That's a provocative statement, that we should believe American propaganda! Obviously it should be taken with a grain of salt... as we are concerned citizens of many different countries and are educated people, we have a duty to ourselves to be critical of all information fed to us by any government. However, in this case I believe we can believe that the American government is telling the truth more often than they are not. So I'm not suggesting blind faith in the US government or media, that would be foolish and irresponsible. However, I am suggesting that many of the claims of the Americans are justified by reason, and should not be dismissed as naïve simply because they are propaganda.
The Taliban claims thousands of civilian lives lost, the Americans suggest less than 10 civilians killed. Americans claim to be targeting the military and terrorist targets, while the Taliban claim that the US is targeting civilians. Who can you believe in a situation like that, where we don't personally have any knowledge beyond the numbers given by obviously biased parties. I approach the current situation of uncertainty like any other: analyze and try to cut through the bullshit, and try to guess where the truth might lie. We have to ask ourselves: what is rational, given the interests of the parties involved?
It is in the interests of America to minimize the claims casualties in Afghanistan while at the same time it is in the interests of the Taliban to maximize the claims. We know that four UN workers were killed in Kabul, and it seems extraordinarily unlikely that 40% of those killed were people with direct ties to the outside world that the US could not dismiss as Taliban propaganda. So we know the numbers are likely significantly higher than the 10 claimed by CNN in the link above.
But on the other hand we also know that American has put together a coalition of countries that support their actions, and America does not want the world to see poor civilians in Afghanistan getting killed. The Taliban has not been taking advantage of this beyond letting a few foreign journalists into one city, and even then reports of casualties were few and far between. This suggests to me that the numbers supplied by the Taliban are suspect.
We know that the Americans have many weapons at their disposal, including biological, chemical, nuclear, and large-scale conventional weaponry. They've used them in the past, and nobody would likely stop them if they decided to be cowboys and carpet the cities and villages with bombs as seen before in Vietnam and (to a lesser extent) Iraq. Instead they chose the expensive cruise missiles and Special Forces operations. We have seen no evidence or even claims to counter this. Again, this suggests to me that they are trying to minimize civilian casualties.
The organizations al-Qaeda and the Taliban claim no link between them and the WTC tower attacks, while the US claims that they are. Again with the information discrepancy, and we have to choose whom to believe. The Taliban have absolutely nothing to gain by claiming responsibility, so we could not expect them to take credit regardless of the truth. One might expect al-Qaeda to take credit for the actions, but they seem to benefit from not taking credit. They are gaining a following amongst Islamic radicals because they proclaim to fight the Americans, while not taking any specific credit for any attacks. This allows the extremists to support them, and justify this in the wake of the condemnation of the WTC attacks by Muslim clerics. And as for the Americans, they have a direct interest in stopping terrorism in their borders, and have motivation to try to prevent future attacks. They know as well as everyone reading this that the attacks on Afghanistan are likely to rile up anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world... but they chose to attack anyhow because they thought it was worth it. If they unnecessarily attacked an innocent group it would create additional tensions without solving any problems, thus I believe they thought it through and rationally concluded that al-Qaeda was at least in part responsible.
The Americans claim that they are not targeting Islam, while al-Qaeda claims that the Americans are targeting Islam. Who to believe? Again al-Qaeda can only benefit by their claims by triggering a worldwide muslim backlash against the US and US interests. But it would not benefit the Americans to target Islam. If they had evidence that the Real IRA or the Israelis were behind the attacks against them, they would move swiftly to arraign those terrorists as well... it just makes sense. America has made friends with Islamic countries such as Saudia Arabia and Jordan, even when the countries have less than perfect governments. They are trying to improve relations with countries such as Indonesia and Egypt, and would not rationally want to target them. Again, the american propaganda just makes sense in this case.
Other people claim that the Americans are just trying to subvert the Afghanistan people to they can be an imperialistic presence to sell more goods to or provide cheap labor. That seems very unlikely, as the Afghani people are exceptionally poor, and wouldn't be a significant factor in international trade even with the most optimistic scenarios. The actions that they have taken have hurt the very corporations (via a mini stock-market crash) that would benefit from extra sales in those regions. As for cheap labor, it would be many years before the Americans could benefit from that. I doubt they are thinking long-term, because the actions of elected governments are legendarily short-sighted.
Much of the distrust of the media was developed in eras where large defense contractors supported the American economy. This is no longer the case, as American corporate interests are selling consumer goods and technology to the world. Only one (GE's NBC) of the five mainstream news sources (FOX, CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN) has any direct links to these defense contractors. I sincerely believe that if they could get an exclusive story breaking news about America targeting civilians, they would do this, because it is in their interest to do so. Of course, because of the overwhelming support of the American people for the military campaign, the major media would be reluctant to give support to anti-American claims without strong evidence, so we also have to rely on the independent news available through the Internet. But it seems to be in the interests of the media to jump all over news that contradicts official government reports, as they did with the affairs of Bill Clinton and Gary Condit.
So when the Americans say that they are targeting the Taliban/al-Qaeda and trying to minimize civilian casualties, I believe them. I trust them to some extent because I believe that it is in their interests. But when the media reports that only 10 civilians, we have to remember that this is a propaganda war. I think it is possible to remain an independent thinker and stay critical of the media and the US government, while still believing in some of the news and propaganda that they distribute.