qaeda will create propaganda about this....

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Necromas » Tue Oct 06, 2009 1:03 am UTC

I bet the negative propaganda from this story is going to negate any benefit from all previous and future leaflet drops. :(

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby PhoenixRider » Tue Oct 06, 2009 5:27 am UTC

MrGee, I recommend you take a good look through a book on History.

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Lumpy » Tue Oct 06, 2009 5:52 am UTC

As currently defined by the Sept. 14 resolution authorizing the president to use military force against those that perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, and those nations, organizations, and people that aided them, I suppose the war in Afghanistan could legally last for as long as there remains not just one member of the Taliban standing, but I suppose anyone that let an al-Qaeda member have so much as a cup of water.

It was worded to give broad deference to the commander-in-chief to go after whoever did it without being certain who did it, with the assumption by many it was different from a declaration of war that might grant war powers spelled out in some statutes like international wiretapping without a warrant. An appeals court has ruled that a law that makes it a crime to provide "material support or resources" to a terrorist illegal may be constitutionally vague, and this will be soon subject to a Supreme Court review.

Now, if somehow the "material support or resources" part is stricken by the Supreme Court, though that's a separate law, can the Supreme Court interfere with the circumstances of an authorization to use military force, assuming for the moment that this is different from a declaration of war? Since they can only strike down and not legislate, I wonder if they might inadvertently strike down the ability of the U.S. to go after the Taliban as part of striking down part of a law viewed as opening the door for illegal invasion of privacy of U.S. citizens, forcing Congress to pass another authorization to use military force that is more specific.

Anyway, that's my musing on it from a legal point of view. In reality, it's just to disrupt the Taliban as an organization so that they can't harbor members of al-Qaeda (ignoring liberation of Afghans and revenge mentality as merely supplementary).

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Iv » Tue Oct 06, 2009 12:23 pm UTC

MrGee wrote:Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, they hate us. They hated us before we invaded Afghanistan. And we helped them expel the Russians!

Iran : Thay have a reason to hate you (1953 Iranian coup d'état). You overthrew a democratic government to install a dictatorship there. They managed to revolt against the Shah but it was replaced by religious dictators. Maybe the next iteration could be the good one. Thanks America for the two lost generations.

Iraq : they loved you in 2003 for chasing Saddam, you botched afterwards.

Afghanistan : That one is probably true. But tell me why they should be happy about USA chasing the Russians ? Tell me what good America provided to them that the USSR would not have ? In order to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a soviet land, you funded mujahideen movements that when in power offered even less freedom than Moscow. Now, after decades of indifference, US is bombing civilians in order to free them from the bad bad mujahideen because you got a few thousand casualties on your territory. I am not sure that it is as much hatred than indifference and resignation. No big player seems to care for the Afghan population.

Understand that the deal for all these people is not that they will taste American freedom and way of life if they collaborate with USA. This is not what America provides outside its territory. They don't fight the ideals of freedom or wealthiness, for most they would welcome it happily. What most of them fight is not America, it is the superpower that installs unwanted dictators in countries where it has an interest.

Also a slightly off-topic trivia : 9/11 is not only the date of an attack that killed thousand of Americans, it is also the birthday of yet another coup d'état sponsored by USA in order to put a bloody dictator in place of an elected government : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilean_coup_of_1973

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby MrGee » Wed Oct 07, 2009 1:51 am UTC

Iv wrote:Iraq : they loved you in 2003 for chasing Saddam, you botched afterwards.


Meh, that's like when your mom does your laundry for you. You want to be grateful but...secretly you hate yourself for being so lazy.

Afghanistan : That one is probably true. But tell me why they should be happy about USA chasing the Russians ? Tell me what good America provided to them that the USSR would not have ? In order to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a soviet land, you funded mujahideen movements that when in power offered even less freedom than Moscow.


We bombed the shit out of the Germans. Hell, we ruined their chance at a European empire! But they still love us (compared to Afghanis). You can cite all the specific atrocities you want, but I still see a correlation between national wealth and love of the US.

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Iv » Wed Oct 07, 2009 1:11 pm UTC

MrGee wrote:We bombed the shit out of the Germans. Hell, we ruined their chance at a European empire! But they still love us (compared to Afghanis). You can cite all the specific atrocities you want, but I still see a correlation between national wealth and love of the US.

We agree then. I agree that US makes friends only with wealthy (or more precisely, military powerful) nations and bomb the others. Countries who got rich thanks to US actions (Japan, South Korea, arguably Saudi Arabia) are quite grateful. Countries who got miserable because of it (Iran, Argentina) hate it. It is yet to be proven that the average Afghani hated USA before the latest Afghanistan's war. It is even yet to be proven that the average Afghani knew where New York is more than the average American knew about Kabul before 9/11.

MrGee wrote:Meh, that's like when your mom does your laundry for you. You want to be grateful but...secretly you hate yourself for being so lazy.
Without even resorting to psychology, I think that it is understandable to hate a party doing several thousand innocent casualties in your country. Americans hate Talibans, Iraqis hate USA. I think that just the same desire of revenge explains both.

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Philwelch » Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:01 pm UTC

Iv wrote:
MrGee wrote:We bombed the shit out of the Germans. Hell, we ruined their chance at a European empire! But they still love us (compared to Afghanis). You can cite all the specific atrocities you want, but I still see a correlation between national wealth and love of the US.

We agree then. I agree that US makes friends only with wealthy (or more precisely, military powerful) nations and bomb the others. Countries who got rich thanks to US actions (Japan, South Korea, arguably Saudi Arabia) are quite grateful. Countries who got miserable because of it (Iran, Argentina) hate it. It is yet to be proven that the average Afghani hated USA before the latest Afghanistan's war. It is even yet to be proven that the average Afghani knew where New York is more than the average American knew about Kabul before 9/11.


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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Belial » Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:02 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:Whoa, what's Argentina mad about?


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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Iv » Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:34 pm UTC

Arrrr, Chili
My bad...

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby MrGee » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:44 am UTC

Iv wrote:
MrGee wrote:Meh, that's like when your mom does your laundry for you. You want to be grateful but...secretly you hate yourself for being so lazy.
Without even resorting to psychology, I think that it is understandable to hate a party doing several thousand innocent casualties in your country. Americans hate Talibans, Iraqis hate USA. I think that just the same desire of revenge explains both.


Try at least 100,000 innocent civilians. This is the #1 reason I am against the war.

But yeah...whoever starts the conflict, I feel we can only remain friends with wealthy nations.

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby Velict » Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:55 am UTC

MrGee wrote:
Iv wrote:
MrGee wrote:Meh, that's like when your mom does your laundry for you. You want to be grateful but...secretly you hate yourself for being so lazy.
Without even resorting to psychology, I think that it is understandable to hate a party doing several thousand innocent casualties in your country. Americans hate Talibans, Iraqis hate USA. I think that just the same desire of revenge explains both.


Try at least 100,000 innocent civilians. This is the #1 reason I am against the war.

But yeah...whoever starts the conflict, I feel we can only remain friends with wealthy nations.


Actually, there are an estimated 12-32,000 civilian causalities in the war in Afghanistan*. The number you're quoting seems appropriate for the Iraq War, however. Keep in mind that a majority of these civilian causalities, particularly since Saddam's regime was destroyed, are the work of insurgent forces however. It is arguable that the United States military is indirectly causing these casualties simply by being in the war in the first place (after all, there are no casualties without a war), but they are not directly responsible.



* This is according to Wikipedia and may as such be subject to some distortion.

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Re: When propaganda backfires

Postby MrGee » Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:12 am UTC

I was referring to the Iraq war.

As for blaming the insurgent forces, I'm extremely dubious. It could be so, but they're not the ones with the Tomahawk missiles. 100,000 people is a lot to kill with AKs.


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