Across the Bay

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Hezbollah's Latest Useful Idiot

Hezbollah does not need to pay much cash to disseminate propaganda and disinformation. For that it relies on the Western media -- for free. Western outlets are sure to quote Hezbollah card-carrying propagandist in chief, Amal Saad-Ghorayeb. You could even try hapless dilettantes. But now they've found someone else to carry their water for them.

I had once described Mitchell Prothero as a clueless blazing idiot, after he wrote a complete parody of a piece. He seems intent on confirming this charge. Witness this astoundingly ridiculous, dishonest, and demonstrably false piece of unfiltered Hezbollah propaganda.

I don't have time to go through it all in full right now, and really such a screaming display of ignorant idiocy doesn't merit much attention. But one part of it stood out for combining Prothero's now-standard inanity and ignorance with a dose of dishonesty and lack of professionalism:

Israeli official statements suggest the increasingly aggressive recruiting results from the heavy casualties suffered by the group in 2006, a notion dismissed by sources within Hizbollah and even by the US military. While Israel contends that between 500 and 700 Hizbollah fighters were killed, the group itself said that about 80 fighters had died. Hizbollah sources admit that the losses were double that figure, while the US military study decided the death toll was 184.

A US military study, eh? What study, pray tell, is this? Prothero never identifies it.

After some vetting with the help of a friend who knows all the studies done on this topic, the source was identified. It's Matt Matthews' study "We Were Caught Unprepared: The 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli War." (PDF)

First of all, it's not an official US military study. It represents his own views, as stated specifically in the document ("The views expressed in this CSI Press publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense."). But that's the least problematic issue.

Here's the relevant graph from Matthews:

By 8 August, 61 Israeli soldiers had been killed, while the IDF reported 450 Hezbollah fighters killed. This last figure was highly exaggerated, as it appears likely that only 184 Hezbollah fighters were killed in ground fighting in southern Lebanon during the entire war.37

You'll notice a footnote there at the end that references where Matthews got his figure.

Are you ready?

The number comes from a piece by the notorious Hezbollah groupies Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry, "How Hezbollah Defeated Israel, Part II: Winning the Ground War."

This is the only piece that cites this number. Other reports accept the 500 estimate. See for instance Sarah Kreps' study "The 2006 Lebanon War: Lessons Learned" (PDF. p. 4). Lebanese officials estimated 500 Hezbollah fighters were killed, as did a UN official. Hell, even Hezbollah accepted 250 dead.

And so, Prothero broke new ground here. He managed to be a Hezbollah useful idiot quoting a piece by Hezbollah groupies putting out figures that were less than what Hezbollah itself accepted! To top it all off, he tries to pass it as an official US military estimate. And so, Prothero graduated to the enviable status of dishonest useful idiot and propagandist.

Next time, The Observer would be well advised to fact check anything this tool writes.