Sunday, August 16, 2009

Obama pals line up for cash from fake war in Afghanistan

The NY Times obediently omits use of the word "terror" in this article about a "war." When Bush was in office, "war" was supposedly bad. Where are all the people who screamed at massive anti war demonstrations now? Isn't their silence an admission that "war" wasn't the problem for them? (For the record, I viewed Bush's conduct of wars in the mid east as excuses to hand out big contracts to pals. Which is the same thing that's going on with Obama. Only now, so-called war protesters are silent).
Proposals are being considered to give the team up to $150 million a year to spend on local FM radio stations, to counter illegal militant broadcasting, and on expanded cellphone service across Afghanistan and Pakistan. The project would step up the training of local journalists and help produce audio and video programming, as well as pamphlets, posters and CDs denigrating militants and their messages.
  • Senior officials say they consider the counterpropaganda mission to be vital
  • to the war.

“Concurrent with the insurgency is an information war,” said Richard C. Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, who will direct the effort. “We are losing that war.

  • “The Taliban have unrestricted, unchallenged access to the radio, which is the main means of communication,” he added. “We can’t succeed, however you define success, if we cede the airways to people who present themselves as false messengers of a prophet, which is what they do. And we need to combat it.”

The team he is putting together is the latest entry into the government’s effort to direct the flow of information in support of American policy. The campaign is scattered throughout the bureaucracy and the military, variously named

  • public affairs, public diplomacy, strategic communications and information operations.
Officials acknowledge that the government routinely fails when trying to speak to the Muslim world and battle the propaganda of extremism — most often because the efforts to describe American policy and showcase American values are themselves viewed as propaganda.
  • The new campaign is especially focused on providing cellphone service, and thus some independent communications for people in remote areas where the Taliban thrive. It is a booming industry now: Afghanistan had no cellular coverage in 2001 but today has about 9.5 million subscribers....

“If we can insulate the people, separate the population from insurgents, they become less vulnerable and less susceptible to the coercion and intimidation designed to steer them away from the government of Afghanistan,” Admiral Smith said.

  • “The ability to communicate empowers a population,” he said. “That is a very important principle of counterinsurgency and counterpropaganda.”

In southern Afghanistan, now the center of American military offensives under the

insurgents threaten commercial cellphone providers with attack

  • if they do not switch off service early each night.

That prevents villagers from calling security forces if they see militants on the move or planting roadside bombs; the lack of cellphone service at night also hobbles the police and nongovernmental development agencies....

  • Expanding and securing cellphone service has the additional benefit of
assisting economic development, officials said, as it could provide wireless access to banking systems for those who now must travel long distances for financial services.
  • Officials involved in the new unit say they are seeking to amplify the voices of Afghans speaking to Afghans, and Pakistanis speaking to Pakistanis, rather than have “Made in the U.S.A.” stamped on the programming....

“Given the archaic values of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, we must devise policies that expose the true nature of the militants,” said Ashley Bommer, an adviser to Mr. Holbrooke. “And we must shift the paradigm so that the debate is not between the United States and the militants, but between the people and the militants.”...

  • Vikram Singh, on loan from the Pentagon as Mr. Holbrooke’s senior defense adviser for the project, said the United States would begin by

“building the capabilities of the private sectors and the governments

in both of these countries to effectively communicate and engage with their own populations.”

  • This is particularly important, he said, in the border areas of Pakistan and across large parts of Afghanistan that for decades had only primitive communications.
In the tribal areas of Pakistan, for example, there are only
four legal FM radio stations, compared with more than 150 illegal low-watt stations run by militants,
  • according to officials involved in the counterpropaganda effort. Some of the insurgent radio stations are mobile, broadcasting from vehicles
or even donkey carts to avoid detection and extend their reach."

No comments:

Post a Comment