Friday, March 10, 2006
This is a good spot to consider such things. The jihadists have certainly considered what will "scare" us, either physically or morally. Capitalizing on what will sicken and discourage Americans, they have waged a somewhat effective campaign of accentuating incidents like Abu Ghraib.
In the game of psychological strike/counterstrike, it is fascinating that the jihad has been able to get mileage out of Coalition interrogation techniques because they can convince some of our populace how much it bothers them. They are in effect winning some of our hearts and minds by convincing us that certain tactics lose their hearts and minds. They have ascertained correctly that 20-30% of the American population -- some with powerful voices -- will come to a dead stop and temporarily change sides over these issues.
We need to start being this sophisticated. I assume that many of our psy-ops people are indeed up on these basic issues, but lack the influence on our own media to frame information in the most effective way.
Rather than oversimple calculations such as "how will Arabs interpret this?" we as citizens need to be aware of the layers within layers that our experts are attempting. How will tactic A affect the Iraqi jihadist? How will it affect the outside agitator? How will it be interpreted by the Shia man-on-the-street? Will this cause PR problems among the Kurds?
I'm going on too long for a comment. I'd better blog about it on my own. Summary statement: psychological tactics do not affect our enemies, allies, and neutrals in the same way, nor are they seen in the same way by all Americans. We have to grow up. The MSM should, but won't. This is a default blogosphere challenge.
Come to think of it, this need not be a left-right divide on the blogosphere. The left generally believes in soft power and presenting as good an example as possible; the right believes in administering natural consequences to both enemy and ally. Only at the most superficial level do these two have to be incompatible goals. In a world of multiple constituencies and reverse psychologies on both sides, this should be done in collaboration.