Even in the Situation Room, the Medium is the Message

Buried within this NY Times post about how some Clinton administration verterans on Obama’s transition team are surprised at some of the changes within the White House is an interesting discussion about how the reliance on real-time video links between the President and field commanders has affected the nature of their discourse:

[S]everal veterans of the White House have noted in conversations over the past two years that the secure video does not lend itself to open, vigorous debate. Instead, it can squelch it. The picture is being piped into too many places; field commanders don’t want to speak their mind to the president if their immediate superiors at the Pentagon or Central Command are tuned in, too. There may be recordings for posterity, or presidential libraries.

One recently departed National Security Council official noted earlier this year that in his view, the problem is that the system is largely in the hands of war-fighters; only on a rare day, and only toward the end of his presidency, did members of Provincial Reconstruction Teams and other aid workers involved in nation-building pop up on Mr. Bush’s screen.

“The technology tends to skew the nature of the advice you hear,” this former N.S.C. member said, declining to speak on the record because the sessions he witnessed were classified. “You spend a lot more time talking about hitting a house of full of bad guys in Waziristan than you do talking about why our effort to build schools and roads is moving so slowly.”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s