Sunday, January 27, 2008

On Winning Hearts and Minds

Philip Carter does a good job of deconstructing Rumsfeld's talking points on managing the information flow about the many horrors the US has committed in its flawed approach to the war on Terror.

Rumsfeld's latest proposal suffers from a fundamental flaw (as did the IO campaign he waged while SecDef) — he's trying to put lipstick on a pig and convince everyone that it's not a pig.

Global opinion surveys aren't tilting against America because they dislike our message or aren't getting the good news. They're getting the message alright. And they're seeing exactly what we're doing, often times through our own media. The people responding to the surveys done by Pew, OSI, CIA, and others, are reporting their opinions based on incontroverted facts about U.S. actions. Simply, they are responding to our deeds, not our words, and nothing we do in the realms of "strategic communications" or "information operations" is going to change that. Nor will any amount of "public diplomacy."

The United States of America must do a great deal more to win the "hearts of minds" of moderates around the world than simply re-brand itself and develop a slick messaging campaign. We must earn their support through what we do — not what we say. Deeds like the U.S. efforts to deliver aid to Banda Aceh after the tsunami, or to Pakistan after its earthquake, go a long way towards doing this. The continuing, festering occupation of Iraq does little to help this, regardless of how much good our troops and diplomats do on the street. The eyesore of Guantanamo [sub'n req'd] does a great deal to undermine whatever good we do. Ultimately, I believe we must pay a great deal more attention to our deeds — not our message — in order to earn the support of the world. Otherwise, our policies are just a pig. And no matter how much lipstick we might apply, it'll still just be a pig. |Rumsfeld: "Can We Talk" - Intel Dump|
The Bush administration is constantly moving the goal posts in Iraq and Afghanistan to try to make it seem like we're enjoying even a modicum of success there.

But if the true goal of Bush's War on Terror is make other countries (and especially Muslims) hate us less, he is failing miserably using any yardstick.

I also think the majority of the American people know this and that's why Bush and the Republican candidates are in such deep trouble.
A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll indicated that 64% of Americans now feel the war in Iraq was not worth fighting. American opinion on the war and occupation, in fact, seems remarkably unaffected by the positive spin -- all those "success" stories in the mainstream media -- of these post-surge months. The media now tells us that Iraq is going to be taking a distinct backseat to domestic economic issues, that Americans are no longer as concerned about it.

Once again, with rare exceptions, that media has had a hand in erasing the catastrophe of Iraq from the American landscape, if not the collective consciousness of the public. |Tomgram: Dahr Jamail, Missing Voices in the Iraq Debate - TomDispatch|
Unfortunately the media cannot just wish Iraq away because they're bored with it. It's the central front in the global catastrophe that is Bush's foreign policy.

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