2007-01-09

Schlechte Noten f�r Info Warfare der USA im Irak

--- We're Losing the Infowar, titelt Newsweek dramatisch mit Blick auf den Irak-Krieg und nimmt daf�r die "virale" Verbreitung des Hinrichtungsvideos von Saddam Hussein als bildhaften Aufh�nger:
For nearly four years, U.S. military officials have briefed the Baghdad press corps from behind an imposing wooden podium. No longer. Last week U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell relaxed with reporters around a "media roundtable." He replaced the cumbersome headset once used for Arabic translations with a discreet earpiece. He cut short his opening statement, allowing for more back-and-forth banter. Yet even as Iraq emerged from the deadliest month in 2006 for American soldiers, Caldwell maintained the relentlessly upbeat patter that has come to characterize the briefings. "The key difference you're going to see in 2007," he said proudly, "is this is truly the year of transition and adaptation." Another year, another message. In the United States this week, President George W. Bush's speech laying out his new strategy for Iraq will be scrutinized for its specifics�the numbers of an anticipated troop surge, the money for reconstruction and jobs programs. But at least as critical to success may be whether Bush is convincing. A draft report recently produced by the Baghdad embassy's director of strategic communications Ginger Cruz and obtained by NEWSWEEK makes the stakes clear: "Without popular support from US population, there is the risk that troops will be pulled back ... Thus there is a vital need to save popular support via message." ... Indeed, the document so much as admits that despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars, the United States has lost the battle for Iraqi public opinion: "Insurgents, sectarian elements, and others are taking control of the message at the public level." Videos of U.S. soldiers being shot and blown up, and of the bloody work of sectarian death squads, are now pervasive. The images inspire new recruits and intimidate those who might stand against them. "Inadequate message control in Iraq," the draft warns, "is feeding the escalating cycle of violence." Sunni insurgents in particular have become expert at using technology to underscore�some would say exaggerate�their effectiveness. "The sophistication of the way the enemy is using the news media is huge," Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, told NEWSWEEK just before he returned to the United States. Most large-scale attacks on U.S. forces are now filmed, often from multiple camera angles, and with high-resolution cameras. The footage is slickly edited into dramatic narratives: quick-cut images of Humvees exploding or U.S. soldiers being felled by snipers are set to inspiring religious soundtracks or chanting, which lends them a triumphal feel. In some cases, U.S. officials believe, insurgents attack American forces primarily to generate fresh footage. ... What the insurgents understand better than the Americans is how Iraqis consume information. Tapes of beheadings are stored on cell phones along with baby pictures and wedding videos. Popular Arab satellite channels like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya air far more graphic images than are typically seen on U.S. TV�leaving the impression, say U.S. military officials, that America is on the run. ... The consequences of losing the propaganda battle are real. "One of these videos is worth a division of tanks to those people," says Robert Steele, a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer. Not only do the insurgent videos draw recruits and donations, they don't give ordinary Iraqis much incentive to cooperate with the Americans. ... The question is how to fight back, when today's most powerful technologies�the Web, cell phones�are better suited to small, nimble organizations.
Und sonst: Der Christian Science Monitor stimmt ein Loblied auf die Aufkl�rung aus offenen Quellen �bers Internet an: The Wikipedia way to better intelligence. Advanced technology and Web-savvy citizenry now make it possible for open-source information gathering to rival, if not surpass, the clandestine intelligence produced by government agencies.

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