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International Culture Jamming

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Recent events in Lebanon have me thinking:

If you have a country wherein opposing groups can be induced to protest in an escalating series, the effect on that country could be greater than that of a physical bomb. The concept of ‘divide and conquer’ can take on a new meaning. A well orchestrated propaganda/media campaign can tear a country to shreds in all senses but the literal. I do not think a direct campaign would be wise. People, especially leaders, can be sensitive to such manipulation.

A better method would be to manipulate preexisting tensions in the country. Every country has them. (Let’s play spot the preexisting tension!) The same concept has been present for all of human history, of course on the scale of interpersonal relations, rather than that of countries. Surely you know a Machiavellian person, alway drawing people against one another, spreading lies like peanut butter.

Say the United States, rather than invading Iraq, (something of a fiasco, if you ask me, which you didn’t) had perhaps played the tensions between the Shiites and the Sunni populations against each other, a great deal could have been done. The administration did not like the Hussein regime. Say, over the course of time that was used to push the war with the public, they had instead implanted spies, manipulators, media agents, and sympathetic clerics in Iraq to start a new Shiite movement, one that might either overthrow the government, or at least keep it busy for a while. If the case is the former, then America can step in to aid in ’stabilization’ while simultaneously maintaining a relatively good public image (PR is everything nowadays).

If the result is the former then the proclaimed goal of dismantling a WMD (ooh old buzzword) program is achieved. A government focused entirely on battling an internal movement composed of people indistinguishable from those who are loyal will likely not spend much time on WMDs. Ah, you said, what about the turmoil and Chaos? That can’t be good for the Iraqi people, can it? Perhaps not, but it could not likely be much worse than the current situation.

I realize that all this is an oversimplification, but I think that the idea could hold water if fully developed. A sort of culture jamming on an international level. Why not?

Hurdy Gur,
Jonathan Berman

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About Jonathan Berman

  • Saddam’s Iraq used WMDs against Kurds who were citizens trying to change the internal governance of their own country.

    Iraq under Baathist rule also had very little difficulty suppressing Shiite uprisings in its southern provinces.

    I’m no expert in Middle East studies, but even my smattering of knowledge about history tells me your brilliant idea was already attempted in Iraq, and it didn’t work out nearly so neatly as you seem to imagine.

  • Jon Berman

    Never does.

  • SFC Ski

    Actually, Saddam had the “divide and conquer” program in effect in Iraq. He played the factions both loyal and disloyal to him against each other as necessary to ensure no one could challenge him. He also encouraged neighbors to spy on neighbors. IN some countries, your idea might work, I believe historical cases could be found in the past.

  • “Divide and conquer” readily destroys countries and renders them easy to dominate as a ruthless a dictator. It’s not so useful for the current administration’s declared goal of creating a unified and stable modern democratic nation-state in Iraq.