Richard North, 30/08/2013  

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Prime Minister David Cameron's Commons defeat over military intervention in Syria has prompted a wave of debate online, says the BBC. And and where does it go for this "debate"? The legacy media. In the United States, some independent blogs might once have had a hearing, but here the bubble dwellers have only ever listened to themselves.

These people really do not even begin to understand what is going on. Most probably, the result we saw in Parliament reflected the fact that the majority of MPs were still in their constituencies, and more exposed to their constituents – the public. Further, their e-mail in-boxes would have been groaning with people expressing their opposition, while the internet traffic was almost totally opposed to intervention.

The chatterati, therefore, are the spectators – they are no longer the opinion formers. This we see so often in comments threads, where the comment writers in some cases are better informed and differ from the legacy media writers. Most often, I scan the piece and read (some of) the comments with more care.

But within the media there is still that arrogance of office. Nothing is news until they say it is news, and no opinion is valid, or of merit, unless they articulate it - they think. But that is no longer the case. Even if the blogs have not lived up to their promise in the UK (largely through media and establishment sabotage), social media, and not forgetting humble e-mail circulation, is by-passing the self-appointed "opinion makers".

Then, the media and political bubble always were something of a closed loop, although here we have an egregious example. Outside the bubble, though, there is a real world. And these people haven't the first idea of what is happening in it, much less what it thinks.

Meanwhile, Autonomous Mind beat me to it, writing about the difference between intention and effect. Because you may be guided by humanitarian intentions does not mean that the outcome of your actions will necessarily be humanitarian.

There is a saying that covers this: the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. You would think that politicians – even Clegg – would be aware of thus. What matters is not the intent, but the effect. Less emoting and more thinking is required.

AM repeats my caution that military action should only be deployed to achieve a known or predictable effect, and students of the modern military will know of FRES – Future Rapid Effects System. That underlines the ethos of the military. Before every action, the objective is specified, but so is the purpose … the effect.

However, in the Middle East, the effects of Western intervention are to some extent predictable. Invariably, they lead to an escalation of violence, and more people die. Arguably, far more people died as a result of the invasion of Iraq than ever would have, had we not invaded – and that has certainly been the case in Afghanistan.

People have seen this for themselves, and are no longer taken in by politicians' rhetoric. In truth, they never really were, but now they have the mechanisms to discuss developments and share their opinions without relying on direct intervention from traditional media. The selection monopoly of the legacy media has been broken – the chatterati now has to compete like the rest of us to get its views heard.

And this is what the BBC and the legacy media really don't understand. They are dimly aware of it, and pay lip-service to it, but they still think they are in the opinion-forming business. Sadly (for them), as long as they listen mainly to themselves, they will never really "get it" – to use one of Mr Cameron's more inelegant phrases. They are just voices in the growing cacophony.


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