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Old 09-28-2009   #42
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Hi Wilf,

Will try to respond in reverse order, more or less, since my last comment:

If military operations are being conducted in line with legal guidance, why consider the media?
Good and fair question. Because if you do not deign to consider the media's impact of how they are likely to be framing military operations, by embracing an artificial mental compartmentalization between military and political domains, the civilian policy makers over time are going to have the lawyers find technical reasons to increasingly circumscribe how you carry out military operations beyond what is required by the laws of war ( in the very long run, this creates agitation to change the laws of war themselves by diplomatic means to the further disadvantage of conventional militaries facing insurgents). Some of their media driven ROE that they will want for political reasons are not going to make much sense or enhance the likelihood that an operation will be successful.

There's reasons that the political ratchet has gone in only one direction -greater restrictions on the use of military force - since WWII. Not wanting to be bothered with contemplating the implications of the "political landscape" is in itself, not a winning strategy for militaries retaining their legal ability to carry out their core function effectively.

I submit that media is part of the political landscape. - more over, how is media different from "public opinion?"
Having sat, in my time, at editorial meetings, it's the difference from being the playwright or the director and sitting in the audience watching the play unfold on stage. Any idea that the media reports rather than intentionally shapes is completely daft.

I submit that Steam and Telegraph has at least as substantial social and cultural effect, as the Internet, Computers and so-called modern media

I agree. Not everyone adapted immediately or neatly though. It's a couple of generations between the experience of the Union using railroads and telegraphs in the Civil War or von Roon's mobilization reforms and the elaborate, universal scale seen in 1914. Moreover, von Roon faced heavy opposition from that pesky political landscape.

Yet read the military discussions of late 19th Century and you see how military men have got their heads around steam power, new weapons, railways, telegraph and most of everything else. They are applying what they know for certain and not attempting to hypothesise or guess at what they do not.
Across what Wilf, sixty years?

The flaw here is you are looking at the discussions of the military figures over a long stretch of time who understood the implications of change and got things right. Everyone knows who George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower were. No one recalls the name of the superior officer who told them to stop writing articles about tanks if they wanted to stay in the Army. DeGaulle was not the voice of the French officer corps on tanks either, for that matter.

Speculation and hypothesis are not bad things. Provided they lead to something empirical, they're a gateway to progress.

If they say "consider the impact of the media," they are totally wrong, because the "effect" depends on the action, and you cannot predict 2nd and 3rd order effects reliably or even how the media will see them. - you cannot tell the future.
True, you cannot predict second or third order effects in a social environment in a mathematical or precise sense but you can forecast. We intuitively game out probabilities whenever we make decisions in situations where there are many variables in play - and when a decision is important we tend to give the more critical and likely variables greater consideration before deciding on a course of action.

So why not point this out and stop panicking about complexity and media? Do we really think that the political dynamic of today is more complex than that in Europe at the time of Luther?

The critical relationship is between military force and politics. Media only bears on the latter - as CvC explained. Surely the aim here is to explain something simply and usefully, not compound the problem
Who is panicking? The simple explanation is that in combat situations where the political dynamic retains supremacy over military necessity or "best practice", the media is likely to have a lot of influence over the outcome by eroding the political will you mentioned. Ignoring that reality and proceeding full steam ahead will contribute to that erosion.

Whose media and effect on who? You cannot please everybody. Military forces, use violence to gain political outcomes. "The Media" is not a cohesive coherent body. What play well with Fox, will be called a "war crime" with the BBC, and no one in Texas cares what anyone in Cairo things

There are always multiple audiences to consider and choices to be made among them. There always was but today they are more likely to view events in something closer to real time, with greater simultaneous reactions. Or at least less lag.

So show me successful armies that failed to adapt? 1914-18 and 1936-45 saw far more radical changes in Warfare than anything seen today. Why do we now think it "requires adaptation." Kind of silly to even say it, in an historical context

It's the unsuccessful who failed to adapt. by definition, the successful eventually came around.

Media influence is ENTIRELY political. The impact of the media is only relevant to the the policy being sought by force. If it is not, then commanders are asking Media permission or approval to do stuff - which is like asking an 8 years old for advice on marriage.
I share your low opinion of the media - but in this instance, the media is more like an 8 year old who exerts a degree of control over the adults in the house. Ignoring media influence or calling it political doesn't help change the fact that it influences events or reactions of political leaders.
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