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The US and West are utter failures at Narrative Warfare. It's killing both "sides" in Israel and Gaza.
Happy hump day TAT readers. Well, “happy” is likely a poor choice of adjectives in these dark days, globally and domestically.
I had planned to write about another topic all together today, but an online exchange with a man I have long respected, demanded a change in plans.
There are really two parts to today’s work. First, the exchange which turned out to be a rather lengthy one and secondly, the self-inflicted wound of the decades-long, US national security community failure when it comes to projecting ethical power, via effective SC/ Strategic Communications and what I professionally term, “ethical influence.”
First, I will share the online exchange transcript, which is more of my answering my acquaintance’s false and dangerous narrative about Israel’s defense. This exchange occurred on LinkedIn this morning.
My respected acquaintance in this exchange is a man named Ned Farhat. He is commenting on a post by the now famous, or infamous, depending on which Gaza narratives you believe, Josh Paul. In my case and as indicated in my dozen or so updates on this war, there is also the truth which must be told, in context, with all known facts, to be considered truth. By the way, this is my definition of truth.
"Truth equals, all known facts, presented in ethically objective context." - Cobaugh
The LinkedIn post in question can be found at this embedded link, for full transparency. It is by a former US State Dept. employee, Josh Paul, that I professionally believe to be less than honest about his high-profile advocacy against Israel and tangentially, the US. He has failed to meet the demands of my definition of truth. To be clear, I am not doubting his intentions. For all I know, they may be well-meaning but without all known facts and zero objective context, the result is overtly dishonest and in my professional opinion, risks perpetuating decades of violence and oppression against both Israel, and the innocent Palestinian people. They are both at risk, primarily at the hands of the barbarous butchers called Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Putin and more.
I have used screen captures here in order to be fully transparent. My points are contained within these comments, regarding the falsity of existing narratives about Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, Iran and Middle East terrorism. As regular followers know, the following links are to my recurring assessments of the war, up through the middle of last week. They are in chronological order with the earliest as number 1.
Israel - by Paul Cobaugh - Truth About Threats
Let's unpack the complex, barbaric attack on Israel and those to blame. (truthaboutthreats.com)
Short Friday notes after yesterday's long report on Israel (truthaboutthreats.com)
A quick Sunday update regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in Gaza (truthaboutthreats.com)
Three things about the war in Gaza that we all must understand. (truthaboutthreats.com)
5th in the series, Israel and Hamas updates. (truthaboutthreats.com)
Has all media, good and bad, forgotten how to report with facts and context? (truthaboutthreats.com)
Friday updates - by Paul Cobaugh - Truth About Threats
“If it bleeds, it leads” - by Paul Cobaugh (truthaboutthreats.com)
Mid-week, national security, news round-up (truthaboutthreats.com)
Cost - Benefit Analysis, the war in Gaza - by Paul Cobaugh (truthaboutthreats.com)
There is no need to rehash what I have already written and all of it regarding this war, can be found in the above links. My sole purpose is to paint an accurate, fact-filled baseline of information, in a narrative of my own and based on a long-career in CT/ Counterterrorism and expertise in the region. When lives are at stake, the best way to protect the innocent is with an accurate, proactive narrative that with integrity, makes it possible for most to understand.
Here’s the problem for Israel, the US, our allies and the global, RBIO/ Rules-Based, International Order. The following perspective comes from years of my experience in and out of combat zones, within the region. I will try to lay out in numbered order, the salient points and why, we and our allies are incapable of competing in Narrative Warfare and supporting Israel’s defense or the innocent Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, effectively.
In modern warfare, be it Ukraine, Gaza, Ethiopia, Sudan, Myanmar etc. public opinion is a primary factor when it comes to “winning.” Since the end of WW II, the US has not once, won the peace after winning the battles. Unlike ours and allied success, post WW II, and some respectable success during the Cold War, the US national security community has allowed the elements of ethical influence, to wither and die on the vine. I have written on this until I’ve worn the fingerprints off of my typing fingers. I will not recount all of that now, but my research has and continues to be exhaustive and regularly updated. Below after the points I make, are some of the most informative pieces to support my claims here.
First, the primary reasons that the US natsec community still fails, including the research community:
They have not defined the problem (I use a lot of references and philosophical insights from my favorite philosopher… Einstein. Please bear with my obsession with this.
The research community, like the rest of the community runs to the next shiny object, looking to pull down huge research dollars without understanding what their research is to contribute to.
US doctrine regarding employing ethical influence in support of our NSS/ National Security Strategy has not evolved since the mid 1990s.
The community at large, in order to cover their perpetual failure, makes up a new term every few years for some old doctrinal term and claims to be on the cutting edge of research. As my British friends would say, this is “Bollocks.” or in US terms… BS!
Our new doctrine and other supporting documents at DoD, like JP 3-04 are simply gibberish terms that make no sense and are inoperable on or off the battlefield.
Our enemies and competitors, campaign in influence and like our 2016 election disgrace, are effective. This is not because they are good, it is because they are unopposed by the US national security community.
All our current community can think of, including both the FBI and DHS, who are charged with our protection, is CYBER based, defensive/ reactive digital tools. This is a sure indicator that they neither understand influence or what to do about it even if they did. There is no difference at the Pentagon or the greater IC/ Intelligence community.
The US and NATO are at least two generations behind in thinking and maybe up to four in knowing how to campaign. Even the architecture of the community is so disastrous, that there is no way to campaign, even if they understood.
We have tools, but no way to use them and even those tools have been prisoners of antiquated thinking.
No matter how smart our community is, they cannot achieve anything if they don’t understand the problem. In this case, they have zero understanding of Narrative and especially Narrative Warfare.
Sure, plenty of people, in and outside of DoD and the IC use the term, but there isn’t a shred of evidence that they understand what they are talking about. This is true whether it is RAND, DoD, Booz Hamilton or otherwise. All that they are doing is sucking up millions from our budget, despite having forty years plus, of failure.
Counter-narratives are useless unless there is an already established narrative voice in the influence arena. We have NOT had this since the end of the Cold War.
So as not to torture anyone with this already too long piece, I include here links to the articles that will help you understand, just how vulnerable our national security is from influence. Not only are we ineffective, but we don’t even try. This is really hurting Israel and Ukraine at the moment.
If you read only one of the thirteen links below, it is this first one that matters the most. It is a long, research paper that details the nearly unfathomable failure of the US national security community for the past few decades. If our influence is shrinking globally, and it is, this paper is one of the primary reasons why.
Combat ineffective, the rusted, broken hulk of US Influence Operations (truthaboutthreats.com)
Fake news is a self-inflicted, near mortal wound for our democracy (truthaboutthreats.com)
Fake News is Yellow Journalism 2.0 - by Paul Cobaugh (truthaboutthreats.com)
Patriot or Partisan? - by Paul Cobaugh (truthaboutthreats.com)
Influence Operations are centric to every aspect of National Security (truthaboutthreats.com)
Protecting our nation from Mis and Disinformation, requires true expertise at Ethical Influence (truthaboutthreats.com)
A Five Point Strategy to Oppose Russian Narrative Warfare (truthaboutthreats.com)
Dear America, I dare you! - by Paul Cobaugh (truthaboutthreats.com)
National Resilience to anti-American influence is badly wounded and we're unarmed and flailing. (truthaboutthreats.com)
The US National Security community is incapable of managing mis/ disinformation threats (truthaboutthreats.com)
Without a core, shared, national identity, there is no national security. (truthaboutthreats.com)
I am grateful for anyone that made it this far. If this is an issue that you are passionate about, please bookmark today’s post. The amount of valuable information and links to sources would fill a very thick book. Most of all, my concern is that this war in not undermined by false narratives. To this, I add that our national security community is negligent in their failures to operate with ethical influence. It’s not enough for the White House and SECSTATE to be good communicators, but those charged with defending our cognitive turf must do their jobs, for a change and do it effectively. There is little to no chance of this.
All conflict, policy concerns, competition etc. depends on ethical influence, or what the commercial sector calls, marketing. As the old saying goes, “the US national security community couldn’t influence a starving person to eat.” That is just how bad they are. We cannot stay as an influential nation for good, if we don’t fix this critical vulnerability.
My best for the rest of everyone’s week,