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.


  1. Neil

    I think ‘seagulls’ and ‘abandoned chips’ would have been a better analogy.

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