Spin, The Sixth Domain of Warfare

A recent conversation exposed me to the concept of the domains of warfare, something about which I had thought very little if at all. They are the battlegrounds on which wars can be fought.

Presumably, these have evolved. Until the 20th century, wars could only be fought on land or at sea.

World War I made it possible for sporting gentleman in Europe to salute each other as they tried to shoot down their adversaries without splintering their own propellers. War in the air has evolved considerably since.

Not only are the sporting gentlemen no longer required, drones make it unnecessary for anyone actually to be in the air.

It was not until the 1960s that war in space began to be possible, but that too has evolved considerably over the ensuing half-century.

Now, we know that there is a fifth domain: cyberspace. Anything that uses computers and connectedness can be a field of battle.

As each of these has become more lethal, another domain has been building in importance.

Spin.

TB_01544_D_1000It appears that minds are rather easy to change if, as arguing spouses frequently remind, you just say it nicely. The art of doctoring the truth can be just as effective in getting your way as stone throwing, arrow shooting or any of their evolutionary successors.

Perhaps more so? Imagine if the carnage of World War I had been available for all to see in real time on any of the media to which we are now accustomed. It would have ended in months not years. Nobody likes a bully and one sided victories can prove unhelpful in the long-term.

There is no surprise to propaganda or political posturing, two excellent uses of spin that have gone on for centuries, but we are getting better at it.

In the past, learning how to lie was more guesswork and experience than science, but that is changing.

An unfortunate consequence is that spin replaces accomplishment, as we will surely see in the 2016 presidential election and the 2014 midterms.

We might be better off if we were not getting quite so good at it. Or if those who heard it were better able to defend themselves.

 

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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4 comments

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  • There was a time when the media (or some of it) could be relied upon to diminish the spin to a point at which the details of the rotating object could be well discerned by all who were interested in looking. Today, the mainstream (not to be confused with centrist) media not only doesn’t neutralize the spin, it adds fuel to accelerate it in a manner consistent with the particular editorial bias of the outlet. Fox News, MSNBC, The New York Times, among others, are no longer part of the solution. They are a huge part of the problem..

  • It all becomes easier as I get older. I’ve become a cynic which makes me immune to spin. Simply put, I either don’t believe any of it or I just don’t give a damn. Either insulates me from the chaos.