July 06, 2005
Media, Reform, US Gov and Business
On US Gov and Media Reform, an email
I reproduce here an email from a friend of mine in private equity and media in the Middle East, located out there. And an Arab too, not some whinging expat (ahem).
It is lightly edited to scrub certain references and the like, but I share it for its interest. I note that some US Gov types wanted to meet with media actors, including from the business side. I made the introduction. Here is my amigo's note afterward.
[The Girl with the Laugh] from [The US G Entity] came over this morning to the offices. I hope they do better with media than what they did with technology projects here. I was strongly against pouring money into NGOs and studies. I told her, if you want to make media work, facilitate a healthy environment that enables media start-ups to get healthy institutional investors on pure business considerations.
[some other irrelevant stuff]
Well there it is, one Arab media investor's view of US G thinking on what I suppose is probably going to be a new effort rolled out soon on pissing away money on badly conceived attempts to change the Arab media.
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It is encouraging that there's some effort being made to engage Arab media. I've been reading several DoD, State Dept and CIA reports re the "struggle for hearts and minds." They have all emphaiszed that while the sfh&m has been important to every campaign/conflict, in the GWoT the sfh&m is the central conflict.
(Given the small snippet that you provided)the empahsis that's given to "pouring money into NGOs and studies" is listed as a necessary, but inadequate effort.
There's a recurring theme of it's not enough to craft a clever message. The reports all make a point of emphasizing that actual, factual changes must occur as well. [Somewhat different from politicos' PR campaigns in the US against the electorate.]
According to these folks, the primary issue in this regard is that the US lacks credibility. Until that is rectified, they say, the rest of the sfh&m will fall flat.
For example from a DoD piece:
"Policies, diplomacy, military operations, and strategic communication should not be managed separately. Good strategic communication cannot build support for policies viewed unfavorably by large populations. Nor can the most carefully crafted messages, themes, and words persuade when the messenger lacks credibility and underlying message authority."
My under-informed guess is that somewhere between these works of USG entities and the planning and execution stages of USG "hearts and mind" efforts there's a disconnect. Or perhaps a blunt lack of cooperation.
In any case, there's an element of the USG (in more than one group) that's at least one level removed from what you might label 'sheer idiocy'.
Until more of the electorate realizes the value and consequences of coming to a battle of wits unarmed but carrying a gun, I suspect that the pols will continue to score points by preaching more of the same.
Posted by: Simon W. Moon at July 6, 2005 10:45 AM
Make it possible to turn profits, and the Arab media will flourish, seyz I.
Posted by: praktike at July 7, 2005 06:43 PM