March 3, 2006
Lessons Learned In the Propaganda War
After last December's flap over the Coalition paying Iraqi newspapers to plant "propaganda" -- which is what the New York Times labeled truthful, pro-democracy stories -- even an optimist could be excused for thinking we would, quite naturally, abandon this necessary tactic, due to the drubbing the administration took at the hands of the Antique Media.
(You should remember; this was the biggest scandal of the century, until the NSA al-Qaeda intercepts became the biggest scandal of the century, which was right before the renewal of the Patriot Act became the BSotC, followed quickly by the Dubai Ports deal and the "new" videotape of Bush not being warned that the New Orleans levees would breach.)
The press howled in idealistic outrage, perhaps fretting that we were violating the Iraqis' sacred First Amendment rights; and I, along with most, sighed and assumed that, just like data mining (à la Able Danger), here was one more tool from our toolbox that we would throw into the dustbin of history.
Well, not so! The U.S. military, under Rear Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, actually investigated what we were and were not doing. This is a radical step that the media could not steel themselves to take, preferring to base their stories on rumor and inuendo; they printed many irresponsible and counter-factural howlers, which Big Lizards, among others, documented, here and here).
Lo and behold, after reveiwing RADM Van Buskirk and his report, Army Gen. George Casey, commander of all forces in the region, has decided to continue the practice (and he probably told Buskirk to shine his shoes):
The U.S. military will continue to pay Iraqi media to publish reports favorable to American forces following an investigation into the controversial practice, the top U.S. general in Iraq said on Friday....
Casey said he had not issued an order to halt the payments.
"And, right now, based on the results of the investigation, I do not intend to in the near term," he said.
At a time when everyone agrees al-Qaeda and other terrorists in Iraq are winning the propaganda war (that we keep declining to fight), it was literally deranged for the American news media to demand that we stop the only small bit that we were doing, paying for some good and truthful press. Evidently, the Los Angeles Times (which broke the story) and the New York Times (which wrote up a wider examination of it) thought that, if only we would stop planting stories, that would make the Iraqi press more "free"... beause then, only the anti-democratic terrorists would be paying for stories. (The New York Times will want to charge you $3.95 to read the old article... but you can read the Big Lizards discussion of it for free!)
I don't quite follow the logic of that, but I'm sure there must be some.
In any event, we will continue paying for publication, a standard practice in the Moslem world, for the forseeable future; and perhaps at last we're getting off the mark -- winning victories for the vaunted "hearts and minds" as well as on the battlefield.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 3, 2006, at the time of 5:53 PM
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