Propaganda – The New Air Power

Ralph Peters continues to produce insightful analysis of events in the Middle East, with his laser vision  focused on the operational aspects of the US Military. His credibility comes from the particularly well-suited arc of his military career, and from the hindsight that lends truth to his writings.

Writing today, in the New York Post, he again provides an analysis so clear that we wonder why he was not the only choice to be the War Czar for the end days of the Bush Administration.

Peters reminds us that the singular achievement of the US Military in the years since WW II has been its ability to completely dominate the air battlefield. The fly in the ointment is that the "air" of his column has transformed from the atmosphere, a place of aircraft and precision guided munitions where the US reigns supreme, to the spectrum, the electro-magnetic milieu of television, radio, and the internet, where the enemy has clearly gained the upper hand. The new "air" has become the high ground of the War on Terrorism Radical Islam, and shortsightedness of the part of US strategists has yielded that strategic position to our foe with hardly a shot fired.

Peters on the enemy in Iraq:

Oh, they went through trial-and-error phases, including ill-judged mass
confrontations with U.S. firepower. But they ultimately proved more
adaptable than we’ve been: We restrict ourselves to supposedly humane
theories of counterinsurgency warfare that have failed us for 60 years;
our enemies simply do whatever works…

The terrorists’ immediate goal is to get us out of Iraq. Their
actions against us at every level of warfare contribute to that

* At the tactical level, they concentrate on killing
and wounding our soldiers and on restricting our movements. Their
weapons, such as roadside bombs, contribute to both objectives, while
suicide bombings against civilians make the streets we can’t drive

* At the operational level – the hinge between
tactics and strategy – they exploit the media’s appetite for
sensational images and anti-Americanism to get out a message that
amplifies their power. Their tactics directly support this operational

* At the strategic level, they leap over our forces to
influence our population and, through them, our government. The
operational-level focus on the media directly supports the strategy…

The terrorists know they can’t beat our forces on the battlefield.
Their purpose in engaging our troops is to generate a body count,
graphic images and alarmist headlines. They’ve created a new paradigm
of warfare that’s cheap, effective and defiantly hard to defeat.

Meanwhile, our own military isn’t even allowed to slip stories to the
bribe-driven Arab press. And the global media credit every perfunctory
claim by the terrorists that the target we just hit was another wedding

It may prove impossible to win by today’s rules. We,
too, need a new warfare paradigm. The bad news is that there isn’t any
sign of one.

Meanwhile, it’s disheartening to see a sound
tactical approach to security in Baghdad at last and Sunni tribes
turning against al Qaeda in Anbar province – but an enduring strategic
vacuum in Washington.

Given the recent reports that the Department of Defense has enlisted the aid of science fiction writers in the search for quantum-leap ideas in military technology, wouldn’t it be an even better idea to enlist the support of the world’s greatest marketing companies in a campaign to overpower the propaganda of the insurgents with some "product" of our own?


4 Replies to “Propaganda – The New Air Power”

  1. Alas, the fifth column (inch) of editors and columnists hoping for the heady days of the sixties and their unchecked, unbalanced obdurate obfuscation of the situation in Vietnam should suprise no one in their willingness to ally with our enemies with little regard for the consequences.

    On a darker, nearly comedic side, maybe the conclusion of Network (1976) being played out with a MSM network anchor being “martyred” by a jihadist would get their attention, though ABC and NBC would probably pay a ransom, CBS could well save money and gain ratings with the beheading of perky Katie.

    As obdurate as the leftist press is, they’d not get the point, though I can see that CBS wouldn’t mind the, albeit brief, spike in the ratings.

  2. I have long since given up on the MSM, as my later post will attest. What I am driving at is the employment of Madison Avenue by the DOD in a focused, aggressive marketing campaign to win the TV, internet,and video battle of the new high ground, the air waves.

  3. Actually we do have a secret weapon (secret because we often forget we even possess it) called “endurance”. We had it in the Revolution thanks to one man, George Washington. We also had it in the Civil War thanks to one man: Lincoln.During the Great Depression and into WW 2, one man gave us hope, Franklin Roosevelt. We almost lost it in the midst of the Cold War, but regained it just in time, thanks to one man, Ronald Reagan. Thankfully, we are still clinging to the same strategy of out lasting the enemy, a quality Bin Laden mistakenly thought we had lost after observing our retreat from Solmalia in the 1990’s.

  4. Mike,

    I have often written, as have many others, that the only way the US can lose the war is to lose its will. Sadly, the preponderance of negative reporting in the MSM saps the will from all but the most determined. People are more worn down from the “bad news” than from anything else. Get told that we are lead by incompetents and liars, and soon it’s the new reality. So, my point about propaganda is really intended to work for the at “home” crowd and the “away crowd”…….

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