This is a bad thing how, exactly?
Mr. Ricks is shocked, shocked, to find influence campaigns going on here:
The U.S. military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to internal military documents and officers familiar with the program. The effort has raised his profile in a way that some military intelligence officials believe may have overstated his importance and helped the Bush administration tie the war to the organization responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Wow! One has to wonder how long it took before he gave up trying to fit the words “Plame” or “WMD” in there.
The documents state that the U.S. campaign aims to turn Iraqis against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, by playing on their perceived dislike of foreigners. U.S. authorities claim some success with that effort, noting that some tribal Iraqi insurgents have attacked Zarqawi loyalists.
For the past two years, U.S. military leaders have been using Iraqi media and other outlets in Baghdad to publicize Zarqawi’s role in the insurgency. The documents explicitly list the “U.S. Home Audience” as one of the targets of a broader propaganda campaign.
It goes on and on . . . and then:
Leaks to reporters from U.S. officials in Iraq are common, but official evidence of a propaganda operation using an American reporter is rare.
Did you catch that? Dana Priest is a good journalist; Dexter Filkins is an Army stooge.
You can sit back and let things happen to you, or you can be the one to make things happen to your enemy. It would appear that we’ve begun to exercise our pimp hand . . . from an IO perspective.
That Americans might be subjected to an information campaign aimed primarily at a different audience in this day and age is like complaining that while you’re happy the rain is hitting your lawn, you’re bent because it is also hitting your un-stained deck. The term “info age” mean anything to you? “24/7 news cycle?” Internet/Web? Bueller? Anyone?
If anything surprises me about this it is that it is still viewed as an issue. To paraphrase one of my favorite pundits on security issues: this means nothing to Joe Sixpack. Dead terrorists, dead insurgents, more returning troops; these are very broad signs that are interpreted by people in the space between the Blue Ridge and the Rockies as good news, when they bother to contemplate these issues at all. They leave the nitty gritty of how all that happens (e.g. “tricking” Iraqis into kicking out trouble-making foreigners, training formerly “spray and pray” Iraqi troops into a credible fighting force) to the people who volunteered for the job and are led by those who were voted into office by the majority. In fact the only people concerned about propaganda campaigns are those who can clearly see through a charade.
The ice cream cone licks itself.