Trying to Control the Uncontrollable

Arthur Silber has a great post up dealing with Wikileaks and how it confounds those who seek a level of control that can never be obtained:

Wikileaks has taken the only weapon it has — its ability to make information freely available to anyone and everyone — and aimed it directly at the heart of those who seek control and demand obedience. It has scored an immensely powerful hit. No wonder States and those who advance their policies are so panic-stricken. They’re powerless, and they know it.

I’ve often defined a neocon as someone who overestimates the power he has to use fear and intimidation to influence the behaviors and actions of others. And the hallmark of our neocon-inspired foreign policy is that we convince ourselves that we can succeed if only we control the flow of information and the messages that people hear. But unless you’re someplace like North Korea – where free technology is completely absent – that level of control is unattainable.

That doesn’t mean that we’re not trying in Afghanistan. This editorial from an American intelligence analyst who’d served in Afghanistan demonstrates how truly lost we are:

The Taliban’s media machine runs circles around our public information operations in Afghanistan. Using newspapers, radio broadcasts, the Internet and word of mouth, it puts out messages far faster than we can, exaggerating the effectiveness of its attacks, creating the illusion of a unified insurgency and criticizing the (real and imagined) failings of the Kabul government. To undermine support for United States troops, the Taliban insistently remind the people that America has committed to a withdrawal beginning next summer, they jump on any announcement of our Western allies pulling out troops and they publicize polls that show declining domestic American support for the war.

To counter the spin, we need to add the Taliban’s top propagandists to the high-value-target list and direct military operations at the insurgents’ media nerve centers. A major reason that people in rural areas are so reluctant to help us is that Taliban propaganda and intimidation have created an atmosphere of fear.

With a straight face, the individuals directing our mission in Afghanistan say that in order to combat a climate where dishonest propagandists create an atmosphere of fear among the public, that we must militarily attack those people. And somehow this will lead to the people of Afghanistan being less afraid of us. What?

Our entire mission there is premised on the ability to control the uncontrollable and silence the unsilenceable. And even in one of the least technologically advanced countries on Earth, we can’t do it. That should give you a pretty good idea of how much luck the Pentagon will have in stopping Wikileaks. Even if they’re successful at going after the individuals who maintain the site, it only emphasizes to more of the world why they too need to be wary of what those with power are capable of doing.


  1. 2

    Mark Centz spews:

    Meanwhile, Google & Verizon are talking about the future of open networks. That will solve the problem of those kinds of loose ends. Thank you PRC for showing Google how easy it is to live with evil n

  2. 3

    BeerNotWar spews:

    Devil’s advocate: so our announcement that we’re leaving is helping the enemy.

    Perhaps, but what’s the alternative? Announce we’re staying…forever?

    We’re tossing the best people in our country on a bonfire like duraflame logs every fucking day. I’m goddam sick of this shit. Let the Taliban have the fucking rat infested shithole.

  3. 4

    Contemplate this, on the Tree of Woe spews:

    anyone releasing or taking part in publishing secret military information in a time of war should be brought up on charges of treason, and punished accordingly – including the death sentence.

  4. 5

    Zotz sez: Puddybud is just another word for arschloch spews:

    This is a great, great post Lee.

    @3: We are leaving pretty much on schedule (next July). That was the nugget from Maddow’s series on the Af war. When queried about Plan B if the Afgans don’t “step up”, the commanding general said:

    Then we’ll have given them the best chance they’ve ever had.

  5. 6

    Contemplate this, on the Tree of Woe spews:

    It will be a good day when the traitors at Wikileaks are strung up from a yardarm…

  6. 7

    Chris Stefan spews:

    Well then Wikileaks should be in the clear since this country hasn’t officially been in a state of war for 65 years.