The hesitation over the ground offensive in Iraq has unexpectedly shown the world that the American army is not only ill prepared to fight effectively against stubborn enemies unwilling to surrender. It has also demonstrated the inability of Pentagon propagandists to redirect their work quickly in light of changes in the military and information situation.
The first TV pictures allegedly showing large numbers of Iraqi soldiers being taken captive have raised doubts among military experts. The POWs walked along a road their hands behind their heads as if they were on the parade ground: in single file, clearly keeping their distance and without any emotion - neither fear nor joy. The absolute indifference of taken mutes are similar to Nato war games regularly conducted as part of the "Partnership for Peace" programme.
The same was true when TV reports showed Iraqi peasants giving themselves up under the white flag. American soldiers lined them up in a column and searched them. They then ordered them through signs to turn to the other side and escorted them to a muster point. Again the captives did not display any emotions. This is in complete contrast to dismayed and frightened faces of the US POWs shown on Iraqi television.
Military specialists say that the truth is the first victim of any war. It would be as naive to expect genuine reports from the Pentagon press service about the problems encountered during the operation, as it would be to expect objective information about disobedient Iraqi generals from Iraq's Ministry of Information. Not only missiles, bombs, tanks and guns fight in war, but also television cameras, cameras, pens, satellite telephones and computers.
The very reason for invading Iraq is Baghdad's alleged stocks of chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction. These charges have not been backed up with hard evidence. At his last briefing at the US base in Qatar, US commander in the Persian Gulf, Tommy Franks said there was no doubt that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and the operation would be continued until they were discovered. However, he produced no evidence whatsoever to back his claims up.
The first difficulties in launching the ground offensive and the quite large casualties (the Pentagon has officially declared forty dead in the first six days, while the number of the wounded should be three to four times higher) have shown another well-hidden fact. American politicians and military commanders do not know how to hold fire.
Official spokesperson for the US Defense Department Victoria Clark, for example, has accused Iraqi servicemen of using unfair tactics. She said that they had raised the white flag not so they could surrender, but to draw American soldiers into a trap. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld levelled charges against Iraq saying it was in breach of the Geneva Convention by showing the faces of Americans on TV, thereby humiliating them. Rumsfeld somehow forgot that the Pentagon's propagandists had shown Iraqi prisoners on the television.
Most likely those pictures looked completely different to him and his subordinates.