John Manchester has an interesting piece on jihadi propaganda videos on YouTube. The same technological empowerment that allows anyone to become an internet video star allows terrorist groups like al-Qaeda to disseminate their message as well.
What makes this more disturbing is that we’re not keeping up in the 21st Century field of information combat. The Internet has become a virtual battlefield, and victories achieved in the minds of the masses can be as important as victories achieved in the real battlefield. Al-Qaeda is merely taking the strategies of General Giap in the Vietnam War and applying them to the digital age. Unless we have the means to combat this, we’re essentially ceding the battlefield to the enemy.
We’re in an information age, and we need to realize that if we’re not getting our side out, we’re going to lose this war. We’re a very long way from the days of Ernie Pyle when the media was objectively on our side. One of the biggest reasons we’re in danger of losing this war is because our military doesn’t yet seem to know how to get the message out about what we’re doing in Iraq. The only thing the public sees is exactly what the enemy wants them to see — and so long as that is the only picture that people get, the terrorists will continue to shape the narrative of this war.
UPDATE: StrategyPage shows that the military is learning from their mistakes. The big question is whether something like this is enough to shift the balance of power…