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April 29, 2008



But the problem, Abu, is in part that in this media-centric world, in which IO counts as much as what actually happens on the ground (for example turning Basrah's tactical defeat into an apparent strategic victory for the Iraqis), blowback isn't the appearance of reality - it becomes reality. If we have run an effective IO campaign underlining how the Sheikhs have thrown off AQI, and this has led them to do so increasingly, then what Juan Zurate reported is not an example of blowback, but of a succesful IO campaign actually shaping events on the ground. So I don't see what the controversy is.


I acknowledge the theoretical difficulty. Perhaps at another time and in another situation it might be more than theoretical.

However, I have to point out that the current administration did not need help from an information operation in order to start believing its own propaganda, going back before the war started. I doubt that anything in the information war against the AQI types in Iraq will get anywhere near the amount of public promotion by the administration, or credence from the media and public, as the idea that Iraq is the "central front in the war on terrorism."

I'm not entirely persuaded either that information operations are always bound to find their way back to the domestic audience. It depends on the circumstances, of course, but just as an example the impact of the charge that AQI Muslims are killing Arab Muslims is bound to be greatest among, well, Arab Muslims. It's little more than a throwaway line on talk radio in this country. The priorities of foreign audiences are not always the same as those of the domestic audience, and information operations should, it seems to me, take advantage of that.


I like Badger's response.

"[Lynch's] specific examples have to do with demoralizing AlQaeda, which is a very fashionable conversation topic these days. But try this: Think about the Sadr City attacks, and the fact that Lynch himself and the rest of the food-chain under him are completely silent about the war-crimes implications and the long-term political implications of these attacks...:"
If our enemy is lying, then we counter by not doing so ourselves. Your "mountain runner" friend is a parody of a of a character out of Graham Greene, or maybe Dr Strangelove. If Iraqis want their country back are they therefore my "enemy?" Are my enemies the people of whatever country the US has interests in? Men like your friend are more dangerous than the Muslim Brotherhood, than Al Qaeda. More dangerous to "us."


More propaganda and the argument against it

My debate with David Ignatius on the NewsHour has sparked a discussion about security in NATO's Regional Command/East, has sparked a debate about the reported success of U.S. counter-insurgency efforts. Washington Post "reporter"/government stenographer David Ignatius claimed that "the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy has begun to get some traction." In a subsequent post, in addition to criticizing the helicopter tour/PR handout school of "journalism," I cited data showing that in the first quarter of 2008 attacks by anti-government elements in the east had increased 30 percent over the same period last year.

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