OPINION NUGGETS; Media and Military

The Florida Times Union, July 3, 2010 | Go to article overview

OPINION NUGGETS; Media and Military


When Gen. Stanley McChrystal allowed a reporter for Rolling Stone magazine to interview him, he appeared to be acting foolishly.

Perhaps. Columnist Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal presumed the general's comments were intentional, that he was raising important issues for a greater cause. He "suicide-bombed his career."

But if you look at the basic tenets of counterinsurgency strategy, it's better to give more access to the news media than less. The enemy uses the media against Americans. You don't counter that with silence.

That is one of the lessons in the Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, co-authored by Gen. David Petraeus.

"The media are a permanent part of the information environment. Effective media/public affairs operations are critical to successful military operations. All aspects of military operations are subject to immediate scrutiny.

" ... Clear accurate portrayals can improve the effectiveness and morale of counterinsurgents, reinforce the will of the U.S. public and increase popular support for the host government."

And the fact is, if the American public does not fully understand and support the missions overseas, then it is doomed to fail.

To be effective, a counterinsurgency campaign takes about 13 years.

The problem in Afghanistan is that the current strategy is only in its second year; never mind the previous years of conflict.

As in Vietnam, a host government that cannot be trusted threatens to undermine any of the progress made by the U.S. troops.

The Wall Street Journal described massive shipments of cash out of Afghanistan. One courier alone shipped over $2 billion.

The Economist referred to a congressional report describing "a hideous new mafia of politically connected warlords, enriched by contracts to protect the NATO convoys that some allegedly attack."

We have traded the jungles of Vietnam for the moonscapes of Afghanistan.

You can't count on the news media to whitewash this disgusting portrait.

SHARED POWER WORKS

The nation would be well-served to turn over congressional power to Republicans this fall if responsible spending is the criterion.

The best record for holding down discretionary spending in the last 50 years came when President Ronald Reagan governed with a Democratic Congress.

The second-best came when President Bill Clinton governed with a Republican Congress.

So wrote Fred Barnes in The Wall Street Journal.

When the opposing party controls Congress, it forces decisions to the center, toward moderation. Since both parties tend to elect extreme members of their parties, this may be the only way to produce more moderation in Washington.

A big change seems to be in the cards. The percentage of Americans with great faith in Congress has dropped from a low 22 percent in 2002 to only 8 percent, reports the Harris Poll. …

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