Tuesday, July 24, 2007

21st Century Warfare: Where is the Live Feed?

...forms their opinions. That is actually the truth as I've found in my various activities in supporting our troops. It is not necessarily the media. Yes, the reports do play some part in the forming of opinions, but not in the way that you would think. It brings out more questions rather than completes the picture for people.

We are the 21st century generation who is very used to having cameras trained on every activity and being able to actually see what is going on in various live action reports. We are the people who routinely see images from helicopters flying over high speed chases, dashboard cameras on police cars, security cameras in stores and parking lots, citizens with cameras recording their neighbor's house burning down, press meetings, live debates, television shows and movies that make much of being "in the action" and many more.

This anomaly can be seen in people's opinions about the Iraq or Afghan battles in the war on terror. In fact, the entire idea that these two are battles in the same war is alien. Maybe it is because the media has labeled them as individual wars. Or the politicians. Or the general discourse of everyday citizens because the battles began at two separate occasions and the people we originally intended to take out were not "the same". Most people remembered the first Gulf War and why we were after Saddam. They do not put his behavior together with the potential dangers of Islamist terrorists. Because people never make the connection (contrary to popular reports that believed Americans were "misinformed"), the continuing battle for Iraq was and continues to be a separate situation for most Americans.

The media, of course, does play some part in forming people's opinions. Yet, the lack of knowledge is still what forms their opinion more than anything else. The lack of any real in depth reporting or anyone putting together the real, thorough, lengthy story of who are committing "sectarian" killings, why, where they come from and what outcome could they possibly want from such actions still leaves the big question: why are we there if they are just killing each other?

We could blame that on the media. We could blame that on the military. We could blame that on the Pentagon. We could blame that on the White House. We could blame that on Congress. We could blame that on ourselves for not making ourselves more informed.

Certainly, there is plenty of information available on the internet and in books that would make things a little more clearer. But, most people don't really take the time. Why should they? What people want is a trusted source to explain things to them in short, succinct answers that make sense based on their limited knowledge of history, security and other parts of the world. Doing actual research on the subject would be far too time consuming. And so, it comes down to who it is that is telling them the narrative of the war and, in particular, the battle for Iraq. Or, more succinctly, who is not telling them and if anyone is really "trustworthy". Most people seem to live by the "X-Files", post hippy rebellion in the sixties standard: trust no one.

They would trust their own eyes. Those eyes are blind because we have come to rely on real time, real action video of real life events to inform us. That does not exist here. There are no helicopters hovering above a speeding Bradley watching a fire fight unfold. There are, but none that are bringing live feed of the situation into our homes as we have come to expect. There are no Humvee dashboard mounted cameras recording every move. Or, there are and we just can't see the video. There is operational security to consider here.

But, we are talking about the generation of "Big Brother", "The Amazing Race", "Cops", "American Idol" and many other "live, follow them through their lives" videos or programs. Without these, we feel totally blind. Without these, we know nothing and cannot understand.

In the beginning of the war, we got live action drama all day, 24/7. I believe very much that this is the reason the war was so popular right at first. Seeing is believing and we were kicking down doors and Republican Guard faster than a June bug on a hot plate.

That does not exist. Without that, the public feels blind. Believe me, they are not going to go looking for information either. They want it handed to them either in small bites or in pretty pictures that they can simply glance at and process without more decision making than choosing a burger or a salad. Preferably, from someone that they trust and there are not many of those around.

They want live feed. Without it, they are blind and deaf. Without it, they are subject to the narrative of the media, politicians, the enemy and other unknowledgeable or incomplete source.

They want their live feed like the OJ chase so they can decide while they cook dinner or sit down for a cold beer whether we are winning or losing so they can decide in five minutes flat if the verdict is "guilty" or "not guilty".

They want to know right now whether the war is won or lost. Who cares about tomorrow?

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