Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Saturday, March 04, 2006
It's bad enough to feel this way with your children. But with your government too?

What I'm referring to is watching others reinvent the wheel. Turns out that the Pentagon, that bastion of creative thinking, has turned in an enormous budget for information operations in the Islamic world:
Details of the fiscal 2007 special operations budget request are emerging and psychological operations (or PSYOPS) are revealed to be one of the fastest growing areas of the "soft" side of the war on terrorism.


Typical of the Pentagon, though, the psychological operators have seized upon new technology and fancy toys to fight the battle for hearts and minds -- things like air-droppable satellite radios and miniature miniature AM/FM transmitters. What is more, they are fighting the last war in seeking to better communicate with the Islamic world.

As defined in the Fiscal Year 2007 Defense Department budget request, PSYOPS are "planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately, the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals."

An urgent need for more effective means of communicating American messages and a renewed commitment to special operations has propelled the development of "transformational systems and equipment" for psychological operations, according to the budget request.
We've done this before. It seemed to have worked and helped to some degree during WWII when the message matched the behavior. But to my knowledge, these types of freedom messages were a total bust during the cold war because of the overblown hyperbolic content.

The Pentagon and the Bush administration are again showing their incredibile naivete'. This is simply more of the simplistic, "if they understand we're bringin' freedom they'll love us!" Just because Bush, who is all hat and no cattle, successfully seems to have used messaging without substance to get to the Presidency doesn't mean it was the reason he actually won. Frankly, I think there's been too much emphasis put on just messaging without content in recent contests.

In 2000 and 2004, the Republicans have done a good job of nailing Democrats as "nuanced". Damned straight. Since when is being thoughtful, complete, and understanding the "nuances" (including understanding unintended consequences of an action before that action is taken) in a situation a bad thing? Dems should yell out loud and proud that they are nuanced. Understanding that a propaganda campaign in foreign territories is only as good as the content of the message is one of those pesky nuances. Karen Hughes, the queen of messaging and spin, has been an abject failure in shaping Middle Eastern opinion simply because the product she is selling sucks.

Imagine the scene if you will. Some Afghani in a rural area harvesting opium while listening to a "selected" message of the greatness of America and freedom while an American C-130 gun ship sprays the surrounding area with .50 cal. machine gun fire, chopping up and killing anything that moves. It's like a scene out of the movie Apocalypse Now!

Freedom. On the March!

So please tell me. Why should this Pentagon nonsense, at great expense I might add, even be considered much less implemented?