Casting Out Demons
Monday December 12, 2005
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From New York City
Last week the chairman of the National Democrats, Howard Dean undid six months of pretty good Democratic politics and posturing on the war in Iraq by declaring the US can't win there.
The deal that Dean made to become chairman, according to the Washington gossip circuit, was to raise money and shut up.
The low-dollar money machine he had created during the course of his abbreviated Presidential campaign was supposed to carry over to DNC fund-raising activities. The other part of the deal was for Dean to stay off the national stage and leave it to the grown-ups: Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Kerry and any Clinton who felt the need to jump into any national debate at any time.
It seems ole' HowWeird is oh-for-two. According to recent numbers Dean has raised about half what GOP chairman Ken Mehlman has raised over at the Republican National Committee. And last week's version of the Dean Scream on a radio station in San Antonio certainly catapulted him, stumbling and stuttering, back onto the national stage.
Democrats could barely remember the name of their National Chairman. One after another they declared that Howard Dean "doesn't speak for me."
Yes. He does.
As Donna Brazile and I were discussing on Wolf Blitzer's CNN program last Thursday, most of the voting population does not watch Blitzer (or Galen or Brazile). When that huge majority hears the head of the Democratic party declare preemptory defeat in a war where some 150,000 American military personnel are on the ground, that which they have always sort of believed - that Democrats are soft on defense - is reinforced (in the words of the Vice President of These United States,) big time.
Ok. All that is bad news of the Democrats. Then, in Sunday's New York Times, a very long piece by reporter Jeff Gerth details the non-shooting portion of the war in Iraq - the "Information War."
I have a very, very warm spot in my heart for the Psychological Operations teams which are operating around the world. In part, because they were my taxi service during my six months in Iraq. They needed to go to odd corners of the country and were generous enough to pack me into the back of a humvee and drag me along.
The other part is because they work in and around the indigenous population and, so, tend to suffer casualties well above the per capita level of the traditional forces.
Unfortunately for the young men and women in the field, there is a PsyOp Colonel - Jack N. Summe - sitting on his behind in the comfort and safety of Ft. Bragg, North Carolina opining to Mr. Gerth and the readers of the Sunday NY Times on the infighting in the military on the role of PsyOps.
According to the Times, Summe told Gerth: "Some public affairs professionals [in the Pentagon] see us unfavorably," and inaccurately, he said as "lying dirty tricksters."
I don't know where the good colonel went to college, but he must have graduated Summe cum Stupid from the Howard Dean School of Public Utterance.
It's bad enough that the PsyOppers get no credit for their important work, they do not need their former commander repeating slanders about it to the New York Times.
The main point of the NY Times article appears to be that anything which is uttered, written, published, or televised should have a disclaimer, "Paid for by the United States of America."
Information has become as important a weapon as anything in the Army, Navy, Marine or Air Force's arsenals.
The enemy has become expert in deploying the information weapon. The notion that our troops should be handcuffed in its use is - and should be - an outrage.
Many major news outlets, including the Times, have been embarrassed in the past several years by the misdeeds of their own reporters, producers and/or editors.
The major media should take care that they don't attempt to cast out their own demons by demanding that brave warriors working in harsh and dangerous environments, adhere to standards they, themselves, have not been able to maintain.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: A link to the NY Times article; another link, this one to the Psychological Operations web page; a very New York-esque Mullfoto; and a Catchy Caption of the day.
Copyright © 2005 Richard A. Galen
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