Monday, March 24, 2008

The War Effort:Cause and Effect

During the "Good War" President Roosevelt had the press on his side. Anyone using propaganda to undermine the war effort was dismissed as a crackpot or arrested as a traitor. The War Department relied on a sympathetic press to suppress secrets that would render aide and comfort to the enemy. If for example the press was actively undermining the President at every turn early in the American intervention into the Pacific and European theaters when our forces were less than effective our enemies might have been emboldened resulting in even more casualties.

To this day one can still marvel at the way America worked together in the war effort. Propaganda and fear were used on our own citizens in a way that would be thoroughly rebuked today. It was a different time. The survival of the country was paramount and almost no one relished our defeat. Not so today. The day after a clear majority in Congress passed the authorization the use of force to oust Saddam Hussein the loyal opposition and their corporals in the media began its unrelenting attack on George W. Bush and the war effort.

Forget the effect this has had on our national psyche and focus on the practical day to day job of fighting and dying on the ground. It's bad enough that the most prominent newspaper in the country routinely snubs the Commander in Chief and publishes national security secrets that had been leaked. Considering that a major American cable news channel suppressed news of Saddam Hussein's murderous atrocities in order to maintain a bureau in Baghdad should anyone be surprised that the mainstream media would use its power to undermine American policy.

Studies now being published show a direct cause and effect of the reverse propaganda dished up on a daily basis by most of the print and broadcast media in terms of violence in Iraq. (Click here to read the Washington Times article on this topic) When Senate Majority leader Harry Reid declares that "the war has been lost" and when CNN, NBC, CBS and PBS air stories of retired generals and former presidents raising doubts about the situation on the ground the rise in violent attacks in Iraq is directly measurable.

From the article:

The increase in attacks is more pronounced in areas of Iraq that have better access to international news media, the authors conclude in a report titled "Is There an 'Emboldenment' Effect? Evidence from the Insurgency in Iraq."

The researchers studied data about insurgent attacks and U.S. media coverage up to November, tracking what they called "anti-resolve statements" by U.S. politicians and reports about American public opinion on the war.

"We find that in periods immediately after a spike in anti-resolve statements, the level of insurgent attacks increases,"

It is not an uncommon phenomenon for protesters to suddenly come alive when a camera shows up. In this situation people are dying as a direct result of unbalanced, skewed news coverage intended to weaken the resolve of the war effort on all fronts.

Much of the blame can and should go to the Bush administration itself. For one, the administration, stung by the "Mission Accomplished" fiasco, stopped it's own propaganda effort. In failing to highlight adequately major accomplishments and bolster the reason for engaging in this conflict as more and more evidence of Saddam's atrocities and support of international terrorism surfaced (and, yes, ties to al Qaeda ) it allowed the media to form the public opinion narrative. Secondly, it can not be defended that it took so long for the President to change tactics when things clearly took a turn for the worst. This paralysis or stubbornness only emboldened the insurgency and the anti-Bush media. Still, even after the "surge" produced the results it was intended to the media either straight up denied it or ignored it altogether. Hardly good journalism.

History will be the final judge of how this venture plays out. I think it's still quite possible that Iraq will become the jewel of the Arab world if local terrorism can be contained long enough for the economy to bloom. There can be no doubt that Iraq's neighbors have contributed to the chaos fearing a successful democracy (of sorts) next door would put pressure on them to loosen the grip on their own populations.

All that being said it is still unconscionable that the American and international media knowingly and deliberately provide aide and comfort to a despicable enemy that indiscriminately kills and tortures military personnel and civilians alike. It's one thing to ask journalists and their editors to sugarcoat everything and quite another to have the media literally actively work for the terrorist's cause.



al fin said...

Everything is politics to them. By making the US lose they believe they're making Bush lose, which means they win. Anything is justified to reach that goal.

The indoctrination chambers of most universities and media rooms is simply irresistible to most mortals. You adopt the mindset or you go insane or you quit and leave.