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Umair Haque lists his ten rules for 5G warfare (network v network) and uses the current health care debate as an illustration (in his case, teasing out how President Obama’s administration can turn the tide in the information war).  Regardless of where you sit on this issue the post makes some interesting points, but I see at least two problems with it:

  • First, Umari notes that President Obama’s opponents are using “lengthy, wordy messages — seriously inefficient communications” and that he should use microchunks (small, Twitter-like messages) to counter those messages. To me, the theory is right but his empirics are wrong. Short, quick, memorable phrases are being used to either draw explicit opposition to reform or to create serious doubt and concern in the minds of voters (e.g. “death panels”, “rationing”, etc.)–and it is working. I fail to see how opponents are mired in ‘lengthy, wordy messages’. In fact, this has long been a strength of the Republicans and a weakness of the Democrats;
  • Second, Umari argues for “normalizing” the practice of information warfare–meaning, the administration should spend time pointing out that their opponents are violating norms of good behavior and debate by utilizing “smears and misinformation”. Again, I haven’t study it closely, but if memory serves me I am not aware of a great deal of evidence for the notion that pointing out your political opponents aren’t playing by the rules in terms of ads, talking points, etc, has ever turned the tide in a national policy debate. In theory, this could be the case, but empirically there is scant evidence, particularly in American Politics. Additionally, there are opportunity costs to focusing on both substance and process and I don’t think Umari can make the case that the benefit to be gained by focusing on norms is all that robust
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