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Propaganda in Theory and Practice

Propaganda in Theory and Practice



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Published by Lehav
"If you give a man the correct information for seven years, he may believe the incorrect information on the first day of the eighth year when it is necessary, from your point of view, that he should do so. Your first job is to build the credibility and authenticity of your propaganda, and persuade the enemy to trust you although you are his enemy."

(A Psychological Warfare Casebook, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1958, at page 38.)
"If you give a man the correct information for seven years, he may believe the incorrect information on the first day of the eighth year when it is necessary, from your point of view, that he should do so. Your first job is to build the credibility and authenticity of your propaganda, and persuade the enemy to trust you although you are his enemy."

(A Psychological Warfare Casebook, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1958, at page 38.)

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Published by: Lehav on Jul 31, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Propaganda in Theory and Practice
"If you give a man the correct information for seven years, he may believe the incorrectinformation on the first day of the eighth year when it is necessary, from your point of view, that heshould do so. Your first job is to build the credibility and authenticity of your propaganda, andpersuade the enemy to trust you although you are his enemy."(A Psychological Warfare Casebook, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1958, at page 38.)Most people associate propaganda with advertising, with partisan opinion heard on talk shows, or with a zealous Sunday morning radio preacher. Indeed, all of these are forms of propaganda, butfor the most part they are the least harmful kind because the audience recognizes them as such.The advertiser, for example, clearly wants to sell something, and is trying to keep a particular product or service on the minds of the audience or to make it more appealing to potentialconsumers. Political commentary is nearly always recognized as such, and while it is intended topersuade its audience, it is far more useful as a means to inform or inspire those already inagreement with the speaker. And audiences likewise recognize that religious programming isintended as much to motivate followers to take a particular course of action (such as donatingmoney) as it is to change the spiritual orientation of non-believers. Thus, they are convinced toembrace the ideas of the speakers or to follow their instructions only if they are already inclined todo so.But there are other types of communication that are far more intrusive -- precisely becauseaudiences tend not to recognize them as propaganda.One example might be false or incomplete news reporting, presented as truth or objective fact.Reports that war has broken out nearby or that a highly-contagious and deadly disease isspreading among the local population would certainly produce a more immediate reaction amonglarge numbers of people than would a commercial for a "new and better" laundry soap or apreacher's plea for money to keep himself on the air.Another way in which propaganda can turn around an unwilling audience is through the processof repetition. At the end of World War II, for example, the people of the United States were notinclined to worry very much about an invasion by the Soviet Union. After all, the Russians hadbeen America s allies during the war. But as the country launched the most massive arms build-up in the history of the world, the Soviet "threat" was stressed again and again -- by governmentoperatives and military leaders, who were soon joined by vast numbers of private organizations,political commentators, intellectuals, entertainers, and, of course, the news media.Though the messages may have differed from one another -- and probably even more sobecause they did -- the sheer volume of these warnings and the diversity of the sources involvedserved to confirm in people s minds the reality of the threat. Slogans like "the iron curtain" helpedaudiences to visualize the "danger." And by the 1950s, bomb shelters and air raid drills wereadded to the psychological arsenal -- orchestrated not so much to protect the country as to bringabout active participation and thus to raise the level of hysteria.The resulting climate of fear justified rapid expansion of military research and arms stockpiling, aswell as active combat in far-away places like Korea. Indeed, it was not until people actually sawthe brutality of battle on their television screens during the Vietnam conflict that the notion of a"defensive" war on the far side of the globe began to be questioned. So profound, in fact, was theimpact of propaganda in the anti-communist era that even after the collapse of the USSR, a largepart of the population still wants to believe that America "survived" a great crisis.
Indeed, as can be seen from the cold war generally -- and from such incidents as the Cubanmissile crisis -- intensive, long-term propaganda tends to be self-fulfilling. Like the arms race thataccompanied it, the anti-Soviet mania helped hostilities to flourish and multiply.And while the propaganda of the anti-communist era was designed to facilitate the developmentof a global US military presence, other types of propaganda are directed more toward socialbehavior or group loyalties. This was the case in later years of the cold war, when the ideologicalbattleground shifted from Europe to the developing or "non-aligned" world.
Covert Operations
Harry Rositzke, a retired chief at the Central Intelligence Agency, described the situation is a 1977book called The CIA s Secret Operations: Espionage, Counterespionage, and Covert Action:"During the fifties these covertly sponsored activities sounded many of the themes thatpermeated American official and unofficial propaganda. Politics was reduced to a simple black-and-white formula of East or West, slavery or freedom... [para.] In the late fifties, and during thesixties, as the American propaganda effort shifted to the third world, this simple general line hadto be tempered for the new non-capitalist audiences.... [para.] Covert propaganda operations inthe third world were, in effect, a fight for the media... Foreign editors and columnists wererecruited, newspapers and magazines subsidized, press services supported. Propagandistsranged from paid agents to friendly collaborators, from liberal and socialist anti-Communists tosimple right-wingers. Facts, themes, editorial outlines, model essays were sent out to third worldstations to be reworked for local consumption. Hot stories were published in friendly outlets andreplayed around the globe...." (The CIA s Secret Operations: Espionage, Counterespionage, andCovert Action by Harry Rositzke, 1988 edition, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, at page 162.)The enormous cost of a large-scale foreign propaganda offensive -- establishing contacts,recruiting agents, underwriting news operations, establishing front groups, laundering funds,developing messages and themes, concealing the reality of foreign involvement, and at the sametime making certain that the "proper ideas" were aired conspicuously in a style appropriate to thelocal peoples -- can only be justified on the grounds that certain attitudes could be planted whichotherwise would never have been favored by the targets. In other words, the audience is lulledinto believing something -- or doing something or supporting something -- that otherwise wouldhave been rejected as being against group self-interest.The fact that the audience is carefully and systematically led to a particular set of beliefs isespecially dangerous because the source of the ideology -- and the motives of the sponsor -- isnot known to the recipients of the messages. In fact, use of local collaborators, clandestinefinancing of indigenous news operations, and the like, only confirms that the propaganda has tobe falsely-attributed in order to be credible. The message, in other words, is made believable by the fact that it appears to come from within the target population itself. This is what is known as"covert" or "subversive" propaganda and "black operations." And it is generally acknowledged thatmuch of what is conveyed through such campaigns consists of false information.As Rositzke notes in his memoir, “Black operations ... are designed to be attributed to the other side and must be carried out by a secret agency in order to hide the actual source of thepropaganda. A black radio purportedlybroadcasting from Central Asia or a forged document purportedly coming out of the classified filesof a Soviet embassy requires expertise, secret funds, and anonymous participants." (Rositzke,op. cit., at page 163.)Propaganda of this nature, especially if carried out over a long period of time and with the intentto achieve specific social or political changes, is usually part of a larger conquest called "political
warfare" -- and is almost sure to be accompanied by diplomatic pressures against nationalleaders, economic actions (e.g., foreign economic or military aid), cultural intervention, andsurveillance.As such, it can have a profound or even devastating impact on the target peoples.Skillful propaganda is capable also of manipulating its audience at the emotional level.Psychological studies done in the United States two decades ago proved the disastrous impact of widespread racism on children of African descent. Black children in one test all believed a dollwith light skin to be more desirable than one with darker skin -- a measure of the "self- hatred"instilled by social attitudes so prevalent as to be taken for granted. In much the same way,protestant missionaries from the U.S. have long promoted various forms of "biblical capitalism"which instill in followers the belief that the "good" are rewarded by God with material "blessings,"and that poverty confirms the moral inadequacy of an individual, a group, or a class of people.In fact, some years ago the practice of "church trading" in Liberia became the topic of mediacoverage.At that time, numerous minor protestant sects and "biblical" institutes were activelytrying to attract "affiliates" in Liberia because they knew that a mission overseas would increasefinancial contributions at home.So Liberian congregations were offered such incentives as a newroof for a church building, for example, or a bus as an incentive to adopt the name and doctrine of the competing American religious organizations (nearly always white). And when promises wentunfulfilled, as was often the case, the Liberian sects would be forced to turn to other sponsorswho would, once the new relationship was cemented, dispatch instructors to indoctrinate them intheir new-found "theology."This not only created confusion and obscured the religious identity of the subjects, but, moreimportantly, led the Liberians to accept without reservation their absolute dependence on thesponsoring churches and to affirm their own collective inferiority. It is hardly surprising, given thishistory of "spiritual abuse," that charges have been repeatedly made of CIA backing for proselytizing among Catholic, Islamic, and traditional societies.As the case of the American "missions" in Liberia makes clear, money is usually a critical factor inan effective propaganda drive. The vast difference in wealth between the northern and southern hemispheres means, for instance, that western powers can not only of gain access to agents andcollaborators for propaganda efforts, but can also penetrate indigenous institutions and evenestablish new ones with minimal risk of detection by the public at large.They can disseminate literature, textbooks, pamphlets, cultural messages, and other ideologicalmaterials in quantities that far exceed what local markets could ever support. Money, funnelledthrough channels, can buy off radio and television programmers, supply packaged propagandaprograms or special consultants, present "educational" seminars and conferences, offer suchfinancial inducements as prizes and awards, and upgrade studios and broadcast facilities for reliable friends. The sheer volume of the operation guarantees that indigenous opinion cannotcompete.Rich nations can also pressure governments -- under the threat of withholding aid or credit, for example -- to formally "invite" them to participate in the development of public "information" or "education" campaigns. Moreover, when conditions are favorable, wealthy donors of "technicalassistance" projects can conduct highly sophisticated research activities that enable them tothoroughly evaluate the sociological climate of target countries, to pretest propaganda messageon small groups, to measure changes in attitudes over the course of time, and to intimidateopponents, suppress dissent, and censor the dissemination of competing ideas.
Deception as Science

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