Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Calling a spade a spade

Ralph Peters is one of my favorite writers. He is a no-nonsense kind of guy, who doesn't hold back from criticizing the Administration, yet he usually comes across with constructive criticism and not just bashing of the object of his writing. This morning, Peters favorably reviews the Army's new counterinsurgency manual.

When I started up this blog again, I wanted to avoid criticizing the media because, well, any right-of-center consumer of news seems to have a natural inclination to do that...but the following excerpt from Peter's article jumped off the page at me:

"A huge gap remaining in the doctrine is that, except for a few careful mentions, it ignores the role of the media. Generals have told me frankly that it was just too loaded an issue - any suggestion that the media are complicit in shaping outcomes excites punitive media outrage.

To be fair, the generals are right. Had the manual described the media's irresponsible, partisan and too-often-destructive roles, it would have ignited a firestorm. Yet, in an age when media lies and partisan spin can overturn the verdict of the battlefield, embolden our enemies and decide the outcome of an entire war, pretending the media aren't active participants in a conflict cripples any efforts that we make.

The media are now combatants - even if we're not allowed to shoot back. Our enemies are explicit in describing the importance of winning through the media. Without factoring in media effects, any counterinsurgency plan will go forward at a limp."

Peters is never shy about calling a spade a spade.

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