Entanglement nets form part of the less-than-lethal-weapons armory that was heralded in past years as a step to a new kind of war: bloodless, and therefore “humane”.
Four years after Steve Wright denounced the “hypocrisy of non-lethal weapons”, the US prepares to go to a new war that is set to apply the non-lethal principle of entanglement to the info-sphere. As a key tool of propaganda and deception, it becomes the functional basis of the war of networks. ”Dominating the information landscape now is as important as occupying the land or controlling the air has been in the past”, as US General Ronald L. Fogleman states in his infowar manual.
On the information battlefield the less-than-lethal characteristic of entanglement nets translates into the "less-than-a-lie" principle of disinformation. Shifting between varying narrative contexts, the facts cited in official rhetoric draw their validity from the secrecy of their origin, the “secret” services.
Yet the Iraqi National Council, frequently quoted by the US government as a reliable source of information, was recently exposed as a PR front group created by the Rendon Group. Sure enough, stories like these are unlikely to appear in mainstream media, and less still in a new propaganda radio station apparently set up by the CIA to cognitively entangle the Iraqi population: Radio Tikrit, named after Saddam Hussein’s birth town and broadcasting from Kuwait and from airplanes, is supposed to target the mind of the enemy commander, the “real target of war”, as Basil Liddell Hart writes in strategy classic “Thoughts on War”.
But the convenience of networks in war propaganda could have serious consequences as they begin to affect system architectures. One decisive step towards entangling information and disinformation and avoid non-patriotic crossfire, is the Pentagon’s “Embed” program: journalists’ work is fully “embedded” into the Forces’ mission, and bonds of fraternization are generated in integrated training programs. In addition, US army officers will be equipped with satellite links in order to ensure that the gun barrel perspective shapes public opinion before the public can shape it themselves.
Strengthening one’s own disinformation infrastructure and destroying the enemy's go hand in hand. Direct Energy weapons are supposed to non-lethally disrupt electronic networks command and control networks of the enemy in Iraq, as are High-Power Microwave weapons. These weapons, for which Iraq will be a test field, are taken to their targets by cruise missiles and are expected to disable al electronic equipment, radios, mobile phones and heart pacemakers alike, within a few hundred meters. Using frequencies between one and ten Gigahertz, these weapons occupy the pinnacle of the radiation spectrum, promising electromagnetic domination.
Way beyond the range of these weapons, in the Florida sunshine that spoils the US Forces’ Central Command, doing all these non-lethal things seems to be part of an information wellness experience. Picturesque beaches, war games and the glamour of hi-tech equipment leave no doubt that violence and entertainment have finally been fused into a military-entertainment complex.
In the meantime, the future reconstruction of the communication infrastructure destroyed this way is already generating real business expectations. The US is expected to reserve this market for its own companies, ensuring that France, whose Altel corporation built Iraq’s telephone system in the 1980s, and who now forms part of the “axis of weasel” (New York Post) will be left out. By contrast, repairing the cognitive collateral damage of the coming Iraq war does not sound like something that will attract much investment.
Steven Wright on non-lethal weapons
General Fogleman’s Infowar manual
PR Watch on Iraqi National Council
”Embedded in the Iraq Conflict” (Chicago Tribune)
New Scientist on Radio Tikrit
US Forces Central Command
Interview with Bruce Sterling about the Military-Entertainment Complex (by Krystian Woznicki)
“Looking Beyond a War in Iraq” (New York Times)