02 December 2005

Information, Propaganda... Tomato, Tomahto

Here's what retired General and a professor of defense studies Walter Jajko thinks would improve U.S. foreign policy:

...the U.S. military has been paying millions of dollars to plant pro-American, Pentagon-written propaganda articles in Iraqi newspapers and to buy off Iraqi journalists with monthly stipends... it's about time."

We need to be using all the means available in the war of ideas: public diplomacy, psychological operations, influence agents, disinformation and computer information warfare — from open and overt to clandestine and covert, from public explanation of policy to secret subversion of enemies. All of these must be well-orchestrated.

...the CIA owned or subsidized, at various times, more than 50 newspapers, news services, radio stations, periodicals and other communications facilities...

...at least 22 U.S. news organizations employed American journalists who were also working for the CIA. Nearly a dozen U.S. publishing houses printed some of the more than 1,000 books that had been produced or subsidized by the CIA.

A permanent leadership is needed in the form of a new Cabinet department that can knock together heads to force integrated influence activities — a Ministry of Propaganda, if you will.

What General Jajko is basically saying is that U.S. foreign policy needs used car salesmen. They are the ones best suited to selling bad merchandise. A good car doesn't need a big sales pitch; it sells itself. The salesman can basically just stand there and let you look over the car as long as you want (I am making an analogy to transparency here). Go ahead, look under the hood. There's nothing to hide. Come back tomorrow with an expert if you want.

The good car salesman knows that the more you know about the car, the more you will want it.

But that's not the case with crappy products. You have to fudge the truth a bit to move those. You can only sell a poor product with superior marketing, and you sure as hell aren't going to let anyone look under the hood. That's really what propaganda (read: "U.S. foreign policy") is all about.

So the U.S. has two options: we can be a great country and tell the truth, or we can be a lousy country and sell lies. We know where the right stands on the matter.

So next time you meet a used car salesman, don't jeer... he might be working out of the White House someday.

1 comment:

Mark said...

It's almost impossible to talk about a war without putting some sort of spin on it but goes too far to be considered honest.

Now that I think about it, I'd have a hard time writing anything about the war that would be considered objective to everybody.