Monday, May 16, 2011
It's an interesting phenomenon that once engaged in battle, it is hard to control its expansion. At least that appears to be what is happening in Libya where the British commander is setting the scene for a broader campaign to topple Colonel Qaddafi. America knows this phenomenon well since Vietnam, incursion into Iraq and now Afghanistan. It comes from ignorance of what real battle is like, from a perception that the task at had will be easier than it proves to be. It is a form of self-delusion. As long ago as the Civil War, politicians thought that a few thousand men were all that was needed to subdue the South. When General Sherman said it would take many more than that, he was considered mad even though he was proved right. Rhetoric at the beginning of war is wrong and becomes real only later. From a communicator's point of view, the beginning of conflict is a time when few want to look at or speak about an enemy for what he is. There is a need to paint an enemy in broad strokes in order to motivate the population, and that is what happens time and again.