Saturday, February 24, 2007

UK Telegraph Telegraphing U.S. Propaganda?

Also at DKos.

With objective reporting like this, who needs Fox News? The UK Telegraph appears to be a willing participant in the Bush administration's propaganda campaign targeting Iran. A recent Telegraph article, written by Damien McElroy, seems specifically crafted to send a message to somebody.
American Armada Prepares To Take On Iran

It is four and a half acres of US power in the middle of the Arabian Sea but the influence of USS Dwight D Eisenhower stretches hundreds of miles.

The aircraft carrier, backed by its sister vessel, a handful of destroyers and a shoal of support ships, has placed a ring of steel around an increasingly unstable region.

While the Eisenhower is ostensibly assisting US operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is increasingly occupied by the looming threat of Iran.

Recent tensions between the US and Iran over Teheran's meddling in Iraq and attempts to build a nuclear bomb have raised the prospect of its third regional war in a decade.

Jehova! Could you bang the war drum any louder, Telegraph? Armada vs. Iran. Ring of steel. Looming threat. Meddling in Iraq and attempts to build a nuclear bomb.

We have, of course, seen no tangible evidence of Iran providing Iraqi militants with weapons or of any attempt by Iran to turn its fledgling nuclear energy industry into a weapon-building program. But that makes no never mind to the Rovewellian random noise generator. All they have to do is bounce the message off of as many walls as possible. If they can keep people scared enough, no one will ask for proof that supports their claims.

Reporter McElroy is embedded onboard the Eisenhower. I have up close and personal experience with this kind of wartime information operation. You get members of the international press onboard an aircraft carrier, get them all gee whiz and golly with a prescription dose of carrier operations (a powerful narcotic, believe me), and then feed them your message.

In the article, The Eisenhower's commander, Captain Dan Cloyd, likened the showdown with Iran to the Cold War. "There was a time when we had two aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean," he told McElroy. "The world changes and we adapt."

The cognizant among us can see the flaws in the analogy of Iran with the old Soviet Union. The problem is that the target audience of this kind of disingenuous persuasion isn't cognizant.

Captain Cloyd also told McElroy that, "Our maritime security mission is about denying the use of the seas to any potential spread of weapons of mass destruction."

This is yet another attempt to make visions of mushroom clouds dance in our heads. Weapons of mass destruction are being transported back and forth across the Persian Gulf? No.

McElroy describes Captain Cloyd as "quietly spoken." I'd like to think that's because the good captain knows he's being used to feed horse feathers into the bullhorn, and doesn't want the phony-baloney message transmitted any more loudly than necessary.

Planting the Demon Seed

The Pentagon's Information Operations directorate has become a loose cannon skittering across the gun decks. It's 2003 document Information Operations Roadmap, approved by Donald Rumsfeld, states that:
…information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP, increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice-versa

But it also argues…
…the distinction between foreign and domestic audiences becomes more a question of USG [U.S. government] intent rather than information dissemination practices.

What sublime bollocks. "I wasn't lying to the whole class, I was just lying to that foreign exchange kid, and the rest of the class just happened to hear me because I said it in front of the whole class."

I've said it before, I'll say it again: we continue to tolerate behavior from our administration that we wouldn't tolerate from our children.

And speaking of children: you may not be surprised to learn that I ran across the link to the Telegraph article on the front page of Free Republic.

Geepers, Freepers. How'd you get so creepers?


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.


  1. Well I believe the Telegraph is owned by Rupert Murdock just like Fox News.

  2. Murdoch owns the UK Times. The Telegraph is a "conservative" paper, but i'm not sure how Murcoch is associated with it.

  3. ozebloke9:10 PM

    As all perverting and all pervading as (ex Australian) Murdoch is, he doesn't have anything to do with the Telegraph.

    I love the 'softly spoken' bit! Obviously Cloyd speaks softly and carries a VERY BIG STICK!

    As far as Australia's concerned we've got 6 months before we can kick out the mental midgets who followed you into Iraqnam (yet again!). I think impeachment is starting to look better every day though you'll have to start with Dickless Cheney first! Surely Halliburton's war gouging will be reason enough.

  4. Oze,

    I don't know if we'll ever get to the bottom of the war gouging.

  5. Commander Huber,

    The article is so over the top that I can't help but wonder if the English sense of humor isn't at play.

    For starters, "Armada" or more specifically, the "Spanish Armada" is a word laden with strong emotional connotations in Great Britain. The editor could just as well have used "fleet," "naval buildup," "flotilla," and the like. Why did he choose the word that also refers to an doomed attack on Britain, and perhaps the greatest danger Britain faced between 1066 and 1939, whose defeat the British deem an act of heroism?

    Bear in mind that the Pope had "given" Ireland to Philip II, who also presided over the Spanish Inquisition, which, because of the leyenda negra that British spinmeisters concocted, to this day still freaks many British out. Would the New York Times usually work a reference to the Bataan Death March into the title of a fawning article on a visit by the Japanese emperor?

    I think that Conservative British papers would be quite wary of openly trashing the United States and its armed forces, especially now, as British and American soldiers are fighting and dying side by side in Afghanistan. Besides, in Britain, trashing the United States is the prerogative of the left-wing and Commie rags. It's possible that we may have a sane administration in five to ten years; scathing criticism will not be forgotten, on the other hand, only one of the freepers caught on to the idea that they may actually be being dissed.

    If you read the article carefully, you'll note that the author lets the folks on the Eisenhower tell the story for him. How else can you explain Lt.Cdr Pothier's quote about being quite happy not to know that he's not shooting at friendlies, when the British are known to be furious the friendly fire casualties they've taken in joint operations in Gulf Wars I and II? Red flag, meet bull. My suspicion is strengthened by the timing of the story, just as Tony Blair is withdrawing British soldiers from Iraq as the "surge" begins, a decision that cannot have been taken lightly.

    Here are some additional quotes you didn't address that convince me that the whole article is quite likely tongue in cheek:

    "US commanders ascribe the increase in instability to increasingly aggressive actions by Teheran." It's so obvious that you could change US to Iranian, and Tehran to Washington, and the statement would be just as true.

    "What concerns me is miscalculation." As if miscalculations aren't a long-standing concern...

    ""And so it is the combination of the rhetoric, the tone, and the aggressive exercises in very constrained waters that gives us concern." As if the Iranians aren't say the exact same thing.

    "We're aware of the environment and the need to respond to the environment so that we can protect regional security and stability." Paging Joseph Heller.

    I am by no means an unabashed fan of the IRI, but I think the sooner it is left to its own devices, the sooner it will start to become a (relatively) normal country, and that the more that it is pushed into a corner, the stronger the Tehran-Moscow-Beijing and possible Brussels axis becomes. Neither the United States nor Israel stand to reap any long-term gains from a hostile and united Eurasian landmass.

    As I recall my military history, the first king to use elephants for military purposes in Europe was King Pyrrhus, whose name lives on to this day in "Pyrrhic victory." ("One more such victory and I shall be lost!") Pliny the Elder writes that pigs were found to be a very effective counter-measure against elephant attacks.

  6. CS,

    Excellent comments. Yes, the reporter let the folks on the Ike write the story for him. More specifically, he let the PAO write it for him. I'm convinced guidance came from the highest levels of CHINFO, and everyone who talked to the reporter was carefully coached on what to say.

    As to your remarks on the Tehran-Moscow-Beijing axis, I totally agree.

    And thanks for the references to Pyrrhus and Pliny.



  7. On the other side of the coin Commander is this article in the Times which states that U.S. General will revolt if Bush tries to attack Iran.

  8. Monk,

    I'll be writing on that later today or Monday morning.

    Thanks for bringing it to our attention.



  9. Anonymous9:04 PM

    Fmr. Ambassador Joe Wilson - June 14, 2003

    "The real agenda in all of this of course, was to redraw the political map of the Middle East. Now that is code, whether you like it or not, but it is code for putting into place the strategy memorandum that was done by Richard Perle and his study group in the mid-90's which was called, "A Clean Break - A New Strategy for the Realm." And what it is, cut to the quick, is if you take out some of these countries, some of these governments that are antagonistic to Israel then you provide the Israeli government with greater wherewithal to impose its terms and conditions upon the Palestinian people, whatever those terms and conditions might be. In other words, the road to peace in the Middle East goes through Baghdad and Damascus. Maybe Tehran. And maybe Cairo and maybe Tripoli if these guys actually have their way. Rather than going through Jerusalem."


    "On the other ones, the geopolitical situation, I think there are a number of issues at play; there's a number of competing agendas. One is the remaking of the map of the Middle East for Israeli security, and my fear is that when it becomes increasingly apparent that this was all done to make Sharon's life easier and that American soldiers are dying in order to enable Sharon to impose his terms upon the Palestinians that people will wonder why it is American boys and girls are dying for Israel and that will undercut a strategic relationship and a moral obligation that we've had towards Israel for 55 years. I think it's a terribly flawed strategy."


    The War Party - BBC

  10. If you read this article:

    I think you'll conclude that there is no way to read the article as anything other than a diplomatic broadside over the bow of the USS Cheney-bush. Note how the seemingly obsequious author deftly juggles a huge can of worms:

    Lieutenant Commander Matt Pothier returned yesterday from Afghanistan having delivered air support to British soldiers. He said: "Right now I have more opportunities than I've ever had to use weapons where we know there aren't any friendly people. In combat that's very rewarding."

    Nobody claims that Tony Blair got to be where he is by winning a consolation prize in the smarts department.