War, Psychology, and Time

From STRATFOR via House of the Rising sons by way of  Infidels Are Cool comes an explanation of why the American domestic target audience is so receptive to enemy strategic communications. 

. . . time has completely undermined the psychological dimension of the strategy. Four years into the war, no one is shocked and no one is awed.

The war, both in Iraq and against al Qaeda, has worn the United States down over time. The psychology of fear has been replaced by a psychology of cynicism. The psychology of confidence in war has been replaced by a psychology of helplessness. Exhaustion pervades all.

That is the single most important outcome of the war. What happens to bin Laden is, in the end, about as important as what happened to Guevara. Legends will be made of it — not history. But when the world’s leading power falls into the psychological abyss brought about by time and war, the entire world is changed by it. Every country rethinks its position and its actions. Everything changes.

That is what is important about the Petraeus report. He will ask for more time. Congress will give it to him. The president will take it. Time, however, has its price not only in war but also psychologically. And if the request for time leads to more failure and the American psychology is further battered, then that is simply more time that other powers, great and small, will have to take advantage of the situation. The United States has psychologically begun tearing itself apart over both the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. Whatever your view of that, it is a fact — a serious geopolitical fact.

The Petraeus report will not address that. It is out of the general’s area of responsibility. But the pressing issue is this: If the United States continues the war and if it maintains its vigilance against attacks, how does the evolution of the American psyche play out?

Even if the C-in-C was a Great Communicator, even if there were islands of Public Diplomacy competence within the Department of State, even if the English-language Main Stream Media didn’t enthusiastically partner with the enemy to spread gloom and doom quagmire pessimism, even if defeat of the Army and Marine Corps in Iraq wouldn’t bring victory to Democrats in Washington, morale on the home front after six years of war would still be an element of national power to be assessed, preserved and bolstered.  If a frog had wings . . .

Between the ears of the American voter lies the key terrain of this war. 


Filed under InfoWarriors

8 responses to “War, Psychology, and Time

  1. This is a problem that is much more fundamental than the political differences over Iraq. Underlying our surface political debates is a crisis in confidence in the American Experiment that is the result of 4 decades of the postmodernist left’s long march to delegitimize America. So what do we do about this? I think we live in a time of great opportunity that allows us to create a new vision of the American Experiment for the 21st century. As time rolls on political movements come and go, but America remains. I believe that we are in a “seam” time where the 20th century political movements (liberal and conservative) that dominate our politics and thinking are losing their hold on our imaginations and new 21st century political movements and their visions have yet to be created. And so there is a widespread disatisfaction with the political status quo and the old rhetoric, slogans and arguments no longer seem to have the same impact. What we need to do is return to first principles and then build new political movements whose articulation of our underlying ideals will resonate with and inspire 21st century people confronting 21st century challenges. This is not an immediate solution to our problem, but it is a necessary solution and one that will take many years, most likely decades to unfold. So we will continue to struggle with the incongruities created by attempting to comprehend and solve 21st century problems with 20th century ideas. The American Experiment is the grandest of enterprises. How do we create a forward-looking vision of that experiment that will capture the imagination of our fellow citizens? That, I believe, is the great task of our era.

  2. I think Americans have to sort out what producers owe non-producers.

    Next we have to decide whether we want to be citizens of the world or proud, assimulated citizens of the global hyperpower.

    I think we could solve a lot of 21st Century problems with 18th Century ideas.

  3. suek

    Not just there.

    Came across this today – from RightTruth – and don’t exactly know what to do with it. So I’m putting it here. Suggestions welcome.


  4. suek, what was that link all about? I looked it but couldn’t get much out of it. What’s the Clff Notes version?

  5. suek

    I had a problem with it as well, but if I understand it correctly, the accusation is that Turkey’s political scene is pretty much either “mafia” or sharia, and certain US politicals have become linked with “mafia” members since they are opposed to the sharia members. The ‘mafia’ members control drug trade, which then finances the AQ action, but the US pols have decided to ignore the drug trade since these are the only guys they can talk to. There is also a hint of possible blackmail. The only clear item is that this woman Edmond has a tale to tell about a Turkish translator who was actually spying and misleading the State department on what was being said in his translations, and the pols are doing everything they can to prevent her from testifying before Congress. That’s where the possible blackmail comes in. So watch for the name Edmond and congressional testimony. If it happens it should be watched, if it doesn’t, that too is very much something that should be watched. As in” the dog that didn’t bark”…

  6. suek

    Oh yeah…and the reason I “planted” it here is twofold: first, someone here might be able to make use of it, and second, I found it on the RightTruth blog. RightTruth has many interesting links – in fact, so many that if you want to keep track of one, it becomes difficult! Her site is difficult to load (slow) and commenting is inconvenient. Yours loads easily, is not as cluttered and is easier to comment on – hence easier to “plant” and later find a link. The one thing on your site that is a little “glitch” – I use the back button after making a comment. On your site – and a couple of others – the back button drop down shows _multiple_ urls that are identical…it’s necessary to go down about 4-8-even 12 sites sometimes – all identical, as far as I can tell – to get back to the main page. This could be a WordPress thing…I don’t understand it.

  7. The State Department has notoriously been affiliated with corrupt and amoral familist groups, Suek. Their entire relationship with Saudi Arabia, leading to Dick Clark (or approximate) authorizing the release of Saudi Arabian flights out of the US without Presidential authority. I am therefore not surprised that there are “deals” made. After all, the US government and their bureacrats are nowhere near as competent as the United States military in inspiring True Allies, wherever those allies come from. While the US military and firepower could possibly cement loyalty bonds from drug lords and war lords… the bureacrats in Washington will not, cannot, and etc complete any deal beneficial to the United States. Oh, it will probably most assuredly be beneficial to that specific bureacrat in government but not to the greater US.

    The question then becomes, why don’t the targets fit. The State Department is not an ally of the Republicans. Why would they suppress an investigation unless others were also involved. Then, why suppress an investigation without alerting their allies in Congress and enemies of whomever. The initiative with leaks and government investigation is usually with the Democrats. And thus it remains for “neoconservatives” are the only ones mentioned.

    The best lies are based upon the truth, or rather the truth that you did a first strike as was the case with the WMDs in which the issue only existed to be exploited because Bush wanted to satisfy Democrats and international allies over in the UN.

    I am no fan of Turkey and it is to be expected that all societies like that are based around amoral familism. In point of fact, much of the Left is based around amoral familism.

    They have claims but they lack details as to who paid whom and with what.