I have a piece up today at the Columbia Journalism Review, tracking the current media campaign to convince us Kandahar is a success story:
These sorts of coordinated media campaigns—called “messaging” in military parlance—have been going on for years. Two years ago, I wrote in CJR about another such campaign. At that time, the military had spent a year trying to convince the public that paving the roads in Afghanistan would somehow lead to fewer IEDs and better security. In reality, security has become significantly worse in every respect—and in some cases it has become worse because of those very roads we paved. In 2008, too, the messaging campaign followed the same pattern we saw in Marjah, and what we see now in Kandahar: upbeat pronouncements about how this policy will work this time, it’s defeating the Taliban, we’re making progress, we learned from our mistakes, and so on.