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Rumsfeld – Fight Terrorists with Ink

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In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Defense Secretary Donald “Don’t shoot ’til you see their bloodshot eyes” Rumsfeld called on the military to drop buckets of ink on terrorists so they’d be easier to spot and shoot. (He didn’t comment on whether he told Dick Cheney to spill ink on Harry Whittington, the friend he shot.)

O.k., not really. He did call for a more effective communications campaign to combat terrorism. Duh? “Our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today’s media age, but for the most part we, our country, our government, has not,” he told the assembled deep thinkers, who scratched their chins and nodded sagely.

His idea is to continue to buy coverage in Muslim newspapers. We also have to stop being reactive. He wants a 24-hour media operation to pump out good news about America. And who’s to blame? The media, of course, for hampering such initiatives.

As a public relations expert, Rummy makes a lousy Defense Secretary. He’s right that we’re getting our brains battered in the battle for world & U.S. public opinion, but he doesn’t have a clue how to wage that war.

Like too many people, he equates media with public relations or communications, which is, how do we put this delicately…dumber than a bucket of hair. There’s a great PR saying, “You can’t sell from an empty wagon,” and that describes our situation.

First, you have to understand the audiences you’re trying to reach, how receptive they are to your messages, what are their needs, issues, fears, and desires.

Second, you have to break down their barriers–I call it “The Disarming Prelude”–through empathy, respect, honesty, and even acknowledging the legitimacy of some of their concerns. Only when you begin to lower the level of intensity and negativity, only when you give them a chance to voice their concerns and see that you take them seriously, will people then listen and maybe consider your point of view.

Third, you have to offer something credible and real. Denial and rejection–even if correct–won’t work when people are already convinced you’re doing something wrong.

Fourth, you have to walk your talk. Peter Drucker once said, “Policy is what you do, not what you say.” Look at what we’re doing & our policy, at best, looks like the Keystone Kops chasing the Road Runner and squashing Wiley Coyote on the way.

I could drone on forever. In fact, I think I have. But, Mr. Rumsfeld, it’s old hat to blame the media for your problems. Pick a new target. Blame someone new–like liberals.

In Jamesons Veritas

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About Mark Schannon

Retired crisis & risk manager/communications expert; extensive public relations experience in most areas over 30 years. Still available for extraordinary opportunities of mind-numbing complexity. Life-long liberal agnostic...or is that agnostic liberal.
  • SonnyD

    So Rumsfeld shot Whittington? I’m confused.

  • Of course he did. Cheney agreed to take the blame because he’s impervious to any and all criticism. Why do you think it took 24 hours for the news to get out? They had to work out the details.

    On the other hand, there’s an alternative reason–I’m a moron. But now that’s it’s there, it’s actually too funny to go back and change.

    In Jamesons Veritas

  • Rats…looks like my boss, editor Dave Nalle saw that I’d made an idiot of myself & cleverly corrected my mistake re: Cheney/Rumsfeld.

    But what the hell, guys, how can you tell them apart anyway?

    In Jamesons Veritas

  • Dave Nalle

    Cheney is the old bald one. Rumsfeld is just old. Rove is just bald.


  • SonnyD

    Mark: Yeah, I meant what you know to say. Hope I never snake a mistook like that.

    I think Rumsfeld is just trying to divert attention so he can say, “See, we’re trying to be nice and not kill people.” Or something to that effect.

    On the other hand, if you have a suicide bomber standing next to you and he just wants to kill the infidel, I’m not too sure your way is going to have a lot of success, either.

  • SonnyD–Trust me, I’d never try to reason with a suicidal bomber. A quick bullet to the brain communicates all I need to.

    I’m talking about the billions who aren’t fruitcakes, nutcases, bong blowers and whose image of America has gone from good/neutral to yuk/puke. And also giving cover to the leaders of some of the nations whose people seem to be using good dope–and not sharing–so they can be supportive or at least not as negative.

    The Whateveritis on Terror has to be fought on many fronts and we ignore the public diplomacy front at our peril.

    And I too hope you nake a mistoke like mine. Could cough your head off.

    Dave–thanks for clarification. But they still all look alike to me.

    In Jamesons Veritas

  • Bliffle

    “So Rumsfeld shot Whittington?”

    No no no. Rumsfeld shot RJ. Roves Evil Twin shot Whittington. I shot the sheriff (but I didn’t shoot the deputy).

  • Hey, Bliffle, ever hear the expression, “Let stupid dogs lie..or die.” Well, this dog is lying & dying.

    (Funny comment though.)

    In Jamesons Veritas