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OneBlueSky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-20-04 10:53 AM
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Disappearing the Dead . . .
Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Idea of a "New Warfare"

here's an article from the Project on Defense Alternatives that discusses BushCo's attempts to sanitize their various wars through "perception management" . . . very informative and just a bit infuriating . . .

http://www.comw.org/pda/0402rm9exsum.html

During the course of the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts the US Department of Defense (DoD) conducted "perception management" campaigns that obstructed the public's appreciation of the wars' human toll. The casualty issue was not alone in suffering such treatment during the prologue to the Iraq conflict. Distortion and miscalculation affected the official discourse on many of the key issues surrounding the war, including: the nature, magnitude, and immediacy of the threat; the likely financial cost of the war; the troop requirement for both the combat and post-war phases of the operation; and the difficulty and expense of post-war reconstruction and stabilization efforts.

The casualty issue is one of strategic import. In addition to US and allied losses, approximately 18,000 Afghan and Iraqi combatants and non-combatants were killed during the main combat phases of the two wars. (About one-third of the total were non-combatants.) This toll bears directly on (1) the threat environments in post-war Iraq and Afghanistan; (2) the regional and global reactions to US operations, (3) the prospects for building multinational security cooperation on Iraq, Afghanistan, and terrorism; and, (4) the appeal, influence, and growth of terrorist organizations and extremist movements.

(snip)

DoD and other US officials also promoted more general concepts to frame public discussion and media coverage of the casualty issue. One of these frames -- the concept of a new low-risk "precision warfare" -- created unrealistic expectations that war would produce very low casualties on all sides. Another frame -- what might be called "casualty agnosticism" -- implied that it was impossible to derive usefully accurate estimates of casualties, despite the presence of prodigious investigative resources in the field (both governmental and non-governmental). DoD was fairly successfully in projecting these framing concepts into US media coverage of the wars and war casualties.

Polls of foreign public opinion indicate that the perception management campaigns were distinctly unsuccessful in influencing their putative primary target: foreign public opinion. They may have been more successful in influencing domestic US opinion -- insofar as a "perception gap" now separates Americans from much of the rest of the world on war-related issues. Distortion of the casualty issue can only serve to impede the sober assessment of US policy, policy options, and their consequences. It is antithetical both to well-informed public debate and to sensible policy-making.

- much more . . .

http://www.comw.org/pda/0402rm9exsum.html

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