Thursday, May 03, 2007

How Much More?

Concerning the recent debate about the Pentagon’s choice to severely limit milblogging I take a stand somewhere between Hugh Hewitt and Joe Carter. Here is why.

In WWII the Nazi’s were significantly effective in using propaganda as a tool for the destruction of Europe’s Jews. A common misunderstanding of the Holocaust is that it was perpetrated solely by the Nazis, and they alone are to blame. The fact, however, is that almost everyone in Europe got into the game of killing, or at least took part by deporting their Jews to be killed by the Germans. Why the participation? Well one of the reasons was because of the massive propaganda machine that Germany employed. Headed by Joseph Goebbels, who had the title of Minister of Propaganda, the propaganda machine was responsible for espousing the hatred of the Jews on a large scale. Every day Germans were exposed to countless posters, radio broadcasts, newspapers etc. that told of the inferiority of the Jews in some fashion or another: they were biologically inferior, they carried disease, and they were whatever was wrong with society. After awhile these messages began to take a toll on the non-Jewish population, and even reached across the seas to America.

My point in saying this is that the Germans were hugely successful in their campaign to exterminate the Jews because they were able to convince others of their point of view. The Nazi government realized the role that media played in their realizing their goals and went full force into fighting their battle on both the ground and in the minds of the European population. Would they have been as successful, able to kill 6 million Jews, if they kept their ideas about Jews to themselves? No. They needed the cooperation of other nations in order to do so. Thus begins my point about the milblogs being essentially shutdown.

As I noted in my blog at the US military is overwhelmingly capable of winning a ground war against any enemy. But what we aren’t capable (for lack of something of which I am not able to put my finger on) is winning the minds of people across the world as to the rightness of our war on Islamic extremism. If we could somehow get the truth out to the world about what is really going on in Iraq (i.e. not just Baghdad) I am willing to bet that people would immediately question their previously held notions about the war.

For some reason post-WWII USA has been seemingly incapable of convincing others that the wars we fight are the right ones. No matter what we fight against we are wrong and they are right. Look no further than the current war in Iraq. What rational being could possibly be sympathetic towards the extremists in Iraq? How could anyone possibly not see that we are fighting pure evil? In order to convince others of the truths on the ground we need a media blitz. Notice I did not say we need a propaganda machine like the Nazis did, the truth will suffice for us. If we were able on a large scale to share what is going on in Iraq, the good, the bad, and the ugly, we would win people to our cause in droves. Winning the support of the world would then allow us to do what is necessary to win the war against Islamic extremism by giving us the tools necessary to do so i.e. divesting from terror supporting countries, seeking alternative fuel sources, military support etc.

Now I believe, although not unconditionally, that milblogs play an essential role in getting the word out about Iraq and Afghanistan. In my time as a milblogger deployed to Iraq I would often receive emails thanking me for telling it like it was. I realized then my limited role in getting the real information out, but whatever I could do to help I wanted to do. Although some say that it isn’t the job of soldiers to fight the war on the ground and the war against the MSM at the same time I disagree. Who better to do so than those who know what is really going on? We aren’t that tied up that we can’t contribute in other ways than simply being trigger pullers.

Of course there is the argument about OPSEC (Operational Security) and it isn’t altogether a bad one, but, and this is a big but, milblogs by in large are not the perpetrators of OPSEC. The people who go on Facebook and MySpace are the ones who are free with their info. Do we need some regulation as to what soldiers can share? Yes we do. But where should this regulation come from? I say that it should come from the squad level where SGT’s are in charge of their own people. Not in censoring everything, but rather, in checking in on, and informing their subordinates of what is acceptable. A military wide policy is not necessary if individuals would just do their job.

My final statement is that it is vital to our winning the war on extremism that we get the truth out to the world. The military is not doing so right now and are suffering as a result. If the Pentagon is not going to let soldiers tell about the situation then they need to get people in there who will, and from the looks of things they are making that harder and harder by the day. It is high time for the Pentagon to wake up and look at the role the media has played in the past in winning over people’s hearts and minds. This is not an issue about free speech; this is an issue about winning the war, plain and simple. Sometimes I wonder about our country and whether or not we have the will to do what it takes in order to win. Are we really interested in seeing how far we can hamstring ourselves before we lose the support of the entire world?

So it looks like my intial reaction to this whole thing was right: the military hasn't really changed its policy and someone just overreacted. However, whatever the case may be my post still stands on its own, and I still believe in everything I said above. The military is still in it in a bad way when it comes to the spread of information. I think they need to figure out a way to make it easier for embedded reporters to get the story out like Michael Yon and Bill Roggio have been doing. Coincidentally Pentagon staffers, should you want some advice feel free to email me as I would love to talk. I have chatted with some people there already and they just don't get it. You need some fresh ideas, and hey, I already have a dress uniform. Call me.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Not quite retired...

In response to the shocking news that the Pentagon has banned milblogs I wrote a response for my buddy Rick at which was subsequently linked by Hugh Hewitt. However, the blogfather, in his link to this site, called me "Retired Milblogger T.F. Boggs". Now I know it has been super sparse lately but trust me when I say that I am all but retired. The new site is just waiting to be coded and loaded (I've said that before) before it is up and running. If you're new to the site welcome and hang in there, the new site is coming and it won't dissapoint.