twittering the home front

This is interesting; the US Army in Afghanistan has an official Twitter account. The interesting thing is the explanation:

If prevailing wisdom about “population-centric” counterinsurgency holds, why is the U.S. military using Twitter to post body counts? Apparently, it’s about maintaining the support of the population back at home.

In a must-read article, Michael Phillips of The Wall Street Journal has a key quote from Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green, spokeswoman for the 101st Airborne Division: “It’s a concern that at home, the common perception is this war is being lost.”

So this new-media push, it seems, is directed at winning domestic support — not explaining U.S. motivations or broadcasting successes to the Afghan population.

The curious thing here is the assumption that there is a significant political constituency in the US that wants to hear that foreigners are being killed. This is fair enough, they’re called “wingnuts”. And they will reliably go into a frenzy of wanking if you feed them vicarious violence, just as pouring minced fish into the shark tank creates a suitably spectacular response.

Right; we’ve got an officially sanctioned pipeline set up to deliver ground troll-chum direct to the wanker feedlot. It even implements irregular positive reinforcement in order to keep them hanging on. But why? After all, as pointed out here, in this kind of war the last metric you want to follow is the body count – you need a measure of the absence of war, if such a thing was possible. But that’s never going to play well at Redstate or wherever.

So it’s the opposite of the original Iraq spin strategy – deny that anyone got very much hurt while boasting of using ATACMS short-range ballistic missiles (does anyone remember that one now?). Instead, you’re trying to maintain political cover for your low-intensity campaign by sounding more brutal than you actually want to be. Furchtbarkeit for internal consumption.

The only question this leaves, of course, is why anyone would want the support of the fever swamp these days. Unless keeping them in a constant state of crazed hypermobilisation is the strategy…whether to wear them out or for the political effect of a continuous 24/7 rightwing crazefest.

2 Comments on "twittering the home front"

  1. I think you answered your own question : “unless keeping them in a crazed state of hypermobilization is the strategy.”
    What else would you do with Brownshirts ?
    It was scarcely more than a heartbeat after Obama’s election that the Noise Machine added a new tempo to the ongoing cadence : imminent threat of domestic violence in the U.S.
    Poverty does that – and the U.S. is very ‘brittle’ in regards to infrastructure, especially water treatment and sewage treatment. In fact,Texas is to receive a vitiating treatment of New York PCBs for the Ogalla Aquifer.


  2. Unfortunately, “wingnuts” isn’t really a good description for the segment of the US public that is happy with the war as long as brown guys are getting killed on a regular basis and they can feel vacariously triumphant about it. Americans who try to justify the war on a more intellectual basis have a lot of trouble denying that this segment exists, although they don’t like to talk about it.

    These people are definitely right-wing nutcases by UK/EU standards, but in the USA they go by such monikers as “good ol’ boys”, “rednecks” and self-described “patriots”. US “wingnuts” attempt to be more intellectual. These men’s gradual comprehension of the reality of the world’s limited resources and their own learned lack of ability to do things without being vastly wasteful are going to be one of the most entertaining sources of schadenfreude of 2012-2019. After that, my bet is on them managing to elect a president for the Global War for Oil, and solving all our problems with nukes.


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