Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Fictional Fighters of the Insurgency

It is a tough job being an insurgent leader. You live in damp caves or miserable safehouses in sprawling slums. You device destructive plots while having to nurture the righteous belief in Country, King or God that will lend a meaning to your existence as an outsider - or at least keep a lucrative criminal business running to make it worthwhile. You are bloodied by government forces and their well-funded international backers and betrayed by your own rats. All this while still having to inspire those around you to join or keep up the fight.

No wonder that insurgents sometimes would dream of a Superman. Living inconspicuously among men as Clark Kent, but springing into powerful action whenever needed, in a spotless spandex suit without creases or second-day shadows, leading the righteous by example. Hopeless... No, not if you enlist fictional characters!

New York Times writes on how the "U.S. Says Insurgent Leader It Couldn?t Find Never Was" . The mysterious leader for Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia (an affiliate but not necessarily a franchise of old Al Qaeda) Abu Omar al-Baghdadi who has sent out a number of statements, is allegedly a fiction created by the real leaders of the group to bolster the Iraqi's resistance against U.S. occupation.

And seen from a rhetorical viewpoint, this is of course highly suspicious (if revealed), but considering the situation, potentially very clever. Considering the high risks connected to being people like Zawahiri and Bin Laden, it is clever to have a fictional leader. He is able to send the right messages, but has no nasty side-effects of lived-life (such as political, sexual and financial scandals). He can be endowed with all the right features (such as being an Iraqi, Al-Baghdadi, and a good Moslem). The man is pure Persona and can be tailored to his specific ends.

I wonder if this is an example of the Rhetoric of Fiction or the Fiction of Rhetoric?



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