Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Helicopter, drone war as video game, pandemic video, countering military propaganda
by Larry Geller
Collateral Murder has been viewed about 2,800,000 times as I type this (yes, two million 800 thousand times). That’s more than viral. That’s a pandemic video.
This video could undo an expensive bit of propaganda that was supposed to generate trust that the US military knows what it is doing in the Mid-East. Remember Marjah?
Disappeared News took a flyover via Google Earth and could not find the city that they were talking about. In fact, the city was a lie. It was, however, the centerpiece of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s propaganda program, a program aimed at the American people, not Afghans. Heck, Afghans knew it was a lie. With the media blasting news of the battle onto newspaper pages and TV screens, the reading and viewing public may not have received that message, though.
What the US did in Iraq it is doing also in Afghanistan, with the addition of civilian deaths caused by drones. Interestingly, the “video game” aspect of drone piloting is echoed in Collateral Murder which also has a video game feel about it. See people? Kill people and earn points, have fun, laugh about it.
A Google search of “Collateral Murder video game” already has 74,000 hits. The words are being associated. The concept is spreading.
The world may think the US military uses helicopter operations as some sort of game, for amusement.
Here’s a snip from Marja, the city that never was, in the current issue of The ColdType Reader. If the Marjah operation was trying to establish a certain narrative, Collateral Murder has undone it.
A central task of “information operations”
in counterinsurgency wars is “establishing
the COIN [counterinsurgency] narrative”, according
to the Army Counterinsurgency Field
Manual as revised under Gen. David Petraeus
in 2006. That task is usually done by “higher
headquarters” rather than in the field, as the
The COIN manual asserts that news media
“directly influence the attitude of key
audiences toward counterinsurgents, their
operations and the opposing insurgency.”
The manual refers to “a war of perceptions
… conducted continuously using the news
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander
of ISAF, was clearly preparing to wage such
a war in advance of the Marja operation. In
remarks made just before the offensive began,
McChrystal invoked the language of the
counterinsurgency manual, saying, “This is
all a war of perceptions.”
The Washington Post reported Feb. 22 that
the decision to launch the offensive against
Marja was intended largely to impress US
public opinion with the effectiveness of the
US military in Afghanistan by showing that
it could achieve a “large and loud victory.”
The false impression that Marja was a
significant city was an essential part of that
So even if the US public was impressed with Marjah, what are they thinking now?
On the other hand, Marjah is out of the news and perhaps forgotten. How long will this video remain a hot item?
That’s up to peace groups and others who care. Collateral Murder provides an opportunity. Use it or lose it.