Information war… coming to a screen in your living room

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Here’s an interesting piece by William M. Arkin, the military analyst whose work is often found on the LA Times Sunday opinion page. Ever since, in the post-Vietnam era, Maggie Thatcher locked the British press aboard navy ships minded by keepers for more or less the duration of the Falklands War, “war” has come to mean war against or at least thorough management of the press. The result, as American military men discovered, during the Falklands war was that with little to report, the media reported what the military wanted them to report — sometimes with snazzy accompanying graphics. From then on, it was war as Star Wars — and in the new world of cable TV news this turned out to be a great thing.

Now, Obi Wan Rumsfeld, as Arkin reports, is building on the Pentagon-media 24/7 co-production of the Gulf War, all special effects, no dead bodies. If for some bizarre reason a war in Iraq doesn’t happen, such plans will be applicable to any war that happens to come along. So remember the acronym D5E — “destruction, degradation, denial, disruption, deceit, and exploitation.” The military considers it the essence of “information war” and it’s coming to your TV screen soon. Tom

The Military’s New War of Words
By William M. Arkin, November 24 2002, Los Angeles Times
William M. Arkin is a military affairs analyst who writes regularly for Opinion.

SOUTH POMFRET, Vt. — It was California’s own Hiram Johnson who said, in a speech on the Senate floor in 1917, that “the first casualty, when war comes, is truth.”

What would he make of the Bush administration?

In a policy shift that reaches across all the armed services, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and his senior aides are revising missions and creating new agencies to make “information warfare” a central element of any U.S. war. Some hope it will eventually rank with bombs and artillery shells as an instrument of destruction.

What is disturbing about Rumsfeld’s vision of information warfare is that it has a way of folding together two kinds of wartime activity involving communications that have traditionally been separated by a firewall of principle.

To read more of this Los Angeles Times article, click here.