July 10, 2008

I Say Potato You Say Something Completely Different

Kerim over at Savage Minds wrote some interesting analysis about communication problems in the military. It concerns a video made by what I assume to be a reporter for The Guardian embedded with soldiers in Afghanistan (and speaking of embedding, it is mildly annoying that The Guardian does not allow video embedding). Apparently, after seven years of occupation in Afghanistan, the US military is unable to provide basic accurate translation services. To me, this is exactly the kind of thing you'd expect to get when the military is being forced to do the job of the state department. Armed forces should only be asked to do what they are trained to do, fight wars. Diplomats should be the ones establishing relationships with power structures and cutting deals. Or, here's a thought, they can work together with the soldiers providing security and evaluating threats and the diplomats doing the communication.

On a side note, if you read into the comments of Kerim's post, you'll get to see what an academic flame war looks like. Very amusing.

And for still more on embedding, check out this article in Contexts magazine on media in the Iraq War. The conclusion of the study says, "given the far greater frequency and prominence of published articles penned by embedded journalists, ultimately the embedding program proved a victory for the armed services in the historical tug-of-war between the press and military over journalistic freedom during war time."

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