You have to appreciate the rich irony of people trying to sway opinion in PsyOps (information operations) failing to do so at home and instead installing a crude political shortcut to push operations faster without convincing anyone…
It is easier to get permission to put a Hellfire missile on the forehead of a terrorist than it is to get permission to put an idea between his ears.
And the obvious reason why there was a difference was because permission to kill someone is a far clearer request than dropping, and I quote an actual information operation here, “an image highly offensive to both Muslims and the religion of Islam”.
Why authorize something with unknown or unpredictable outcomes? Asking whether should someone be killed is a much simpler calculus than asking for authorization to persuade others, I mean if outcomes are meant to be measured and held up for scrutiny. You know when someone is dead. Do you know when someone is persuaded as intended?
Pompeo in this story sounds very much like an impatient tyrant (“executive privilege” addiction syndrome), unable to work with others or convince them of anything, with a clear lack of moral decency or responsibility.
He seems so bad at basic science, so unable to do the hard work of socially engineering things to have lasting value (required in the nuanced word of psychology and influence), that his big answer to difficult questions in life was to yell louder and ignore feedback.
Thus, if someone were to point out in advance of the operation that a target would be highly offended and an operation would fail on its first run, Pompeo’s likely would have removed the messenger to push a go button anyway and ignore the disasters.
“When we make a mistake with a kinetic strike, it can be catastrophic — wedding parties, things like that where mistakes are made in targeting,” [David Maxwell, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and retired Special Forces colonel] said. “Whereas if we make a mistake in the information realm, the news cycle is going to move on. We can recover from an information mistake. A kinetic mistake, the victims of it can’t recover.”
“We can recover”? Says who?
Sorry Colonel Maxwell that’s just flat wrong. While it’s true you can’t come back from being dead, there’s also no proof you can magically recover from blown PsyOps.
Think of it this way. If a news cycle moves on, the PsyOps failed in one particular way (like a gun jammed instead of firing). If the news cycle never moves on, a PsyOps operation actually worked, however you might have failed to have it work in the way intended (like a gun shooting the wrong person).
And then there’s the blended issue, where a kinetic mistake is a symptom of a PsyOps mistake — George Floyd’s death (despite systemic racism and so many other black men in America regularly being killed in the same way) isn’t just a news cycle that moves on.
Did white policemen think it was easier to get permission to put a knee on the neck of a black man than it was to get permission to put an idea between his ears? Apparently.
Yet the death of Floyd was called out eventually as an information operation (e.g. it’s harmful to allow a narrative that Americans are killing themselves when clearly they are being suffocated by white nationalist domestic terrorists) and the question isn’t just whether Floyd can’t recover, but whether policing in America now faces an information realm failure that will take a long time to overcome.