Andrew Garfield of the Middle East Quarterly provides us with a helpful analysis of the situation in Iraq. Unfortunately, like virtually every other report about the site, other than that of the administration — which has a clear interest in how the picture is presented — the picture is grim. Still, better to know the truth than to live with an invented fantasy. The public has been given idealistic assessments for too long.
“Defeat of the insurgency and terrorism in Iraq requires not only a military approach but also a political component … To defeat the insurgency, coalition forces must persuade the Iraqi population to reject extremism and deny safe haven to those fighting the new Iraqi political order. This will require dialogue, inducements, and the proportionate use of force to win the battle for ‘hearts and minds’ … the insurgents and militia groups are adept at releasing timely messages to undermine support for the Iraqi government … They are quick to exploit coalition failures and excesses … To show their prowess, the insurgents often distribute sophisticated videos of an attack on coalition troops within hours of the operation …
… Coalition information operations are a shadow of their opponents. While the coalition has spent a hundred million dollars on advertising in Iraq, the strategy of re-awarding huge contracts to advertising firms … who cannot demonstrate effective audience penetration is questionable.
…Too often, the coalition has used democracy promotion, citizenship, legitimacy of the Iraqi security forces, or demonization of the insurgents as their major themes. None of these, however, have direct relevance for most Iraqis.
… a counter-propaganda campaign … should extol the virtues of the Iraqi government and the coalition and bolster morale shaken by three years of violence while also highlighting the insurgency’s vices.