Outrage in Fallujah: strategies in the communication of political violence
The battle of Fallujah in April 2004 was a significant event in the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the United States (U.S.) military. Occurring one year after the initial assault on Baghdad by the U.S.-led coalition, Fallujah became a symbol of Iraqi resistance after successive U.S. military units failed to take control of the city. Following the killing of four private military contractors in Fallujah and images of their brutal death being broadcast around the world, the U.S. military commenced an attack which impacted heavily on FallujahÃÂ¿s civilian population. Over 700 civilians were killed, more than 1,500 were seriously wounded and the attacks resulted in considerable damage to buildings and infrastructure. Communication tactics used by U.S. officials minimised outrage over the effects of the attack on these Iraqi civilians. Furthermore the mainstream Western media consistently reverberated the official version of events. The strategies used to inhibit or amplify outrage in this case of political violence can be categorised into four main areas: cover up, devaluation, reinterpretation and intimidation. If attempts to minimise outrage over an injustice are not entirely successful there is a likelihood that the attack will backfire on the perpetrator. An understanding of these tactics can provide peace activists with a system for analysing conflict and the way in which broader populations are shielded from the brutality of war.Key Words: Fallujah, backfire, injustice, outrage.