Friday, June 19, 2009

Voices Heard

Iranians using Twitter, Facebook and You Tube have gotten the attention of the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Please see my blog entry from a couple of days ago on this subject: Tehran: Terror in Terabytes.
In their press conference on Thursday, June 18, Secretary Gates said that New Media capabilities are a major blow to authoritarian governments.
"It's a huge win for freedom, around the world, because this monopoly of information is no longer in the hands of the government," said Secretary Gates.
Admiral Mullen said that it was important for commanders to be connected, siting his own Facebook page as an example.
"I think communicating that way and moving information around that way -- whether it's administrative information or information in warfare -- is absolutely critical," stated the Chairman.
It was an excellent press conference. The transcript is at the following link:
The video is at the DefenseLink homepage.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tehran: Trouble in Terabytes

At the Air Force Worldwide PA Conference in March I opened the conference with the following line: Revolutions don't start at the top. For better or worse, that's where they end.

Far be it from me to categorize what's going on in Tehran now as a revolution but I think it's important to examine one of the reasons why protests continue to occur in Iran's capital over the recent elections.

It's being reported today in several media outlets that wired Iranians are using Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Flickr to fan the flames in opposition of the contested election.

Here's my favorite paragraph from a story in describing what's going on in Iran: In an interview to al-Jazeera, Saeed Shariati, one of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's reformist opponents, said: "For us the internet is like the air force in a military operation. It bombards the enemy's outposts and lays the ground for the invasion of the infantries – our activists, to win the battle."

The Iranian government quickly blocked Facebook and Twitter so the activists weapon of choice became the text message. More than 110 million were sent before the government figured out they needed to shut-down that capability too.

Now they're using photos and video taken at the violent rallies and moving them via phone to web sites outside the country which are then being posted quickly. Their efforts are no doubt having an impact on world opinion.

As I've stated before, the technology we have today has given "everyman" a voice that's louder and stronger than ever before. It will be interesting how the events in Tehran play out--for better or worse.