Thought, speech, persuasion, an incessant appeal for clear intentions, clear statements for the dispelling of suspicion, and the abandonment of secrecy and trickery; there is work for every man who writes or talks and has the slightest influence upon another creature.

The War of the Mind 

All the realities of this war are things of the mind. This is a conflict of cultures, and nothing else in the world. All the world-wide pain and weariness, fear and anxieties, the bloodshed and destruction, the innumerable torn bodies of men and horses, the stench of putrefaction, the misery of hundreds of millions of human beings, the waste of mankind, are but the material consequences of a false philosophy and foolish thinking. We fight not to destroy a nation, but a nest of evil ideas.
 

. . . The real task of mankind is to get better sense into the heads of these Germans, and therewith and thereby into the heads of humanity generally, and to end not simply a war, but the idea of war. What printing and writing and talking have done, printing and writing and talking can undo. Let no man be fooled by bulk and matter. Rifles do but kill men, and fresh men are born to follow them. Our business is to kill ideas. The ultimate purpose of this war is propaganda, the destruction of certain beliefs, and the creation of others. It is to this propaganda that reasonable men must address themselves.

. . . Our grievance is the grievance of every decent life-loving German, of every German mother and sweetheart who watched her man go off under his incompetent leaders to hardship and mutilations and death. And our propaganda against the Prussian idea has to be no vile argument to the pocket, but an appeal to the common sense and common feeling of humanity. We have to clear the heads of the Germans, and keep the heads of our own people clear about this war.

. . . I could wish we had a Government capable of something more articulate than ” Wait and see! ” a Government that dared confess a national intention to all the world. For what a Government says is audible to all the world. King George, too, has the ear of a thousand million people. If he saw fit to say simply and clearly what it is we fight for and what we seek, his voice would be heard universally, through Germany, through all America. No other voice has such penetration. He is, he has told us, watching the war with interest, but that is not enough; we could have guessed that, knowing his spirit. As a nation, we need expression that shall reach the other side. But our Government is, I fear, one of those that obey necessity; it is only very reluctantly creative; it rests, therefore, with us who, outside all formal government, represent the national will and intention, to take this work into our hands.
 

Never before has the world seen clearly as it now sees clearly, the role of thought in the making of war. This new conception carries with it the corollary of an entirely new campaign.     — H. G. Wells, 1914

It rests, therefore, with us.  We are the Triarii.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Thought, speech, persuasion, an incessant appeal for clear intentions, clear statements for the dispelling of suspicion, and the abandonment of secrecy and trickery; there is work for every man who writes or talks and has the slightest influence upon another creature.

  1. 1914. Wow.

    9 What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
    10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
    It has already been,
    in the ages before us.
    11 The people of long ago are not remembered,
    nor will there be any remembrance
    of people yet to come
    by those who come after them.

    Ecclesiastes Chapter 1

  2. JB

    Outstanding post. Funny how much stays the same.

  3. Well, hey, JB! Thanks for the encouragement. I am overjoyed that you prioritized your surfing time to include a look at this unknown blog. Hope you didn’t have to do it from MWR. Do they even have an MWR when you’re inside the wire?

    Next time you get a chance take a look at

    Distributed IO by PSYOP Auxiliaries and Volunteer Counterpropagandists and tell me what you think.

    I just stumbled upon that H. G. Wells piece totally by accident and was amazed at the parallels to today. History doesn’t repeat itself exactly, but trends come in cycles.

  4. Good point, Star. But Ecclesiastes is still remembered, and quoted.

    I know 20-year old Marines who remember stuff that happened in 480 BC.

  5. It’s just amazing to me how so often we think a situation is all new and has never been faced before. And then we find out otherwise. That Ecclesiastes quote always comes to mind.

  6. Technology changes, but human psychology changes much more slowly. Leading people in war hasn’t changed near as much as most people think. There are lessons to be learned from the conflicts of the past, but the happy medium between “History is bunk” and “History repeats itself” must be found to get the lesson.

  7. I know 20-year old Marines who remember stuff that happened in 480 BC.

    Most Marines would find Thermopylae to be a core tradition to learn. Greek to Roman to Briton to American. It is just as much part of their tradition as Saipan and Gaudacanal.

  8. JB

    Hey this site is one of the few I RSS. I think our biggest problem is IO. We are great at fighting. We have those that know UW even though someone else always runs it but we are terrible at IO and it’s literally killing us. These days IO is not just on the battlefield either.

  9. JB

    BTW if you think this is an unknown site you should see my sitecounter..lol But then I really can’t write much about what I know or see so it really hurts posting.

  10. Well JB, I am overjoyed that you RSS this site. People like you are my most sought target audience. Irregulars attempting to conduct IO in support of Domestic Internal Defense can benefit from discrete advice.

    I feel your pain about not being able to write about what you know and what you see. I’ve been back from TQ 3 months and most of what I wish I could have written about at the time is all OBE now.

  11. I hope this isn’t too far off topic, Cannoneer…

    We Need Spy Blogs: An Army officer calls for better information gathering, by Alexander, in Wired, Mar 2005

    * The first step toward reform: Encourage blogging on Intelink. When I Google “Afghanistan blog” on the public Internet, I find 1.1 million entries and tons of useful information. But on Intelink there are no blogs. Imagine if the experts in every intelligence field were turned loose – all that’s needed is some cheap software. It’s not far-fetched to picture a top-secret CIA blog about al Qaeda, with postings from Navy Intelligence and the FBI, among others. Leave the bureaucratic infighting to the agency heads. Give good analysts good tools, and they’ll deliver outstanding results.

    * And why not tap the brainpower of the blogosphere as well? The intelligence community does a terrible job of looking outside itself for information. From journalists to academics and even educated amateurs – there are thousands of people who would be interested and willing to help. Imagine how much traffic an official CIA Iraq blog would attract. If intelligence organizations built a collaborative environment through blogs, they could quickly identify credible sources, develop a deep backfield of contributing analysts, and engage the world as a whole. How cool would it be to gain “trusted user” status on a CIA blog?

    I found that here. It seems to me that this is an instance of the gov’t looking into engaging the blogosphere-at-large.

  12. I remember reading that. The author thinks much more highly of AKO than I do.

    The Information Assurance people would make them do that on the Secret Internet Protocol Router , but something similar could already be happening by now.