“The strategic target remains our population… We can lose people day in and day out, but they’re never going to beat our military. What they can and will do if they can is strip away our support. And you guys can help us not let that happen.”

— General Conway, Director of Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff

If you only read one news article this week, make it this exposé on the Pentagon propaganda programme in support of the war in Iraq, written by David Barstow and just published by the New York Times. It brilliantly details how “Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who could be counted on to deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions”, relying amongst other things on surprisingly candid accounts by many of these analysts themselves. It especially focuses on the Government countermeasures undertaken to discredit the 2006 so-called “Generals Revolt” for then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to step down.

This is simply shocking reading. Not only for the utterly cynical, callous and irresponsible approach to public office of Rumsfeld evidenced by his handling of this insidious propaganda programme, but for the major American media’s apparent utter lack of critical vetting of by these “independent analysts”, several of whom doubled as military contractors with the government, consistently relying on them for information about the war effort for years on end. We all know that Fox News has basically acted as the Fourth Branch of the Bush Government over the last 7 years, but the success of this propaganda effort reaches way beyond that, extending to all the major networks. A bleak picture.

Photo montage from the New York Times.