Monday, February 02, 2015

Democratically dangerous

That's the only way to describe the British government's decision to create a military propaganda unit:

The British army is creating a special force of Facebook warriors, skilled in psychological operations and use of social media to engage in unconventional warfare in the information age.

The 77th Brigade, to be based in Hermitage, near Newbury, in Berkshire, will be about 1,500-strong and formed of units drawn from across the army. It will formally come into being in April.

The brigade will be responsible for what is described as non-lethal warfare. Both the Israeli and US army already engage heavily in psychological operations.

Against a background of 24-hour news, smartphones and social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, the force will attempt to control the narrative.

"Control[ling] the narrative" means explicitly trying to influence UK public opinion to get them to support military action, while covering up atrocities. Don't believe me? Here's what the UK Ministry of Defence's own 2007 Media Operations manual has to say about who their audiance is:

The aim is explicitly "To secure popular and political support for the UK’s policy objectives". That support can only come from UK voters. The idea of a government body (let alone the military) deliberately setting out to propagandize voters to ensure support for their actions seems distinctly undemocratic, and more reminiscent of a totalitarian dictatorship than a modern democratic state.