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July 06, 2008



Marc, I'm not sure what you're trying to say here but it does sound something like this (...please correct me if I'm mistaken): When it comes to Iraq (as opposed to Qatar) all news, except bad news, is to be suspected.

There's always the possibility that you'd go to Iraq and double-check with your own eyes, though.

On a related note: can you imagine how different your knowledge of Jordan would have been had you never been there? Would you acknowledge that your understanding of what's going on in Iraq is similarly influenced (...in a deficient way) by never have seen the place with your own eyes?

Oh, and I know that I've asked you for this many times now (...gone unacknowledged, though), but just let me know if you're ever going to retract that post of yours concerning Kimmage's work. I don't want to get my hopes up for nothing.


What are you going to do if the GoI should actually end up winning in Iraq, Marc? Or you going to retract this whole blog? Or are you going to pretend that you were right all along and that somehow the traitorous Iraqi puppets managed to defeat the heroic resistance anyway, somehow? I've been following this blog for years, and you have consistently been proven wrong in almost everything you say, but instead of admitting you were in error you just show up saying the same (wrong) things, over and over again (but in a different way). Remember a year and a half ago when you were implying the US military was outright lying about how quiet Anbar province had become? And instead of admitting that you were the one who was in the wrong on that, you made a series of posts suggesting the obvious successes (that you denied had been achieved in the first place) in Anbar would be short lived? Well, what say you now? More BS or will there come a day when you'll call it like you see it?


Time, perhaps, to rethink the IO-PAO chinese wall? Can you really segment an audience between domestic US and foreign? Aren't the most persuasive messages grounded in facts?

Granted, of course, that facts are not probative without being part of a narrative -- the key for IO staffs is to disseminate factual narratives that are compelling.

All products of IO, whether PSYOP or PAO are edited narratives - and that process of editing means they are a snapshot, a take, on reality. Then provided they are grounded in truth/fact (the best type of propaganda, as Robert Thompson noted), Messrs Smith and Mundt can rest easy.


can you imagine how different your knowledge of Jordan would have been had you never been there? Would you acknowledge that your understanding of what's going on in Iraq is similarly influenced (...in a deficient way) by never have seen the place with your own eyes?

By way of humor, Nibras Kazimi, who has been to Iraq, wrote this:

Iraq is succeeding because the Iraqi state has weathered the worst of the insurgent storm and survived, and because the Sunni insurgency is fatigued.

...in October 2006. I don't know if he's every apologized for this.

But I suppose we should all listen to him now, because, you know, he used to fetch Ahmad Chalabi's coffee or something.


Speaking of Kaz's former boss, he didn't see Iraq with his own eyes for decades and yet for some reason he was supposedly a reliable source of information on the place, and not just a master embezzler.



You wrote: "What happens when the disseminated good news report is picked up out of the Iraqi media source, tranlated - perhaps without that "produced by TFM" label - and then becomes the basis for American reporting? ". Some is going say/write "mission accomplished" because the primary target of the PSYOP is, and has been, the American public.


I think here's the problem with the way the US military is dealing with the media (and perhaps even in the way it deals with the armed opponents, too--if the latter is true, God save us....): it's ignoring Sun Tzu's famous dictum about knowing your adversaries. Even in strictly "military" matters, too many US military types forget that a battle is a game where their enemy is a player, too. Thus, they are too eager to play up how tough and powerful they and their weapons are--and how they'll obliterate their enemies. Having sufficient military power might absolve these folks of that strategic error--and in conventional combat, US has enjoyed that luxury for so long. The option of physically crushing the enemy, in strategic terms, of course, is equivalent to totally imposing your own terms regardless of what the other player thinks or wants. This tendency seems to dominate thinking too much both among military and civilian policymakers (and incidentally, in game theory classes in US poli sci depts). The consequence of this is that many in the US military rarely had to worry about situations--beyond mere theorizing--where you lack the wherewithal to obliterate the opposition to smithereens and have to worry about situations where "destroy the enemy" is ruled out as an option.

We have seen the consequence of this strategic myopia on the part of the US military in the conduct of various insurgency campaigns, where the option of physically obliterating the opposition is typically unavailable. Dealing with the media and public relations, of course, compounds the problem even further. The other players in that game are the public, or publics, in various countries and the media organizations. These aren't "enemies," although many both in and out of military seem to think them as such, although they may have goals and interests different from the military. The option of totally forcing military's agenda on them is impossible. How the other players would react to the military's choices must, then, ought to be taken into consideration of the strategy.

I don't think this sort of PR strategizing is beyond the capability of the US military: after all, they have actually done very well when lobbying Congress and the US public for their procurement budgets, etc. Nor, do I think such attempt at media dissemination is categorically beyond the pale as a part of military strategy. Still, the attempts seem, almost disturbingly, amateurish and clumsy.


Ah, yes. the coin. How does the coin flip, ever so bright, through the light.

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