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Monday, January 03, 2011

The New Information War

The use of mass social media as well as sites like Wikileaks on the internet has created a new type of informal propaganda war where any human being can interact, which for the first time ever has seen countries who have the conventional military advantage losing on the propaganda level. These days military might only aggravates the situation for said countries as the brutal reality of war has always been kept from the public, but now it is being made visible, even more than in Vietnam. Of course the roots of this war started in Vietnam, the first truely televised war, but a lot was still kept from the public; for a while anyway.

Who can also forget the visuals of American Soldiers' bodies being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu in 1994, which directly led to the US withdrawal from Somalia. The latest tidbits of reality were the scenes of US Apache helicopters engaging unarmed civilians that included children as well as journalists and on the Israeli front the disastrous attack by Israeli Special Forces on the Mavi Marmara a year ago. Even on the Israeli-Palestinian front Israel is losing the propaganda war as every single engagement is made public seconds after they happen and the international public can only be fooled for so long. Opposition against Israeli Policy seems to be growing.

For the first time ever having a strong military does not serve you on the propaganda level unless you can guarantee no colateral damage or if you are legitimately deployed. The term "acceptable collateral damage" is also not acceptable anymore as the slightest mishap will be made visible to the world in explicit gory detail. The fact is, the stronger the military of Country A the stronger the propaganda attack against that country will be.

Of course most of this can be avoided if your actions are for legitimate reasons and not for the enrichment of say, security companies or private contractors with direct links back to members of your government or for the systematic extermination of an entire people or similar reasons. But if you invade a country or region for the wrong reasons and it is not sanctioned by the UN then you have made your bed and have to lie in it.

This becomes fertile ground for propaganda, not only against your country, but also for the recruitment of suicide bombers. You sow the seeds for your own downfall. Countries that cannot match you in direct combat will find ways to make you bleed in any other way. Unfortunately those in power will use these incidents of violence as excuses to intensify military action, which will just escalate reprisals back against them again. Any good officer also knows that if an enemy is not defeated it becomes stronger so you even stand the chance of losing conventional battles if not the war.

If you want to win the new propaganda war ensure you are engaged in combat action for legitimate reasons and then you will win. Anything other than that cannot be won anymore. Just when you think it may be possible to get out of it with a political avenue, along comes Wikileaks to expose political wheeling and dealing as well.


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