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The botched Pentagon propaganda programme

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The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is concerned about the funds mobilized by the Department of Defense (DoD) for propaganda purposes. Indeed, the Pentagon budget is extravagant compared to that of the Department of State on whose prerogatives the DoD has been worming in for the past 7 years.

In 2010, the Defense Secretary had asked Congress for nearly one billion dollars for "strategic communications" and "information operations". However, some effective lobbying by the Secretary of State induced US lawmakers to slash the budget virtually in half.

Against the backdrop of this administrative war, the NED published a report blasting the Defense Department for its mismanagement and complete lack of know-how. The military apparently thought they could launch newspapers the way they launch rockets. They paid subcontractors to deliver turnkey media, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq, which never drew any readers. Simultaneously, they infected the media with the overcharging practices and astronomical salaries prevailing within the military-industrial complex.

The Pentagon created numerous newspapers in the Muslim world, especially in the countries it occupies militarily. Like in Western countries, such a profusion suggests a plurality of opinion, when it actually represents a plurality of vectors to disseminate a single point of view.

Furthermore, a large slice of the funds were used to create internet sites rivalling State Department radio and TV stations (Voice of America, Al-Hurra, Radio Marti, etc.): Info sur Hoy (English, Spanish and Portuguese) Central Asia Online (English, Russian, Farsi and Urdu), Al-Shorfa (English, Farsi), Mawtani (Arabic), South East Times (English, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Greek, Hungarian, Macedonian, Romanian, Serb, Turkish) and MaghArebia (English, French and Arabic).

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The Pentagon, Information Operations, and International Media Development, by Peter Cary. A Report to the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA), a project of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Novembre 2010. (46 p., 730 Ko).

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