From a transcript of Sunday's Reliable Sources on CNN:
KURTZ: All right, Matthew Chance, stand by, thank you for that report. We will come back to you.
And joining us now here Washington Anne Compton who covers the White House for ABC News, and Thomas Ricks, Pentagon reporter for "The Washington Post" and author of the new book "Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq."
Tom Ricks, you've covered a number of military conflicts, including Iraq, as I just mentioned. Is civilian casualties increasingly going to be a major media issue? In conflicts where you don't have two standing armies shooting at each other?
THOMAS RICKS, REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think it will be. But I think civilian casualties are also part of the battlefield play for both sides here. One of the things that is going on, according to some U.S. military analysts, is that Israel purposely has left pockets of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they're being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon.
KURTZ: Hold on, you're suggesting that Israel has deliberately allowed Hezbollah to retain some of it's fire power, essentially for PR purposes, because having Israeli civilians killed helps them in the public relations war here?Ricks sounds pretty definite, that according to the ever popular 'anonymous military analysts', this is something that Israel is actually doing, effectively putting Israel on a level with Hezbollah.
RICKS: Yes, that's what military analysts have told me.
KURTZ: That's an extraordinary testament to the notion that having people on your own side killed actually works to your benefit in that nobody wants to see your own citizens killed but it works to your benefit in terms of the battle of perceptions here.
RICKS: Exactly. It helps you with the moral high ground problem, because you know your operations in Lebanon are going to be killing civilians as well. [emphasis added]
After all, which is worse--Hezbollah hiding behind Lebanese civilians while bombing Israeli cities, or Israel supposedly allowing pockets of Hezbollah bomb Israeli citiesl so that they have an excuse to continue their operations in Lebanon.
While Kurtz refers to this plan as PR, Ricks instead sees this as an impressive strategy to maintain the 'moral high ground'--confusing morality with moral equivalency.
The next day, on the Hugh Hewitt show, Ricks backtracked:
Yeah, I wish I'd kept my mouth shut. What I said was accurate, that in an off-the-record conversation with some military analysts, a couple had said to me that they thought it was a smart strategy to leave some rocket pockets in place to help the Israelis shape public perceptions, and give their forces more freedom of maneuver in Lebanon. They weren't saying it was a bad strategy. They thought it was pretty intelligent, if it were the case. But I've since heard today from some very smart, well-informed people, that while such a strategy might be logical, and even morally defensible, that they thought the Israeli public just wouldn't stand for it, and they also expressed personal dismay to me that I had passed on the thought, which they thought was irresponsible. [emphasis added]Once again, someone in the media tries to be provocative and seems surprised at the response he gets when he is successful.
But when Ricks says "if it were the case," isn't he now admitting that the whole thing was just a theory, while in the original interview it was cold objective analysis?
AllahPundit on Hot Air notes this inconsistency between Ricks' original interview and his comments to Hewitt:
I’m confused. Did they accuse Israel of having done this, or did they merely suggest it would be a good (albeit grossly immoral) idea if they did?In both interviews, Ricks makes a big deal of the analysts he speaks to. In his interview with Hewitt he also notes the "very smart, well-informed people" who told him his comment was irresponsible.
Pity he could not figure that out for himself.
Technorati Tag: Israel and Hizbollah and Hezbollah