Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Message Mismanagement FTW

The government of Canada has insisted in restricting access to the soldiers and pilots operating in and over Iraq (and now over Syria).  No pictures of faces as that would provide the bad guys with people they can target at home down the road.  Well, unless one is making a campaign video for the Prime Minister.

This is not just hypocrisy but an abuse of power.  That is, the government can violate its own rules as long as it is for promoting the Prime Minister.  This is part of a larger problem that has become my obsession lately--the ability for various folks in and out of the Canadian government to know what is going on so that they can evaluate the PM, his Minister of Defence and put pressure on these folks. 

Managing the messages is good for Harper's election chances but bad for democracy and civilian control of the military.  This one incident demonstrates all of this quite clearly: the PM has a big advantage--information.  And this is perhaps the least subtle and perhaps least relevant way that this advantage is deployed. 

I will be expressing some of my frustrations with this in Lessons Learned: The Politics of Canada's War in Afghanistan, my next book, due out of U of Toronto Press either late this year or early in 2016.  And this information problem is at the heart of my new project--comparing the roles played by legislatures in civil-military relations around the world.

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