Monday, June 13, 2005

Common Sense, Bush-style

Here is the Bush administration's idea of winning the Muslim world to our side:

The Pentagon awarded three contracts this week, potentially worth up to $300 million over five years, to companies it hopes will inject more creativity into its psychological operations efforts to improve foreign public opinion about the United States, particularly the military.

"We would like to be able to use cutting-edge types of media," said Col. James A. Treadwell, director of the Joint Psychological Operations Support Element, a part of Tampa-based U.S. Special Operations Command. "If you want to influence someone, you have to touch their emotions."

Sounds creative, all right. It's a terrific example of the Bush administration's creativity in finding new ways to reward supportive companies with lucrative contracts to do totally useless work paid for with our tax dollars.

Apparently the Bush administration would rather try to change perception than reality. But it won't work, despite the "information warfare" crowd's faith in the power of advertising to convince people that black is white.

"What's changing is the realization that in this so-called war on terrorism, this is not a force multiplier; this might be the thing that wins the whole thing for you," said Dan Kuehl, a specialist in information warfare at the National Defense University. "This gets to the importance of the war of ideas. There are a billion-plus Muslims that are undecided. How do we move them over to being more supportive of us? If we can do that, we can make progress and improve security."

I've got a much less complicated way of "moving them over to being more supportive of us." Shut down Guantanamo. Stop disappearing Arabs and Muslims to countries that boil people alive. Stop torturing and abusing detainees. Stop detaining Arabs and Muslims indefinitely with no charges, evidence, trial, or access to attorneys. Prosecute military personnel who torture prisoners to the fullest extent of the law; do not cover up or engage in sham investigations that end in dismissal of all charges. And if human rights crimes are committed, hold the commanding officers responsible as well as the grunts.

That will make a good start.

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