Monday, January 02, 2006

Middle East Psyops v2: Cleric Edition

The same PR organization the Pentagon tasked with planting fake news in Iraqi newspapers is spreading the gospel again, this time with the help of Sunni clerics in violence-riven regions of Iraq. The Lincoln Group is working with (and sometimes paying) religious leaders to help craft messages aimed at stoking Sunni voter turnout and quelling the predominantly-Sunni insurgency from within. Is this sound strategy? Mark K. thinks not; Cori of Rantingprofs doesn't see the problem. My personal belief is that money tends to taint the persuasive process (especially where religion is concerned), and therefore the revelation that clerics were being paid to shill for the American military won't go over too well with the natives. And as I have noted previously, info-war techniques that rely upon absolute secrecy run a high risk of backfiring due to the speed and thoroughness of global news circulation.

Besides, if we really want to endear Iraqis to the concept of democracy, we have to show them the importance of full disclosure to the democratic process. As is the case with torture and domestic spying, having to play by the rules is the price of being able to claim the moral high road.