The Propaganda Advantage: Why the Terrorists Still Have It

The threat is not so much enemy capabilities as it is the U.S. inability and unwillingness to confront its own self-inflicted handicaps.

FR thread of the same title here.

Aren’t our non-state actors and NGO’s better than theirs?

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12 Comments

Filed under PSYOP

12 responses to “The Propaganda Advantage: Why the Terrorists Still Have It

  1. suek

    “The Pentagon is grappling with the concept of “strategic communication,” the gamut of public diplomacy, public affairs, public relations, international broadcasting, information operations, and psychological operations, but to date has been unable to devise an overarching information strategy. Neither has the State Department, which is the lead government agency responsible for waging the war of ideas.”

    The State Department is incapable of conducting propaganda. They can’t even seem to acknowledge that we are at war, much less counter it.

    It seems to me that there is a real difference between all of the other functions attributed to the Pentagon and the psyops, although psyops should plan and use all the other functions as needed. There needs to be a recognition that propaganda is an actual function of war, and there should be professionals in the field who plan it and execute it in a manner that is consistent with the goals of the military.

  2. There are sue. But they can only do it overseas.

    DOD implementation policies of Executive Order S-12333, United States Intelligence Activities; DOD Instructions S-3321.1, (S) Overt Psychological Operations Conducted by the Military Services in Peacetime and in Contingencies Short of Declared War (U); and National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 130, U.S. International Information Policy, direct that U.S. PSYOP forces will not target U.S. citizens at any time, in any location globally, or under any circumstances.

    We disarmed ourselves in the infowar decades ago.

  3. Some observers have stated that success in future conflicts will depend less on the will of governments, and more on the perceptions of populations, and that perception control will be achieved and opinions shaped by the warring group that
    best exploits the global media39. As a result of the increasingly sophisticated use of networks by terrorist groups and the potentially strong influence of messages carried
    by the global media, does DOD now view the Internet and the mainstream media as a possible threat to the success of U.S. military missions? How strongly will U.S. military PSYOP be used to manipulate public opinion, or reduce opposition to unpopular decisions in the future?

    Another emerging issue may be whether DOD is legislatively authorized to engage in PSYOP that may also affect domestic audiences.40 DOD Joint Publication 3-13, released February 2006, provides current doctrine for U.S. military Information
    Operations, and explains the importance of achieving information superiority.41 However, the DOD Information Operations Roadmap, published October 2003, states that PSYOP messages intended for foreign audiences increasingly are consumed by the U.S. domestic audience, usually because they can be re-broadcast through the global media. The Roadmap document states that, “…the distinction between foreign and domestic audiences becomes more a question of USG (U.S. Government) intent rather than information dissemination practices (by DOD).”42

    This may be interpreted to mean that DOD has no control over who consumes
    PSYOP messages once they are re-transmitted by commercial media.

    Information Operations, Electronic Warfare, and Cyberwar: Capabilities and Related Policy Issues

  4. If that is really the case (and I don’t doubt that it is) then the Civilian Irregulars are even more important. Even though each of us individually may not make a huge difference, there IS power in numbers. The more people who speak out, the greater the likelihood that we will be heard. IMHO.

  5. suek

    >>…direct that U.S. PSYOP forces will not target U.S. citizens at any time, in any location globally, or under any circumstances.>>

    Ok…so they don’t want the military using propaganda on the citizens of their own country. I _think_ I understand that…someone’s afraid that the military will whip the civilians up into a frenzy for a war that the military wants, for some reason but politicians don’t. Fat chance.
    Anyway…ok…so you need two psyops operations – one for the other side, and one for the home guys. The home guys can only do their thing when the military is actively engaged in some foreign country….how about that? The operation for the other side works pretty much all the time, with an intent of avoiding conflict if possible, or destroying morale of the bad guys if not. The home guys go into operation during times of conflict in order to counter the civilian propagandists – meaning the MSM – and encourage any and all forms of media to support morale of both the civilians and the military at home.
    The problem is that all bureaucracy is inefficient. The military itself is bad, but civilian bureaucracy is even worse – so who controls either or both organizations? The military is pretty easy, but to be honest, I just don’t trust the civilian bureacracy for this – they get too infested with naysayers who lack the decisiveness for this sort of thing. It would have to be a special organization, established on a temporary basis, answering only to the president, I think.

    And Congress would never approve it – unless it had some devious name so that they didn’t really know what it was.

    You know…if you have a permissable PR function, how can you direct that psyops won’t be directed at the home team? How do you define information as propaganda or non-propaganda? If you make a judgement that the MSM _isn’t_ propaganda, then couldn’t you also make the judgement that informational PR releases by the military that are beneficial are also not propaganda? Isn’t there implicit in that rule (above) that propaganda is non-truthful? I think we need to look at the various facets of propaganda a bit more carefully.

    And, by the way, if we’re not permitted to target the home team with propaganda, and if it’s assumed that propaganda is by definition some sort of untruth, then shouldn’t there be some way to limit the propaganda directed at the home team by the various MSM outlets? Even if no more than equal size type in correction items, with placement on same page requirements (you know, like requiring a correction of an incorrect headline on page 1 above the fold to also be a headline on page 1 above the fold instead of small print at the bottom of page 18 of section C)

  6. The problem with retractions, Sue, is that either they just don’t happen (see Gateway Pundit’s Quagmire post or Cannoneer’s post about it here) OR they don’t have the intended results…or maybe that’s what the Enemedia is counting on.

  7. sue,

    The home guys can only do their thing when the military is actively engaged in some foreign country….how about that?

    Define actively engaged. Are US Special Forces in the Philippines actively engaged? Djibouti? The Navy in international waters in the Indian Ocean outside the terriorial limits of Somalia? And having defined what actively engaged means, do the home guys get to do their thing against ALL hostile propaganda, or just that originating in the foreign country in which we are actively engaged?

    The problem is that all bureaucracy is inefficient. The military itself is bad, but civilian bureaucracy is even worse – so who controls either or both organizations?

    Our Chief Executive supposedly exercises some control, as does Congress with the power of the purse. The reality is that the senior career bureaucrats are really in charge. Always have been, and barring revolutionary change in our system of government, always will be.

    how can you direct that psyops won’t be directed at the home team?

    Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Executive Orders don’t have to make sense. Propaganda is BAAAD, so us good guys don’t do it.

    How do you define information as propaganda or non-propaganda?

    If you don’t like it, it’s propaganda.

    If you make a judgement that the MSM _isn’t_ propaganda, then couldn’t you also make the judgement that informational PR releases by the military that are beneficial are also not propaganda?

    That would be very judgemental of you. Anything that is “beneficial” would be called propaganda by those who oppose anything beneficial as detracting from the dominant gloom and doom.

    Isn’t there implicit in that rule (above) that propaganda is non-truthful?

    The word itself has become a perjorative and negatively blocks our thinking on what is is, how to use it, and how to defend against it. The word “propaganda” stimulates a Pavlovian response in Americans to disbelieve and distrust any overt use of it, particularly by the American government or military. That’s a psychological warfare coup the Nazis and Soviets bequeathed to the Islamicists.

    shouldn’t there be some way to limit the propaganda directed at the home team by the various MSM outlets?

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. There is a way. Repeal the First Amendment.

  8. Propaganda is the art of persuasion and convincing people that the beliefs you got them to believe came from their own minds and will. It didn’t, but that’s excellent persuasion for you.

  9. For example, inspirational speeches would be part of propaganda. Given that you are giving strength to another, another teammember, which has drained his own strength to the dregs. There is nothing wrong with that, for your strength is his strength and his strength is your strength. When one member of a team is weak, all members of a team is weak.

    Enemy propaganda seeks to demoralize and sap our strength and make us believe that it was our team members or ourselves that were the culprit. It doesn’t have to be true, but the best propaganda is true for it has affected human perception to the point that humans are creating self-fullfilling prophecies.

  10. Propaganda operations should be targeted against Americans by Americans, same as coaches give inspirational speeches or try to keep a player from suiciding. it is the same thing people.

    Propaganda operations against enemies have the goal of destroying the enemy or weakening him, not helping him. If you help the enemy with your propaganda operations, then by definition he is NOT your enemy.

    The Japanese proved that the best way to fortify people’s will and psyche is to tell them the truth. Churchill as well. Tell people the truth, prepare them for the worst, and they will be better able to resist failures, enemy propaganda, and so forth. If you give the expectatin that you are expecting have 5 carriers sunk, and then you end up with only 1 sunk, then people are naturally optimistic even in reacting to a disastrous event.

  11. Nowadays if the President attempted to prepare the American people for the possibility of a naval engagement in which 5 carriers could be lost and only one was the cry would be “Bush lied, and only 5, 680 died.”

    The Japanese were big truth-tellers?

  12. The reverse in WWII. Their domestic propaganda was a bunch of lies. Which meant that when Hirohito surrendered after the atomic bombs and when Doolittle did his raid, there was severe morale damage and the breakdown in the will to fight.

    The Doolittle was temporary, Hiroshima/Nagasaki was permanent.

    Telling lies to your own people is counter-productive, really.