Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Networks' war on democracy in Iraq

Pierce Wetter has a superb post on the effect of the media on the war in Iraq (H/T: Instapundit):

Prior to the Iraq War coverage, the local television coverage was the most despicable thing I had ever seen the media do. Does the LAPD bear some blame for the riots? Yes. Does Rodney King? Yes.
But for me, the lion's share of the blame falls on the local television stations in LA. The behavior of both Rodney King and the LAPD was terrible, and the verdict, well, it was the verdict. But I truly don't think there would have been riots if the media hadn't intentionally fanned the flames. 50-60 people died in those riots. I lay those deaths to a large extent at the door of the LA media, yes.
Last week, I saw the media chant:
Is there going to be a civil war?
Is there going to be a civil war?
Is there going to be a civil war?
Is there going to be a civil war?
Is there going to be a civil war?
They could have just as easily asked:
So, when are you guys going to work it out?

Pretty much spot on. War, as von Clausewitz put it, is about breaking the enemy's will to resist. Television coverage inevitably influences how people perceive events. And that in turn affects the will. If television networks repeat every day, America can't win, there's going to be a civil war; sooner or later the prophecy stands an excellent chance of coming true. You can persuade the Iraqis to revolt, and you can persuade Americans to quit.

The result is pictured graphically in the American evacuation of Saigon in 1975. The key turning point had been the Tet offensive of 1968. Despite the fact that it resulted in a devastating defeat for the Viet Cong, the American televison networks played it as a defeat for America; and from then on the American objective was never to win the war in Vietnam, but to quit as rapidly as possible.

This was summed up perfectly by a great milblog:
Years after the war in Vietnam ended, American Colonel Harry Summers once told a North Vietnamese Colonel that the U.S. never lost a battle in Vietnam. The Vietnamese Colonel responded saying, "That is true. It is also irrelevant."

Winning the war in Iraq means being tougher at home than the Vietnam generation was. It means not allowing the press to create a defeat. It means insisting on the truth despite the fog of war--and the fog of propaganda created by the press.

American soldiers are winning. It's the American press we need to worry about.


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