Originally Published 18 February 2006
During the Vietnam War the North Vietnamese instituted what they called the Dich Van program. This was the psychological warfare/propaganda program intended to rally and maintain support of their populace and the world for their cause, while deteriorating support for our troops and the war here. With no competent opposition from the Pentagon or White House, it is safe to say they successfully implemented the program, both here and in their own country.
Now, during the Global War on Terror, our Pentagon and White House have failed to implement a Dich Van program of our own and have once again failed to counter the enemy’s propaganda machine. They have failed to circulate the “good news” that absolutely exists about Iraq necessary to maintain majority support for the war. Although they are on the right track in Iraq and pursuing the enemy, they have failed to motivate and inspire the preponderance of Americans to steadfastly support the war on terror.
Had they planned and implemented even a mediocre program, the debate on the Iraq War would be minimal at most. If they had done even a below average job of keeping the public informed of the facts and taken at least baby steps toward a propaganda program to maintain support for the war, we would know better when the critics speak. When Chuck Hagel said words to the effect of, “by no measuring stick are we winning the war in Iraq” all of us would have known better, inundated him with yellow flags, and called “foul” on his inaccurate position. When John Murtha said the armed forces were “broken” we would have known to automatically discount his comments and counter-attacked him with the facts.
Did you know that as of early February there were 227,000 trained and capable Iraqi Security Force members; a 78% increase over the same time last year? That as of early February Iraqi forces were conducting and leading more combat operations than U.S. forces? That “tips” from Iraqi’s about insurgent and terrorist activity are at an all time high? That Sunni Arabs are now fighting against Al Qaeda in the Al Anbar province? The Iraqi economy is currently growing at around 16%, the change is visible in the marketplace and what the implications are for stability? In Iraqi cities like Tal Afar, the mayor is begging the same unit to stay and not rotate out because terrorists no longer exploit the citizens? That requests for reenlistment by U.S. forces exceed that which is allowable by law? You probably didn’t know most or any of these because our Pentagon has failed to insure you were informed.
Surely the Pentagon and White House know the mainstream media is not sympathetic to the cause of defending the very freedom which allows them to operate. Why then do they continue to hope beyond hope they will change, as indicated by their not pursuing other means to disseminate the truth? Press releases and news conferences (and resulting transcripts) continue to be fed through mainstream media channels, where for the most part, the good news is filtered out. Under our constitution and free market economy, the press is free to operate as they choose. So the fault lies with the Pentagon and Administration for failing to insure the whole story is disseminated.
All of the facts listed above could have easily been fed to the public through various other channels. Every newspaper belongs to a state press association with a published web or mailing address. Why not make a database of contact info and feed the news directly to them, bypassing the major press organizations which filter and feed them the stories?
Why hasn’t the Pentagon started a process of feeding video news clips directly to all local news channels via the internet, rather than depending upon the major broadcast corporations to air them?
Targeting conservative or military related blogs and websites directly with the news would be a simple undertaking. A day of research can yield an incredibly long list of sites willing and eager to publish the whole story.
Why hasn’t our Pentagon created strong relationships to deliver the news through Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Laura Ingraham who are always eager to let us know what we’re not hearing elsewhere?
Why has the Pentagon not implemented a full blown, national program of returning servicemen publicly speaking about the good news and all the positive experiences of Iraq? Surely this would have received positive coverage at the home town level, built grassroots level for war support, and given the public facts with which to refute the critics.
If all of these ideas usurp any long standing protocol or tradition within the press, military, or relationship of the press with the military, too bad; change protocol, change the process, shift the paradigm. But by all means implement our own Dich Van program to insure dissemination of all the facts, stories, and success in Iraq and future conflicts. By all means, implement a program to motivate the majority of Americans to support the war on terror, freedom in Iraq, and preservation of freedom here, so that events like 9/11 aren’t the only catalyst for the cynics to support their country.