Saturday, October 15, 2005

Voting day in Iraq: so far, so good

Fortunately, things have been peaceful. Whether the high turnout in Sunni areas will bode poorly for the fledgling constitution remains to be seen.

Iraq the Model has an interesting reminiscence on elections past:

I am so excited but a flashback from Saddam’s referendum three years ago still hurts; he wanted a 100% as the 99.96% of the previous one shocked the dictator. I was depressed that way and I decided not to go to the voting office and so did the rest of the family but my father was afraid that not going could be dangerous. He said that maybe one member of the family could go alone and cast votes for the rest of us. We looked at each other thinking who’s going to volunteer to do this ugly job to protect the family. At that moment my father said “it was my generation that caused the misery we’re living in so I’m the one who should do this”.

I couldn’t stop him and I couldn’t utter a word but I felt sad for him; his sacrifice was big and I had teary eyes when I watched him taking our papers and heading out.

It is different this time father, no more 100% and a ‘no’ would make me happy just like a ’yes’ would do and no one ever will force us to do something against our will anymore...

God bless you my people and all the freedom lovers who keep sacrificing to make this world a better place.


At 1:45 PM, October 15, 2005, Blogger terrye said...

God bless them is right.

At 2:55 PM, October 15, 2005, Blogger The Bunnies said...

Unfortunately, even though this seems even more groundbreaking than the January elections, TV press coverage seems a lot more sparse.

It must be hard to see evidence that Bush might have been right about something. We must therefore pretend that nothing happened.

At 5:13 PM, October 15, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

Sorry, Bunnies, I disagree. I've been watching CNN all day, and I think their coverage has been extremely positive, as I think it should be. It's been a good day for Iraq.

I don't like to repeat myself, because I've said it elsewhere, but here it is:

"I think you'll find it hard to come up with anyone who will say that today was not a positive day for Iraq. I'm not ready to jump up and down and declare that peace is at hand, but it was a good day."

Is that enough for now, or should I prostrate myself and vow that the invasion of Iraq was the best thing that ever happened?


At 10:27 AM, October 16, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

The propaganda effect is notably inferior in this case as opposed to the first one. Even though one would think that on a progressive scale, chains of accomplishments against so called "ever increasing violence" or "US military casualties" would be touted as victories outshining the previous ones.

In this case, it is actually the opposite, and for a good reason. Usually it makes sense, if you want to win a war, to tout ever increasing difficulties, and then portray the victories as victories against ever increasing odds.

There's a formula for doing that, and it wasn't done for this election. That's why many people feel there is some lack, some ephemeral absence that they can't put into words.

Allow me to.

The usual propaganda ploy of persuasion in this case is simple. It's something Hitler wrote about, but I'm pretty sure he and Goering didn't invent it.

It's basically "low balling". Which is to set the standards so low, and so depressing, that any hint of victory or of good news is taken as an ultimate win against overwhelming odds.

Now you could be facetious and downright a bitch about it, like Hitler was, and concoct stories about how production was at 5% and then increase it to 500% in 2 weeks when the reported expected production increase was only 50%.

Or you could be honest about it. Honesty usually works a lot better in propaganda than lies or lies made out of truth whole cloth and then cut.

In the January elections, the media was low balling, in an attempt to get into a situation where they can say "We told you so". But they got screwed by their own propaganda technique, and ended up reporting straight good news without violent intercession (even though there was some violence). This happened after the media was reporting dangerous shit all week long before the election, talking about "uncertainties" and other cracktastic stuff like that.

Then when they find out none of that was happening, and there was actually a surprising amount of news (good news is always surprising), the media turned into automatic propaganda processors for ratings.

Then they felt guilty, and so they started carping about the Constitution and making pledges never to be a shill for the United States again.

Which is why they aren't low balling the Constitution, quite as much. Although people will always see some snickering behind the back comments.

The Bush Administration, as everyone knows, doesn't low ball anything, and hence provides veritable proof that America needs an Administration that at least knows the basics about propaganda.

A lot of people say they want to be informed of what is really going on, but what they really want is to be lied to, at least in a gentle manner. See, people want the worst news now, so that they won't get their hopes up.

They definitely "do not" want an accurate description of events, because even the most accurate descriptions of events can go south, and hopes dashed. Ala, Iraq Invasion.

So people want a Churchill. They want the worst of the worst circumstances, and to be told to "sacrifice" in "preparation" for such things.

Then, people can feel free to throw a party when everything turns out mediocre and say how much of a "relief" it was to win out.

That's just basic human nature, we want to feel uplifted, we don't want to be up in the air soaring and then dive into the sea cause the sun burned the glue off our wings.

That's just sad, honestly.

So... another propaganda event passed on by cause Bush... doesn't like to lie to people? Bah HUm Bug.

At 12:26 PM, October 16, 2005, Blogger neo-neocon said...

Ymarsakar, your remarks are interesting food for thought, as always. I agree that the Bush administration is terrible at propaganda--or even at communication, period.

But I'm not at all sure that if he used the technique you suggested it would matter much, at least in Bush's case, since he is hated so. I also have doubts that people are able to hear that the going is tough and they'll have to sacrifice--a la Churchill in WWII--any more. I'm not so sure that support for any endeavor could be sustained nowadays in the face of hardship.

I seem to recall that, at least at the beginning of the "War on Terror," Bush made it clear, over and over, that the way would be long and hard and fraught with difficulties. But did anyone hear him--or, more importantly, did anyone actually remember? Not too many, it seems to me.

Perhaps, though, you're not talking about general predictions, but very specific ones. But even there I seem to remember that certain things have happened in Iraq sooner than predicted--and I'm not so sure he's gotten any credit for that, either, although you may have a good point there.

I, personally, don't want to be manipulated in that way. But I imagine most politicians would do so in a heartbeat, if they could figure out the best techniques for it.

At 5:27 PM, October 17, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

But Bush isn't hated by everybody. Support for the Iraq War was 60% then down to 40%. Somewhere along the line, 20% got cold feet.

His job is to bolster civilian morale. That is not the job of the military. They would do a very good job, since the Special Forces are basically trained psychological operators as well as stone cold killers as well, but the principles of democracy prevent it.

So the only guy with both the power, the legal authority, and the duty to do so is the President, or just the Administration.

Therefore, as you say Neo, people who hate him will keep on hating him. But those people don't matter. It is the 1/3 in the middle that matters, the 1/3rd that lack a basic foundation to go back on for strength.

It would help to win the war. Make it shorter, lessen casualties, and basically limit the destruction of the chaos.

In war, sometimes perception becomes reality.

That usually doesn't happen in science or engineering, unless you're talking about Heisenberg.
I'm not so sure that support for any endeavor could be sustained nowadays in the face of hardship.

That isn't what I hear from people dissatisfied with the war though. Time and again, from various times and sources, I hear comments from people who originally supported the Iraqi Invasion (That 20%) who now say something to the effect that the Bush Administration is either,

1. Not being straight with the American people, not telling things as it is.

That is preposterous, but I outlined the reason for that perspective in the above post.

2. Isn't asking people to sacrifice ala WWII, as a way to create national unity.

Unity is something many people who feel threatened, want to cultivate.

I don't agree that sacrificing, as they mean it, is the correct way to create unity. But I understand their worries and their need.

The people who, neo, you refer to in the case of not being able to sacrifice or face tough odds, those are the people who don't believe in the threat in the first place.

Without a threat, a lot of people on the Left see no reason to do many things.

I seem to recall that, at least at the beginning of the "War on Terror," Bush made it clear, over and over, that the way would be long and hard and fraught with difficulties. But did anyone hear him--or, more importantly, did anyone actually remember? Not too many, it seems to me.

As a practical matter, low balling as a propaganda technique has to be done on a case by case basis. Bush's generalisms, can and are forgotten, simply because the Propaganda War, the Information War, is calculated every day and hour. It's not the calculated sum or average of the entire course of the war or campaign.

I mean, an army could be winning 99% of the time, it only takes that 1% of the time when their morale and discipline breaks for the other side to win.

One mistake, and it's all over.

Or in this case, Bush's first mistake in the Propaganda war was after the invasion.

When the media raised expectations of a short and victorious war. Bush should have stamped down hard on those reporters in his press "CONFERENCES" speaking directly to the American people.

Never talk to the reporters and allow them to quote you, that is bad form.

That would have reduced the damage from the terroist counter-attack.(Reference, first year of Civil War, same thing)

Much of the disconnect is a perception issue. It may be true that Bush has said things wouldn't be easy, but that isn't enough to change people's perceptions.

People percieve things a certain way, not because it is irrational, but because there is a reason for them to do so.

All someone has to do is to find that reason and counter-act it.

They need power to do so, but Bush has lots of power in using the media to speak directly to the American people as Reagan did.

He just doesn't seem to use it a lot.

Perhaps, though, you're not talking about general predictions, but very specific ones.

Correct, and I hope I've given some more information concerning just what specifics I thought that Bush could have used to bolster public confidence.

But even there I seem to remember that certain things have happened in Iraq sooner than predicted--and I'm not so sure he's gotten any credit for that, either, although you may have a good point there.

In those cases, as you rightly point out, the problem lies in "tone". Atmosphere.

I don't think credit is the goal here, reassuring the American people and winning the war. Those things don't need to be credited to Bush for us to win.

Let's take the transfer of sovereignty. 2 or something days earlier.

If Bush had given a speech 5 days before the transfer, and spoken about how dangerous it would have been to American plans for the sovereignty to be transfered even one day late. Bush has of course, to give reasons for that, but nonetheless he has to engender a feeling of GLOOM and DOOM.

To improve someone's morale, you first have ground the charge into the ground, as low as it can go. Then boost it.

The boost in this case is the early transfer.

But.. the catch is, you cannot predict that it will be early. Because if you PREDICT it to be early, and it isn't, then that is a negative morale booster.

Therefore you actually have to predict that it will be very LATE, and that this will endanger AMerican forces and bolster the spirits of our enemies. Keep repeating that, over and over, 5 days before the turn over, and watch how people react when the turn over is 2 days earlier.

The January elections can be safely said to be a propaganda victory not just for Bush, but for the American people and the American troops.

The main reason for that is the gloom and doom predictions. Period. Bush didn't have to say anything.

Now imagine what the morale boost would have been had Bush said he worried about the elections over and over?

It is dangerous. Because propaganda differs depending on who is reading/seeing it. You don't want to demoralize the military to cheer up the civilians, or insult the Iraqis for the Americans.

No Kerryisms.

I, personally, don't want to be manipulated in that way.

And that is commendable. But I don't think Bush's honesty is a virtue in war. Accusations that Bush is not honest.. seems to me preposterous. Because he is too honest. Honesty as a virtue mandates that you know when to lie, it is not an absolute standard in every situation. Moderation.

Unfortunately in war, if the good guys don't do it, the bad guys will.

And they already are.
And it works, doesn't it.

About your doubts that in these times, we do not have the strength to sustain in the face of hardship.

There is still the core of strength. 40%. They are the ones, 1/3rd, who are sticking to it. And that, is more important than it seems. Strength is relative. In times of desperation, it is not surprising that everyone is unified for the common good, and supportive of effective actions. It is a surprise in times of goodness and victories, for there to still be a strong core that does not shake.

And besides. The American people are not quite so civilized that they lack the will to fight, as Flight 93 proved.

The hardship function is a direct one. The more hardship, the more support. The less hardship, the less support. There is some very definite hardship, for American families and those who support the war against the terroists. But it is not the hardship of definite defeat, or ultimate loss.

The lack of support? Results directly from the lack of hardship. You cannot fabricate hardship, regardless of how many clamor for support and unity.

But if you could fabricate hardship, I believe Americans would show their support. Say, if a nuke blew up Los Angeles.


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