Sunday, June 13, 2010

Supporting Troops

I'm using "troops" rather loosely, to mean roving bands or remotely deployed teams of experts ("away teams").

When I was a young boy, a "troop" was a multiplicity of soldiers, only later reducing to a singular individual, i.e. a "trooper" became a "troop". Other linguists have remarked on this trend.

Later still came "An Army of One" (a marketing campaign).

The idea of embedding journalists or chroniclers (log makers, bloggers) as a part of the away team was a post-Vietnam War development.

A perception had developed around the Pentagon that too many journalists were loose canons and were seeing and reporting on events they should not, such as atrocities, murders of innocents, the agony of the troops.

The hellish nature of war motivated an insistence that it stop. Television played a big role. Young people (Global U students) especially resisted accepting their work / study assignments overseas. Others rebelled once they arrived at the scene.

A system of self-censorship was set up such that the media today are much more self-controlled. Pictures of atrocities get passed around on memory sticks, often mixed with pornography, but the general public is mostly spared from vicariously experiencing the horror of war.

Reporters violating the new code of ethics lose privileged access, and are punished for betraying their roving band, with whom they should have bonded to form a seamless team.

In the meantime, the public has been trained to harden itself against disturbing imagery, to become more accepting of inhumane behavior (witness Gitmo etc.).

Per C.G. Jung's posthumously published Man and His Symbols (which I borrowed from the Quaker meetinghouse today, along with Uncovered: the War in Iraq) people have the ability to "lose their souls" by means of various ego-dynamics. There's a picture of a band of Australian aborigines suffering from soul loss, amidst psychological analysis.

A TV-watching public sinks into unconsciousness under the watchful management of its spin-doctor anesthetizers, who continually remix the memes to keep the war tolerable and securely remunerative for its sponsors.

Lots of comparing notes occurs among the spin doctors, with secondary sources echoing primary ones in disseminating the latest bewitchments (the great Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein used this term "bewitch" in a technical sense, in the context of investigating the hypnotic powers of "language games").

Some of the troops I'm thinking about have been thankfully reassigned to perform humanitarian duties, such as during the tsunami in South Asia. A lot of the same national guard type logistical skills pertain.

Coordination and planning, command centers and communications, all come into play. Some of the same military bases play a role.

The overlap is such that it's not always obvious which troops are engaged in which operations, or whether these ops are "special" or "covert" in any way.

In these pro-human operations, the embedded chroniclers are often keen to get the images and words out to a public, not just to show the heroism of the troops, but to garner public support in the form of actual goods and services.

Once a need becomes clear, sponsors step forward, either as individuals, as private companies, or as government agencies.

People at home or in coffee shops may wire funds directly, and take credit for doing so, on Facebook or whatever. Perhaps they send other forms of support (such as I've been doing, and chronicling on Facebook).

The chroniclers (bloggers, TV crews, filmmakers) are not under such pressure to keep the lid on their stories, as there's less fear of a negative backlash or reprisals. I'm not "spilling the beans" so much as "sharing the beans" (insider philosophy talk).

This image of civilians supporting humanitarian services from behind the front lines derives from many a war-time design pattern. People spend their time and energy making uniforms, boots, meals, other equipment for these troops.

In today's high tech military, a single troop is a million dollar investment over time, in terms of training, transport and equipment.

This high level of investment towards humanitarian endeavors marks a big step towards the amelioration of specific problems in many areas of the world. That same sense of good will flows towards the sponsors, for supporting the troops.

Yes, the military is a wealth redistribution and government jobs program. This is not news.

Having some of the programming serve humanitarian ends only means that the endeavor is somehow profitable to humanity.

Some characterize this difference as "adding intelligence" which might imply sponsorship by specific government agencies. Let's see which ones take credit.