- - Monday, July 28, 2014

Pleading with the international community to note the moral distinction between predator and prey, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on FOX News Sunday: “We are using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

But chillingly, that was an understatement – and the Western media has blood on its hands.

Welcome to the rise of Corpse PR.

It was the Vietnam War that shattered the paradigm. During the days of our Greatest Generation – and all the generations that preceded – technological limitations kept information at a sword’s distance. Rumors and whispers slithered like snakes in civilian quarters, but the ultimate litmus test was the battlefield.

Did we win or lose?

Nations traditionally won public support by winning battles, and they lost public support when they were defeated. It was that simple: Win the war and keep the costs manageable. The public will follow.

On a certain emotional level, war has always been a battle for hearts and minds, but for most of human history, hearts and minds were secured by victory. Public support and military success were inexorably intertwined.

Vietnam was the first war in which moral outrage was a military tactic wielded via mass communication. By transporting the realities of war to American television sets, our nation’s will to fight was weakened. Accusations of war crimes date back to pre-Biblical conflicts, but when these allegations are accompanied by video, they’re impossible to dismiss. Such is the visceral grandeur of images.

Alas, images are also very easy to manipulate.

An image is a symbol, and symbols are inherently meaningless… until you give them meaning. The new sphere of combat is the PR battle to cement an image’s meaning amongst our media gatekeepers, because that’s the key to propagandizing the masses. A shocking image can trigger any number of powerful emotions, and how society’s gatekeepers frame these emotions – specifically, the contextual narrative that accompanies bloody images – is the new frontier of modern warfare.

It’s an especially attractive tactic for terrorists because:

1. There’s minimal personal risk when the victims are civilians (and terrorists have never minded dead civilians).

2. It’s inexpensive. Rockets and bombs cost millions; a Twitter pic of a dead body costs nothing.

3. The mainstream media’s mantra of “if it bleeds, it leads” has turned Corpse PR into a weapon capable of achieving objectives that are otherwise militarily unattainable.

But reason #3 doesn’t have to be.

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