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    4GW How-to Instructions from Shrinkwrapped: Handling Atrocity Claims

    In the book Sling and the Stone, The author Hammes makes the point that 4GW is all about sending messages. Every 4GW action at every level (traditional: strategic, operational, tactical; and newer: mental, physical, and moral) is a message to ones opponents ("go home, you can never win this") or those that can influence ones opponents ("hey those other guys are being kind of evil and immoral…do you want to be tainted by working with them?") or aid one' s own cause ("look over here, we're being repressed"). Every action in 4GW is psychological warfare.

    Shrinkrapped writes in the article Skepticism and "News":

    This does not mean we should not investigate incidents, but the knee-jerk response that "if there was an atrocity we will investigate and punish the guilty", needs to be replaced by a different reaction. When our spokesmen respond that "our enemies routinely invent accusations of atrocities and are not beyond creating atrocities to blame on us", and we repeat this on every occasion, in answer to every reporter's question, followed with the obligatory remarks that every accusation is fully investigated, we will have gone far in removing this weapon from our enemy's armamentarium. It is far past time to place the burden of proof on the reporters and on our enemies when such accusations are made.

    Shrinkwrapped rightly suggests that the US message change from "Umm…maybe we did something bad, we'll look into it" (which yields initiative to our opponents, and let's them control the gist of the story and the tempo by which it is broadcast), with "our opponents are bad guys who fake this stuff alot and commit atrocities against their own – you should check this out and get the scoop on them" (in which the US has the initiative and sets the spin of the message and includes a presumption that the bad guys are, well the bad guys).

    Update: Mary Katharine Ham covers the media mistakes vis-a-vis Haditha. It looks like this was an enemy operation to sell an Atrocity story. 

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