Thursday, December 28, 2006

Distributed Intelligence

Wretchard has an absolute must-read post today called “The Blogosphere at War”. It’s a first-rate analysis of the new internet-based information system that is now maturing, citing the blogosphere as the engine of change in how news is collected, analyzed, processed, and distributed.

A brief excerpt:

There is considerable interest in the idea that “blogs” are somehow able to offset the mainstream media’s (MSM) ability to sell a given narrative to the public, a power which is of considerable interest in peace and even more so in war. It is widely recognized that molding public perceptions through narratives is nearly as important in war as the outcomes on the actual battlefield. Palestinian Media Watch convincingly demonstrates that Arab and Muslim organizations have long made influencing international publics through print and broadcast media a strategic goal, especially in any confrontation with Israel. This effort has historically followed two tracks: the establishment of technically sophisticated media outlets like al-Jazeera to sell messages directly to audiences; and mounting information operations aimed at shaping the way in which Western Media outlets cover any issue of interest.
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For most of the Israel-Lebanon War of 2006 Hezbollah repeatedly accused Israel of atrocity and wanton aggression as a way of neutralizing its superior firepower; and little of this cant was rebutted in timely fashion. When on December 4, 2006 an Israeli think-tank release released a study, supported by imagery, showing that Hezbollah had fired its rockets from civilian localities all over southern Lebanon at civilian targets in Israel , the war had already been over for five months and Hezbollah had long achieved its public relations objectives. In pointed contrast to this ponderous performance, private individuals — bloggers — had managed to explode many Hezbollah atrocity accusations against Israel carried by the MSM in very rapid fashion. These blogger accomplishments included demonstrating that a wire service photograph of a bomb-damaged Beirut had been digitally altered to enhance both the smoke and the damage; that photographs of supposedly dead civilians posed artfully in the rubble were faked; and last but not least, the unmasking of an often photographed Lebanese humanitarian worker (The Green Helmet Man) as a brutal Hezbollah public relations agent callously arranging children’s corpses for maximum effect. While the actual effect of these exposes on the international diplomatic climate may have been slight, observers of the 2006 war in Lebanon had found their white knight. The rapid and often effective response of the blogosphere raised hopes that the Internet might provide a way to neutralize the massive Islamic investment in media outlets and information warfare cells. What is the truth?

The only statement I would question is this one: It is widely recognized that molding public perceptions through narratives is nearly as important in war as the outcomes on the actual battlefield.

Delete the word “nearly”. Our success on the battlefield in Iraq and Israel’s success in Lebanon have been overshadowed by the enemy’s success in manipulating the news coverage of these events.

Our soldiers are superb and their martial skills are the greatest that history has ever seen. But we may yet lose the war because the people who control the portals of public information are cowardly and treasonous.

The information war has become more important than the bombs-and-bullets war.

Since the politicians are in thrall to the MSM, the dedicated information warrior has to detour around them. This is where Wretchard’s analysis and the work of the 910 Group converge.

Half of the task is the collection, analysis, processing, and distribution of information. The other half is what we do with it.

The Counterjihad is a proactive alternative to the traditional passive acceptance of what our leaders do on our behalf. Our leaders can no longer adequately protect us; other means of protection are even now being formulated.

Distributed intelligence can be an active process. It is forming new structures and strategies for countering the mujahideen in their attempts to suborn, infiltrate, corrupt, and destroy all that we hold dear.

Read Wretchard’s whole essay. It will help clarify the situation.