prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

The Future of Modern Warfare?

Posted by prof e on November 17, 2012

No, I’m not talking about the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops II this week, and the $500 million that players dropped on the first day. Rather, I’m talking about real conflict with real casualties, and tweets like this…

Some numbers from the last 3 days: 492 rockets fired from #Gaza hit #Israel + 245 Iron Dome interceptions = 737 rockets fired at us. @IDFSpokesperson

And this photo tweeted two days ago…

And this video posted to Youtube…

If you watch the IDF YouTube channel you’ll also find a video that alleges¬†to show¬†Palestinian¬†children taunting Israeli soldiers attempting to provoke a response for the cameras.

In a world where public support is necessary for democratic societies to engage in armed conflict, propaganda is a necessary and essential part of the campaign. According to an editorial in the Washington Post,

The¬†@IDFSpokesperson¬†Twitter account, encouraging followers to show support for the strikes,¬†tweeted¬†Wednesday: ‚ÄúMore than 12,000 rockets hit Israel in the past 12 years. RT if you think #Israel has the right to defend itself.‚ÄĚ More than 5,500 people have retweeted it.

The social media campaign being waged by the Israeli Defense Force is part PR campaign, part political posturing, part warning intended to minimize civilian casualties, and part intimidation, e.g. ‚ÄúWe recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.‚ÄĚ

Hamas, the pro-Palestinian group responsible for the rocket attacks on Israel, has responded with their own campaign, including the twitter hashtag #GazaUnderAttack. Civilians, especially children, killed by Israeli retaliatory strikes are put on display for the TV cameras as mourners wail in the street.

The Middle East, post Arab Spring, is still a fractious place where opposing forces battle on a daily basis. While some of the conflict is physical, much of it takes place in the media where the battle is fought for the hearts and minds of both regional and global witnesses. And more and more of it is happening in near-real-time.


5 Responses to “The Future of Modern Warfare?”

  1. Mister told ya so! said

    Now that the presidential election between red and blue Kool Aid is over in America, it’s time to get back to the gub’mint’s real business of instigating WWIII, via the proxy wars in the Middle East. Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain ‘mericun citizen’s, just buy the iPhone 5 and enjoy the Holiday consumption cycle!

  2. Xray said

    Amazing to read from students on the Benghazi debacle post here awhile back that they still think angry Muslims protested foreign embassies/consulates simply because of a video; That the attack and murder of American operators there was about a rebellion against American values of free speech yada, yada. These poor kids aren’t even being given a chance to think critically, or outside the box as it were. Ironic because all of the information is in the mainstream media, only you have to decode it using something other than grade school-level thought processes.

    Well, it has been entirely obvious that while the incendiary video indeed incited protests, the government, specifically spokeswoman/ambassador Susan Rice was a major proponent of this phony PR meme in the American press. Obama and Clinton, too. Yes, the government was willing to link the video to the Benghazi attack and simultaneous protests as a PR campaign of it’s own, perhaps simply to enable the already dreadfully sheepish media consumer here to jump on the bandwagon topic of “clashing U.S. and Mid-Eastern cultural values” that never ends in this country, and which seemingly coincides with what we can speculatively say is a broader PR agenda that includes Israeli propagandistic memes that seek to justify escalating conflict in the neighboring region — Palestine. Shoot, to listen to the government sound bites and media framing of those events, it’s no stretch to imagine that “we” were contemplating sending in the military to lock down all embassies in the Middle-East come what may in a new war. The rhetorical Kool Aid was there for the drinking. The timeline certainly fits, so do the sub-textual hints in the media coverage during the run up to the election, which demarcated the emphasis of themes desired to be believable by our government in the blatantly suasive media coverage then. Sad to say, most Americans accept this crap entirely, as evidenced by even college-level discourse it seems.

    Yes, it’s patently clear that the U.S. was well aware that Israel was getting antsy about initiating it’s “self-defense” protocols and PR campaign in the area, yet the optics of the vomit-inducing U.S. presidential campaign rhetoric made the PR agenda(s) among the two countries a bit dicey to pair. The U.S. media accidently did their job in covering the Benghazi debacle — the truth that the attack was a highly organized counter-militia action got out. This makes the mouth-breathing fools who ALWAYS prefer the angry Muslim meme look naively stupid, Joe Scarborough.

    Further, the prez and Mrs. Rice were forced to recant their narrative of Benghazi to the government’s spurious media campaign and conflation of Muslim angst with rampant terrorism — which everyone more sophisticated than a cow should realize is just a convenient cover and pretense to justifying still more militarism wherever and whenever it suits.

    Now, the slack-eyed war hawk, Sen. John McCain, and fellow military industrial complex pudgy curmudgeon, Sen. Lindsey Graham, are on a smear-campaign mission to dirty up Susan Rice’s Secretary of State nomination. There can be no greater example of cynicism on behalf of our elected leaders than the clownish, feigned indignity espoused by these two jerk-offs. They each know full well that the statements made by Rice regarding the Benghazi attack were erroneous and part of a larger coercive campaign for moral support from Americans, but yet they have a bone to pick, for their resentment of Barack Obama runs deep in their little-boy egos, for his successful auction of his administrative agenda these coming 4 years was too much to bare. They’re just jealous, and it couldn’t be more clear.

    It’s remarkable to watch McCain and Graham level these empty assertions in the news with straight faces, demanding only the imagery of accountability from the Obama administration. What shenanigans the voters in this country accept from its politicians. And, yes, everything I just wrote is pure speculation and opinion. Any challengers?

  3. yp said

    This comment is for Professor Ebersole’s MCCNM 101 class:

    In my opinion the IDF’s spokespersons are doing their job well. There are over 4.5 million views on this particular video and over 36 million views on the IDF Youtube channel. The video was intended to showcase military might and, precision. It is not a new tactic to use these types of messages in warfare but, social media and the internet are new channels to communicate them to a large audience. Many may argue this video is in bad taste and/or propaganda but, whether their global audience “likes” it or not, the IDF is getting their message to millions of people.

    The Palestinian leaders also understand the value of a conveying their message to a global audience. Social media may be one of the Palestinian’s strongest tools in gaining international support for their cause.

    An editorial from The Washington Post is mentioned in this post. Though it is an opinion piece, it is argued by some that the US media is biased in favor of Israel in general. Either way, an individual now has the opportunity to seek out different stories and opinions through social media and, international news agencies such as the BBC, Haaretz and, dare I say, Al Jazeera via the internet.

    Side note: This video can qualify for Vine by trimming four seconds.

  4. I find it interesting that we are witnessing a new branch of information warfare come to life. We can now follow the evolution of a military or militia operation from start to end almost simultaneously. I predict future conflicts will be the easiest to document simply because every combatant and non combatant will commit his or her experiences and/ or opinions as they are happening to the internet.

    As a former broadcast journalist in the United States Navy, I can see my former position as a TV news producer vanish as every service member will tell their stories in the form of a tweet/facebook post and cut out the middle man completely.

    I don’t think McLuhan could have predicted social media warfare when he created the concept of the “Global Village”.

  5. Ashleigh Hollowell said

    I believe the PR’s role in this situation is very dominant and without it, the conflict would not be as widely known or discussed. Each side taking to outlets such as Twitter absolutely increased the amount of discussion among the public as well as in the media. It is not very difficult to get an issue to be picked up by the media and widely distributed. As stated in the “Confessions of a Media Manipulator” slide show, even “Katie Couric claims she gets many story ideas from her Twitter followers, which means that getting a few tweets out of the seven hundred or so people she follows is all it takes to get a show at the nightly national news,” (slide 29/43). Social Media is an excellent facilitator of information and stories to the press, especially if it is a major conflict such as one ever-present in The Middle East. By using social media as a means for rallying public support, the PR aspect most encompassed by this stunt was “Anticipating, analyzing and interpreting public opinion, attitudes and issues that might impact, for good or ill, the operations and plans of the organization,” (

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