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06 December 2006

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Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

It might have more to do with the prevalent US business paradigm where "Marketing is the King" - at the expenses of the product itself.

Charles

Please, America is one big IO against its populace - about how its democratic, moral, free, representative, kind to widows and orphans and helps little old ladies across the street at every chance. That gas is Good, taxes Bad. That guns are good, no matter what. That "they" hate us, not what we do. That Israel is a just state facing existential threat that must be supported no matter what. That no designated evil or enemy should ever be talked to. That there would be a bigger bang for the buck by nuking Iran instead of Israel. That the buck is worth a buck, but not to worry, cause we can and do just always print more. That the economy is sound because the Dow says so. That debt-funded pathological consumerism is more virtuous and gratifying than saving and investment. That it is better off than smaller states with higher taxes and universal healthcare. It's Executive blatantly lies to the people, commits myriad high crimes and misdemeanors,plus the odd good old fashioned slaughter. Its legislature lies supine until there's a girl in a coma story to milk, or an order comes in from the Head Office as to where taxpayer's loot shall now be directed. Its people regularly poll as believing that it gives %10 of its budget, as foreign aid.

That the same old same old can suffice to keep the big Money Party eternally in power as the people revel in the economic miracle that is the minimum monthly payment - oh wait, that one's true.

A major-general as partisan domestic shill? Kinda pales before the unconstitutional criminality and disconnect from reality that passes for government - and democracy, these days.

ked

When I read Caldwell's commentary, I almost posted my own comment in response on their site. Then I thought, "what's the point?". Perhaps we might inquire, "Gen, how might we distinguish your editorial from a Centcom InfoOps effort?"

& when will people accept that wars are typically won & lost through the policies & decisions of those who wage them, more so than those who critique them?

davidS

I am the very model of the modern Major General.

VietnamVet

Corporate media is rightfully criticized for its beating the drums of war; not too uncommon in the past; in particular, for the Spanish American War. However, what is unprecedented is the DOD's intentional propaganda supporting the Iraq War spread to the American citizens through the supine media.

The Democratic Congress can thank the clear disconnect between reality and government propaganda for their victory in the 2006 election. The real question is will the next Administration clean out the Syncopates and True Believers in the Pentagon who enabled the Iraq disaster. "Up or Out" has to changed to have officer evaluations to reflect their comprehension of reality and their ability to defend of the rights and lives of American citizens.

JM

Have just been debating this issue with a colleague, who suggests that the military has always been involved in planting propaganda in the US: from WWII-era newsreels and films, to John Wayne movies about Green Berets, to press conferences both in DC and in Iraq.

Where does one draw the line?

anna missed

Well said Colonel, the civilian leadership must be convinced that to change the course of the war, you must change the way people (back home) feel about it. If we thought the military was ill- equipped to be nation building, we have'nt seen nothing 'till we see them working the "feelings" business. After all, have'nt we been indoctrinated to reject it out of hand now for the last 60 years. Communist poster indeed.

Michael Torpey

I read that article in the WAPO and I thought it smelled fishy. Your article confirms my suspicion.

PSD

Pat--I agree with you about domestic propaganda by the US military not being legitimate, BUT I have a question for you.

I had a friend in I/O in Baghdad about 2 years ago. He insisted (and I think his view was pretty much accepted by others in I/O altho' I could be wrong) that the media was doing a miserable job of keeping the American people accurately "informed." Of course, he was pretty conservative and bought into the whole turning-Iraq-into-a-democracy rationale for the war. I don't think he got into the field that much , but he said he read all the action and intelligence reports, and I think he honestly believed that the good guys were "winning." If indeed Gen. Caldwell feels as my friend did, do you think his op-ed was an attempt to get what he felt was the REAL story out there to Joe Citizen? I guess what I'm asking is, if Caldwell really believes what he said, is it propaganda in the true sense of the word?

(I dare say that if I didn't know better, I would have guessed my friend actually WROTE the piece for Caldwell because it sounds just like my friend! And, needless to say, he and I often didn't see eye to eye--in fact he was one of the most infuriating people I ever debated with.)

John in LA

As with any market - financial, political, whatever, reality always pushes back and settle the issue at the end of the day.

An ocean of propaganda and money has done nothing to change the fact that the US military has been stopped cold by armies kitted out with sneakers and armed with only rifles and RPGs. Look at Somalia, at Afghanistan, Viet Nam etc. etc.

If the politics are wrong - distorted and built upon lies -- no military skill can make up the difference.

The humiliating debasement of flag rank military in this war is an insult to the working and dying men and women in the field.

Look at that pathetic careerist Colin Powell. Unindicted for his role in Iran Contra...

http://www.consortiumnews.com/archive/colin6.html

...and raised to improbable heights by the NeoCons, he couldn't resist the call to be Secretary of State. His career ambitions were vast, and even he had to understand that Rummy and Co. would humiliate him week in and week out.

I guess that cooperative generals must make pretty good money (Powell chief among them) in the post-season. After all, what's the markup on a $1 trillion war?

Grimgrin

This administration has used the armed forces as set dressing for propaganda for years. It's nice to see that not only don't some of these soldiers, sailors and airmen mind, but are eager to take a more active role in the process. For me it's a sign that the US is continuing to move from a 'professional military' to having a 'political military'. That is to say the US now has armed forces whose purpose is basically to keep the money flowing in, by becoming essentially a massive lobby group.

Which is a pity, because armies that get too involved in national politics, no matter what the nation, seem to loose their ability to fight rather quickly. An army that plays politics to increase it's position and budget will find itself promoting leadership who are able politicians. Which wouldn't necessarily be a problem, except that it's rather rare to find an effective military leader who is also an effective political leader.

I think how far this process has gone is demonstrated by the fact that Rumsfeld was able to 'bully' the generals into accepting a plan that we now know, they knew was fatally flawed. I may have missed it, but noone that I can recall resigned over it, the entire general staff just went along. None of them valued the lives of the soldiers under them above their own careers. I'm not saying I'd have had more backbone in that situation, but I'm not a General.

W. Patrick Lang

PSD

IO directed against the US population is illegitimate whether the material is true or not. Reason? It stands the world on its head and makes the armed forces the originators of policy rather than its servants. If the american people are sovereign, how can the military believe that it is right for them to shape the opinion of the sovereign. are we sheep? pl

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

A nation of sheep
by William J Lederer
1961

BruceR

Not arguing, but calling the fellow a CIO obscures more than it reveals. Chief Information Officer in civvy-land means something quite different from "Head of PR."

matt

Reminds me of the movie: "Control Room" ... Have you seen it col. ? Its the best representation of "information operations" in action I have seen ... the sequence about the Baathist "playing cards" is priceless ...It also raises the question of if an I/O operation is located abroad, yet still aimed at the American populace, is that legitimate ?

PSD

pat--
you don't have to post this, but i just wanted to thank you--you're right, of course. And I think I knew it when I wrote my first comment. I just needed you to wack me upside the head with your cogent explanation.

Anyway--thanks for this website. It's a great addition to my daily read.

paula

p.s. And, yes, "we" are sheep--at least, all the folks are who so happily bought into all the Bush fantasies over the years. Talk about lambs being led to the slaughter. God knows when this country will ever recover, much less Iraq, which is in absolute shambles.

Michael

A free, prosperous Iraq is that one were ALL citizens get to strap on their body armor before going off to enjoy their new democracy?

What a crock.

Who writes this stuff?

rick

Shameful.

Not surprising, but shameful.

Stan Henning

I taught in the Us Army PSYOP School at Ft. Bragg, NC (1972-73), Served as a PSYOP Staff Officer in Korea (1981-83), and as the one-and-only (at the time) PSYOP officer on the USPACOM (CINCPAC at the time) staff. Since that time, I have watched PSYOP be subsumed under the broad (and fuzzy) term, "Information Operations", which now appears to combine technical issues with the primarily human issues the PSYOP focused on. I'm admittedly well removed from the current situation, except for my frustration at what I see. My main point is that PSYOP should be 100% involved with the other guy's (both friends and foes) human factors and, to be effective, absolutely MUST be backed up by substantive factors (not empty words - but a combination of actual things done to back up words, and that are actually perceived by the target audiences as genuine) . I would like to think that MG Caldwell's statements were really directed at the Iraqi's and others, not us, but I'm not sure what is being done to back up his words, or how well they are being perceived by Iraqi's and others. Sadly, I see his words as no more than the words of a dedicated, can-do US Army officer -- this does not bother me except for the fact that, at least from my angle of observation, this is empty PSYOP.

Adam Stilson

Col Lang,

First let me say that I have read your site for 2 years or so and appreciate your work. I have learned quite a bit. Thank you.

This might be slightly off topic, but since the discussion is about IO, I wanted to ask about the accuracy of an interesting article I read. It is written by a recently return SF soldier and his difficulties training Iraqi security. To my untrained eye it seems very thoughtful and captures their mission well. Since you have seen such things up close, what are your thoughts? Is it accurate?

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20061211/soldiers_story

(Link)

Adam

W. Patrick Lang

Adam

I read it. He is a Special Forces soldier, a Green Beret, nothing more need be said about his understanding of foreign culture and sensitivity to that culture.

The Old Breed lives. I am glad to know it. pl

Wassim

I frankly don't care what line the American people are fed. Your soldiers have no business being in Iraq or in any other area of the Arab world. Most Arab's do not want Americanism and are not interested in your ideologies. Guests to the Arab world are welcomed and honoured, invaders are unceremoniously given the boot sooner or later. My advice, cut the propoganda, save your young mens lives and go home..

W. Patrick Lang

Wassim

That's fair. Frankly, I don't care what kind of fatuous crap you tell each other either. pl

MarcLord

The WAPOO has needed a Spokesgeneral for some time. Caldwell seems to fit the bill admirably.

Perhaps, though, it is time to start thinking about opening a new military academy, you know, to train specialists for this separate, more politically sensitive branch of the service. This way it could have its own command structure and esprit de corps, achieving greater productive communications efficiencies (PCEs) while relieving the traditional branches of the challenges inherent to grooming their own spokesgenerals.

Maybe something along the lines of the old NKVD...

4 billion

LOL, the Arabs have us by the balls, if only we had electric cars then we could leave them to their own business.

Its just bloody oil. Plastics can be made with cellulose etc, Coal and Uranium come from other parts, ie Australia.

Why do we have to put up with this crap, so some pricks get rich?, or is that the American dream?

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