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Old 08-09-2008   #1
MikeF
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Default Indirect Approach/Information Campaign evolves

For your consideration...

This announcement defines a significant shift in our infomation campaign and indirect strategy. IMO, this shift debunks the "us v/s them" attitude and allows for the US to serve as a neutral arbitrator.

US Shifts 'Hearts and Minds' Fight - Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor

Throughout my time in the ME, I always assumed that the US was irrelevant in the overall meta game. In terms of game theory, this shift may allow us to divorce ourselves from the role of a player to that of the arbitrator. I used this reasoning as an assumption for all of my planning factors, i.e. in the bigger game, the US is irrelevant. In Iraq, the real 'game' is a sometimes zero, sometimes non-zero sum political power struggle focused on the endgame- where the chips fall when the US ends the occupation.

Quote:
"In practical terms, the shift means dumping glossy Madison Avenue campaigns about America in favor of helping target populations find alternatives to extremism in everything from politics and technology to sports and religion. The target populations include the burgeoning Arab and Muslim youth populations in particular.The shift is long overdue in the eyes of some proponents of an aggressive war on terror. They say the United States for too long saw the "war of ideas" as a PR campaign about itself rather than essentially an ideological struggle between two visions for the Muslim world."
I'm impressed with this strategy at least in concept. There is no need for the US to try and sell it's goods. The city on the hill will sell itself. In the larger sense, we must realize that the Muslim world is working its was through an Islamic Revival (similar to the Prodestant Reformation). This revival is almost a century old. Sayyid Qutb served as the Martin Luther- essentially declaring that one can read the Quran and interpret it without the help of the clergy.

What we can influence and assist with is offering an peaceful and prosperous alternative to the caliphate.

Like our own reformation, religion interjected into politics proves extremely unstable and violent.

I doubt the the accused witches of Salem would disagree.

Rant is over...

v/r

Mike
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Old 08-09-2008   #2
Ken White
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Default Good find. Interesting article.

The really good news is contained in your quoted excerpt -- that we're dumping the 'sales' campaign. That was never going to work on any level and the whole ad agency / media approach was terribly flawed -- simply because it indulges in hype and overselling and is ignored by far more people in the world than the Ad and TV folks will ever admit. Don't think so? Look at your average commercial or TV show and consider your thoughts about them.

Now if we can just get the Services' PA folks to back off the same stupid approach in their PR efforts, we'll have achieved something.

I note the comments in the article re: the fact that we seem to see AQ and radical Islam as the defining challenges in the Arab world and that the people who live in the ME do not see that as true. I think that's wrong on a couple of levels; I think we see the challenge is seen as focused on us, not the Arab world, it just exists in the Arab world. A subtle but I think an important difference.

I would agree that the Arab world does not view those things as major threats (for obvious reasons) but believe the clash of perceptions and narratives resulting isn't terribly important. Folks in the ME are the ultimate pragmatists; they are selfish and expect others to be the same way; if you don't seem selfish, then there must be something wrong with you. We have been relatively unselfish in the western mode (partly to appease the left leaners here and about the world) to no significant benefit in the ME and this has helped make us in their perception as being 'up to something' more devious than the reality. The ME doesn't do "What you see is what you get."

Further this comment by a "ME expert:"
Quote:
"Let's focus on the social crisis these countries are facing. Let's put the emphasis on developing the rule of law in Arab and Muslim governments," Gerges says. "Then we can talk about something genuinely new in the American public-diplomacy effort."
is counterintuitive to the announced new approach. One cannot avoid being overly meddlesome and interfering, even paternalistic, on one hand and tell the locals they have to develop the rule of law on the other hand. Particularly given the fact that the phrase "rule of law" is subject in the ME to two very different interpretations...
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Old 08-09-2008   #3
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Default

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Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
Now if we can just get the Services' PA folks to back off the same stupid approach in their PR efforts, we'll have achieved something.
That would be nice . After all, no department of defence ever won a war, so why should a defensively oriented IO campaign do so? Although, I must admit, that I am in favour of a somewhat more radical form of communications strategy .

Marc
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Old 08-09-2008   #4
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Default Hat Tip to Dave...

The article was actually posted on Thursday in the New's round-up. I just needed some time to consider it.

In the broader context, our previous IO campaign reflected a self-absorbed reaction to radical Islamist. After the shock of 9/11, we immediately asked, "why do they hate us?" In some weird, collective form of compartmentalized psychosis, a temporary disassociation with reality, we questioned our own identity, and we felt the need to justify democracy, capitalism, and liberalism.

We acted rash, and we never considered that the attacks had nothing to do with us. Despite the rhetoric of AQ, we were never the problem.

The GWOT further schismed the US populace into partisan factions- everyone was angry; everyone blamed Bush. All of us looked at the world and said this is not what I envisioned.

In typical fashion, State Department proclaimed that we should not describe the radicals as jihadists. State was right, but the hawks countered that these ramblings were meek and dove-like ignoring the fact that AQ represents less than 1% of the Muslim community and totally ignorant of the theoretical and theological meaning of jihad.

Years of fighting past, we're finally "getting it."

I'm still considering how it all plays out. Thankfully, we are beginning to stop blaiming ourselves for the world's ills. I used to concur with GEN Powell's pottery barn analogy, but the ME was broken long ago.

The beauty of our system and way of life is that as long as we believe in it and reflect its values, it will always overcome tyranny, radicalism, and other non-sense.

As Bing West describes, we are the greatest tribe despite our severe short-comings.

Ken is spot on with the selfishness and pragmatism of the ME. We simply have to acknowledge that their failures are not our responsibility nor causation.

Once we get there, we maybe able to effectively intervene and assist in the same manner as one would intervene with a family member addicted to drugs.

On a more serious note, I think I'm gonna leave the strategic sphere and brush up on my PLF and BD6 in the hope that a mass tactical jump lies shortly in my future...

Mike
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Old 08-09-2008   #5
Ken White
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Default Fortunately, the Alinsky model isn't

Quote:
Originally Posted by marct View Post
That would be nice . After all, no department of defence ever won a war, so why should a defensively oriented IO campaign do so? Although, I must admit, that I am in favour of a somewhat more radical form of communications strategy .Marc
that successful either...
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Old 08-09-2008   #6
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Default Different folks...

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
...In the broader context, our previous IO campaign reflected a self-absorbed reaction to radical Islamist. After the shock of 9/11, we immediately asked, "why do they hate us?" In some weird, collective form of compartmentalized psychosis, a temporary disassociation with reality, we questioned our own identity, and we felt the need to justify democracy, capitalism, and liberalism.
What's this "we" stuff? I truly do not know -- and have never heard -- anyone outside of the media and the vales of academe ask that question, not once. Neither of those institutions shapes America nearly as much as they'd like -- or like to think they do. Most Americans, in the immortal words of Christie Blatchford, "...don't give a rat's ass about what the rest of the world thinks about them."
Quote:
We acted rash, and we never considered that the attacks had nothing to do with us. Despite the rhetoric of AQ, we were never the problem.
Unsure of your meaning here. In one sense, I agree but I think the so-called AQ effect included us though not because they hate us. Nor, IMO, did we act rashly; we had contended with probes and minor attacks, worldwide, from the ME through four Presidents from both parties over 22 years. I see nothing rash, merely a long overdue if not best planned (and whose fault is that?) response.
Quote:
The GWOT further schismed the US populace into partisan factions- everyone was angry; everyone blamed Bush...
Further being a relative term; the schism occurred in the late 60s and had just been getting progressively more vocal. As much or more of that due to the increased ability to broadly communicate (and a lessening of social constraint on invective) as to a deepening rift. Had the GWOT (an admittedly dumb term in any event) been precipitated by Al Gore, the flow of criticism would have been reversed, it would not have been stilled.
Quote:
...Thankfully, we are beginning to stop blaiming ourselves for the world's ills.
Aging will do that Fear not, happens to all of us. Liberating feeling, too.
Quote:
I used to concur with GEN Powell's pottery barn analogy, but the ME was broken long ago.
That was never a good metaphor or plan -- and the ME is not broken, it works; it's just very, very different.
Quote:
...with the selfishness and pragmatism of the ME. We simply have to acknowledge that their failures are not our responsibility nor causation.
I'd also suggest that to look upon that or those things as failure(s) is possibly not conducive to a sensible and successful approach to operating in the ME. Again, I think it's not wrong, just very different. Judge the ME on western standards and the probability of failure in getting anything done there declines precipitously.
Quote:
...hope that a mass tactical jump lies shortly in my future...
Now that do sound like more fun...
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Old 08-09-2008   #7
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Default Same difference

Ken- we're actually on the same page. Instead of simply getting out of the military or whatever, i'm just throwing out categorical statements for consideration...

IMO, clouded by shades of deployments, the public is misinformed but partisoned nonetheless...As I redeploy time and again, I'm upset from the internal focus of IPODs and blackberries to no regard.

I'm simply trying to make sense of it all.

I suppose that's therapy in a way....I'm just trying to find solutions and understanding...

Inadvertantly, this has become my life's work.

As my boy from dartmouth put it today, "this country is in need and i think that i can serve." In the end, that's all we can do.



v/r

Mike

Last edited by MikeF; 08-09-2008 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 08-09-2008   #8
Ken White
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Thumbs up I think so

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
Ken- we're actually on the same page.
and I did this too:
Quote:
Instead of simply getting out of the military or whatever, i'm just throwing out categorical statements for consideration...
Still had to end up sorting out most of my own answers...
Quote:
IMO, clouded by shades of deployments, the public is misinformed but partisoned nonetheless...As I redeploy time and again, I'm upset from the internal focus of IPODs and blackberries to no regard.
Hear that, know the feeling. This country hasn't been to war since 1945. Neither has the Pentagon. Elements of all the Armed Forces have a bunch of times in the last 63 years. On balance, I think that's a good thing -- but I know full well it can be annoying as all get out...
Quote:
I'm simply trying to make sense of it all.
Gimme a holler if you do -- I'm still trying...
Quote:
As my boy from dartmouth put it today, "this country is in need and i think that i can serve." In the end, that's all we can do.
Roger that. 45 years and no regrets and my worst (and fortunately brief) job was at the ROTC Det at a University in Florida.

It is indeed all we can do. The good news is that more people really and sincerely appreciate that than one normally realizes...

Keep on pushing!
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Old 08-09-2008   #9
MikeF
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Default Cheers...

Quote:
I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,
Stuffed with the stuff that is coarse, and stuffed with the stuff that is fine. . .
These are the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, they are not original with me,
If they are not yours as much mine they are nothing or next to nothing,
If they do not enclose everything they are next to nothing. . .
-Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass


The funny thing is that he wrote his poems to pick up women...In another life, he would've been a paratrooper....

As always Ken, I appreciate the insight....
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