Carronade The Yankee Sailor Carronade

The Sea is a choosy mistress. She takes the men that come to her and weighs them and measures them. The ones she adores, she keeps; the ones she hates, she destroys. The rest she casts back to land. I count myself among the adored, for I am Her willing Captive.

I've relocated to a new Yankee Sailor.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Bush Administration's Communications Gap

David Ignatius has a piece in the WaPo that voices a problem I've been pondering for a while. Why does an administration that proved it pick a coherent message and stay on it so aggressively during two campaigns not seem capable of doing the same with its Iraq policy? In Ignatius' words:

The polls suggest that Bush is losing the ability to communicate effectively about the issue that matters most to him. He has a better story on Iraq than many people seem to appreciate: Iraqi politicians are in fact coming together toward a government of national unity; Iraqi troops are improving their performance; substantial reductions in the number of U.S. troops are likely this year. But to many Americans, judging by the polls, Bush's assertions sound like a broken record. His optimism comes across as happy talk.
And I'm not the only one in uniform that has noticed it:

Ask senior military commanders what they think about Bush and they will tell you they love his toughness -- but wish the White House could communicate its Iraq strategy better.
The most perplexing part is that the message is there, the administration just doesn't use it. You have to dissect every statement and interpret every nuance to get to it. Where was the message, best stated? In the President's National Strategy for Victory in Iraq:

  • The Political Track involves working to forge a broadly supported national compact for democratic governance by helping the Iraqi government:
    • Isolate enemy elements from those who can be won over to the political process by countering false propaganda and demonstrating to all Iraqis that they have a stake in a democratic Iraq;
    • Engage those outside the political process and invite in those willing to turn away from violence through ever-expanding avenues of participation; and
    • Build stable, pluralistic, and effective national institutions that can protect the interests of all Iraqis, and facilitate Iraq's full integration into the international community.
  • The Security Track involves carrying out a campaign to defeat the terrorists and neutralize the insurgency, developing Iraqi security forces, and helping the Iraqi government:
    • Clear areas of enemy control by remaining on the offensive, killing and capturing enemy fighters and denying them safe-haven;
    • Hold areas freed from enemy influence by ensuring that they remain under the control of the Iraqi government with an adequate Iraqi security force presence; and
    • Build Iraqi Security Forces and the capacity of local institutions to deliver services, advance the rule of law, and nurture civil society.
  • The Economic Track involves setting the foundation for a sound and self-sustaining economy by helping the Iraqi government:
    • Restore Iraq's infrastructure to meet increasing demand and the needs of a growing economy;
    • Reform Iraq's economy, which in the past has been shaped by war, dictatorship, and sanctions, so that it can be self-sustaining in the future; and
    • Build the capacity of Iraqi institutions to maintain infrastructure, rejoin the international economic community, and improve the general welfare of all Iraqis.
It's right there, on paper, so why do they have such a problem communicating it? Maybe the administration is having difficulty distilling the message into a sound bite. But one thing is for sure, they better get busy or America may yet lose another war on the battleground of public opinion.

Open posted in Mudville.