Obama following in Bush's footsteps again
One consistent trait of politicians is the inability to learn from other people's mistakes.
Yesterday President Obama decided to not learn from Bush's mistakes.
The Obama Administration has today unveiled another new “anti-terror task force” whose primary purpose is to go online and “push back against online propaganda” from ISIS and other anti-US groups....The State Department in particular presented it was planning “social media campaigns” to offer a “positive alternative” to the ISIS narrative.
This isn't the first propaganda effort against ISIS. The Obama Administration created the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) in 2011.
What this has meant in practice is small “digital teams” in a handful of languages posting Tweets about how much they don’t like al-Qaeda. Officials are getting more ambitious with the project now, and setting it on ISIS.
You might think that a head-chopping, women-enslaving group would be less than impressed by negative tweets. You might also think that tweeting about how unpleasant a group that goes out of its way to be unpleasant is a redundant effort.
But we are talking about politicians, and PR is in their blood. If people don't like the policies it must be because they didn't hear the right jingle.
Consider the George W. Bush track record.
The Bush administration, fearing that it might lose the public relations war in Muslim and Arab nations to Osama bin Laden, is turning to Madison Avenue for help.
The State Department is talking to the Advertising Council, a New York-based nonprofit group that develops advertising strategies for national causes, about crafting a "public diplomacy" campaign on the military action in Afghanistan and the war on terrorism...
"I think the fact is, there is a battle for hearts and minds," said Philip T. Reeker, a State Department spokesman. "There's a lot of disinformation. . . . The difficulties we face in getting our message out are quite clear."
So here's the setup. We start dropping bombs on a helpless country, and for some reason people in the region say they no longer like us. Go figure.
The problem was be a public relations one, right?
The United States must drastically increase and overhaul its public relations efforts to salvage its plummeting image among Muslims and Arabs abroad, a panel chosen by the Bush administration has found.
"Hostility toward America has reached shocking levels," the panel stated in its report, which will be released Wednesday....
The report added that "spin" and manipulative public relations "are not the answer," but that neither is avoiding the debate....
The committee found that the State Department spent about $600 million last year on its programs to advocate American policies, and $540 million more for the Voice of America and other broadcast networks....
The Bush administration, for example, started a program called "shared values" last year, a series of television commercials showing that Muslims in the United States lead lives of dignity and equal rights. The advertisements were suspended after several Arab countries refused to show them.
Many in the administration were privately critical of the commercials, agreeing with Arab and Muslim spokesmen who said they were irrelevant to Muslim concerns about American policies toward Iraq and Israel.
Imagine that. We spend $1 dollars on radio and television commercials telling the Muslim world how great we are, while we destroy Afghanistan and Iraq and murder tens of thousands of people, and for some strange reason people in the region still don't like us. Go figure!
So in 2004 the Bush Administration commissions a task force to figure out the mystery of why Muslims no longer like us. Here's what they found.
What's that supposed to mean? They "hate our policies"? Is that even English?
Fortunately, President Obama took over in 2009. Maybe he can translate this into something we can understand.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has written a searing critique of government efforts at “strategic communication” with the Muslim world, saying that no amount of public relations will establish credibility if American behavior overseas is perceived as arrogant, uncaring or insulting.
The critique by the chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, comes as the United States is widely believed to be losing ground in the war of ideas against extremist Islamist ideology. The issue is particularly relevant as the Obama administration orders fresh efforts to counter militant propaganda, part of its broader strategy to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Ah hah! Strategic communication. Why didn't Bush think of that?