The Media War

By Dialogo
April 17, 2013

The regular wars and asymmetric conflicts in the 21st Century, especially in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Middle East region, have presented a new reality in terms of global media. This truly virtual revolution, as it has been called, is used by both military and terrorist groups and insurgents as a strength multiplying strategy that adds to the firepower.

The speed and scope of broadcasting, the improved technique of filming and editing videos for mobilization, recruitment, education and persuasiveness from several public or organizations advertising these conflicts has turned into a real media war.

All with the intent of keeping up with the new utilization trends of internet users, as determined by the rapid growth of social networks, such as blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. Many of these media products are advertised by large communication companies that take advantage of factors such as cost and risks minimization for their employees.

This strategy started with the so-called insurgents and terrorist groups in Iraq, who, aware of the importance of influencing the public opinion worldwide, started to film and photograph with their mobile phones, suicidal attacks involving coalition forces, especially the explosion of IEDs (improvised explosive devises). They would edit images and texts in Arabic and minutes later broadcast through some of the main international TV networks, as well as spread via the internet.

Aside from negatively influencing the morale of the troops and security forces, due to the degree of violence shown in the videos and because of the intimidation of possible collaborators, it turned out to be an excellent recruiting tool.

Recently, social networks showed their efficiency when it was posted via Twitter the tactics used by an Israeli command in a confidential operation to approach the SV Estelle Finnish ship, that was breaking through the blockage toward the Gaza Strip. Also broadcasted live was the development of Operation Geronimo, which resulted in the capture of Al Qaeda terrorist leader in Pakistan.

Although it is an irreversible trend, the danger lies in the inability to control and the misusage of virtual media, including the fraudulent manipulation, the lack of ethical commitment and, in many cases, the veracity of facts. During this war, the security forces are at a disadvantage, since the material collected by these forces requires prior approval, while the broadcast of images captured by other segments is almost immediate.

*André Luís Woloszyn, Strategic Intelligence Analyst

Excellent article, it’s simple and direct. It presents a paradox. Media, through time, contributed for freedom and democracy. Today it’s been used to destroy freedom and democracy.