Sustaining West European support in Afghanistan – the CIA’s view
The WikiLeaked CIA Red Cell Special Memorandum on “Sustaining West European Support” for the Afghan war is disturbing. It’s not so much the function of the document. After all, it’s basically a standard PR document of the type that all large companies produce under crisis management; and we tend to accept that business needs to do this. No, this is disturbing because of the cynicism involved in national manipulation and the end product of the ‘business’: war and death.
The document starts:
The fall of the Dutch Government over its troop commitment to Afghanistan demonstrates the fragility of European support for the NATO-led ISAF mission.
and the first three paragraphs headings explain both the problem and the perceived solution:
Public Apathy Enables Leaders To Ignore Voters. . .
. . . But Casualties Could Precipitate Backlash
Tailoring Messaging Could Forestall or At Least Contain Backlash
At one level it is a fascinating discussion of European attitudes. It talks about France and Germany, the third and fourth largest troop providers to the war. In both countries it is the women who are considered the weak or danger point. While women are anti-war, men are either apathetic or vaguely supportive. The French concern is over civilians and refugees. The German concern is more pragmatic: they are “worried about price and principle”.
But all is not lost, the force for change still has some ‘traction’:
The confidence of the French and German publics in President Obama’s ability to handle foreign affairs in general and Afghanistan in particular suggest that they would be receptive to his direct affirmation of their importance to the ISAF mission—and sensitive to direct expressions of disappointment in allies who do not help.
Does this mean that the Americans believe that Europe supports America because it believes in Obama? Oh dear, no. The CIA believes that it can manipulate European loss of favour with Obama to its advantage:
European hand wringing about the President’s lack of attendance at a EU summit and commentary that his absence showed that Europe counted for less suggests that worry about European standing with Washington might provide at least some leverage for sustaining contributions to ISAF.
But I have to admit that it is not the mind-numbing cynicism of this document that worries me most: it is the absence of any need to bolster support in the UK. What does this mean? Does the CIA believe that it has the UK Government so deeply in its pocket that the UK support is a permanent given? Does it mean that the CIA believes it can do no better a job at disinformation and public manipulation than its UK counterparts and the UK government? Think of the Blair/Campbell public manipulation, and any of the lies and falsehoods that have come out of our current government. For me, the biggest concern about this document is that it shows the Americans already consider the UK to be the 51st State.